Japanese in one year?! - Not your usual study log

I have to admit, I just feel like you opened my eyes with that :see_no_evil:

That makes so much sense! I’ll continue with Bunpro, but I think I might drop KaniWani. I feel like if I continue with it, my brain will get used to that “English → Japanese” mapping, which is not really a good thing to have if I want to get fluent. Trying to produce Japanese text is probably way better than KaniWani, and essentially does the same thing, but not SRS-isolated.

And, as you said, I could learn more vocab instead of doing additional reviews, and vocab are the most important aspect of using a language. I will finish N3 at my current pace, but I think I’ll tackle N1 slower then. I’m not sure regarding N2, as I feel like this is the point where I could handle everyday conversations (at least grammarwise). If I stick to my pace, I would be finished by beginning of April. Finishing N1 grammar in July or August is still fast enough, but what about N2? Any advice?

No need to apologize, I appreciate every single advice that I get, even if I don’t end up following it :slight_smile:

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Personally I’d leave that decision up to future you. (Not planning every step in advance can be hard, I know :see_no_evil:)
Unless you are already doing a bunch of vocabulary outside of WaniKani, by the time you finish N3 grammar you’ll probably be quite a bit ahead with your grammar studies. If you were to pick up an easy novel (e.g. また、同じ夢を見ていた), what would be holding you back likely wouldn’t be unknown grammar, but unknown vocabulary (and practice). Even more so for the spoken language, because higher grammar concepts naturally are less frequent there.
Catch up with your other studies, try consuming more and more content aimed at natives and go from there. Maybe you’ll find that the N2 grammar is holding you back and you want to do all of Bunpro. Maybe you’ll decide that you don’t actually need to SRS N1/N2 grammar because you get enough practice from reading. Maybe you’ll go for a mix of both, only SRS’ing those grammar points that you find difficult.
Point being: Your situation will likely be very different even just a couple months from now. Future you will likely have a very different opinion on how to best approach learning Japanese. It’s fine to leave the nitty-gritty details of the far away stuff up to them. Better spend that effort focusing on what’s in front of you :books:

EDIT:
Guess I should leave an actual answer as well instead of just a long-winded way of saying “That isn’t very important yet” :rofl:
Personally I never did any structured study of N2/N1 grammar. Never felt like I needed to. For the most part grammar became a non-issue for me once I started reading a bunch. Seeing grammar being used over and over again has a way of driving it home. (And unlike kanji, I actually managed to do well on the grammar portions of the N2 and N1 exams :rofl:)

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Just curious, what did your study method for N5-N3 look like? I’m aiming for N4 rn and personally I have the most trouble with grammar and I feel like it holds me back more than kanji at this point, likely because I’m no longer in a classroom environment and don’t have classmates to do speaking practice with for the grammar points I’m learning from Genki

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Mmm. I studied N2/N1 grammar but didn’t SRS it at the time. Somewhat later when I was doing JLPT prep I did some SRS of grammar, but basically only as a refresher of the relatively small proportion of items that reading and other practice hadn’t given me a good grasp of, so it was quite selective. Most things you’ll see often enough anyway, and I think the repeated exposure in various contexts gives you a more solid handle on them than SRS.

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I’ve been going through Bunpro N5 through N3 at about 2 items/day through 2023 and when I was done with that I intended to continue with N2/N1 but ended up giving up after a few dozen N2 items. Now I just add them when I encounter them in the wild instead.

The issue was that many of these points are just more formal/humble/archaic variants of other grammar points, or sometimes just points that bring a relatively small nuance over an existing point. One that gives me trouble lately is と考えられている (N4) versus と考えられる (N2) for instance. Keeping track of the nuance here is rough for me and sometimes it’s so bad that I end up messing up reviews of easier grammar points because I confuse them with these more advanced versions.

I see some people “speedrunning” Bunpro in less than a year but unless you already have solid bases and consume a lot of Japanese content I don’t understand how you can meaningfully engage with these more subtle N2/N1 points and not just have everything turn into amorphous mush in your brain.

I went through this myself, Bunpro seriously helped as well as consuming simple conversational Japanese in manga and videogames.

Those basic N5/N4/N3 grammar points come up over and over and over again everywhere all the time. Just bruteforcing your way through dozens of hours of simple dialogue may seem unsophisticated but it certainly helped me massively (although I still have a long way to go).

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I did some of the vocab on Bunpro, but I guess not enough for my current grammar level, I’m still at the N5 deck :see_no_evil: So I should probably go slower for N2. I guess 5 grammar points per day or something like that is fast enough. I think I’ll wait before starting N2, though, and finish at least the N5 and N4 vocab decks lol, but I’ll definitely go through the grammar points, because my brain can’t handle it if it doesn’t see 100% :sweat_smile:

Anyway, I’ll most definitely slow down for N2 and N1, and try to get as good as possible for N5 - N3 before starting it, especially considering this:

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I love this insight. Never did any structured study of N5-N3 grammar (just looking things up as I went) and all the things you said have given me more confidence that the grammar will at some point stick through repetition. I’m still reading through N2 grammar at least once, just to get familiar enough with it that I’ll recognise something as a grammar point.

