Immersion, where does one begin?

What do you like ?

Games? Music ? Video ? Movies ?

Theres your immersion

Just start using anything you like from day one even if you can get nothing out of it.

I recommend also having japanese audio + japanese subs and something visible.

Like dodge the radio for now maybe

If you take “easy immersion” route you will never enjoy learning and be stuck for years

Here a simple recommandations : watch Let’s play by japanese youtuber.

If you want to search for something and you dont know the kanji/Word yet go on Google translate and type the thing and put it on YouTube

I would recommend also watching animals in Wildlife video documentary

1 Like

I don’t think anybody can agree on a perfect method for learning. This is my personal opinion, a mostly relaxed and lazy approach:

Learn grammar first.
It doesn’t have to be a chore, you could choose to read articles and watch videos about grammar without doing any practice or exercises, like I did. Some people might say it’s a bad idea but it helps prevent burnout at the cost of a bit slower learning.
I was going back to the grammar resources every once in a while and understanding the explanations a bit better each time after having seen the grammar points in context.

SRS is up to you.
I did not use any SRS other than Wanikani because I couldn’t keep it up. If you can keep it up comfortably then it’s probably a good idea to get extra vocabulary. These days, now that my Wanikani workload is smaller, I keep a single Anki deck for words I found during immersion.

Immersion shouldn’t be a chore either.
Just consume the material for your own enjoyment even if you can’t fully understand it. You could say I only do “passive” immersion, but if I’m curious about an unknown word that seems important then I’ll stop for a moment to add it to my Anki deck, then continue reading or watching without effort. I rarely ever stopped to pick apart whatever I was immersing with unless I really cared about a particular sentence.


I think Vanilla’s advice is good but for me WK helps a lot with getting the kanji meanings and readings stuck in my mind. The mnemonics are especially useful for the readings.

What I’ve been doing is making a single anki deck with a mix of words and sentence cards, getting the sentences with native audio from I put the vocab words in WK in my anki deck as well as other words I come across elsewhere. Eventually once I’m done with WK (either level 60 or just quit to do immersion) I’ll still keep the same anki deck going.

Right now I’m probably doing more SRS than is “ideal,” but I like making anki cards and I’m doing lots of words a day so at this pace I’ll know more than 6,000 words in my first year of study.

I’ve also been thinking recently that since I’m just putting the WK vocab in anki with sentences + audio, it’s acceptable for me to cheat more on WK to keep my progress going and not getting bogged down on some words that aren’t sticking at first. This way I’ll get through WK way faster with less stress and get to immersion.

Anyway, to me this makes sense. I’m pretty good with the kanji meanings since I learned Mandarin 10 years ago but the readings are tough at first and WK helps so much with that.

Get the pitch accent script for WK too so you get in the habit of learning the pronunciation for every word as you go. I usually play the audio for all the vocab reviews which really helps reinforce the readings as well (I’m not sure if most people actually do this or not)

1 Like

I personally think you should rethink your order of approach a bit. You would benefit more from learning some core vocab (anki) and some elementary grammar (Tae Kim) before deep diving into WK as a primary learning resource. WK vocab is all over the place and is just there to help you remember the kanji. Immersion will be more effective if you learn vocab based on use frequency instead of how WK does it.

1 Like

If you’re going to be watching anime for immersion here’s a good anki deck. It’s kind of like a “core 800 vocab used in anime” deck. There’s basic grammar cards in it as well

1 Like

A lot of people already gave a great advice so i’m going to help you with this one:

For reading I recommend graded readers level 0-1 and for listening nihongo con teppei for beginner

Lastly, from my personal opinion, deliberate learning (wanikani, anki, grammar, etc.) should not take most of your learning time, rather maximize on immersion, that’s where the language really getting absorbed into your brain. Deliberate learning only function as a foundation so you don’t get lost when doing immersion, not the way to acquire the language.


Maybe, a bit offtopic, but only a bit, because it’s closely related to immersion:

A great listening resource for beginners.


You can start WaniKani whenever. It probably makes sense to start it early on, but it’s unlikely it will align perfectly with your overall fluency, because WaniKani is simply structured differently. It priorities learning kanji from least to most complex (subjectively) with much less regards for proficiency levels, for instance as defined by JLPT.

For specific vocab numbers I don’t know, but in one other thread someone mentioned I think 10k most common words as a reasonable comfort threshold.

In terms of grammar, I would say JLPT N4+ with solid understanding of each grammar point in context.

Anki for vocab. The vocab you learn through WaniKani is only there to enforce kanji readings.

What you put into your Anki decks as you proceed is up to you, but if you put uncommon words too often you will start seeing diminishing returns in terms of time spent doing Anki reviews vs how often you’re likely to see the word.

What do you mean by immersion specifically? Just interacting with the language? Or is the end goal to be able to watch anime without subtitles or with Japanese subtitles? Or just overall fluency?

Bear in mind that anime often uses colloquial speech or has less regards for social norms, especially if you watch shounen. So something like podcasts on the topic you’re interested in might make more sense.

Edit: for reading the articles from NHK Web Easy are a good place to start as well. Especially the guidelines on earthquake and tsunami safety.

Once you understand what kind of grammar structures or writing/speaking styles are more and less formal you will be able to pick more freely, because that won’t affect the way you use the language as much :slight_smile: .

Pokémon games (starting with Gen 5) are pretty good. You can just practice reading the attacks and names and some of the simpler sentences. Once you come back later, you understand more and more. The Pokédex is an actual treasure trove of reading practice, but they don’t shy away from using pretty advanced Kanji there.

