My overall beginner study plan

Dear community,

I’d like to share my overall plan how I want to tackle Japanese and learn whether you would suggest any adjustments.

I am currently committing roughly 1 to 1.5 rather focused hours a day to my Japanese studies.


  • all kana by duolingo & writing exercises first (done)
  • starting kanji on a daily basis (WK level 3 now)
  • Japanese course with Genki in parallel, followed by Bunpro
  • graded reading

Before I knew whether I want to commit to this project, I started learning hiragana and katakana via duolingo and some writing exercise sheets earlier this year. I invested about half an hour a day and developed a confident grasp of all the characters and picked up some basic vocabulary of about 250 words & phrases along with it.

I stopped using duolingo and now focus on WK (heavy on userscripts). I include a bit of writing exercise along with it and also use KameSame. I prioritize content as follows:

  • do radical and kanji lessons first and thoroughly. I take 1-2 minutes per radical. Kanji lessons are my largest time-sink, taking 1 to 5 minutes per symbol so far.
  • reviews if radicals or kanji are on the line
  • then do vocab lessons
  • then do vocab reviews
  • directly after any WK session, I do reviews on KS
  • I plan to go maximum speed until I get most of the N5 and N4 kanji, then I plan to slow it down a bit to focus more on using what I learned for grammar and language production and reading.

I will have an entry level Japanese course at my university in the second half of this year. I am preparing by learning Genki vocab (Anki) so that I can focus on grammar and listening/speaking during the course. The course covers most of Genki I. I plan to follow up the course with Genki I+II self study and Bunpro. That should be about the time when I slow down WK as mentioned to have more time to focus on these things.

Halfway through the Japanese course I plan to start graded reading in Japanese.

Once I get through the Genki books, have continued WK until then and have used bunpro to some degree I’d reach an intermediate level and will probably readjust from there, so I am not thinking that far ahead for now.

What are your thoughts? Did I miss something important?
Thank you for your time.


I think it’s important to get a proper book on just grammar and kanji to understand how they function more or have a better network in your mind for easier memorization later on.

A lot of the grammar in Japanese is just given as is with a quick rundown on each element without really explaining how they all fit together.

I heavily urge you to get something like “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” at the very least. It contains more information for each grammar point that you could ever hope to find just browsing the internet, and it goes over all uses, helping you get a better understanding as a whole.

I also personally enjoy learning about the etymology of Kanji on top of the kanji alone. “The Complete Guide to Japanese Kanji” comes to mind.

Other than that, it sounds like you have a study plan similar to mine.


I’d listen to Japanese sooner rather than later (like podcasts, radio and some TV.). Even if you don’t understand most of it, just get used to as much as possible. The flow, sound and cadences of the language.


Thanks for the quick reply. I thought of looking into Tae Kim’s grammar guide at some point. Would that do? I have not heard anything about the basic japanese grammar dictionary yet.

That makes sense. I guess I did not mention that I was immersing myself in dialogue-heavy anime for quite some time (~900 episodes last year) and while I would not claim to have learned much vocabulary or grammar from it, I do think I picked up a general feel for the rhythm and melody of the language. I will keep it in mind though.

Definitely a great way to not make basic pronunciation mistakes. Even if you get the language down well enough, if you don’t know how to pronounce it properly you’ll have a hard time communicating with people. Nihongo con Teppei is a podcast that comes to mind I myself came across recently.

Jazz Up Your Japanese with Onomatopoeia: For All Levels and looking up pitch accent patterns, if we’re going with natural language and not JLPT is another thing I’d recommend.


I have Tae Kim’s grammar guide, and honestly to me it feels a bit lacking. It’s definitely among the best as far as online resources go, but personally I now only use it as a first introduction to a grammar point and to progress in Bunpro (it’s a common path).

To actually get a proper understanding of the grammar I use the dictionary instead.


Ah, dialogue-heavy is good! :smile: I’d still suggest throwing in some radio and podcasts for good measure as, to me at least, they have more natural/real feel to them! Even if it is just listening to it while doing other things.

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Yeah, and sometimes it’s just flat out wrong (the は vs が article comes to mind).

Isn’t は just a particle that specifies context when omitting it would lead to possible confusion?

I don’t remember what Tae Kim’s grammar guide said about it. I’d have to check again.

は is a particle that marks the topic. It can be any logical part of the sentence. It has to be either a universal concept or referring to something both speaker and listener understand (ie: things you can put “the” in front of in English"). It tends to deemphasize what it marks (as it’s kind of like a background thing). However, if は appears multiple times in a sentence, then it kind of flips the effect, and instead emphasize what it marks (particularly the later は appearence in the sentence). This is the “contrastive” use of は.

が marks the subject of the sentence. The few cases where it wouldn’t in the English translation is more just a product of the sentence being changed in translation. It tends to imply that what it marks is an exhaustive list, so it and only it is that thing. It can also substitute for は in relative clauses. And that is about it.

Meanwhile, the Tae Kim guide is vague about は and rants on about how が is not the subject particle, but is really the "identifier particle, " which is something he made up. It’s just a really bad article by any measure, and it’s one of the first.


Not that it makes a huge impact, but I was taught that は and も are non-logical topic particles. Unlike the logical particles, they can be left out of a sentence without impacting the grammatical accuracy (though it would of course diminish the clarity).

I don’t intend this as an attack on Tae Kim’s work, but his attempts at explaining は and が filled me with confusion and despair. :sweat_smile: Especially as a non-native English speaker that struggles greatly with grammar.

CureDolly (although click-bate-y and very awkwardly deliverd) finally made things clear to me. Especially the coverage of ∅ (the zero pronoun) was very interesting. She mentions at some point learning about that from another linguistics scholar, but for the life of me, I can’t remember his name at the moment.

Again, not hating on Tae Kim. His works just don’t mesh with me at all.

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