Japanese learning path?

So I just picked up learning Japanese again last week, after learning Hiragana and Katakana a couple of months back and then not doing anything with it. I’ve started using TextFugu and I’m somewhere in the middle of the second season. I’m planing to keep using WaniKani, and when I get back to school I’ll be taking Japanese. Everything has been going very well the last week, but I’m still not 100% sure where I’m going. First off, I’m not sure if I should learn the vocabulary on TextFugu as well as the vocab here. It feels like it will be overwhelming, but at the same time the vocab on TextFugu seems to be used a lot in the lessons, so not learning it feels like a bad idea too… Using TextFugu for grammar and such seems like a good idea.

Second, I’m afraid WaniKani won’t help me with knowing a lot of words. I feel like I can recognize the kanji, but it often takes a long time for me to come up with the meaning and reading. You who’ve been here for a longer time, do you feel like you’ve gotten more fluent? I’m afraid I’ll learn a lot of Kanji without knowing how to use it.

Do you have any advice on other resources to use? I’d love to hear about your experience with self learning. Are there parts of the Japanese language I should be careful not to miss learning? I appreciate any help/thoughts/stories about your Japanese learning path!

(I hope this kind of post is okay, and that this was the right category…)


I don’t see how WK won’t help you with reading. It’s what the site is designed to do.

That being said, reading doesn’t have much to do with fluency (the ability to produce language without much pausing). It’s a different skill, so don’t worry about that.

Well, worry about it, but don’t expect WK to teach you it.

How do I become better at fluency? Do you think I should just push forward with WaniKani and TextFugu for now and worry about fluency by reading and talking once I have a bigger vocabulary and better grammar? I suppose I know to little right now to really say or read anything that isn’t very basic.

You get better at speaking by speaking. A lot. As much as possible. There really isn’t much of a shortcut to it.

As you said, you need a baseline level of knowledge to start, but once you have that you can seek out language partners. It’s super easy to find people on the internet.


Okay, thank you!
Since I’ll be taking Japanese in school I’ll hopefully get to do some talking there too.

No worries. You’re only level two, but around level 4 WK starts to hit it’s full speed (for lessons) and will give you about 100+ vocab terms per level. The majority of the kanji and vocab in the pleasant levels are useful and will probably come up in a beginner’s japanese textbook, but where and when will vary in each. WK is a fantastic way to improve reading skills, but fluency is a different beast as Leebo has pointed out.

If your classes will start soonish I would probably just wait for those and build up vocab + handwriting (alphabet practice) in the meantime. Writing can be useful and I’m assuming handwritten quizzes/exercises are still a thing in classes. Get your kana down so you can use class time to learn instead of struggling with the alphabet. Otherwise, Genki 1 is a pretty common starting point even for self-study. Similarly, I also like Human Japanese, which doesn’t use kanji for the first volume. Some people recommend Tae Kim’s Guide since it’s free, but I think its sparse explanations make it a better follow up and reference book to supplement grammar studies.

Leebo’s got you covered for the rest. I definitely agree with him on the speaking part. It’s very difficult, but also the best way to reinforce everything you’re learning in the same place.


On a side note, how can you tell when you have a foundation strong enough to start speaking with a conversation partner?

Right now I’ve mostly only done line messaging back and forth with native speaker friends who are fine correcting my grammar!

It’s not a very high bar. As long as you can make full sentences and know a few dozen words, you can start practicing speaking. Even if you have to make it clear that you won’t be able to say much. Finding someone who has some English skills can ease the transition, but you do want to be careful not to fall back on speaking English too much.

1 Like

Okay yeah, I could probably start finding someone now, I guess I’m just pretty shy about putting myself out there.

The issue with vocabulary isn’t so much the amount that wanikani teaches, but instead the large amount of vocabulary that exists in Japanese (or any language). Wanikani provides a good amount of vocabulary to start off with and the more you practice it, the better your recognition. However, just to accommodate with the large amount of vocabulary there is to learn, you’ll need to learn a lot of your vocabulary from practice.

As for reading fluency, I can’t really answer that well, I already read pretty well before coming to Wanikani, but I had issues not knowing the pronunciation or specific meanings of most compounds. As such, I could get the general meaning of a passage, but if asked to read allowed or translate a specific clause, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Wanikani fixed the first of those for me, and practice has helped with the second one. I feel like Wanikani will help a lot of you keep with it, but you also need to pair that with practicing reading as well. To learn how to use vocabulary, you have to use them.

