Looking for some feedback on Japanese learning plans

I’m not sure if this is the right place for this kind of discussion, so if not let me know and I can post it elsewhere.

I’m about halfway through level 7 now and have been thinking about how I want to start including more things in my weekly study schedule than just WaniKani. A basic outline I’m thinking would be like:

  1. Hit WaniKani level 10
  2. Continue to do WaniKani, keeping around 100 cards at apprentice level
  3. Include some type of grammar study - BunPro maybe? Genki 1&2?
  4. Set up Anki for words and Kanji not yet learned through WaniKani
  5. Eventually progress to simple graded readers as soon as my grammar skills are good enough while slowly continuing grammar studies
  6. Begin talking with native speakers
  7. ??
  8. Profit

To me this all sounds like a solid plan, but I’m not sure if it would become too much to juggle and retain. I’m definitely motivated to work hard because I’ve got a trip to Japan coming in 6 months and would like to be as prepared as is realistically possible for me. As it stands right now I can hardly say anything at all without looking up words and taking a stab at basic grammar that I learned from the first two chapters of Genki. It feels bad and demotivating.


For me, if I wanted to be using Japanese six months from now, I would definitely not wait another month or more to start in on grammar. If anything, I find that WK+grammar study helps aid retention (since you’re seeing a lot of the same kanji/words in a different context). WK offers example sentences but they’re not interactive, and use very advanced Japanese grammar for whatever reason.

(I’ve dabbled with Bunpro which seems like a really good option, but personally using Minna no Nihongo.)


If you want to visit Japan in the short term, Genki + listening/speaking practice will help you more than WK. Maybe supplement with an “Essential Kanji” type course to help you read signs.


honestly, I don’t think you need to wait to hit any WaniKani level looks at own level to start doing the other stuff. Not sure how far along you are except for wanikani, because I’ve never used genki but personally I don’t often use the vocab I learn in WaniKani, at my current level I use it to be able to look at the spotify lyrics of songs so I can sing it badly :eyes: and I don’t think that I’ll be good enough to look at anything without furigana and understand the meaning for a long time.

Grammar study is very underrated though, I personally use bunpro, and the moment I started my overall japanese ability shot through the roof of what I had been able to do before, so I definitely recommend it. It progresses really fast though, I’ve been able to finish N5 and N4 grammar in a month each, even though I find that getting the grammar internalized is harder than vocab. Again, I’ve never used Genki, but in my experience textbooks don’t really teach enough grammar fast enough for me. I think they’re good for just making sure you have enough practice before moving on though.

Anki is my life, it’s the only thing I consistently do a decent amount of every day, and even though I feel like wanikani and bunpro do a better job of making sure I really know my stuff, anki gives me the best overall understanding. I would set this up right away.

I honestly don’t like graded readers that much because I have a low attention span and don’t particularly find someone’s restaurant orders super riveting, but I think they’re still worth checking out. I think hopping onto natively is probably the best overall resource for seeing what books to get, although most things that I would want to read are at least ~N4 level (there are a bunch of really easy free graded readers on there though, there should be at least something you’re able to read) For me, I’m lazy so if I focus on understanding every word or grammar point I will die, so I just focus on knowing what the heck is going on

I’ve never really tried talking to native speakers before, but it might be good to just join a japanese club or something where there are people who speak the language or are at least learning so that you can get some speaking practice. Remembering vocab, grammar and basically everything gets easier once you’ve used it in conversation in my experience, so I would recommend doing this, and writing down new vocab words (this is assuming the person speaks both japanese and english) so you can put it into anki.

However, even with all these things, I would say the reviews can pile up fast, especially with bunpro if you don’t pace your lessons me with my 300+ reviews due, so I recommend getting a priority on what you want to do every day. For me I do all my anki no matter what, and then try to work on my bunpro reviews, where I do ~100 and then 5 lessons (I reccomend doing less if you’re worried about getting burned out- I just made a bad choice to speedrun half of N4 in a day and paid the price) and then I work on my wanikani and kaniwani to just do whatever I can. If I don’t want to do any of that, I force myself to read manga in japanese, or watch anime in japanese, or listen to a japanese podcast (maybe try the beginner nihongo con teppei if you want listening practice) which might be more pain than it’s worth for your level rn, but the bottom line is just do something every day, and eventually you’ll get better.

(sorry for the long response lol)


Thanks everyone for the responses. I’ll start with BunPro tomorrow. I know WaniKani is kind of playing the long game, but for me I seriously appreciate how structured it is so it’ll continue to be the main “piece” of my daily studying. I’ll probably have to pick up an essential Kanji guide or something like that before leaving.

So as far as Anki goes, how did you set yours up? Do you just use the default settings? And how do you decide what type of wards/cards to create?

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I use bunpro a lot, but I think in the beginning stages of grammar learning, it’s useful to use bunpro alongside a textbook. Bunpro has a path to follow with Genki and I think that’s a good thing to go with. Chapter of genki, add grammar to bunpro, repeat.

If you keep up with WK at ~100 apprentice items and you have decent retention, you’ll probably pick up enough kanji in 6 months to survive your Japan trip without yet another resource, it’ll be fine.

