Japanese class or self-taught (or both)?

I am wondering how many people on here attend Japanese classes as part of their learning.

I have been taking classes since April 2017, and I really love them. My teacher is one of the best I’ve ever had, and it’s really nice having someone guide me through what I need to know when. We use a textbook in theory, but in practice my teacher designs almost all the resources herself.

However, the class is only 90 minutes a week for 34 weeks per year - so it’s slow progress. We’re only this week starting to look at Kanji, as the focus is so much on speaking and listening. Which is why I’m trying to supplement my learning with WaniKani, Anki, and a couple of apps - as long as I make sure I still do my homework for class.

From my forum lurking, it always seems like most of you are self-taught (and very disciplined too!) Am I guessing right?

Update: Wow - thank you everyone who has responded! It is interesting to hear about your experience with Japanese classes. One thing that strikes me is how many people studied Japanese at High School or University. This wasn’t an option for me - so I am going to adult language classes. The downside is they are very expensive - around £500 per year. So it is a big investment.


I studied Japanese at university as a diploma of language studies for three years, and it worked pretty well for me. I started TextFugu as supplementary study during that time, as well as Japanese for Busy People, and I even read the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar literally from cover to cover, using the example sentences as practice by covering over the translations with my hand.

Once I graduated, back in 2013, my self-study just… stopped. Oh, as a hobby during that time, I worked on making a translation for a drama series and called that “self study”, but really I wasn’t learning anything much new aside from the Hiroshima and Osaka dialects. Picked WaniKani up again a few weeks ago, so now I’m getting back into the swing of things. :slightly_smiling_face:


I went to a Japanese for beginners class in my last semester at university. Didn’t learn much there though, except maybe for reading Hiragana. Wish I had started earlier, but I never knew how much I was loving Japan before the end of my study. Now I’m working full time and therefore I can’t make it to any classes from university. Therefore, yes, I consider myself self-study.

Thanks to WaniKani (reading), Bunpro (grammar), SatoriReader (vocabulary), KaniWani (recalling), JapanesePod101 (listening) and these two Anki decks (writing) I feel like I’m doing good at the moment. The only thing I’m missing is speaking. I plan on adding that later via iTalki.

My wife, by the way, is still studying and attending Japanese classes. We’re kind of competing on who’ll be the one knowing more Japanese until our next holiday in Japan in spring sometime next year. Currently it looks like I’ll be the one who reads signs and restaurant menus as they are not learning any Kanji yet and she’ll be the one asking for directions and ordering since she’s got more speaking and grammar practice. :smile:


I do classes :slight_smile:

I feel your pain - mine is a two-hour lesson once a week, for 30 lessons a year (and one or two of those are taken up with testing). Well, actually, it’s 15 weeks of once-a-week, then 7 weeks of twice-a-week. So I only go to classes 23 weeks of the year :sweat_smile:

But I love it. I started from the beginning, and my teacher had just moved here as well. There are a few of us who’ve stuck with it all the way through (we always get her pilot class as she adds more advanced levels). We’re pretty good friends, and I meet up with the teacher outside of term time for tea and chats. I saw A Silent Voice at the cinema with her.

I would never have the discipline or be able to create the structure to do it myself, and I can’t imagine myself finding anybody to practice talking with. I think after the next course she will stop adding more, as there isn’t the demand and she can only do so much in the week. But by that point I’ll have the foundation I need to study myself, and I can keep meeting my teacher for speaking practice.

Taking classes was just a hobby I decided to pick up. I don’t need to learn Japanese, nor do I have any particular goal in doing so. So I’ve never really been bothered by thoughts of whether I could be progressing faster. Going to the classes themselves is part of the experience I was seeking.


I’m learning on my own but, I can’t say that I’m disciplined. Probably the opposite. I wish I was in class so someone could tell me what to do and when to do it and how much to do and how fast I should be going. I think learning on my own I don’t spend enough time a day actually learning.

Yep… this exactly! Also “you must at least come to this class every week!”

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I studied a little at high school years ago. Basically hiragana, katakana and maybe just a handful of kanji - so probably somewhere just below N5 level.
I only picked it up again last year and ever since then it’s self study, which is so much easier these days now there’s tools like WK.

I started studying Japanese formally in High School and studied for three years there, then I took a semester in College and am currently spending a year in Japan taking language classes as a part of a student exchange program.

Before starting in High School I grew up with anime and had a Japanese friend who told me a little bit about the culture and language, but I didn’t actually begin studying until High School. A fair bit of my Japanese has been self-study, but I would say the majority of my progress and time is spent in a formal class-room setting with a teacher. However, being in Japan has obviously been a huge help for learning Japanese as I could talk with native Japanese peers that don’t know English and was forced to improve my speaking skills.

I would say you can certainly do well enough from just self-studying the language, but classes have really made a huge difference. Vocabulary and the like are something I would say you can easily, and probably mostly have to, do on your own, but for things like grammar it’s a great idea to get fundamentals from in the classroom.

I just started on Wanikani and have never used these kinds of online resources, I’m the type to study out of textbooks, read manga and novels, watch dramas and anime, and practice writing new vocabulary and kanji in a notebook so this set-up is pretty new! Hopefully things pick up on Wanikani, it’s kind of a bummer that you start off at a very basic level regardless of where you may already be, but I can understand why it works that way for the system they have on the site, and as far as I can tell I have high hopes for it being good practice remembering and being introduced to new kanji! Having said that, I still think practicing writing the kanji characters by hand is absolutely a requirement for studying as it ensures you really know the kanji well, the stroke order, the radicals, and can write it when needed.

