Is this a good study plan? I'm learning Japanese to study abroad in around 2 years :)

Hello! I’m looking for some insight on my current study plan, any criticisms or general tips and advice are also highly appreciated! I’m not in a huge rush to learn Japanese (but studying it is a very fun part of my day, so I end up doing quite a bit), I plan on studying abroad in two or so years, but by then I’d like to have at least a decent understanding.
(So, this ends up calculating to around 2+ hours every day (it ends up closer to 3 I think.))

  • Genki books 1 and 2 (for a solid foundation, grammar, reading, vocabulary, pretty much a foundation for most of my learning)

  • Wanikani sessions throughout the day (currently on level 2)

  • RTK Anki deck (takes a while haha, but it’s maybe about 60 cards daily)

  • Drops, Duolingo, Hey Japan, Bunpo, Kanji Garden apps (I do super quick single lessons with these apps, it doesn’t take long but it’s mostly to build some extra vocabulary and some fun practice)

  • Satori Reader (reading practice, I am not very good yet though lol, so, vocabulary…? :sweat_smile:) and Kaizen (very basic speaking practice since I can’t afford a tutor yet)

  • Movies, music, videos, journal entries, podcasts (just for fun, but it’s sorta my extremely miniature immersion)

  • JapanesePod101 videos (for some grammar and vocab)

I know this is kind of a lot, and I’m 3 weeks in. On very busy days I cut it down to maybe an hour instead, but I’m very motivated and I absolutely love the language. I think I’ve finally convinced myself that studying is fun and is far better than giving up. Is there anything I should do differently or anything I should avoid when learning? How proficient might I be with this schedule in two years? Thank you so much for reading and replying!! みなさん の 勉強, がんばって ください !

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Hey! Seems good. I think the most important part is

As long as you do something every day, in 2 years time you’ll be… well, 2 years worth of daily study better than you are today :smile:

I’d also recommend not being too rigid with your routine and to allow yourself to change/drop/add parts as you progress.

Best of luck!

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Before I studied in japan I went through Genki 1, like half of Genki 2 and 26 levels of WK. This was enough for me to handle all-japanese classes, and simple conversations with locals. If you manage to stick to your plan you’ll be all set. Good luck!

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A suggestion not so much for now but more towards when studying abroad is a bit closer: assuming the place you plan to study does some kind of placement test, I would suggest in the period before you get there favouring solid grasp of the basics over moving quickly forwards and covering more ground in less detail. When I went to study abroad I ended up being placed in a class where we started by working through the second volume of Minna no Nihongo, which I’d just finished in my previous evening classes and thought I was done with. The teachers were totally right and I did need that extra time revising those basics, but it was a bit deflating to feel like I was “going backwards”.

Similarly, if you’re in a position to find some kind of speaking practice it will probably help if you can get some warmup practice just so the placement test isn’t the first time you’ve tried to express yourself in Japanese in a month :slight_smile:

Regardless, I got a lot out of my Japanese language school experience, but in retrospect I felt like I could have prepared for it a little more effectively…

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I wouldn’t recommend this until you’re working on (arguably completed) Genki 2 and gotten to around WK 20+

If you’re really trying to get reading practice in at this point try graded readers instead. The genki workbooks are ok. Bunpro is free outside of srs and has a ton of example sentences for N5 and N4 to check out as well. Also NHK Easy.

It’s not that I have anything against Satori reader. I actually recommend using it (just not their bare bones srs system), but… I’d recommend it more as a sub for a couple months thing once you have the basics down and only as long as to read what interests you before moving on. Finishing Genki 2/N4 content opens a lot of doors for reading material and Satori Reader is a comfortable bridge between beginner textbooks and native content. I don’t think it makes sense to pay top dollar for a sub to this just yet.

Edit: Didn’t realize that was the long term plan. My bad

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Thank you so much for the advice! Sometimes it is a struggle for me to allow a plan to be fluid and imperfect at times, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind and try to keep it more loose and fun. ありがとうございます !

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Oh wow! That’s awesome, and congrats on reaching that goal :smile: Thank you for the encouragement!

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That is interesting! Thank you for the advice, I’ve definitely been glossing over some things in an attempt to gain more, faster, but that’s not always best as you pointed out. Is there speaking involved with placement tests? That’s definitely where I’ve been struggling the most unfortunately :') But I will keep working! ありがとうございます !

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Thank you very much for the resources, I’ll definitely check those out. I definitely think you’re right; Satori Reader is probably a confusing (and slightly pricey) investment when there’s not much language skill built up yet. ありがとうございます !

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Using so many apps, you’re likely to encounter resource fatigue. That being said, I’d recommend adding KawaiiNihongo and KawaiiDungeon to the mix since you have a bunch already :slight_smile: They could probably replace DuoLingo and Hey Japan in terms of functionality, but ultimately it’s whatever works for you. Motivation always starts sky-high, but then human nature eventually kicks in and makes you want to streamline your resources.

I don’t think there’s a problem with starting Satori at any point, but I’d recommend getting a few hundred commonly used words down first for some type of comprehensibility.

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I’m confused by the need for three Kanji platforms.

I’m kinda just feeling out what works for me :slight_smile: and just extra practice, I find it fun and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. It may be a bit impractical, but I’ll probably lessen it as I learn more and figure out what works best.

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Thank you! Yeah, I definitely have a few of those moments where I just do not want to study. Do you think it’s best to cut down a bit as I find the most effective ways for studying rather than just spending more time on studies when I’m less motivated? I’ll check those out though certainly! Thank you for the advice :slight_smile:

There’s a bit of redundancy in here, also you’ll want to modulate your daily routine as you progress.

