New Japanese learner looking for tips. Please help!

I just returned from my first trip to Japan!
In the month prior to my trip I used Pimsleur through to lesson 20 of the first level and learned some very basic phrases.
It was helpful for some very basic things, but I quickly regretted not trying harder to pickup language skills before I left.
I met so many Japanese people with wonderful English and became determined to invest the time and effort when I returned home to take my Japanese to the next level.

I am planning a return trip in approx. 2 years time and my goal is to be able to hold conversations with non-english speakers at least at an intermediate level, and to be able to read enough to understand signs/menus and easy/intermediate learning material on my trip. I picked up vol. 1-5 of Crayon Shin-Chan while I was in Japan, as well as a copy of Pocket Monsters Green. These have been motivating me and are a (long term I assume) goal for me to be able to read and use them as learning material.

I used Tofugu last week to learn Hiragana and Katakana and since then I found Wanikani and just started learning Kanji a few days ago. I will continue to use this and I was considering picking up Genki also.
What I’m looking for now is some beginner audio either lessons or recordings (other than pimsleur) of some sort of basic conversation I can listen to at work. I’ve read that podcasts can be helpful but I’m definitely not at the level where I understand enough to really make the best use of it. I have a fair bit of downtime where I just walk around while working so it would be a good time for me to listen and learn.

Has anyone had luck with using multiple resources for learning like this?
I really appreciate the help and thanks for reading this long post.


Welcome! I’m sure you will receive lots of useful advice here, and you already have lots of resources.

I just want to mention that learning kanji is very important to learning Japanese not just for reading, but also for guessing what spoken words you don’t know could mean. For example 不 (ふ) means non- or un-, so you can make an educated guess when you hear ふ-X. So using WK is a good idea.

And for reading menus … the menus are usually handwritten messes with lots of obscure species of fish and extravagant cooking methods. You probably have to wait a bit longer to be able to read them.

Edit: also look at this thread:

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Shin-Chan isn’t really that easy to read, there’s a lot of language based jokes, especially on him misunderstanding / saying the wrong things, as well as cultural jokes.

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Just wanted to say thank you for the input. It’s tough to know how realistic certain goals are so it’s good to hear from people who have experience.

As for the shin-chan I will hold off for a while before I even look at them. TBH their main function is for motivation. Just having them on my desk gives me a physical goal I can look at while I study, but hopefully one day…

Learning Japanese is a long, hard road. How much time do you have available?

IMO, the most important things to work on are reading, grammar, listening, and kanji.

Some tools I would suggest:

  • Japanese Pod 101, a free subscription
  • Wani Kani
  • Anki (Start a 6K or a 10K deck, and also make your own deck that you add to as you learn)
  • Japanese the Manga way or the Genki books (Genki 1 and Genki 2)
  • Shitakiri Suzume on Spotify: this is a story told in Japanese, at native speed, slow speed, and again with pauses so you can repeat. If this is too hard, check for others on Spotify by the same company, called Kotoba, Inc.

After getting into the above, you’ll want to practice conversation a bit. You can either take a class, find a local Japanese person for language exchange, or use italki.

Best of luck!

Thank you for the suggestions! I was planning on ordering genki right away but the others are new to me and look really helpful.

As for time I can at the very least devote 1 hour of sit down time per day and more on weekends. I also have downtime at work that I can use for wanikani and audio recordings.

Fortunately my mother in law is fluent and lives with me. While she doesn’t have time to sit down and teach, she is happy to have conversations and correct my mistakes or answer questions I may have.

Thanks again for your time and suggestions

Hi I am using genki and I find using the audio that they have with the lessons to be quite useful I have it on my phone and I’ll listen to the conversation of the lesson I’m on after leading some of the vocabulary from that same lesson and after the 3rd listen I’ll start shadowing

Hope that was useful

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