Also thank you for this, especially for non-natives like me and NeoArcturus I’ve always felt that the more English a way of studying includes, the harder it is to get it to a level where I can use it in actual conversation. A little bit of English can be helpful for understanding, but Wanikani for example is already stretching the limits because I have to think about the nuances in English more than about the Japanese.

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I absolutely love that you keep getting valuable feedback through your study blog and are actually incorporating it. It’s so great to see learning and applied feedback happening right in front of my eyes. It makes me want to start a study blog myself haha

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I used an i+1 sentence deck for grammar study. (As in, every flashcard had a sentence on the front that contained one new element, starting out from very basic things like こんにちは and getting more and more complicated.) Because it were sentence cards, the grammar points naturally kept repeating on the other cards as well, giving you plenty of opportunity to learn them passively. It managed to give you a good understanding of N5+N4 and a good chunk of N3 grammar in 1000 cards (it also taught some vocab, that’s why its so many), and to this date it’s my favorite method for grammar study.

The original decks no longer exist in the form I used them (Japaneselevelup aka Jalup shut down a while ago). Nihongo Lessons took over the content, but same as back in the day it is quite expensive, which is why I usually refrain from recommending them :person_shrugging:
I think there is some free decks that attempt to do the same, but personally I’ve never came across any that do it particularly well.

So… I’m definitely crossing the boundary into what is appropriate levels of unsolicited advice here… But I’ll just use this quote an as an excuse to pretend it’s fine :rofl:

I never used the Bunpro decks myself, but from what I’ve seen they follow the ancient official JLPT lists rather closely. And sadly, these are anything but frequency ordered. There’s the clearly outdated stuff like テープレコーダー, but also things that have no right being among your first 1000 words like 万年筆 and 大使館. Some bureaucrat probably assumed these would be important for foreigners, but for consuming Japanese content they are mostly useless. And that’s just some examples from the N5 list. The higher you go, the worse it gets.
Lot’s of people assume the JLPT vocab lists would be well thought through, but they really aren’t. And nowadays they aren’t even used for the JLPT anymore, they haven’t been ever since 2011, so they really lack any meaning :see_no_evil:

Point being: I’d really consider using some deck that is frequency ordered instead for supplementing your WaniKani studies. You need those high frequency words, those that appear everywhere all the time, to ease you into consuming native content :books:

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I feel that so much :sweat_smile: When I tried to write Japanese, I always thought in terms of English that I translate to Japanese, which should not happen! Gotta work on fixing that now before I get used to it… Thanks a lot to @GrumpyPanda for linking that insightful post!

Then go for it :slight_smile: Nothing is holding you back, right? If I manage to learn Japanese in one year (which I will), 50% of that achievment will be thanks to the awesome folks here :heart:

Oh, ok, that is definitely news to me, thanks for telling me! Yes, Bunpro seems to follow the JLPT list pretty closely then, I’ve already learned テープレコーダー and 万年筆 :sweat_smile:

Where can I get it? Which one? How? Tell me, please, @GrumpyPanda先生 :see_no_evil:

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You two are really making it hard not to start preaching about the wonders of going monolingual :rofl:
It’s probably a bit early for @NeoArcturus, but maybe I could convince @Thubanshee… ? :thinking:
(I’m just kidding. Mostly.)

Sadly, I think I’ve been out of the game of beginner study resources for too long to give good advice. I don’t know about any of the shiny new stuff that is probably out there.
But just to name one, even though I never used it myself: I like the idea of jpdb.io. It lets you study words by frequency across their whole corpus (derived from a lot of native content).
Alternatively you could always ask on the forums. There’s plenty of options out there, I’m sure someone knows something that would suit you.

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That is some high level bragging there :wink: (just kidding lol)

Thanks, that looks very interesting! Time to kick out KaniWani out of my table hehe

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I could always have been stuck at an N3 level for the last 10 years? :slightly_frowning_face:
I should post that fancy N1 certificate that arrived in the mail a few days ago for some proper bragging :face_with_monocle:
(Somehow passing the N1 doesn’t feel that special once you’ve actually done it, I wonder what that’s about :thinking:)

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There should be some Japanese 6K Anki decks floating around, they are mostly ripped from iKnow.jp as far as I know, and I liked iKnow.jp very much, so I approve of the Anki decks based on them. https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1880390099
Like this one for example. It even has the audio from iKnow.jp

Also, I 100% agree with spending more time on vocabulary. WaniKani is definitely not enough, and N2 and N1 is diminishing returns, especially when SRSing. Reading up on them on Bunpro is fine, but SRS is not made for nuances like these, especially once there is more than one correct answer.