Considering advice, the big one is to keep studying consistently, it’s more beneficial to study an hour every day as opposed to 5 hours once a week. Beyond that, you know yourself better than I do. I’d suggest spending your first year or so focusing on getting key grammatical structures and the basic ability in all the different mediums of japanese (EX: reading, speaking), and then focus on a specific medium to practice your Japanese ability with. For example, after my first year, I focused specifically on reading Japanese. When I read, I both practice reading without translating to english and recognizing specific grammatical items. Additionally, since I focus enough time on it, words that come up frequently I learn through osmosis. (EX: in fiction words like 俺 and the such come up a lot, I haven’t ever looked that word up or been taught it, I just picked it up somewhere along the line)

As for resources, there are a lot out there, so find and pick one that works well with you. I went through Genki, Nakama, Tae Kim and am currently working my way through Tobira and A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, and lots of reading. I didn’t really like Genki, but I think it works well for a lot of people. I liked Tae Kim, but that might be hard to practice with. Tobira I really like, but that’s post Genki. Really, look around, find something that fits with you, and keep with it while pairing it with a lot of practice.


If you’re struggling to find someone, let me know–depending on our time zones I might be able to help out on that front. :slight_smile: Feel free to PM me if you’re interested!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think that PMs are disabled in this forum…

PMs are disabled and can only be used to communicate with the WK staff if they contact you with them first. If I remember correctly one of the reasons they did this was because all of the admins can read PMs freely which is kind of creepy.

1 Like

Let me ask you this, @savee13, how much time do you intend on studying Japanese every day? What are your goals with Japanese? Why are you learning it and what do you hope to use it for?

Maybe try to send small audios first. It’s less personal than a videocall.

Right now I’m on summer vacation and still on that learning hype train. Now I’m studying maybe 2 hours every day but I’d be happy if I managed to study Japanese for an hour every day in the future.

I’m learning for multiple reasons; I want to be able to hold simple conversations in Japanese, be able to make myself understood if I go to Japan, be able to read some of the Japanese I encounter online and in real life, and so on.

My only solid goals at the moment are to get a good grade in class, and maybe JLPT N5 eventually. I guess I’ll see where I want to go from there.

Well if you intend on studying for at least an hour a day into the future, I would say you can fit wanikani into your schedule, albeit not at a power-leveling pace. With your goals in mind, I wouldn’t recommend Wanikani as your primary studying tool for now, and ordinarily I would point you towards Genki or some other basic grammar textbook.

However, since you said you are going to be taking Japanese classes, I would recommend prioritizing building up a basic vocabulary, and learning the 100-200 most common kanji. I found my Japanese classes much more enjoyable and beneficial when I knew the vocabulary beforehand, and was able to use the class time to focus on speaking, listening, and practicing using the new grammar points we covered.

If you know what textbook you will be using for your class, you will likely be able to find an anki (highly recommended flash card program) deck for your textbook. If not, there are plenty of anki decks for the most common vocabulary and kanji, which tend to overlap well with most textbooks.

Beyond that, I think the best advice I can give to a beginner is to not burn out, and try to maintain a consistent study schedule. You’ll learn much faster studying 15 minutes a day as opposed to 2 hours once a week.

If you need to know anything, try googling, searching the forums, or posting a question. Whether you continue with Wanikani after your free trial or not, the forums are a great resource for links to materials and general advice.

Oh and to answer your question about whether Wanikani has made me more fluent, I think Leebo answered it sufficiently. It has helped build up my vocab, but first and foremost I’m learning kanji much faster than I was before, which has greatly improved my reading.


I’ve been doing wanikani on my phone whenever I have some time to spare, and my plan was to keep doing that. Therefore, I wasn’t counting that time into the 1 hour a day. I suppose that might not be possible once I get into the higher levels?

Right now I feel like the important thing is that I stay consistent and develop a routine for studying Japanese every day.

How would you go about learning the 100-200 first kanji? I’m guessing WaniKani will help me a bit, but what resources and/or methods could I use with it? I’m guessing you mean learning to say and recognize them?

I’ve been using TextFugu to learn basic grammar and it’s been good so far. My plan is to use it at least until my classes start, and then I’ll maybe focus on whatever book I get there.


1 Like

Well just keep doing what you’re doing I guess.

Have you ever heard of Memrise? It’s another app/website similar to wanikani. It has a bunch of japanese flashcard courses you can take. It’s free. You should check it out. I’d recommend any of the JLPT N5 Vocab/kanji courses, the Genki 1 courses, anything beginner-oriented, or any core # courses should be good places to start

1 Like

Dang, didn’t realize that. That is kind of creepy though if they can read things, so I understand why they did it. Still seems odd but…well.