Level before starting on grammar/vocab programs?

I thought I read somewhere on here that Koichi recommended holding off on grammar and vocab until around level 10 or so, but I can’t verify the validity of that statement…

I’m already queued up to go with both Duolingo and/or Torii SRS. (Definitely prefer Duolingo after trying both).

I believe both of those have more of a focus on grammar, so I’d like to supplement with something for vocab if anyone has any recommendations aside from flashcards.

That being said - is the level 10 recommendation before starting those true? I have no problem waiting for it if so, but I just wanted to verify. (Honestly, grammar is giving me a lot of problems, and I WOULD like to start on that sooner rather than later if it’s not strongly recommended against.)


EDIT: Yeah, I crammed about 4-5 hours into Duolingo and breezed up to the first milestone. Very, very sleep deprived - but I feel SO much better knowing some basic grammar. The extra bits of vocab are a bonus. I won’t push it too far, but I’m definitely glad I gave it a shot.

And on that note,


This has been discussed before and everyone has their own take on it.
So, personally, I’d start right away. Don’t wait.

I started with Duolingo and Lingodeer, and soon went to the Japanese From Zero books. Books 1 and 2 don’t have kanji and they start with Hiragana in batches, so it’s very easy for an absolute beginner to follow the lessons.

I strongly disagree with waiting for level 10. You’d just be limiting yourself. There’s plenty of beginner resources for grammar, so there’s no excuse to not start right away.

Happy studies :wink:


Thanks for that hall pass, friend! I’ve been spending far too much time sitting here between lessons, jones’ing for more… XD



Minus one.

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Opposite POV
I waited and started my grammar after level 10. I’ve been using LingoDeer and I’ve been able to breeze through it because I don’t have to focus too much on the vocabulary. I like it this way where I can completely focus on grammar and not worry about extra words I need to know. (That being said, I did dabble in grammar and knew some of the basics AはBてす , [Subject] [Object] [Verb]/[Verb], を, blah blah.)

As for sitting around waiting, hehehe, just wait. They’re coming for you :smiling_imp:. But if you think you can start grammar now go ahead. If it get’s too difficult to keep up or you start to feel burned out you can always stop/slow down with nothing lost. Unfortunately all we can do is tell you our way of doing things but ultimately you’ll have to do some trial and error to find what works for you. :heavy_check_mark::x:


I started with grammar before WK and quickly got frustrated that I didn’t know any of the words. I came back a few months later when I had instead become frustrated that I didn’t know any grammar in the example sentences, and this time it was a lot more doable.

Basically, there’s no harm in trying, you’ll probably figure out pretty quickly if it’s the right time for you or not.


I knew a little bit of grammar and vocabulary before WK and it made it easier for me. But you have to find your own pace and abilities.


WaniKani suggests indeed waiting until level 10 before starting grammar. I’d argue the opposite, and start grammar before attempting WaniKani. Many grammar resources don’t use any kanji at all in their elementary courses (for example human Japanese) or start using them only later on. Kanji’s won’t make you speak Japanese (or even read it), if you don’t know any grammar at all.


If you don’t have a lot of energy/time or you burn out easily, it’s better to wait level 10.

Otherwise, if you start grammar now (before level 10) and don’t lose too much energy after accounting a lot of unknown words then you’re ready.

It’s a matter of energy and time. You should consider that grammar can also help retaining vocabulary too (by making sentences and really using vocabularies…)

Th-thank you for reading!


I started after only the first couple of levels, but it certainly got easier upon learning more vocab.

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I would personally say start BEFORE.
I only recently supplemented WK to my toolbox of learning ressources and actually its the least prioritized one for me.

My own study method is deliberate study of Tae Kim’s grammar guide (using my own SRS system)
and using it to decipher sentences from readthekanji.
Understanding grammar and having to look up vocab/kanji is a lot easier than having to look up grammar.
and vocab/kanji also sticks much easier because its all in context. The language becomes alive much more so than simply memorizing vocab will ever do. Instead of unlocking one box in your brain, you create a net of interconnected elements that lead to eachother.

