How long do you study a day and what do you accomplish in that time?

Hello everyone,

although I “started learning Japanese” about a year and a half ago, I didn’t really learn much Japanese. Well, a year and a half ago I decided I want to learn Japanese so after some research I bought “Japanese from Zero 1” and started studying with it. At first I really liked it because it taught me Hiragana bit by bit and some grammar in each lesson. I worked through the entire book. But that took me quite some time and in the end I had the feeling of not really having learned much.
That’s when I bought Genki 1+2. I worked through the first two chapters of Genki 1 and then life hit me - I had so much to do for university, working part time, … Well, that’s how it is sometimes.

This year I joined Wanikani and have continuously studied with it since. I do my reviews twice a day and do around 5 to 10 new lessons each day. That may not be very fast, but the pace is fine with me - even if my day is very stressful I can do this much without being buried under a pile of reviews. (Level 7 right now)

Now to my question: I want to structure my future study time a bit. I’m in a phase of change at the moment (right now working on my bachelor thesis with no part-time job, but starting a new full-time job next year after finishing the thesis and likewise my studies at university [Yay!]) so I want to build my Japanese studying habits as if I already had this full-time job.

So, how much time do you dedicate to studying Japanese a day and what do you accomplish in that time? I have the feeling that I am very, very slow in my studies. I need much time to go through a lesson (be it Genki oder my recently acquired “Japanese the Manga Way”) so that I sit on it all afternoon with the feeling of not having accomplished enough.

Where does that feeling come from? Well, English is not my native language (which you probably can tell ^^’) and I think that when I learned it in school we moved on faster. This impression may be subjective because my English lessons were a long time ago.

So, how do you do it? How fast are you? What do you study when and how? How does your study routine look like?

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I never really had a set schedule beyond I tried to keep reasonable deadlines and do at least a little a day. For example, I try to at least read just a little bit of Japanese if I can’t do anything else, it’s easy, while walking or going to work I just use something like Comico, but really there’s Japanese all over the internet.

For Genki, I tried to set somewhat of a schedule back when I used it, in that case it was to do a Chapter, which is Chapter lessons + Reading section + Workbook sections a week. Which wasn’t a rush, but it was a fairly achievable goal.

Without writing a novel here, the simple thing is consistency. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or what you do as long as you are doing it regularly.


I believe it’s only natural that english was faster to learn. Not just because you were younger, but also because your native language (which I assume is german judging by that random “oder” :P) is quite similar to english. You mostly have to learn vocabulary and grammar, that’s it.
With japanese, it’s an entirely different story since pretty much everything is different compared to western languages. The writing system, the grammar, counting, you name it. So it takes a lot more time to get a grasp of all of the new structures.

You also forgot the part where English is a mandatory bit of education that most people have had.


Honestly, I don’t care about schedules. I care about results/progress. Why? Because time spent does not equal progress.

I do it like this:

Q: How much of my time does Japanese study deserve per day? (This allows you to judge how much of a priority Japanese is compared to your other stuff)

A: X time.

Q: What should you focus on during that x time?

A: Y.

Do Y. For the sake of understanding this, let’s call Y “WaniKani” as an example. First, you need to focus on making it a habit. WaniKani (Y) should be something that you always do every day no matter what. What happens with time is that you’ll eventually become better at using WK (Y). You’ll know the right schedules and you’ll know how everything works. You’ll then have two choices: either you can increase your load on WK (more lessons/day OR more difficult words learned for example) or you add another tool into your routine (let’s call it Z).

Also, ask yourself this: “How can I add “task Y” in order to maintain my schedule?” and not only “How can I manage my schedule in order to add Y?” If you only ask yourself the 2nd sentence, your other stuff in life might get hurt. When this happens, everything becomes a mess and Y might not become part of your routine, leading you to give up/lose pace.

Time should not be how you measure your studies.
Just my humble opinion :man_shrugging:


Before college I used to study Japanese for around 8 hours a day and I could get one chapter of genki done a day. College through me off and I just study as much I as can when ever I feel like it now. I’m on chapter 8 of tobira, and I’m trying to finish before December.


Thanks for your answers!

Whoops, didn’t notice that :joy:
Yes, my native language is German :wink:

Of course it takes longer to start because you have to learn a new writing system and everything. But I am past this point. I already know Hiragana and Katakana. Now I want to learn grammar and vocabulary (along with Kanji through Wanikani of course). From now on it should be similar to learning English - shouldn’t it? Or s it natural that I need longer because I’m learning all by myself and don’t have a teacher that tells me what exactly to do this day?

I know that learning another language is a marathon and not a sprint. And I like to think about it that way. But I am concerned that I will lose my motivation to keep going when I can’t see any real progress. At least, that’s what it feels like right now.

Hence my question - I feel like I “study a lot” meaning I take a lot of time to study, but I don’t make progress.


Well I have pretty important exams for medical school coming up, so right now im studying probably 1 or 2 hours a day? The rest of the day I study Japanese :slight_smile:

What’s your routine?

I’m still in school, so I’m making slow progress. I do about half an hour each day (not counting WaniKani reviews, which I do throughout the day). Basically fill the 5 minute daily goals on 4 memrise courses for vocabulary, and try to listen to some Japanese videos on YouTube. On weekends I take notes on one section of Tae Kim’s grammar guide.

