I was wondering if any of y’all have good strategies for practicing/learning Japanese if you can only practice once or twice a week. I’ve been using WaniKani for the past 3 months and over the summer when I could practice daily it was going really well! However, now that I am back at college and working two jobs, I really only have time to practice on the weekends – which of course means that I have over a hundred reviews waiting for me by that point.
I know there have been a lot of strategies posted for daily practice, but do y’all have ideas for regular, once-per-week practice? I’m in no particular rush to get to a certain point with Japanese, so I am comfortable taking it in at a slower pace, but I do want to keep practicing consistently.
I would recommend getting some textbooks that cover grammar/vocab and doing a chapter or a set amount of lessons (depending on how the book is structured) each week. This way the book structure helps keep you on track. I would also set aside a little time to refresh what you did the previous week before doing the new stuff, to get some of that spaced repetition in.
Might not be what you wanna hear but once a week is gonna be real tough. I suppose you could read graded readers and eventually native material and study grammar on the side but it’s going to be slow. Because of this, I recommend finding time to SRS even with work and all that. I’m unemployed now, but during my last job’s lunch break I would knock out a few hundred words after eating lunch. You got a busy schedule but optimizing your schedule like this would be a huge help.
For a roughly weekly schedule, I’d second the advice regarding textbooks. Genki and Tobira would be the most common recommendations. If neither of those appeal to you, there are a ridiculous number of learning resources available these days: Japanese Language Resources Database
But it will be incredibly tough to learn kanji at weekly intervals. Humans really benefit from from at least daily reinforcement when it comes to memorizing large amounts of information. The elementary textbook studies are beneficial with or without learning kanji, but learning to read opens up an entire world of material that would be closed to you otherwise. It’s extremely helpful to learn kanji early (I didn’t and still suffer the consequences).
The good news is you don’t need much of a daily investment if you’re willing to go slow: even 5 or 10 minutes a day will let you make (slow) progress with reading.
We all make time for what’s important to us. It’s perfectly reasonable to only choose to allocate an hour a week, or 10 hours, or zero. It’s your choice and nobody can make it for you.
But if you still want to learn how to read kanji, you’ll learn more, faster, and much better if you allocate ten minutes a day, 6 days a week rather than a single, one-hour session once a week.
Even better would be two 5 or 10 minute sessions per day. Maybe once right after you wake up and another just before bed. Choose whatever times work best for you, but you’ll want at least a 4 hour interval between sessions.
Just go REALLY slow with lessons so that you can finish all your reviews every day in the desired amount of time. It takes about 6 months to figure out your steady-state workload (once “enlightened” items start appearing in your review queue). Once you reach steady state, you’ll probably want to ensure you perform no more than 3 lessons on any given day and zero on many. The trick is to pace your lessons such that you can always finish ALL your reviews every single day.
I’m not sure that SRS is really an option for you if you truly can only study on the weekends. You might have to forgo tools like WaniKani, Anki, BunPro, Kitsun, etc. and study with more “traditional” means, like following a textbook as already suggested.
SRS tools are built around the idea that you’re going to be reviewing items right before you forget them. If you’re unable to show up and do those reviews when scheduled, you’re going to be fighting against the intended use of the app as well as fighting against your own memory. This will mean dealing with large review piles and lower accuracy, which just causes review piles to balloon even more.
If you are truly dedicated to the idea of learning Japanese, I would try to find time to do at least a little daily study, as suggested above. You can use your extra weekend time to do non-SRS stuff, like grammar study, immersion, etc.
The simple fact of the matter is that Japanese takes a long time to learn. The US Department of State estimates that it takes 2200 hours for a native English speaker to achieve Japanese proficiency. If you study for one hour a week, that would mean it would take you over 42 years to learn the language. If you’re able to do three hours on your weekends, it would take you a little over 14 years.
Basically, the more time you’re able to find for it the better. It is possible to progress at a slow pace, but if you really don’t have the time to put into learning, it might be many years before you’re able to reach a point with the language when you can actually use it, which can be discouraging.
Try something that can be completed during breaks at work/school. I use Lingodeer as a general Japanese language study and most lessons take 5 minutes.
I’m agreeing with what the others are saying about taking 5-10 minutes to study during the weekday and then you can study longer on the weekend. It’s way better to study daily than just once a week. Daily exposure to the language is really going to help.
Plus if you only do it on the weekends and are coming back to hundreds of reviews this may lead to burn out. I feel it would be good to figure out where you can fit those 5-10 minutes of study into your schedule.There is a game that isn’t out yet called Nihongo Quest N5 that teaches beginner level Japanese so you could do that on the weekends too. There is also Crystal Hunters which is a manga that teaches vocabulary and grammar. Graded readers would also be good too.
You need some kind of reading practice as that gives you the chance of possibility running into vocabulary words you are studying and just getting use to reading in Japanese in general.
Perhaps setting aside 15-30 minutes each day is going to be helpful. I don’t think giving too little time is a good idea. Those time can be used to memorize vocabularies, but also try to memorize with context (sentences). Imagery imagination, like imaging a vivid place with correlation to everything else, may help. SRS may work or may not, if you don’t have much time; but active memorization does have to be done somehow (rather than focusing on whether you forget or not).
Then, on the same day, outside the study time, perhaps you can figure out what is best to contemplate about. I believe a language needs a degree of constant contemplation to get in.
Grammar is done well when you set aside enough time, like 1-2 hours, so probably on the weekends.
Thinking about it, when you are busy or have other assignments, learning chain may break for “active” learning stuff, but at least try to keep enough passive time.
Reading might be more effective when you have enough grammar, and at least minimally sufficient vocabularies, so I won’t say to focus on that too much. Crashing into that might not be a good time investment early on.
I agree a lot with that. I have a full time job and two kids under 3 so I don’t have any day of the week where I can sit and study for an hour or more. On the other hand, I’ve never learned JP faster than since I started WK, because now I can just do the reviews every time I can get 5-10 minutes, during lunch or toilet breaks or commute so this with reading Genki and using also the SRS for Bunpro, I feel like I’m building a solid base while “not having time”, and when I’ll have time I’ll be able to throw myself into native material
SRS only durings weekends will not work.
books would be the only choice. Genki or minna no nihongo.
thanks for the advice! I definitely do have at least 15 minutes a day to do SRS now that I actually look over my schedule (helps that one of the jobs is at the library desk haha), I think I was just getting overwhelmed by midterms and the amount of reviews I have on backlog so I got into a bit of a boom or bust cycle with WK. but I appreciate y’all sharing your insight and experience, and I will try to keep up with a little bit of practice each day!
I’m agreeing with everyone who has mentioned textbooks and setting aside 10mins a day for reviews - I’m glad you can set aside that time.
But I also want to add - you can set “vacation mode” (Settings → Account), which stops the reviews coming through. Then when you restart it, the reviews that were there will still be there but no more will have been added to it. If you find that you’re not finding that 10mins a day for a few days and feel overwhelmed about the number of reviews growing bigger, set vacation mode until you’re ready to come back to it. It’s not meant to be how SRS works, but if you’re getting overwhelmed it’s good to know it’s an option.