If you had two months to learn, what would you focus on?

If you had two months to learn as much Japanese as possible, what would be some good places to focus on? In particular, with the goal of understanding and conversing with verbal Japanese.

I’m also about to start whittling down my reviews that I let accumulate over the past couple weeks. I probably should have just set it to vacation mode, but too late now! Only 1265 to go, wish me luck!

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What is your goal? Personally, if I were instructing somebody who was starting from scratch, I’d tell them to find more time because they aren’t going to learn Japanese in two months. If they were determined to go through with it anyway I’d have them focus on grammar in conjunction with whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish in that time span (listening, reading, etc) for several hours every day with the reminder that they won’t get particularly far.


Are you going to Japan?

Anyway, it would depend on my pre existing knowledge and how much time I was willing to devote to studying. The right answer might be a phrasebook and audio shadowing / listening practice, or targeted (situation specific) grammar / listening / vocab.

And good luck with your reviews!


I’ll be going to Japan again several months from now, but I’ll be meeting up with some people who speak less than stellar English in a couple months time. I’m just trying to get the best bang for my study time up till then. I’ve got a reasonable vocabulary, but have trouble remembering it when I’m speaking. I’ve got all the basic grammar down, but find I have trouble with a lot of ways it’s combined. I’m by no means starting from scratch, but I could use some help stitching it all together.

Either hire a tutor or use an app like hinative or lang-8. People don’t speak in kanji so Wanikani’s not going to do anything for you in that department.


Sounds like you’re trying to shift passive vocabulary into active vocabulary which will take a bit of doing. @Raionus’ advice is good - the only way you’re going to improve at speaking is by practicing speaking. If you’re not already strong at listening, you’ll need to work on that too, again through conversation or practice via consuming media because speaking and listening are different skills that will both need work.

Depending on what exactly this meetup will consist of and how good the other people will be at understanding you, you may consider prioritizing developing listening over speaking. Making sure that at least one of you can understand the other will probably go a long way towards keeping everything running smoothly. I wouldn’t worry too much about grammar right now. If you have the basics you’ll probably be fine as your friends will probably take pains to speak to you in simple Japanese.

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I usually find spoken words a lot easier to memorize when I know the component kanji though… but I agree that it’s likely not the most efficient approach given the time constraint.


Listening and speaking practice, definitely. I’d fire up the Pimsleur audio lessons and hit one new one per day, repeating old ones as necessary.

I agree. It’s not even like I’m remembering the kanji when I recall the world necessarily. It’s just that it clicks better all around for some reason. The downside is that I found it more difficult to remember words that are primarily written in hiragana, or the strange katakana words that should be obvious but aren’t.

I would focus the most on listening comprehension. Satori Reader, Japanesepod 101, and Easy Japanese videos on Youtube are good resources, but you could also just watch Terrace House on Netflix. Try just listening first, then watching again while reading Japanese subtitles and looking up anything you need to. Output practice would be good too, download the free apps either HelloTalk and/or Tandem and you can start texting/talking with real Japanese people (or you could also just talk with your own Japanese friends if you have them).

There is a widely accepted notion that Japanese is not absolutely necessary to at least live in Japan, as there are English speakers who silently peruse the country.

However, with this consideration I definitely wouldn’t be focusing entirely on Japanese, but how I could integrate my knowledge of English into the language in order to get around as seamlessly as possible.

I would second the recomendation on listening. But both actice and passive listening together. Meaning, you watch a show a video or whatever (trying your very best to understand, aided by subs, watching it once with jp subs then eng subs, if you think you’ll be missing too much just with jp subs, animelon assisted, etc). Then you rip the audio from that show, and throw it into a MP3 player… then that you make the soundtrack of your life for the next 2 months.

The active watching and listening can have various shapes and forms depending on your current level. I use this routine to learn from the lines of my shows and dissect those sentences one by one (the ones that are in my level of understanding or almost). Now the same routine became my listening routine, and english it’s not needed anymore, since these are all lines with vocab and grammar within my reach.

My first week in Japan has confirmed that listening practice with native material (like Terrace House) was a wise decision… long and deep conversation are nowhere near yet, but a broken japanese english from the other part plus my broken japanese has allowed me to communicate much better than expected, so I would suggest a similar approach :wink:

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This is probably the best advice. If you only have 2 months, then you shouldn’t focus on just one or two things, but get an encompassing input from a native speaker teacher. A bit of listening, a bit of speaking, and a bit of Japanese culture

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Thanks for all the ideas, and some resources which I didn’t know about before as well! I haven’t done any searching yet, but if you know anywhere that I can get native Japanese content with Japanese subtitles let me know. I find it’s sometimes a bit difficult to find the subtitled content.

Netflix :hugs: … would be your #1 option. Here you can choose shows with japanese audio and subs. Then a VPN service with a private IP address can turn that Netflix account into Japanese Netflix :exploding_head::exploding_head:… the single most useful resource I’ve yet found for immersion.

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As you are already on level 35 I assume you have some graps of japanese grammar and vocab. I was in a similar situtation but couldnt really speak japanese. the only thing that helps is having conversations in japanese. this will be painful at first but i made quick progress. i just lived in japan for two month and had private lessons every day and my japanese is good enough to have everyday conversations now.

as you arent in japan right now. use Italki to get private lessons. you can get them for really cheap if you use packages. also use HelloTalk to find japanese People to chat with.

use the rest of the tiime for formal study of japanese grammar and vocab. especially read tea kim over and over, really helped me.


I would guess this is a common problem in these parts :slight_smile:

What I find helps for me is to practice listening both in and out of context. If I practice listening to a sentence many times, eventually it becomes an earworm that I remember when I hear the individual words alone.

What VPN service are you using?

Stay away from phrasebooks they won’t do anything for you. Actually stay away from anything that promises to be “practical”.

What you should be doing is focus on understanding the language on a fundamental level. Study grammar so as to understand how do words relate to each other fundamentally. How does the adjective relate to the noun? What about adverbs? How do basic conjunctions (kedo, node, kara) link grammatical units? Learning “pratical” stuff will be of no help when trying to do something outside of the situations you memorized. You need to understand things on a fundamental level to be able to improvise to the limit of your knowledge when interacting with your friends.

Do study Kanji as a mean of acquiring vocabulary. Combine that knowledge by speaking to Japanese people on language apps as has been suggested. This last point is especially important. Hellotalk is fine. So is Hinative. Tinder might work too lol.

I also don’t think Netflix or any form of passive learning is worth your time at this point.

This is a short time so you should stick to a few hours of studying every day if you want to make it anywhere. I think it’s possible to make sizeable progress if you’re dedicated enough.

Good luck!

I just tested it on Private Internet Access, so that one works.

And they have Brooklyn Nine-Nine in English. Nice.