I need some advice on where to go from here

Hey everyone, now that I’m just about to hit lvl 35, I can really understand why a lot of people drop off at the 30 mark, honestly I get it.

I won’t do it, though, I plan on seeing this through to the end, but I still need a next step. I love WaniKani, and if I could just have this as a one stop way to reach fluency, I’d love to keep doing that, but I’m at a point where I need to seriously branch out, too. I did the math, by the end of the year, I’ll be level 60, as long as I keep my recent pace up.
So that’s like 4 months, I can’t just sit here without a next step, I’m reading a manga right now, and translating it too, but it makes me really see how inadequate my abilities are. I can recognize a kanji, but I can’t read it all the time, I can read it, but I don’t understand it, I have a general idea, but my grammar is all off, I don’t know who’s talking, or about who. There’s all sorts of confusion.

I’m ashamed to admit I have to use google translate just so I can see the romaji, it teaches me a bit, and I even have to use it for a general idea of what it says often, which I then go on to fix up myself with my own knowledge.

So grammar and vocabulary, I don’t really know how to start, I’m no stranger to Japanese media, half of my playlist is Japanese songs, I’ve been watching anime since I was a kid, and it has taught me a lot of words, but after a certain point there’s not much more I can learn from it. I need something structured, WaniKani did that for me, and I really dislike Anki so I can’t consider that an option.

For grammar, I’ve started looking at Cure Dolly, seems structurede, but it’s certainly a lot of information, since I only watched a few first videos, it’s basic stuff that I’ve already picked up through natural knowledge so far, which was nice for a while but I’m seeing it’s limits now with my reading. She teaches well, but I don’t even know the English grammar rules and this is my first language. I just couldn’t and didn’t want to understand those complicated terms, but now I have to do so for Japanese.

In case this falls through, is there any other suggestions for grammar?

For vocab, I honestly have no clue where to look, so I need suggestions for that too, please.

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Which manga are you reading?


Like @Kazzeon I’m a bit curious about what you are reading. If you want easier reading material, I would either look at the Absolute Beginner Book Club (they tend to break down a lot of grammar there and there are a lot of already finished books/manga) or graded readers (for learners). ABBC will have native material but through the WK threads you’ll find loads of breakdowns of grammar, translations and other things to aid your understanding, plus a pre-filled vocabulary sheet that you can consult for look ups. While graded readers will have smaller pools of vocabulary and limited grammar, both of which will increase as the level of graded reader goes up.

For grammar, there are loads of options. I would assume that after laying the basic groundwork that Cure Dolly gets into more intermediate stuff. But if you want something else there is everything from Genki, to Tae Kim’s grammar guide, to Bunpro.jp, to many other online websites that I don’t remember the names of (renshuu, Lingodeer and others), Human Japanese (I think that is what it is called). Also a few more textbooks of course.

For vocab, there are other SRS systems if you are interested in that. From Kitsune to several others I also don’t remember the name of (some under grammar section might have vocab too). If you want book/manga/VN/game specific ones you have koohi (formerly floflo) and jpdb.

Or if you go with a textbook, you can always pick to learn the vocabulary associated with each chapter.

You can find info on graded readers and a few other things here:


As with any aspect of learning the language, I think what you’ll stick with is more important than what’s “best.” For me, I learned grammar N5 through N4 (and lots of N3) using the LingoDeer app. I’ve also read Genki I and II cover to cover and the app covered almost all the same things as Genki (+AIAIJ) though not in the same order. I like them both but like LingoDeer more for self study (makes sense, that’s what it’s designed for … most books are designed for class).

In either case, even if you were to just watch lots of Cure Dolly videos (also check out Japanese Ammo with Misa! she’s great), I do highly recommend bunpro.

It’s basically wanikani for grammar. My biggest issue when I was starting to learn Japanese grammar was how to review stuff. It’s not so hard to learn a new grammar point initially, but as the amount you’ve learned adds to 50 points/rules/whatever you want to call 'em, 150 points, 300 points … you start to wonder how you can keep everything fresh. bunpro solves that with SRS wanikani-style. Watch a Cure Dolly or Japanese Ammo video on a certain grammar point and then tick it off in bunpro to add it to your queue. They have paths too. You can pop into the Minna no Nihongo I path and see exactly which grammar points out of that book you’ve learned through watching your videos or whatever.