What im essentially saying is that, memorization of vocab/kanji is really the easiest part of learning japanese (It’s just time consuming). Learning grammar is what really challenges your understanding of the language and is eventually what will make you able to read and speak it.

WK is a nice way for me to supplement with memorization of kanji and vocab, but thats really all it is.
This is all depending on what your goal and timeframe is.

(Also i would discourage using Duolingo, completing it did close to nothing for me except wasting the time i could have used learning something useful, but these are just my 2 cent)


I’m only level 17 but finished Genki I & II and currently going through Tobira and Shin Kanzen Master N3 just fine. Grammar is more important than vocabulary so I would advise to start as soon as you can.


Just wanted to report back and thank you - and everyone else, again. In ~18 hours and two LONG sessions, my general comprehension has gone way up. Being able to comprehend even some basic phrases with my eyes and ears is a huge motivation boost, and even my WK scores have reflected this.

Perhaps this is better for some than others, but I’m really glad I gave it a shot. =)


Also, I highly recommend bunpro.jp.

Clearly opinions on this are way divided. I’m in the ASAP camp. There are grammar resources with no kanji or with furigana. In my opinion grammar takes a lot more practice to get used to than vocab/kanji. There’s no reason not to practice “the eraser is on the desk over there” just because you don’t know the kanji for 消しゴム. Not to mention the order you learn things in on WaniKani will have you not knowing what the word for eraser even is for like 4 months if you’re going top speed, or 8 months if you’re going a more realistic 2 weeks per level. I get that jumping into grammar already knowing the kanji makes it seem smoother but I don’t think having to learn a useful vocab word or two outside of WaniKani on your daily grammar lesson is going to cause most people to slam on the brakes.


Even more so, because most of the resources I used for grammar tell you all the vocab that’s going to be used in that chapter or lesson beforehand. A good example of this is the Tae Kim grammar book, where he first lists all the vocab in that chapter. The JFZ books also do this. So, really, there’s no excuse to delay grammar study.

Furthermore, if you’re using a grammar resource that explains grammar without listing the vocab used, that’s not a very good resource to begin with. They can’t assume a student knows all the vocab.

By the way, Rikaikun is an indispensable tool to have installed on your browser and use on online resources.


I’d recommend starting about the same time, or even starting grammar first. I began with WK and Genki around the same time (WK lvl 4 and Genki ch5, currently), and I’ve really liked having both going at once. This way I get a bit more vocab to use with the grammar I’m learning, which has been helpful with making unique example sentences that aren’t in Genki. That in turn reinforces the grammar more effectively, at least for me.

Also +1 on the Bunpro recs. I wouldn’t rely on it alone, but it’s definitely a great supplementary resource to have for quick grammar reviews :slight_smile:

I finished all of Duolingo before I even new what WaniKani was. There is very little kanji there. In fact, a lot of the comments in the lessons were complaining about that, at least as I was going through it :stuck_out_tongue:

It adds a fun little thing to WaniKani where I see a Kanji and can often guess at how at least some of its preview vocabulary is read, because I’ve learned it already in Duolingo.

One thing though is that I went through Duolingo while the course was still in beta and only available in the app, and there were complaints about the lack of actual explanation of the concepts. It may be better now that the course is out though, and it may be better on desktop as well. I didn’t have an issue understanding the material (besides は vs が, which I’m still not super clear on), but I also consume a lot of Japanese media like anime and video games with the voices set to Japanese, so I don’t know if that helped.

Ha, I’ve been using Rikaichamp (same thing for Firefox) since the beginning. +1 on it being absolutely indispensable!

And yeah, I suppose you’re right on that one. Thus far, Duolingo has been really good about providing the vocab for everything - and it helps that it’s all sorted into categories.

I suppose if there’s a word I just have to know, I’ll hit up Jisho or something. =)


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