Early on reading “real” japanese will be very difficult as you lack the basics of vocabulary and grammar, it’s better to focus on Genki (or whatever grammar guide you fancy) and something like WaniKani to learn vocab. I also recommend trying bunpro for grammar SRS and also to read full sentences instead of just individual words or expressions.

Don’t expect Genki to give you a solid foundation in anything, the books meant to be used as part of a classroom with a teacher who would guide you, for self-study I find it a lot more efficient to use them more like a reference but not overly focus on them and their (repetitive) exercises. Every time you encounter a grammar point that seems tricky, look for youtube videos and other sources discussing it. Bunpro helps for that as well since it references external resources for every grammar point.

Drops, Duolingo, Hey Japan, Bunpo, Kanji Garden apps (I do super quick single lessons with these apps, it doesn’t take long but it’s mostly to build some extra vocabulary and some fun practice)

Honestly probably a waste of time as you’ll review the same content over and over again in every app. Find one or two that you find most useful and focus on them. I used Drops and Duolingo for other languages (never tried for Japanese) and didn’t care for them personally. I like clozemaster a lot but it’s not a good place to start, you need to know the basics to use it effectively.

Don’t lose track of your objective, you want to learn Japanese, not get streak combos in gamified apps. That’s how people end up with a 1000day streak in Duolingo but still can’t have a basic conversation in their target language.

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Thank you! Is Bunpro a paid service? I don’t really have any extra cash to spare at the moment so if it is paid do you have any recommendations? And at least to learn the basics, should I focus on Genki a bit, Wanikani, YouTube videos, and online vocabulary lists? I get a bit lost when trying to figure out a study plan, especially so since I can’t afford very much. Thank you for your help!

Amost every resource you mentioned using will help you with learning and practicing input (reading, listening). I would suggest also practicing output (speaking, writing). As you learn, all four areas (reading, writing, listening, speaking) will reinforce each other, but like any skill you’ve got to practice them each to get better.

Find a language partner and practice speaking. Recalling vocabulary/ grammar all on your own while trying to talk with someone is a different skill than reading and recognizing the words on the page. I’ve used italki.com where you can find language partners (free) and online teachers (costs money) before and It was pretty good, but I think they got rid of the language partner part of it. But there’s plenty other online sites to fine language partners.

If you’re in school maybe there’s an international club where you can meet people to converse with. Depending where you are there might also be a community group in your city.
Also, for recall of Wanikani vocab you can use Kaniwani, where you see the word in english and type the answer in Japanese. You think you know a word… but suddenly you can’t recall it! It’s surprisingly challenging.
And don’t forget, take your time and If you need to take breaks, take them! Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a constant cycle of remembering and forgetting.
Good luck!!

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Thank you so much, I appreciate the tips and encouragement. I would love to try to find a partner to speak with if I can, or at some point if I can afford it try to just find a tutor to talk to. Good point about the value of output! Thank you for the for the advice!

I think you have a good plan! The only thing is make sure you’re doing the workbooks as well as reading the textbooks, you have a lot of input but you gotta be sure you’re practicing output as well!

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The main thing is to make studying a habit, and not something you start to dread. The specific tools are less important than ensuring coverage. And burn-out is a real threat (this forum has many posts from people that overdid it in the beginning, then eventually gave up entirely).

I’m assuming “study abroad” means taking some courses in Japan. If so, I’d suggest the following:

  1. Brute memorization of kanji and common vocabulary. An SRS is the only rational option here (unsurprisingly, I’m a fan of WK).

  2. Basic grammar and sentence structure. (Genki or other textbooks or online resources are fine. Whatever works for you.)

  3. Reading. The more the better. Satori is great.

  4. Listening practice. Movies, TV shows, anime, games, whatever.

  5. Output (speaking and writing). You’ll find this is a completely different skill from input (simple recognition: listening and reading). Best is to find a native friend to practice with (if you’ve got a very patient friend) but I’ve heard some people like iTalki and the like. A pen-pal (or email pal) or Japanese forums are another option.

In the beginning, it’s best IMO to focus solely on the first two. The first one is a MASSIVE effort, but it falls to slow and steady progress, and it makes EVERYTHING else easier.

Don’t neglect learning basic grammatical structures, though, even during the beginning stages. You can do that while you’re learning how to read.

Once you’ve got enough kanji under your belt, then force yourself to get as much input (3 and 4) as possible. This is easiest if you’re actually in Japan, but with enough motivation you can find plenty of Japanese material anywhere.

Eventually, you need to start practicing output as well. It’s never too early, but you’ll probably find it difficult until you’ve had a ton of input.

Enjoy!

P.S.

I just returned my first trip to Japan in almost three years (I generally travel to Japan 6 to 10 times per year for business and family reasons). During the COVID break, though, I actually learned how to read Japanese. It was fascinating to realize how much I could read everywhere I went this time. Getting my reading practice in was completely effortless — Japanese writing was everywhere and I could actually make sense of most of it. It was a fascinating feeling (my first trip to Japan was in 1975, but this was the first time I’d ever been able to read most things, not just the odd menu item or map location).

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Thank you very much, this is very helpful! Definitely I will have to work harder with grammar and structure, but I’m hoping Genki will help me start out well for that. I’m sure that was so exciting to be able to understand what’s around you, I can’t wait to get to that point! Thank you again.

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