1 Like

People are overcomplicating things. Pound vocab and consume your favorite content, listen to the language and google words that you hear fairly frequently and want to learn. Learning basic grammar helps too. It’s not hard, just gotta find content that you like to consume, even though you don’t understand much at first.


backing up the idea of a ‘encountered vocab/kanji’ anki deck of your own. i have one and i’m adding vocab all the time from various media. Rambalac’s videos on youtube and seeing random street/business signage and going ‘what…is that?’ for example today: 歯科 (しか dentist/dentistry). i knew the tooth kanji but didn’t recognize the second one exactly. looked it up on jisho (utilize the radicals for the searching, often if a kanji is similar to another, i’ll look the one i know up and figure out the common ‘parts’ and use that in searching via radicals). Another way I’ve found that’s helping me with grammar/vocab has been finding untranslated manga and translating it for myself. can be slow but if you enjoy the process and the art, it’s a very effective way of reinforcing your studies.

I’m also into the slow and steady pace.

It really depends on what kind of learner you are. Speaking from experience, I usually pile on a heap of study, burn out and then inadvertantly take a huge break (we’re talking years).

I’ve been super consistent this year. And the biggest change is lowering my expectations and being more realistic. Japanese is not the only thing in my life and so I’ve made it fit more comfortably without having to sacrifice all my time.

What’s helped me is taking weekly group classes with a local school, it’s a fairly slow pace and the entire class is in Japanese. Classes are my main study - I use YouTube videos sometimes to supplement my understanding or preview vocab/grammar for the chapter. For Kanji, apart from WK, I watch Netflix with Japanese subtitles.

Listening, I watch Japanese :cat: vids on YouTube plus some shows on Netflix.

For vocab, everytime in class a new word comes up or I can’t recall the meaning, I look it up in Takoboto (dictionary app) and add it to a list. Then I occasionally transfer my list to Ankidroid, it automatically creates a deck and I do maybe 5-10 mins study a day.

I’ve had an iTalki tutor in the past too, but honestly without some structured speaking practice, free talk is very choppy.

It also depends on your goals, I’m not planning to work in a Japanese company or be a translator so there’s no sense of urgency for me.

I’m sure there’s more I could be doing. More classes, more immersion, more WK lessons. I enjoy studying Japanese (well most of the time), I want to keep enjoying it and also keep it from taking over my life.

Tap into your why, think about how important it is compared to other things.

General Kenobi!

1 Like

I find this chrome extension really useful for immersion.

It lets you watch stuff on netflix and now on youtube with subtitles in 2 languages at the same time, and you can choose to blur the subs in your native language.

I like to watch something with japanese and english subs, with the english blurred. Then I can try to understand what is being said, then quickly check the english to make sure I got it right if I’m uncertain. And when I’m not understanding something at all, it makes it easy to find out what it says.

1 Like

A couple of people have suggested you might want to not prioritise WaniKani (Like I don’t think anyone is saying don’t bother, just that depending on your level and goals it might be something you come to later.)

I thought I would chip in with two reasons that WaniKani is good from an early level.

Firstly I think it is good if you think you will respond well to the need to do reviews every day, and will benefit from how they are packaged here. I find the reviews draw me back, and force me to do something every day. Other resources I find much easier to just leave and not come back to. WaniKani is like an itch I want to scratch, and it is easy for me to do it when I feel that itch.

Secondly it is good I think if you think that Kanji are going to be a blocker for you. I am interested in written Japanese. I want to read, e.g. a news article. But trying to immerse myself in that directly was impossible, because I couldn’t engage with the kanji at all. Taking the time to go through WaniKani has helped me not only with the Kanji I’ve learned (not always the most useful!) but by getting me into the habit of looking for radicals etc. Now an unfamiliar kanji is no longer as scary or offputting.

For immersion, I like to use the NHKNewsEasy service (I try and decode an article, with frequent detours via google translate/Jisho etc - it is hard, but each time I do it it gets easier.) and Satori Reader - which is more artificial but incredibly supported - and has an SRS built in for new vocab.


my immersion will begin way far ahead,

even now at lvl 30, trying to play 13 sentinels, I barely understand the vocab.

There is still a long way for me to be feeling strong in immersion. For now I will try to keep increasing my vocabulary only.


What’s your pain tolerance?

My experience with immersion is:

  1. Find media that looks interesting.

  2. Crack it open, discover that I know maybe three words on the entire page.

  3. Retreat to something easier, but less interesting. Decide after a while that it’s too boring.

  4. Return to step 1.

So choosing good materials involves finding a balance between the pain and suffering of having to look up every other word, and your ability to tolerate kindergarten-level material. Graded readers can help you figure out which material is in which category, but they aren’t inherently “better.”

As for the specific tools, those involve finding a balance between “intensive” consumption – where you look up every word and try to understand everything – and “extensive” consumption, where you’re content to look at the pretty pictures and pick out whatever words you can. The pro-immersion argument holds that “extensive” consumption is better. It’s certainly more fun. (Remember that reading grammar points in English is not actually a Japanese-immersion task!)

For myself, I tend to fall on the “extensive” side, because my ability to tolerate massive SRS decks is limited. But I wouldn’t say that I’m fluent enough to serve as a good model.


This is 100% your guide for immersion learning:

Also, check out Matt vs Japan’s Youtube channel (he’s one of the founders of and very respected in the Japanese language-learning community, he learned literally native-level Japanese all by himself in the US through immersion learning). The only thing I disagree with him about is learning kanji through RTK instead of WaniKani.


My two cents:


I think people who studying learning estimate that the optimum situation is when you already understand 90% or more of what you’re reading. At the beginning, very few materials will fall into that category, but trying to get anything out of materials that are below 80% comprehension is going to be a hard, hard slog.

(If 90% sounds “too easy,” consider that in English, an average magazine page has about 1000 words. At 90%, you’re stll looking up or relying on context for about 100 of them.)