How do/did you learn Japanese?

I use for reading practices, you can add your own texts, add words to your vocabulary, that you don’t know, and then add it to your anki tables. I reading Harry Potter now, and while my Japanese knowledge is poor, I’ve almost finished first book, and even could understand something


I never knew about, thanks! It’s like a new version of Learning With Texts!

I learned the basics in high school and college (up through about halfway through the Intermediate Japanese textbook). It turns out that after six years of disuse, though, I forgot much of what I learned from that book. (It’s also really dull.)

This year, my routine has been the following, trying to hit as many of these as I can in one day (I usually don’t wind up hitting all of them in one day). I currently live in Japan:

  1. Wanikani for kanji

  2. JET-offered upper-intermediate online grammar course (this was focused around dialogue and reading, with quizzes at the end of each lesson, and I found it really helpful; finished)

  3. Vocab, Reading, Grammar, Kanji and Listening JLPT N3 Nihongo Sou-matome books. I did the first three of these mostly in tandem with the course above, compiling notes from everything into a big document for review (along with other tidbits I thought were useful that I picked up from daily life). I use the kanji book to guide writing practice, as WK overlaps with it, though I’m less picky about getting to it frequently. I just recently started listening.

  4. Upon finishing much of the above, I added iKnow for vocab, which is powerful in combination with Wanikani.

  5. Building up to the test, I’m using a 500-problem JLPT practice book, which has been immeasurably helpful for review.

I think the most helpful things for me outside of exposure have been: 1) Using material that has clear daily tasks, either lessons or curated reviews, and frequent self-assessment quizzes, 2) Writing lots and lots of notes, building up a big searchable document to turn to when I’m like, “How do I say ____ again? What’s the difference between all the わけ constructions?” and 3) Actively looking for situations to use new grammar in in daily life, if only to reinforce it for myself. Even if I botch it, I tried.

Reading helps too: When I have time, I’ve been tackling some manga and prose. I have a few poetry books I’d like to attempt within the year too.

I’ll probably repeat a similar setup for N2 study. I wouldn’t mind trying a Japanese-language Japanese textbook prior to the JLPT books, though, so if anyone has recommendations, that’d be awesome. I’ve seen several at bookstores around here, but it’s hard to get a feel for which would be most useful at a glance.

Finally, I also take a break for a day (as much as you can living around the language) when I’m burned out. Always wind up coming back more refreshed the next day. Sometimes you need space to actually let new content settle.


What book is that?

I would suggest using KaniWani at the same time. That helps with word recall when you’re in a conversation. Also, I would recommend, a site you can use to read at varying levels (not to mention, because it was made by a fellow Crabigator worshipper, you can input your API key from WK). There’s also NHK Easy, and my favourite, animelon, where you can watch anime with Japanese, English, and romaji subtitles (you can choose which).

Personally, I learned Japanese listening to Living Languages, though. It’s wonderful and indispensable. Seriously, it helped me so much.

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Did you start using Kaniwani from the start? I didn’t, and I’m seriously regretting it now that I’m talking with language partners. I want to start but I’m overwhelmed with how much ground I have to cover…

I didn’t, either, and too regret it. But then, I regret not going ahead with WK when I made an account in 2013. As it is, though, I don’t have enough time to do both WK and KW, so I have to wait until I take the JLPT this July, when I’m no longer studying so much every day (ironically), to start back up on KW.


One option with the KW configuration is to only do reviews there for words that you’ve burned here on WK. That way you get a fairly slow, steady trickle of material over there and you’re not overwhelmed with 15 levels worth of words.


The standard setting is what @SleepyOne said, plus the current level. That is, KW takes the active items from your current level = those you have done the lessons for, plus the one you burned from previous levels. If you don’t have burned items yet (or few of them), it won’t be overwhelming at all.

I started KW maybe two weeks ago, and it’s actually nice.

Oh! So I can do both recent items and burned items by default? I went into the setting to change to only burned items.

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Well, that’s what I am doing.
You can also manually unlock some level or item.
I feel it’s nice to use it for the current level, so that progress on both sides are mirrored. At the same time, getting burned items means I will eventually get everything, but slow and steady rather than all at once.

This one. I believe they make a problem book for each level.

It’s been a great help preparing for the test. It’s also structured in a way that recommends a certain amount of problems per day, then a review day, and encourages you to go back through each section after you’ve finished the book once (there are spots to record whether you got a question right the first time through, the second time through, and the third).

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I actually originally learned Japanese by mashing my face head-first into light novels armed with only Excel documents and Rikai-chan on Firefox. It was a slow and tedious process, but, even now over half-way through kanji, I’ve learned the meanings of more kanji from my raw translating than I have from WK so far.

As you’re already taking steps to learning Japanese outside of that, you are a much more intelligent person than I was! However, don’t disregard attempting. While I don’t recommend trying to immediately read an entire novel series (unless you happen to have a huge amount of free time and great patience), but I do recommend buying at least one light novel and setting a goal for yourself.

Translating a single sentence a day can be highly beneficial not only to learning kanji and vocabulary, but also grammar. At first, you’ll definitely have to use electronic assistance (likely an e-dict and Google translate), but if you take the time to research why a sentence is the way it is, you’ll learn grammar more quickly and deeply than any SRS or blog post can teach you.

Due to its character-based nature, it is possible to be able to translate Japanese (visuals) without being able to read any of it aloud (sounds), but that ability should only be used as a basis to attempt early translating while you learning the meanings, readings, and grammar points properly through other resources.

As a fellow LN reader and hobbyist translator, I wish you smooth learning!

N4, N3, and N2 grammar and dokkai books.

Just sped through N4 though since a lot it is taught in Genki 2, and I’m not finished with N2.


Hi, yes I do, I’m a premium member, and I would say it’s worth it. The part of Japanese I struggle with the most is listening/speaking just like you, and this is invaluable to helping that. I don’t know about the Premium-plus beyond that, personally I don’t see that as being worth it, but maybe it is for you.

Hope this helps

Did you ever try the listening comprehension books? If so I’m curious why you’re not using it anymore.

No, listening is my strong point so I didn’t bother to. I have the N2 Choukai, but I haven’t tried it yet

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This is a bit of a late response, but I’m interested in getting that mirrored progress on Kaniwani. I currently have my reviews to burned items only, but I also want to be working on my level 16 reviews and can’t unlock any 16 items with burned only enabled…

Do I just have to go down to apprentice and pick and choose what items to unlock?

I’m not sure. The setting was like that when I started. I didn’t touch anything.
I guess you could put it to “default”? Not sure.

Shoot. I don’t seem to have a default option. Thank you for responding! I’ll see if I can figure it out. :slightly_smiling_face:

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