Learning Japanese in 40 weeks

Hello! I’m going to Japan in March of next year and I want to learn as much Japanese to get by as I can before I go there, however it works out to be only 40 weeks of learning because I have exams until mid-June. My question is, what resources would you recommend and what is a reasonable goal? I’ve done the first 3 levels of Wanikani and i think its about the right level of learning, maybe a bit excessive, but its definitely too slow and it also teaches some stuff that would never be useful in real life (力いっぱい? really?) Does anyone have any good reccs for good resources (I like how motivating Wanikani is, most of the time), as well as what a realistic goal would be. Thanks!


What exactly is your goal when you get there?

If you just want to be able to have simple interactions with people, you’d be best off focusing on speaking/listening.

While still very useful, learning a load of kanji isn’t gonna help you talk to people over there.


Sorry, should’ve been more clear. I definitely want to focus on speaking and listening but still at least be able to read signs around the place and know what I’m looking at. Do you have any good speaking/listening resources?

Listening: any kind of media you enjoy. Anime, JDrama, Podcasts (tons of beginner ones of spotifiy etc.), yt videos. Literally anything goes, try to not rely on non-jp subtitles too much tho, it would distract your active listening

Speaking: Speak from early on. Either try to find a tandem partner or italki.

Sorry if you were looking for specific resources, but in the end it boils down to what kind of learner you are and what you enjoy the most.

Check this out, might be slightly overwhelming :slight_smile:

Not personally, but this might be worthwhile following:

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To be fair I’ve definitely seen 力いっぱい being used in writing

But also the point of the vocabulary is not to teach you vocabulary, but rather to teach you different ways to read the kanji. So when you see a different word that you don’t know, you can still read it.

About the speed, WaniKani speeds up a lot after the initial levels, since it’s SRS you can make it pure hell if you want to. Personally I ruined my sleep schedule over it. Of course you can also control it to be just the right pace, but that’s all up to how much you decide to take on.

If you still want to read signs and stuff, you will need kanji and 40 weeks should be enough time to learn a decent amount. The only comparable thing I can think of to WaniKani is Anki but I don’t really like it myself, there’s also a textbook called “Remembering the Kanji”. I know people have been successful with that.

Can’t help much with speaking though


Very useful vocabulary, yes.


On the other hand it probably eats up quite a bit of study time, so maybe prioritise other stuff and just study a few common signs rather than a huge pile of kanji? If you only have the kanji and not also the vocab then reading most signs is likely still going to be out of reach.


40 weeks for kanji/vocab and some phrases seems fine, but it’s probably better to use a common words deck instead of the ones in WK.


I like listening to comprehensible Japanese videos

Complete Beginner Japanese 日本語超初心者 - YouTube There’s also a beginner + intermediate playlist

FWIW, I think goals are overrated. Decide on a simple system for the things you want to study and follow that. Wherever you end up will be well beyond where you are now and worth celebrating. It’s best to accept now that it isn’t possible to become completely fluent (whatever that means) in forty weeks.

Decide how much time you’d realistically like to spend studying every day. Pick a few specific types of study that you think will be helpful. Personally, I think wanikani reviews would be a useful component, but basic grammar, textbooks, listening practice, speaking practice, etc. are also worth considering.

I’m a huge fan of streak tracking. Buy a calendar and nail it to the wall. Also buy a big fat red marker. Every day you hit your goal of n-minutes of study, draw a big red X through that day on the calendar. Try to make a consecutive string of X’s as long as possible (or at least beat your prior record). It’s okay to block out weeks: “next week is speaking practice, the following week is reading, …” but you can also just wing it (you’ll know what you need to work on).

Just don’t set unrealistic expectations and you’ll be fine.

Realistic: “I’m going to study for at least 30 minutes every day. I’d like to order a meal at a restaurant with a Japanese menu without resorting to English when I get there.”

Unrealistic: “I’m going to study for 8 hours every day until I depart, and I expect to discuss Murakami with random strangers in coffee shops in Japanese the day I arrive.”


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