I am lost learning

Hi there guys!

I wanted to expose my situation because I am a bit lost in regards of Japanese learning.

I was studying Japanese by my own (I never thought I would be able to use it, just as a hobby) so I used Genki I, and half of Genki II. However, due to destiny I met up a Japanese girl in conference who ended up becoming my girlfriend. This made me learn Japanese to communicate with her (grammar, vocab, kanji), things that I couldn’t find in Genki etc…

But the thing is that… I don’t know what I know and what I don’t know. I can read some more complex Kanji and maybe there are easier but not used in everyday conversation that I don’t know how to read. Same goes for grammar and vocab…

Is there anyway I can figure out what I don’t know? Any index or something?


Something like the J-CAT will give you a score in 4 categories so you could see what your baseline is in each.


Here’s the link for the J-Cat test.


Also sites like japanesetests4you have lists of grammar points listed per JLPT level. You can start at the lowest level and progressively go up, writing down everything you don’t know.
I would use another resource for actually learning those points though.

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Any recommendation to actually pair japanesetests4you with?

I read it needs flash player to do some stuff, so I will take a look and see what I can do on other computer.

How mayn times can you take the JCAT per year?

I’m not sure of the exact title, but the “handbook of Japanese grammar” is pretty good and complete.

There is a book with that exact title, so maybe that’s the one you’re referring to, but I know a lot of people here like and use this one.

A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns for Teachers and Learners

Once every 6 months. Just be aware that the question pool doesn’t change. You can see different questions though by doing better, since it’s an adaptive test.

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I am considering buying this on in Japan since I will be there one month and a half, and meanwhile use the PDF version.

It might be a pain but it’s less than half the cost in my country (Spain)

technically every 6 months with the same email address. If you set up different email accounts you can take it more. It’s completely free but yea I think it does run in flash player.

Yea, the only pain is flash player. I will need to check it at home and see if some browser still allows it

Chrome still allows you to use Flash Player, though you might have to go into your browser settings and enable it first.

Well as for the kanji - you are here and so starting out on those “easier” ones. To be honest kanji is the least important part of your communication with your girlfriend. That said it’s a good addition to understanding the language and picking up vocab.

As for grammar then aren’t you doing the right thing by following a course (in textbooks)? If you were to study formally they wouldn’t bombard you with all the complexities at the start. You build any language up (including your own) in parts and bit by bit. Why not just keep going with the books adding supplementary material as you feel comfortable or discover weaknesses eg listening or have a specific need eg specialist vocabulary? If you need a list then the Tae Kim guide is good or you could try Bunpro or something - these are effectively just condensed versions of your textbook. You are in a good position to try out anything learnt instantly.

When I lived in Japan I recall just picking bits up in daily conversation and also through wanting to say something. For instance I knew how to say “I play football” but I specifically remember asking someone how to say “I want to play football”. The “-tai” ending was entirely new to me at the time so I looked it up, practised it and it’s now been natural for years. This strategy is useful as you are learning to say the things that you will use the most often regardless of where they appear in any “list”.

I wouldn’t worry about “where you are”. You are learning Japanese, doing WK and have a Japanese girlfriend. It sounds good to me.

Well, I know most of the kanji until now but I can’t skip until the levels of stuff I don’t know. So I am stuck now on getting to a level with new stuff for me yet. Also, I try to read games or books so it’s quite useful to know some kanji.

Because I quitted using the textbooks due to not having the knowledge I required, thus I lost control of what I learnt and what not. I need to learn things fast to communicate and express what I wanted to, and learn from her what I didn’t understand. So I searched online stuff like: [代わりに」grammar. And then learn it with the first or second site that explained it. Same goes for stuff like っぽい etc

This is what I have been doing for months. I lost track of what I have to learn

P.S: Basically search for grammar I should know by this point but I haven’t used it due to using mostly casual Japanese, or because there’s a better way to say it or sounds more ‘native’

The only way to learn “faster” is to do more study and there’s usually a limit to that in terms of time available or simply burning out. Similarly for WK - just take it as it comes and don’t worry if you are doing kanji you already know. By building up the mnemonics you are learning and reinforcing and there’s the vocab too.

Why not follow the Tae Kim guide (or Bunpro) then? All the grammar is in order with good online examples. You can skip bits you know or jump to bits you need. There is nothing you “have” to learn unless you want to do the JLPT tests.

I’ve been with my wife (Japanese) for 20 years and there are loads of things I can’t say mostly because I put off any further formal study until recently. An online Japanese language teacher might be a good idea as they can judge where you are and help you through any books if they feel that’s appropriate.

I think you’re doing all the right things but there is a whiff of impatience which doesn’t really help in language learning.

Good luck.

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That’s the one.

Sorry if it sounds like that, not impatient at all. I just want to find the missing grammar I need before continuing, instead of keep learning randomly. But since I am not into JLPT stuff then I guess following a list of materials isn’t the right thing

I’m self-taught too. Try watching some TV shows and see what kind of situations you have trouble with. Also, if you talk with your girlfriend then those situations will probably come up. I’m pretty bad at telling stories.

I wasn’t being critical really. I think you’re doing the right thing. A list can help as it helps you to see “where you are” and formalise your study to some extent rather than randomly doing bits here and there. JLPT needs specific things by its nature. If you aren’t interested in it then any structured approach will do although they all tend to follow similar patterns. Why not work through Tae Kim and use it as a reference for anything else that comes up or that you want to work on? The grammar books are also good for reference as mentioned.

For me, as WK is taking all my time currently, I’m neglecting the grammar stuff but intend to hit it as soon as WK is done. I’ll drop in somewhere around N2 and take it from there.

What do you mean by learning randomly then? When constructing your own sentences you try to do it with the grammar you already know, right? When your girlfriend uses a grammar pattern you don’t know yet, you either study it, or let it slide for the moment. Whether your working towards the JLPT or not, using a textbook will help you build on existing grammar without mixing in things you don’t know yet, and using a list will let you pick and choose which grammar points you want to learn.

Go back and do the exercises you don’t feel too confident on a second or third time. Maybe you needed to go fast, but that doesn’t mean you can’t slow down or go back and build a good foundation.