On my first Japan visit I kicked myself because I had been focusing on grammar so much, but knowing how to say „しなければならない” and “かもしれない” (I know this is already basics to you :wink: ) didn’t help me when I simply didn’t know the word for something. Vocab is so much more important than grammar, especially once you finish N3 grammar.
(Also, I also did the “official” JLPT lists and I turned out fine, but personally I would recommend a deck like the one I linked above. It also has lots of accessible example sentences that serve as reading practice)

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I was about to link this in a reply to @NeoArcturus, when WK told me you!d already done that lol
I’ve started using it about a week ago to test it against Anki, and so far I’m seeing both pros and cons.

Pros: pre-built decks, no mining, low effort to set up, automatically teaches the kanji/smaller vocab first and the compounds once I know the smaller parts, all the vocab I’ve seen so far is really useful, great SRS, keyword and mnemonics are editable, I can grade myself (no typo misses), I can switch the backs of the cards to German or even monolingual Japanese, I can manually “burn” vocab I already now.

Cons: teaches kanji you will never ever see, just because they’re part of a bigger kanji that’s very common (the kanji are optional btw, if you prefer to only use WK, you can turn them off), the vocab cards can be a bit cluttered with too many definitions at once, I have to grade myself (works for me, because I’m strict with myself, but if you aren’t you might be having a hard time).

If you (NeoArcturus) aren’t using Anki yet, I can only recommend jpdb.io. If you are using Anki, I’d still check it out to see if it works for you.

(Also, the process of making a frequency deck on JPDB isn’t completely straightforward, so I invite you to check out this guide.)

Um, yes, please?! Go ahead and proselytise me! You might be preaching to the choir though, as I learned English basically through reading books and looking up stuff in a monolingual dictionary, but the thing is that my kanji knowledge is really really bad. Like, I can read maybe 700? And only about 500 of those are really solid. That’s why I’m here on Wanikani :sweat_smile:

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Honestly, that doesn’t sound like a cons to me :slight_smile: As you might know, I do plan to get a perfect score on the Kanken level 1 one day (please don’t challenge me to speedrun that, though lmao, that’ll very likely take me years, if not decades), so more kanji can never hurt!

I tried Anki a few times, but always threw it away again because I didn’t like it :rofl: I’ll definitely try jpdb first because it’s probably less pain to set up than Anki lol

Thanks for linking that!

Do it, otherwise I’ll have to give your bragging skills a 2/10 grading :face_with_monocle:

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Talking about the native contents, I like the idea of Visual Novels with audio + Yomitan. VN because of the auto-pause, easy replaying of the audio, and lots of text. Well, I started VN pretty late and don’t really know how to set up a text hooker properly; but I think there is a website dedicated to that instruction.

About monolingual, I have this script for WaniKani. Much of my criticism towards WaniKani is about English typing – typo detection and blacklist detection, as well as unpredictable hidden synonyms. Maybe a better solution is Anki mode, but I sticked through with Double Check.

My opinion about a monolingual dictionary, is that once you learned how to read quickly, it either works within 3 seconds, or it probably doesn’t work well (just for that word).

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Quickly dropping my daily two chapters of the TWC in between the discussion :slight_smile:

リサ (7 / 19)

上の(しげ)みの中から、オレンジ色の(かみ)少女(しょうじょ)()()してきました。

(Lisa:) 誰?ここで何をしているの?

(Celestina:) 私たちは洞窟(どうくつ)入口(いりぐち)(さが)しているの。

(Lisa:) どうしてそこに行きたいの?

(Markus:) ルーンストーンを集めたいんだ。

(Lisa:) ルーンストーン?そんなの聞いたことがないわ。


A girl with orange hair jumped out from the bush on the top.

(Lisa:) Who are you? What are you doing here?

(Celestina:) We are searching for the entrance of the cave.

(Lisa:) Why do you want to go there?

(Markus:) We want to collect Rune stones.

(Lisa:) Rune stones? I have never heard about something like that.

はしご (8 / 19)

少女(しょうじょ)(しげ)みの中に(かく)されたハシゴを取り出して、セレスティーナの前に()ろしました。

(Lisa:) 悪い人には見えないね。このハシゴを使って。

(Celestina:) ありがとう。私はセレスティーナ、彼はマーカスよ。

(Lisa:) よろしくね。私の名前はリサ。うちに来て。


The girl took out a ladder that was hidden inside the bush and brought it down in front of Celestina.

(Lisa:) You don’t look like bad people. Use this ladder.

(Celestina:) Thanks you! I am Celestina and he is Markus.

(Lisa:) Nice to meat you. My name is Lisa. (Please) Come inside!

Looks like we now met the last companion (or at least I think so)! I’m already excited for the cavern!

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Visual Novels with audio? Might be a good idea for me as well, especially considering how bad I am at doing listening practice :sweat_smile:

Probably a bit early for me, but I’ll give the script a try and see how it works :slight_smile:

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Omg I tried it and it’s so good?? This is what might make Wanikani really actually work for me. The feeling of having a little bit of Japanese embedded in a lot of English has made WK more of a hobby/game for me so far, but with the Japanese explanations the whole experience feels much more in depth and way less railroaded.

I expected the script to be way beyond my level because kanji, but then realised that I can use it in conjunction with Yomitan and it just becomes awesome. Thank you so much for sharing!

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