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I’m completely self taught.
So I first started learning Japanese in the last year of high school, learning kana and basic grammar from free internet resources. Ran into kanji wall and stopped, and pick up again and stopped again a couple of times.
While I did attend a basic Japanese course at university I felt like I learned nothing at all because it only covered things I already knew. And advanced courses costed quite an amount of money which I didn’t have back in my university days.

I started making a more or less structured studying schedule at the start of the year using WaniKani for kanji, Genki + Dictionary of Japanese Grammar series for grammar and looking into BunPro soon. I’m still looking for good resources for learning vocab and listening practice, so if anyone has something to recommend I’d gladly look into it :slight_smile:


I’m completely self-taught as well and I love it but I think learning Japanese in class might be super beneficial, specially when practicing conversation and getting stuff reviewed. I try to compensate whay I’m missing with Italki teachers, and sites/apps like Lang-8 or HelloTalk, but it will never be the same.

Both ways of learning have their pros and cons, and they are not mutually exclusive, I think, they are even interchangeable. One could start as self-taught and then get into a formal course and viceversa.

I’ve used/am using both Genki books, Tobira, JLPT preparation books, WaniKani, Tangoristo (beats Satori reader in my opinion), Bunpro, Youtube, blogs.

Many, many moons ago, I learnt the Hiragana and Katakana chart by heart, and picked up some very basic understanding of Japanese language through animes, and later games. (Yeah, believe it or not.) I did join an evening class during my first year at university and we used the ‘Japanese for Busy People’ textbook, but I feel like I didn’t really learn all that much. The problem I had with the evening class was that we progressed very, very slowly. For one term we only did Hiragana, and for another term only Katakana. The only good thing about the evening class was everything the teacher taught us that wasn’t really in the textbook, for example you could ask her any question on Japanese language and she would give you a throughout explanation, which was really great. In the end, it wasn’t really worth the money though.

So yeah, ever since then I decided to just study on my own and found my way to WaniKani. At the moment I mainly use WK and Bunpro, and just started browsing through Genki. I will probably stick to that for a bit, but I am really curious about the JGR Series or the KLC Graded Reading Sets so I will probably check them out later on in my studies.


I’ve been following classes since March 2017. Unfortunately every ‘level’ only has 12 classes of 1,5 hours in which we go through half a course book (We’ve been using Marugoto, which I can really recommend, much nicer to work with than Japanese for Busy People).
I love going to the classes because the teacher is so nice and very Japanese. She really makes work of trying to get us to truly understand what we’re doing instead of just hammering in all the rules.
I do find that using WaniKani (and KaniWani) and BunPro really makes my learning progress speed up. It is much easier to understand what’s going on in class and by learning Kanji I noticed that ways to pronunciate certain words are finally starting to make sense! Such a great experience :wink:

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I used to have a class once, but it was only weekly, in a large group, and i didn’t feel that I made any progress at all. Since then I’ve forever been selftaught.
Recently I started having 1:1 talking practice via italki.com, but they are not really lessons. Just talking with a native speaker and trying to converse more and more, and to improve the quality.

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I probably knew a couple of hundred kanji when I started using WaniKani, but I very quickly outpaced that using WK. Even within the first hundred I learnt on here, a significant number of these were new to me (i.e. it’s not like the, say, 200 I knew overlapped with the first 200 I learnt on WK).

It depends, obviously, how many you know, but I believe that Leebo for example already knew about 500 kanji when he started and seems to have found it excellent nonetheless. You can just go much faster if you already know some. Keep at it! :slight_smile:

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I took three years of Japanese in college and it was more or less useless. The only reason I attended was to get free tutor time which was available to anyone taking language classes.

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I’m from the self-learning department. But I have no specific goal in learning Japanese, I’m basically doing it because it’s fun for me. I dedicate 1-2 hours a day to Japanese, a little more than half of them in WK. It doesn’t take real discipline because that’s what I always want to do.
I went to one Japanese lesson with a teacher not long ago, which was fun and important for actually using my knowledge and practicing some speaking. I think I will continue to take lessons every couple of months or so for this, but mainly will stay with self learning to actually learn stuff. This way I’m also not obligated to anyone or anything else but my desire to learn and enjoyment of the process. When this stops (not in the foreseeable future) I will probably just stop and start something else.

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I had a private teacher about 10 years ago. One hour a week (I think) for a year and a half. I took lessons to help me pass the 2級 JLPT (back when there were only four levels). I give her the credit for helping me pass. And I blame myself for not studying for about ten years after the test.

I’m learning Japanese on my own which I love and hate at the same time xD
It’s really fun once I get into it but it’s a bit difficult to sit down and start. Sometimes I have questions (like "Why is it 自転車で行くand 自転車に乗る but not 自転車で乗る) where I wish I had a teacher or someone else to ask but I either google it or I do a little bit of research/recap in my book and figure it out on my own.
FYI I haven’t studied grammar in three days which I regret right now xD I’m gonna go study :joy:

Wish I could take classes, but there are none anywhere around me.
Fully self taught, which is why I suck so hard at it.

I took two years of uni classes over twenty years ago, followed by several years in Japan speaking mostly English at work and occasionally having a tutor when one was available (most Japanese classes were available during the same hours I was working teaching English :disappointed: ). I then moved to a regional area of Australia with little opportunity to practice or take classes that weren’t just basics, so I’m delighted to have found Wanikani and this community to support my current self-study.