I don’t know how much time I spend on Japanese, but there are certain things I do everyday:

  1. WaniKani - I level up every 7 days or so so I’m going at full speed. I’ve also recently started using KaniWani
  2. One page in my text book (Japanese for Everyone). I feel like I should be doing more but I’ve always hated text books so I can’t bring myself to do more!
  3. I read at least a couple of things every day. A daily haiku (from this website, I love it), articles on NHK Easy, Satorireader, or from this book I got a couple of weeks ago, etc. Basically I try to get as comfortable with reading as I can.
  4. Lately I’ve been skipping this but it’s the easiest one. I’ll watch an episode of a Japanese show on Netflix, I was obsessed with Terrace House for a while. It’s good to just listen. Sometimes I’ll put on a podcast too if I’m on the train or something.

I think I have noticed a lot of progress? I started studying for real in July this year after a 7 year study break from Japanese (lol, not a good idea). By far the biggest success is that I can now actually read things, even if I have to use the dictionary a lot. My improvement is enormous there. As for grammar and speaking, I should work some more on it…

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I think I probably need at least an hour every day which for my standards is already a lot when I’m trying to keep it up long term with my day job and other stuff. Daily goals and my schedule help me to feel accomplished though. Like clearing reviews and doing X lessons per day.

Well, I’m german as well and learning english is a completely different story. The grammar structures are quite similar, if you can say so, whereas Japanese works in completely different ways. I’ve spent half a year in Japan recently at a language school and I went through Genki I and II and another book in that time and still feel I don’t know much.

When I watch japanese shows and read news online, I notice though, that I understand way more that before. So I definitely get you feeling of no progress. It’s not very motivating, if you don’t see immediate results. But I noticed suddenly, I could understand some words in a show, and then a full sentence here and there, and later on more complex grammar points and that made me very happy.

At the moment I don’t have (make) the time for much grammar, but I should. But I do roughly 20 minutes here and 20 on iknow every day. Kanjistudy (for android) when I can squeeze it in. Also watching japanese shows doesn’t really feel like studying.


Well, I have none at the moment. My only routine is doing my reviews on Wanikani twice a day (mornings and evenings - sometimes more often) and 5-10 new lessons (depending on how I can concentrate on that day).
Whenever I have/make some time, I want to work through the next Genki or Japanese the Manga Way chapter. But I wanted to do that for the last six months and then life gets in the way nd I have to start over from the beginning. That’s why I wanted to create a routine that I can work through on a regular basis and see some progress. But going through a chapter of Genki does take me quite some time (If I do a whole chapter + workbook exercises on one day I forget what I learned quite fast. So I try to stretch that over a few days.).

Hm, maybe I look at it the wrong way… :thinking: it sounds as if I just have to keep working my way forward and not worrying too much about my slow progress.

Is WK allowing you to see the type of progress that you’re looking for?

In the way that I do recognize the Kanji that I learned with Wanikani, yes.
But I can’t learn Japanese with Wanikani only :wink:

Yes, I know. I asked the question to see what would be better to recommend you. Are you aware of Bunpro? It’s a SRS system just like WK but for Grammar. Even if you’re studying from a textbook already, you would be able to review the grammar with Bunpro. This tool also shows you your progress in JLPT levels which might trigger your interest for grammar much like WK levels do :slight_smile:


Your routine and current goals are very similar to mine, so here’s some ideas.

First of all, I recommend Japanese the Manga Way over Genki. I personally dislike Genki’s teaching style- it’s great for practice, terrible at explaining concepts. I’m working through JtMW right now and it’s just so much better. So what I recommend is to do JtMW first and then focus on Genki to review what you’ve learned. That’s what I plan to use it for, at least.

I do my wanikani reviews in the morning or at lunch (sometimes both, but often one or the other), and I used to do them in the evening too. I found my accuracy was terrible though, because my brain was just burnt out by the end of the day. However, it’s still functioning well enough to read a grammar textbook, so that’s what I do instead now. Because of this I’ve got slower wanikani progress than I theoretically could have (but still consistent!), but my evenings are more productive. So what I’d suggest is actually to shoot for one wanikani review session a day, even if it slows down your progress, and use the time you’d spend on that other wanikani review session to try to read a chapter of Japanese the Manga Way. The grammar is absolutely as useful as the wanikani progress.

Then, about halfway through JtMW, I suddenly found I had enough grammar to start deconstructing basic sentences. So the next addition to my routine that I am in the process of adding to my routine is to start analyzing the wanikani example sentences using JtMW as a guide (specifically, I’m analyzing the ones for my leeches because more practice on those is always good). I’m still using the same block of time, just going a little slower on the textbook now. But that’s ok, because I’m getting close to the end of the textbook anyway!

I hope these thoughts help in some way.


Japanese the Manga Way is not an adequate substitute for an actual textbook. It in fact says this itself in the beginning of the book. I also can’t quite see in any way how it explains anything on a deeper level than Genki because it really doesn’t. And many basic things are left out of it.

Sounds like we’re on the same track!! Instead of TH I watch old episodes of “Tokyo Encounter” I’ve got backed up on my computer. Not a particularly useful show for practical Japanese but if you wanna pick up some dirty slang, it’s the show for you.