Increasing overall Japanese ability

Hi WaniKani community!

I`ve gotten a good grip on WaniKani again after a year off and am doing 3 review sessions a day, 6 days a week (often I get lazy on Sunday and skip). Averaging 1 level every 8-10 days right now without fear of burnout.

My current immersion is living in Kobe, Japan, and speaking Japanese with my girlfriend, colleagues and students. However, on the reading and writing front I really need to improve! I would say my listening and speaking are very good, while the aforementioned 2 categories are mediocre at best.

Does anybody have recommendations for lower level Japanese graded readers, easy manga, writing exercises and podcasts? I’m basically asking for your Japanese learning resource motherload!

I’ve finished Genki 1 and am finishing up Genki 2 after which I have the Nihongo Sou Matome N3 books to get through (beginning September). Planning to take the JLPT N3 in December if it helps with the level of resources I’m looking for.

Hit me with your best!


Highly recommend joining a book club if you haven’t done much native reading. It sounds like you’re reaching a level where reading native stuff may still be a bit of a slog, but is going to be pretty valuable, especially since you have better spoken language (so probably a reasonable grasp of common grammar etc). The Absolute Beginner Book Club just started a new book, I think the current Beginning Book Club book has been going for a little while - it’s a nice way to get support from other learners to get going with something that can be a bit intimidating.

And, of course, for reading material, support resources etc - this thread is a goldmine:
Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content


If you’re looking to improve your writing, I would actually recommend not going for an exam prep book like Sou Matome after Genki, but a more structured textbook. I personally really like the Quartet series and think it’s reading and (especially) writing sections are it’s real strengths. It encourages you to write a wide variety of things and provides you scaffolding to get there. You just need to sweet talk your girlfriend into correcting it for you or something haha.

For reading, it’s expensive and a little odd, but I actually have had major success with Kumon’s Kokugo course (yes, the one made for small Japanese children). It’s expensive (about 10,000 yen/month) and is basically 100% self directed, but the stories scaffold SUPER well and I’ve found it so helpful to be given deadlines and have class days where I’m expected to actually turn in my homework lol. I think you could achieve similar results with enough dedication and good graded readers, but I know myself and if I didn’t have the structure of the class and the schedule, I would rarely read.


There are quite a few Kumon near where I live and I wouldn’t be averse to doing a children’s class there. However I’m a reasonably well-tattooed man so I don’t want to scare the kids hahaha.

My girlfriend is savage when it comes to correcting my work. Ooft, I think she’ll have to sweet talk me into being allowed to correct it! But more seriously, Quartet and getting the girlfriend to check for me it is. Probably bribe with muffins or cake.

If your girlfriend likes helping you with writing, then that’s definitely a great thing to take advantage of! I go to a community Japanese class and our weekly homework usually incorporates a writing prompt. It’s usually something simple like “write about an inventor from your home country,” or “Write about something your parents forced you to do as a child,” or “write about a time you wasted time or money,” and you can write as much or as little as you want in response. Just sitting down and writing something longer form once every week or two and getting feedback on it has been really helpful for me and helped me become more comfortable writing in Japanese. That could be something to incorporate into your regular study to supplement the Quartet writing assignments.

If you need reading practice, Tobira might not be a terrible idea. I started it recently and have to say it’s less of a textbook than Genki 1 & 2 were. It’s more focused on interacting with native material and learning the ins and outs of the Japanese language and culture. At your current WaniKani level the selection of vocab and kanji should not surprise you, I think :slight_smile: .

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