New to WaniKani and Japanese, best way to learn conversational japanese fast?

I have been in Japan for about a month with no Japanese knowedge whatsoever. I managed to learn hirigana and katakana, and am now am learning kanji via this site (friend in siimilair position highly recommended it).

I’m having conversation lessons/ support (very casual) with someone once a week, and she will be helping me through Genki as well as I hope teaching me a few conversational phrases.

So in my arsenal for learning Japanese I will have Genki, WaniKani, my supporter and also my weekly visits to the local bar.

I am living in a pretty rural area of north Japan, and my major goal is just to become conversational so I can fit in better at my workplace, and make friends without sounding like Tarzan or looking like a hopeless mime.

Does anyone have advice for learning conversational Japanese quickly? or resources which focus on this? I was considering online video lessons but I don’t have any way of paying online with my japanese bank account. I’m hoping to learn as quickly as possible so I can enjoy my time in Japan to the fullest.

Many thanks!

From what you’ve said it seems like you’re well on your way to getting skills.
Someone once told me that it’s important to try to think in Japanese. At the risk of looking like a crazy person, pretty much talk to yourself in Japanese. Because the opportunity is upon you, immersion is key. Of course, active learning is key but passive learning can be a really big asset to you. Heck, change your phone screen to the Japanese, put signs all over your house.

Not super helpful, but it seems like you’re doing a good job.


When I started reading this part, I imagined You were saying “without sounding like Tarzan or looking like Jane” :joy:.

More visits to the bar will help. If nothing else, you’ll be drunk enough to roll all your r’s and sound like a super manly Tarzan :yum:.

Sorry, I know that doesn’t help :stuck_out_tongue:.

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I think you are already on your way with what you are currently doing. Speaking increases speaking fluidity, but if you want to improve your accuracy be sure to find someone willing to help you by correcting your speech. I used HelloTalk to find potential language exchange partners for this purpose. Also give shadowing a try as that it will improve your listening and help you improve your pronunciation. You will sound like Tarzan for a while, but eventually you will learn to form more meaningful sentences.


Thank you for the replies, I will give HelloTalk a go. Are there any other sites which focus on basic conversation?

I honestly focus of verb phrases like, 行きましょう!Let’s go! 食べに行きましょう!Let’s go eat! or 映画を見たいか? Do you want to see/watch a movie?.. actually they would ask by saying… 映画を見ませんか?Do you want to see a movie? I still don’t get why the ask a positive question in the negative but go figure…

Basically find a site with verb conjugations and you will instantly learn hundreds more things to say.

I use

It’s for JLPT but it has easy grammar lessons with useful phrases.

Have you bought Tae Kim’s Grammar book?

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I’ve only just got Genki, is it worth buying Tae Kim’s book too? I get a few hours a day at work where I can study japanese, so the more material the merrier I spose! Thanks for the link, going to bring those phrases to my lesson this wednesday :smiley:

Tae Kim is free, there’s even an app.

Genki is boring but thorough. Tae Kim is very useful but it’s sort of condensed, I use it more as a reference.

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Try to find the Pimsleur audio lessons. I think it’s the best thing available for an absolute beginner who is going to visit a foreign country (or already is, in your case). It is entirely focused on accurate conversation with a simple vocabulary and uses a type of spaced repetition. Probably what you need to boost your early socialization skills in Japanese fast.

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I would definitely recommend continuing with Genki. Obviously language learning is different for everyone, but I’ve found I and II to be really useful for learning the basics. It has the structure you need when starting out. If you do like a chapter a week and try to use what you learn in the book at the bar you’ll probably be 上手 in no time!

Shadowing the audio files has helped my pronunciation/listening comprehension a lot as well which are key to being good in conversations. If Genki gets boring, try shadowing youtube videos, podcasts etc. really anything helps.

But yeah as others have said, having a couple drinks at the Izakaya and talking to people should get you to a conversational level quickly!



What a lovely community I have stumbled upon, thank you again everyone! I had to look up the term shadowing :stuck_out_tongue:

I think it has to do with giving people an easy way out without them feeling too bad about it. Probably because when you have the negative in your question, a negative response sounds less harsh. This is only conjecture though.

haha, and yet the negative response is also SO hedged and indirect: ちょっと

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Eavesdrop on your co-workers. Not even kidding, depending on the work environment you’re in (like a school) people around the office are relatively familiar and friendly with each other and chat about various topics pretty often. Just don’t be too obvious about it I guess?

Sometimes, looking like a hopeless mime can be quite cool though

(Sorry, I couldn’t help it XP I can’t give you advice, only wish you succes! がんばって!)


Why don’t we see a movie?

We ask negative questions too.


sounds like you are doing loads and with being in Japan you actually get to practise what you learn as you go along - jealous! Shadowing is also very helpful, so you could always have a go at that in your free time?

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Totally! But it has a different feeling… My tutor made it seem like this was an all purpose way to ask, more like it was preferred.

I guess it is probably the Japanese being indirect thing?

Won’t you go to dinner with me?

Edit: So Leebo already made the point. Don’t have much to add. Yeah, it’s the Japanese being polite and indirect.

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I second this recommendation! This is a great book.

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