Oh, for vocab, again I’d say “whatever you’ll stick with.” Perhaps a core deck on kitsun or something. I personally recommend the Tango books + an SRS. Most people buy the books and then use the Anki decks that go with them (there’s someone out there that provides the deck if you show proof of purchase). But perhaps someone has transferred them over to kitsun? or it could be done yourself with the anki deck file? (idk, never used kitsun, would lose the audio I imagine but I could be wrong.) In any case they make a solid vocab list. It’s 10k words spread out across the 5 books (N5 1,000 words, N4 1,500, N3 2,000 words and so on). Being so far into wanikani you’ll know most of the kanji (all of them by the end of the year! yay!) and you’ll catch onto new vocab and kanji readings pretty quick. But you’ll get a lot of vocab you just never would get with wanikani because that’s not what it was designed for …

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You’ll be able to unlock the full potential of these resources for learning once you have more basic grammatical knowledge and use good reference sources to learn about new words and structures (i.e. not just Google Translate or DeepL). Basically all my higher-N3 and N2 grammatical knowledge comes from anime. I also learnt a few N1 structures from anime. That’s how much it can still teach you.

I’m the same with certain linguistics terms, so I understand the feeling, but honestly, a lot of grammatical terms are just names for logical phenomena that we see in the words we use every day. You don’t necessarily need to know rules to work out Japanese (and honestly, there aren’t many compared to most European languages); just knowing concepts like past, present, future, noun, adjective, verb, adverb, subject, object, passive, active and causative, as well as what they mean, is already a great start, and covers most of what you need to get through the basics of Japanese. Yes, there are lots of other terms in textbooks, but most of them are just descriptive words invented for teaching foreigners Japanese grammar, so they’re easy to understand. Learning translations of the terms used in Japan might help you better understand how Japanese works, but it’s not necessary, at least initially, and doesn’t have to be a priority for you.

Uh… you can try JLPT prep sites, and quite a few people here like Bunpro. I think that stuff containing explanations like Maggie Sensei, WasabiJpn, Japanese Ammo with Misa, Real Japanese with Miku and so on are better resources (JLPT prep sites only offer translations, which are often insufficiently detailed with regard to nuances), but I mean, really, just try anything that seems to help you. You can also try stuff like Tae Kim’s Guide and Imabi, but I think both contain debatable assertions (and Imabi overcomplicates certain things in my opinion).

If you’re OK with using Anki, then go look for the Core 2K, 6K, 10K decks. However, I personally get extremely irritated learning vocabulary out of context with flashcards – I feel it’s meaningless and difficult to retain; I’ll remember readings or meanings, but probably not both without context – so I wouldn’t touch those even with a ten-metre pole, unless I’m doing intensive sessions on a few days only, purely for the sake of practice. Checking dictionaries, like Jisho and Weblio’s EJJE dictionary site, and reading their examples is far more productive for actually understanding and remembering words.

Honestly, for learning both grammar and vocabulary, I’d suggest going with a textbook for the basics, and shifting to consuming media that you enjoy (books e.g. from Tadoku, anime, songs etc.) for the upper intermediate and advanced stages and studying it. You’re far more likely to remember the phrases you see and hear that way, and that’s what will reassure you and help you along when you encounter those words again.


@Kazzeon @MissDagger I’m reading 恋愛ラボ , honestly I don’t really think about difficulty, if it’s a manga I enjoy and it has no English translations, I kind of have no other choice but to just make do with myself. So I don’t know the difficulty and this particular manga had a gap in translations, no way was I just going to drop it, figured I’d translate it while I’m at it too.

Not sure if I can hold interest in following a bookclub, may try it one of these days, though.

And @inusagi-chan @Jonapedia thank you for the detailed comments, I’m not a fan of Anki and I agree that mindlessly chipping at core words feels useless, for vocabulary, I guess as you said, I’ll need to get better at grammar before I can take advantage of media to learn vocab.

I’ll make sure to check out some of the sites and channels you listed too, thanks again!

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Well, the good thing is that all the old books by each book club is still available so you can read at your own pace. And hopefully there are a couple of that interests you. The ones with the most grammar help and vocabulary help will be Absolute Beginner Book Club and Beginner Book Club. Here is a list with all books that have been read and are currently being read in WK book clubs:

Also ichi.moe is good for breaking down sentences (although it does get things wrong just like google translate and deepl), it will help you see how things break down and gives you the common meanings for each thing (without knowing which one is being used), so you can work on putting it together yourself.

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If you’re really looking for structure, I’d highly recommend a textbook, honestly. You have a lot of choices. If you use a textbook, you’ll be covered both for beginning grammar and enough vocabulary to start you off.

I know you said you don’t like Anki, but how exactly have you used it in the past? You might find that trying something slightly different with it can make it easier for you. I personally can’t imagine my Japanese journey without it, since that’s what I use to pre-learn all of my textbook vocab, as well as learn words that I mine from native media. I’ve absolutely had better luck with using it either to pre-learn words before seeing them in context, or to cement words after seeing them in context, rather than just learning words in a vacuum from a pre-made deck.

Once you get past the beginning grammar stage, you can start moving more and more to learning from immersion. And you’ll actually understand enough of what you’re reading that you’ll be able to actually learn from it instead of just struggling to make sense of it. At least, that was my experience trying to read my first manga, when my grammar was still quite low. I didn’t really make any gains in understanding from the manga because it was way above my level, whereas I did learn as I advanced through my textbook.


