Learning resources and focuses?

I’m an 18 years old engineering student who can currently speak English and French at a native level, coupled with an intermediate Spanish. As Spanish was forced onto me by the school system in my country, I have never had any true motivation to master that language.

Now, I have been interested in learning Japanese for a few years now, but never had the desire to learn the language. I found that desire about a week ago, when I started exploring different learning possibilities. As for a high amount of people, I started with Duolingo, which I felt would quickly be unreliable and slow. Keep in mind that I am a complete beginner.

I have already learned the kana during the previous week, and am starting to learn Kanji.
From what I have practiced and learned, there seems to be 5 main points to focus on when learning Japanese : Vocabulary, Grammar, Kanji, Listening, Speaking.
I think I have a relative idea of what resources to use for each of them, but wanted to know if they were viable and could lead to an effective learning (if done daily of course):

Vocabulary, Grammar and Kanji could be done with Wanikani, Anki and Genki
Listening and Speaking could be done with Hellotalk and Italki

Do you think that speaking & listening should be done this early in the learning process, or should I wait to have more knowledge before doing so? (I might not have the ability to have a coherent exchange otherwise)
I am still exploring the different ways of learning and practicing, but I wanted to get your opinion on this, as I truly want to be as effective as possible and not invest in poor study methods.

Thanks to those who will take the time to read and answer!

I think the best time to start training any skill is now, but the challenge comes with finding content appropriate for your level. If you are JUST starting I recommend engaging with content aimed at toddlers (and search for said content using Japanese for better results). Otherwise the tools you have aren’t too dissimilar to how I started out, but consistency is key! So doing however much or little much you do it, making sure to do it every day will be what makes things stick longer.

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I believe listening should be done early, and adapted as appropriate to comprehension. It can help with taking a break from the complex writing system with no space. Agglutinative nature of the grammar needs to get used to in any case.

Although production skills like speaking and writing can be done relatively early, it is also important to set expectations right.

Other that, you will have to test out what works for you. Textbooks are probably the most certain way, however.


There’s no one size fits all solution that works for everyone, but I think that listening and speaking are very important and especially in Japanese, where so many people are focused on reading, they tend to be neglected a bit.

From a linguistic point of view, spoken language comes first - in terms of what children learn first, in terms of when a particular language develops a writing system (if at all) and in terms of where linguistic changes happen first. It also used to be that language was spoken much much more than it was written, and that’s probably still the case, but with digital devices and the internet, it’s probably less pronounced (and a lot of people probably read more than they listen nowadays).

From a practical perspective, being able to read Japanese is a very different skill than being able to listen. Kanji can be hard to learn, but they give you clues as to the meaning even if you don’t know the word. That usually doesn’t happen with spoken language. And since there are lots and lots of homonyms, you also need to know which words are actually common and expected and which are rare and specialised.

Speaking IMHO is important because it makes the language physical. I’m not a neuroscientist, but my gut feeling is that actually speaking Japanese and pronouncing words, expressions and sentences creates stronger (or at least different) connections in your brain than merely reading or listening. Of course, in the beginning it can be hard to speak properly, but shadowing is a technique that helps getting used to the sounds of Japanese, to the sentence rhythm, to how sentence parts fit together etc. and can be done probably at every level.

Personally, I initially neglected listening and speaking and am now trying to catch up. Of course, you can still do that but it probably would have been better to start earlier.


That’s about what I was planning on doing, one thing at a time, day by day, rather than trying to crunch everything in short periods and then forget them in a week.
Wish you luck in your studies as well!


I had a feeling that listening and speaking were going to be tough this early, but I’ll start doing some listening I think… Speaking will wait for more learned vocabulary and grammar.

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I’ll use shadowing at the beginning of my journey I guess, since it does make sense to try and get into it as early as possible. It might not be as effective as producing your own sentences, but if you simply can’t because you’re not proficient enough, it can’t be helped ;_;
Anyways, as I thought, I will have to develop all of my skills at the same time, it seems like the best way to approach Japanese.
It will take some time, but I’ll get there!


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