For anki, I use the animecards setup w/ yomichan (setup from the moe way) to add to my mining deck. At this point I just add whatever is interesting. When I was still going through WK levels I’d check to see if a word I looked up was in WK at all and if it wasn’t I’d add it and if it was I didn’t bother adding. Even if it is levels away it’s not worth having the same word in two different SRS thingers.


Seconded – though don’t feel bad if you only understand bits and pieces, it’s pretty challenging. But they’re nice and short and focused on one topic/idea.

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puts another coin in the jar

(Also I literally just saw you already responded so this is redundant)

As people have said, you don’t have to wait until level 10 to start grammar, in fact, you’re probably better off starting grammar sooner. Many people here disagree with the level 10 thing as in the early days of your studies, basic grammar is far, far more important than learning kanji.

It’s much better to be able to construct sentences but have to look up the words, than knowing the words but having no idea how to put them together. The sooner you start getting a hang of the grammar, the more practice that gives you with it and the better you can work it into your brain.

I should really make a copypasta for the level 10 thing


For speaking, I recommend Hellotalk as its free to speak to a native japanese speaker. It took some time for me to find someone who is a serious learner like me and we have made a routine to speak together once a week. But its a good idea.

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Could you explain what that all means? I’m guessing I should read this first and apply what it says? Anki - Animecards Site

Yes I used that setup guide to get a blank deck going, so read and apply. Then I used this guide to set up yomichan in my browser. It’s a pop-up dictionary that can add cards to anki in one click.

If you’re just learning for a trip I would get a travel phrase book of some sort and just memorize the phrases in those for now. If you’re learning Japanese long term it’s not gonna hurt, but I think if you want the most bang for your buck for your trip, learning a few phrases here and there will get you where you need to go with little hassle. Plus if you’re in Tokyo or Osaka you’ll rarely need Japanese.

If you can’t speak good enough and remember minimally enough vocabularies; I think, listening > speaking. Unless you can go this far – My Challenge: From 0 to speaking proficiency in 6 months

Also, aim for some comprehension to get by, rather than perfection. Reading is more of a distant goal, imo.

Finding a nice digital dictionary isn’t bad at all. I find Gboard handwriting keyboard better than built-in handwriting pad of any dictionary.

OCR or Google Translate may be helpful, but not so reliable.

In any case, grammar is more important.


Just to be clear though, so you’re not disappointed when you arrive in Japan in 6 months: Unless you use it as much as humanly possible (=spend a ton of time on it that you could instead use to e.g. improve listening/speaking), it’s unlikely what you learn in WK will help you much on your trip. You likely won’t have to do much reading there, and neither the kanji nor the vocab in Wanikani are sorted by how useful they are.

If your primary goal is to be able to understand/speak as much as possible in 6 months, my recommendations would be:

  • Start learning Kanji some time later. It’ll take a lot of time and not help much now.
  • Learn useful vocab. Find a deck with common words for Anki, e.g. https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/2141233552. (There might be better decks focussed on e.g. useful words for a Japan trip.)
  • Do a lot of listening.
  • Start talking with a tutor as soon as possible, e.g. via Italki. Early on, nothing raised my ability to speak as much as that. They can also answer your questions!


I think it also applies to reading/listening. When you know some grammar, you can at least try to parse a sentence - even if it’s full of unknown words, you have some point of reference, you can at least guess if the word in question is a verb or a noun etc - very useful.


So I started using BunPro alongside WaniKani and also picked up a Kitsun N5 deck… I can say that already doing 150 reviews of WaniKani + 20 lessons + trying to study vocab from this deck is just about impossible for me. I’m not able to retain anything unless the new vocab uses Kanji I’ve seen before. I’m actually considering going on a pause with kanji until I can get through the whole deck, but that also seems kind of like… well what’s the point of WaniKani.

I’m not exactly sure what direction to take at this point.

Perennial reminder to anyone reading that Wanikani is a pretty terrible vocab resource. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It’s just something you have to be aware of.

WaniKani’s goal is to teach you kanji. All the vocab they teach you is there to help you remember the kanji you learned, not because useful it’s vocab. As a result WaniKani often ends up teaching you more formal words used in writing that use lots of kanji instead of their kanji-less spoken equivalents. (ex: 助言 vs アドバイス) So, as a beginner you should definitely take any vocab WaniKani teaches you with a grain of salt

I found a book called Shadowing日本語を話しそう! Could be the kind of thing you’re look for to get around when you travel. Its kind of a supplemental textbook, so I wouldn’t expect miracles with it, but its estimated for most people to finish around 3 months with each session being about 10 minutes a day.

What are your actual goals for using Japanese during the trip, bearing in mind that it’s very possible to visit Japan with zero knowledge of the language? You can’t learn everything in six months, so you’ll probably want to narrow in on some specific areas.

For example, if you just want to make yourself understood or ask questions, learning some basic set phrases from a pocket traveler’s guide to Japanese (“where’s the bathroom,” “how much does this cost”) is probably of more immediate value than studying Japanese grammar from scratch or memorizing the kanji for farm. What’s your goal?


I think my goal really is to get to a point where I can immerse. I have Japanese friends that are eager to help me but even trying to talk with them is impossible because my vocab is awful. WaniKani really has been great for Kanji, I just don’t think I’m getting a good return from it at this point.

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