Need Advice on Japanese learning Method

Hi guys,

I’ve been using WaniKani for over a month now and I’ve been loving the process !

I’m writing for advice because I just got the news that I am going abroad in April next year to study as an exchange student in Osaka University for 5 months. However some courses and essays will be in Japanese and the University requests a JLPT N1 level for foreign students (SCREAMING INTERNALLY).

I know I am in deep sh*t because I am nowhere near this level and I started Japanese a little bit over a month ago. I know I’ll need to study 5 hours a day for the next 10 month in order to try and “fake it”.

I am in great need of some advice from the WaniKani community or anyone who tried to accomplish a similar feat…

Thanks in advance :metal:


Congrats on the opportunity to study abroad.

imo if you do study 5 hours a day until then you could maybe make N3 if it all clicks … ? That’s still a stretch though. Most people here seem to shoot for N4 in ~1 year.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your best shot :). Having such a good reason for studying will likely push you much further than you would have made it otherwise, and that’s great.

… better get started on Genki/Tae Kim/LingoDeer/Japanese Ammo right now. :stuck_out_tongue:


I’ve also heard about Minna no Nihongo. Do you think Genki is a better method for learning fast?


I didn’t use MnN so I can’t speak to that. It is in Japanese (I think?) so perhaps the immersion would help. But honestly on your timeline I’d just grab something quick and stick with it. Genki is fairly well time-tested among English language learners.

It’s worth noting what you manage to cram in that kind of timeframe likely wouldn’t be very well internalized but … I imagine just being familiar with grammar and kanji through N3 and then being in Japan and having constant exposure would help you make huge leaps of progress once you get there.


Oh my, this is going to be interesting.


Do you have a chance to pick up a guided course? 1-1 teaching would be best, but that depends on your budget. Still I believe you need a pro teacher at least overseeing you.
Japanese is difficult already the way it is. If you need to get the result within this short timeframe, and moreover, to make your knowledge actually work - it is better if someone paves a road for you.

I am saying this because I really shed tears when after 2 years of learning JPN I have realised how shallow is my foundation because of incorrect learning at the very beginning.

With a good guide and dedication these 10 mths might bring you to around N2. But that is top, unless you have some unhuman luck…


Pass the N5-1 guides exist and that would probably be good to do, and you can test yourself on the JCAT is what I would say. If you believe and work really hard then I believe you can do it.

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Give us some more background here. How did you come to be in this position of studying abroad with coursework recommended for N1-level students, having only been studying the language for a month?

The reality of the situation is that you won’t be N2 or N1 by April. I think to set that as an objective is just going to be a burn out on study hours and a feeling of failure. I’d agree with @erie-canary in that N4 is probably doable, N3 maybe if you really get after it and have a natural knack for it. A lot depends on your ability, potential study hours, self discipline, etc. You’ll get where you’ll get to. Do your best, a little better every day and feel good about it.

To be honest I’d get in touch with whoever is putting this whole thing together, explain your situation, see what they say. Maybe they have some suggestions, or can change some coursework around or something.

With regard to books - “Should I do Genki? Or Minna no Nihongo?” Realistically I’d plan on having a variety of resources, especially if you want to absorb as much as possible. Probably several textbooks, grammar dictionary, study materials, maybe some paid tutoring on iTalki, something like that. In the grand scheme of things, Genki 1 is just one tiny step to proficiency.

Two things I’d definitely focus on that can be easy to skimp on when self-studying:

  1. Listening practice
  2. Active use of the language

When I was in Japan recently, listening was by far the most challenging thing. People will generally either speak to you in English, or full speed native Japanese. A shadowing book may be a good place to start. Has native Japanese audio, Japanese transcription, English translation.

With regard to active use… we often talk about JLPT levels, but they’re purely for recognition and not for writing or speaking ability. Something like BunPro, or HelloTalk, or iTalki sessions, will get your brain actively recalling grammar and vocabulary.


The university does not require any language certificate for Japanese and “trusts” students to have the required level. Having talked about my situation with students who did the same exchange in the past I think I’ll be able to negotiate with the University so as to take all my courses in English (or at least a vast majority of them).

As for my approach this last week I’ve been studying grammar a lot (about 2-3 hours every day) and also learning new vocabulary and doing my reviews on WaniKani. I feel that studying grammar a lot is a step in the right direction because it helps formulating sentences and more complex grammatical structures.

Do you think studying with lists of vocabulary and kanji from the JLPT can be useful?

These videos may help your grammar and sentence skills: There are 75 all up. And if you ever get stuck on grammar check in with me for an explanation.

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