If you are willing to do some vocab mining (find vocabulary and add it to anki) I would recommend this(https://animecards.site/) guide to set up anki with yomichan so you can learn by immersion. I started this yesterday so I honestly don’t know if it’s that useful yet but I have read from other people that it’s apparently a good way to go beyond intermediate.

You can use it for anime and visual novels depending on what you prefer and add vocab from sites and more with just a click. There’s also a section that explains anki and how to adjust the settings and the intervals between reviews and such.
I know you said you didn’t like anki, neither do I but I am willing to give it a try since it seems to have helped so many others.
When it comes to grammar though I think something like bunpro would be good if you like structure or Tae Kim’s grammar. I am not sure if you can add grammar through yomichan but immersion is still a very effective way to go from intermediate.
Cheers :smiley:


For vocabularies, as well as Kanji, there is indeed a trick to initial memorizing, without Anki. Though, it was a while since I last did the trick (with Kanji, which are sometimes harder to remember).


I made several meaning mistakes :rofl:, but then, writing the meanings yourself is already a translation practice.

Thinking about it, this is similar to getting a tabular pocketbook, and having a cardboard to shield the first column. Colored rows are for the sake of doing 10 at once, (then check 10 at once). It’s a little surprising how easy it is to forget.

It is important that meanings are personally written, and made different from other similar words. Otherwise, take notes of whatever comes to mind first – which includes mnemonics.

Well, this is only for initial short term memory. For middle term / long term? Simply continuing to read the genre of your interest should do the trick.

For grammar, I really don’t know how to advise, but have heard about Particle mining. I also have a reference book for particles. Otherwise, composing a sentence regularly should help; but there are basics, and paths to pave, just as far as a workbook (from a textbook).

Recently I tried bunpro.jp, and made quite a lot of wrongs. Try composing, and realize that you make mistakes probably would help well with grammar. But I can’t say I am committed to this app yet :smile:

I have watched vanilla’s 2-hour advice, which I agree with most of it – you don’t need that many core vocabularies, but there are indeed so many vocabularies. So, mining and having fun always.

Also, there aren’t only vocabularies that can be mined.

I have to admit that me remembering Hiragana was half about listening, and associating sound with text. (Katakana, however, largely came from drilling a loanword list.)

Of course, I tried remembering all Kana before that, but I can’t say I remembered them well at all.

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Japanese, The Spoken Language: Part 1 (Yale Language Series) https://amzn.asia/d/iTptoG7

This is what my teacher uses to instruct me. It’s wonderful…

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I’ve heard some strong recommendations for that. The big thing to know about it is that its teaching principle is “learn the spoken language first, then come back and deal with the writing system later”, and so it is entirely in romaji (with pitch accent notation). I think there’s a pretty good argument to be made for that point of view (especially if taught in person by somebody who will make sure your pronunciation is right), but since it’s rather far from the current mainstream of textbook design it’s good to know up front so you can decide whether you agree with the author’s teaching strategy at least enough to give it a fair shake, or if you just disagree too much for it to work for you.


I would finish Genki I and II. By finish I mean doing all the exercises in the workbook. I use Bunpro but just to practice grammar I learn elsewhere. In my case, when I had only Genki I and level 1, it was really frustrating. Reading became more enjoyable after I covered most of JLPT N3 grammar.

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Not just romaji - its own form of romaji. Not quite Hepburn, not quite kunrei-shiki, and definitely not wapuro romaji.


I felt a lot better after going through a few chapters of tobira while also having a game to go alongside it. For reviewing grammar I used bunpro before with genki so I just naturally extended that to tobira. Didn’t quite line up nicely with studying for jlpt.

So really do grammar studies and reading practice together if possible. If you need to slow down reviews for a while to get that into your routine, then that’s fine you can always go faster again later. I’m now at the point that I feel like I don’t have to worry about reviews, have even considered stopping it, but in the end I feel it is still useful. I’ll re-evaluate that at the end of the year.


Never watched Cure Dolly, but Misa is awesome. She explains everything super clear and goes in depth and provides several examples so you can understand the difference between similar grammar points.


For vocab I just use Kitsun 10k deck with voiced sentences, you can exclude words from wanikani. Also have a grammar deck from JLPT sensei, I do 5 cards of grammar and 10 of vocab daily.

I would just continue with the WK routine, pound vocab and grammar points. You will be fine.

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at exactly this your current lvl here on WK I started bunpro

without grammar you cant understand anything in dialogues in manga/anime.

Almost one year into bunpro here and now I can read way better dialogues in anime with japanese subtitles.

If I kept with WK as sole way of learning it would have become boring for sure. You have to practice elsewhere.


I think this is a big reason why most courses just avoid the problem and spend the first week learning kana.