Learning conversational Japanese and grammar... Slowly

I’ve really found my home in waniKani. I work multiple jobs and have family and the ability to carve out 30 minutes a day is really hard for me, but I can do it and dedicate it to wani Kani.

However I’m clearly lacking conversational and grammar skills. I can’t get this with Duolingo. I need to be able to incrementally read and write conversational Japanese and have my grammar and vocabulary challenged.

What tool do I use? Duolingo and bunpro are promising, but still very new. Is there a tutoring system I should be examining?

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Good question. I’m also trying to find a good way to learn conversational japanese. I heard that ‘hello talk’ app can help. It integrates a social website like facebook with japanese speakers learning english and English speakers learning japanese. Not quite there, but i think it can help.

Here is a video explaining it

HelloTalk is good to practice conversation, but not nor learning grammar, especially for a beginner. In fact, without basic grammar, you would find yourself unable to express basically anything on HelloTalk. If you want to have spoken conversations, it’s harder to find a good partner and agreeing on a schedule can be a pain.

If you don’t have much free time and you don’t know a lot of grammar, I’d recommend you take a look at Pimsleur’s course. It’s obviously not as good as talking to natives regularly or taking a proper course, but you can do the 30 minute lessons on your commute, or while you’re exercising or cooking or whatever. I do them while I’m driving to work, so it doesn’t require me to give up any more of my (already scarce) spare time. They start at the very beginning and no previous knowledge is assumed. The lessons introduce grammar points and vocabulary a bit too slowly if you’re already familiar, but you are constantly prompted to repeat after the speakers and to participate at the dialogues. All dialogues are acted out at native speaker speed, so your listening and speaking will definitely improve.

Your can read about it in more detail here:


If you want to work on conversational Japanese, I recommend getting HelloTalk on your phone. It’s an app you talk to native people with (writing small text messages, or like a quick status update) and they correct you.

For more quick grammar I recommend Nihongonomori videos on YouTube. They have an N5-N4 playlist you can start with.


I agree with @rodrigowaick. Hello Talk is not going to teach you any grammar and if you’re not able to produce sentences on your own, it’s going to be really frustrating for both you and anyone who talks with you. Many of the people that I’ve encountered there aren’t very good at dealing with beginners so some of them may not be able to explain why they are making the corrections they are making to your messages. However, if you are able make simple sentences and understand responses from the users (in Japanese), it may be something to add to what you are doing.

As for resources, I highly recommend that you invest in a grammar book so that you can study how to formulate sentences on your own. Please check out the grammar resources mentioned on these threads (here and here). I sure you’ll find something that will work best for you.

FWIW, my public library has the Pimsleur CD’s for borrow, and yours might too!

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I did the free trial of the JapanesePod101 stuff, and I really liked it. It has a lot of interview-style bilingual conversations with native speakers that gave it a sort of natural, legitimate feel.

I would recommend against using this. It is a nice 30 min course as you say, but it focuses far more on “tourist talk”. I used to use it, but its really just memorizing phrases and how to respond in certain situations. Becoming proficient in conversational japanese is just another way of saying that you can express your ideas in japanese coherently. Memorizing basic phrases (or even advanced ones) goes against this principle.

Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese could be a good choice as well. The grammar points in it are nice, you read and practice at your own pace, and it is free so that is always a bonus!

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If you’re an absolute beginner I would recommend Lingo Deer. It will give you a decent grammar foundation and it has bite sized lessons which can be worked through even with your time constraints.

I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful reply. I’ve picked up lingo deer and I’m really enjoying it. It has tons more explanation in the lesson than Duolingo. It uses a “multi modal” technique to make sure you’ve learned what you’re supposed to that keeps it from being boring and I feel like I’m making good progress with learning about pronouns and beginning grammar in just the first lessons.

I’ve got a grammar book and access to Japanesepod101 and pimsleur should I feel I need it, but I really think I’m going to thrive with lingodeer for a while.

It’s also kind of fun seeing the kanji I’ve learned in waniKani show up in my lingodeer lessons. It makes me feel accomplished.

Thanks again awesome fellow Japanese Learners.

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