Not sure what to focus on

Hey everybody!

I’ve been lurking this forums from time to time since I got wanikani last year. Great community, but it’s always weird to “join” to the conversation. Like when you meet a bunch of people that already are friends. Does that makes any sense?

Anyhow, I’m feeling a bit lost and I’m not sure if I’m doing well with the way I’m trying yo learn japanese.
I started around January last year to learn some basic Japanese, including Hiragana, Katakana, and started looking for some resources online. I ended up with more books that time to invest in and then I found Tofugu + Wanikani and thought: This is it! This is the best way to learn vocabulary.

At the beginning my motivation was great, but work doesn’t understand that “I wanna learn a new language”, so my learning speed declined in the upcoming months. I mean, I get it, it is what it is. I don’t pretend to get lvl 60 in 6 months. This is how I’ve been doing so far:

I read some threads here about what to focus on, vocab or grammar and of course I agree both are important. So because of that, I started geeting lessons on iTalki. When with some teachers using Genki, and now I’m with anothed teacher which uses MinnaNoNihongo (I’m in L12 right now. I’ve been revisiting a lot stuff I’ve already new, but I think that’s good).

Now, I’m getting to the point where the book starts requiring some vocabulary I don’t know, and practicing adjectives and verbs conjugation (I’m struggling a bit with the て形). Because of work, I don’t have much available time to do homework during the week. Sitting down, opening the book, looking for the excercise and so on is a process that feels like wasting time, compared with opening WK and doing the reviews. So I got use to do WK three times a day (while I have breakfast, after lunch, and when I go to the bed).

So right now, I they way I study everyday is using WK, and I try to get 3 1h lessons every week to study grammar and so on (and I do it with a teacher to “force me” to study that stuff. On my on is way harder to do so). I’ve made some progress for sure, but It’s taking me a lot of time to advance this step about conjugation and the vocabulary used in the book. Because of that, I’m not sure if that balance is right. I feel that I’m missing some verbs and adjectives because I’m focusing in WK most of my time, but at the same time I feel that I should not stop using WK because otherwise I’ll waste everything I’ve done so far. Which is not much, but was not easy! XD

What do you guys think? Anyone else been there?
Thanks in advance


Welcome, friend


you have grammar and vocab experience, what about listening and reading ?

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A few things that come to mind:

Firstly it’s great that you study every day, that’s the most important thing in my opinion!

Secondly, the way I drilled grammar was to use an Anki deck with the example sentences in it (in my case from Tae Kim) and practice using that every day. That’ll kinda WK-ify it for you maybe?

Also if no such deck exists you’ll probably drill the material even more by creating the cards yourself!

Thirdly, if you’re not already doing it, find some native material you can enjoy for immersion.

My goto drug of choice for this is watching video game let’s play videos on youtube, but I think you can just find whatever interests you (cooking? gardening? car mechanic…ing?). Anything you can enjoy even when understanding zero. That’ll give you a lot of opportunities to notice that stuff you’ve been learning “in the wild” so to speak.

One step up in difficulty from this could be watching stuff you already know the story of (either a Japanese movie/anime/drama you’ve watched in English, or other shows dubbed into Japanese). Same here, it’ll let you pick out those things you’ve been seeing in the books and it’ll stick that much more because now you’ve seen it in a real context.

EDIT: in case adding stuff means you don’t have time, I think it could be worth it to cut down on other things a bit and accept that you’ll be moving a bit more slowly but maybe making more reliable progress?


Well, I bought some manga and got a few games for 3DS and NSwitch because I wanted to practice. The problem is that get lost easily. And not having all the time I would like to look for translations, makes hard to enjoy any game.
Other than that, I used to watch Japanese Quest streamings in background while working, but couln’t pay much attention to it.
So I would say all my listening and reading experience is what I get on my iTalki lessons. What I like about MinnaNoNihongo is that almost everthing is in japanese, so I think is a good practice (but It makes it really hard to follow the book without a teacher!).

For me, the graded readers were a great stepping stone when I found myself in a similar (maybe?) situation. I could read example sentences, but found no native materials that I didn’t feel were too difficult!

But like I said above try to find stuff to watch or listen to as well, that might make it feel less of a pain when you don’t understand.


I really struggled with the て形 to begin with but my tutor and I spent a considerable amount of time just drilling it each week until it became automatic. I can’t actually remember the rules now but I can get it right with new verbs about 95% of the time. I’ve also used the Japanese Conjugation City app (Android) on my own to drill conjugations and that’s been really helpful.

Thanks a lot for your detailed answer!

I’ll checkout the TaeKim deck, did you use it on the phone by any chance? (I work all the day on my computer, so it’s hard for me to use PC tools to study, I just try to stay away from it on my breaks).

I’ve been looking for material I can enjoy. Tried Terrace House on Netflix, but perhaps I’m paying too much attention to subs? Should I try watching it wihout subs even if I don’t get what they say? My drug is videogames too (I’m a game dev afterall, or at least I try XD), do you use Twitch or youtube for that? Anyone you recommend? That would be great :smile:

I bought a few games I’ve already finished with that idea, because I already new the story), but at the time I didn’t think that maybe FF vocabulary could be too much :laughing:

Thanks again!

Oh thanks for that App, looks like it’s also available on iOS :slight_smile:
But yeah, I know that the only way to get the て形 done is by doing it a hundred million times :laughing:

I use the JLPT exam to provide structure and a tangible goal to my learning routine. It helps to have short and long term goals, plus the test comes with a date, so you have a deadline. “I want to learn Japanese” is kind of vague. Its not exactly what you asked for, but its an idea, and studying for it has really helped me focus and advance on my weaknesses. So its a thought.

Yeah I used to do a ton of anki reviews while making tea (I drink a lot of tea!) or going to the bathroom (as a result of drinking so much tea)!

I think so, I personally find that when I watch with Japanese subs my brain scrambles to read as quickly as possible rather than focusing on what’s being said! I prefer to practice reading separately with books :slight_smile:

Glad you asked, I made a big list of let’s play channels and videos I like here!

Also, I started this Let’s Play Watching Club thread, which I’m now myself sadly behind in my watching on! D:

After doing the graded readers for a while I played through Suikoden in Japanese, and that was really fun. I did look up a bunch of stuff but I did enjoy the process at the time, so that’s something you can have on the horizon but maybe not right now :slight_smile:

Totally understand.

Don’t worry. If someone claims that we’ll call them out on it straight away because that’s simply impossible.

Hold up what do you mean by subs? If it’s english subs then get rid of them right now! Japanese subs are a-ok. No subs are good too but I reckon jap subs don’t hurt. I think the hierarchy is no subs are better than eng subs but jap subs are better than no subs.

Alternatively you could put both eng + jap subs together at the same time and pause after each sentence to read the japanese and see the translation, otherwise if you don’t pause don’t bother with this as you either can’t read fast enough or your eyes avert to the eng subs anyway.

Oh yeah, that totally makes sense to me too.
Honestly, I’ve never considered to take the JLPT exam (just to don’t spend money on it, because I don’t really “need it”), but I agree about setting a goal. That’s why I’was also happy with MinnaNoNihongo, as far as I know it oriented to that exam.

Oh, ok. Got it! I’ll give it a try.

Wow, that’s just mind blowing. Tons of content there. I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks!

You mentioned the graded readers earlier, never heard about it. But I understood that you found it too difficult at the beginning. Did I get it wrong? Should I look into it?
And yeah, I’ll keep the games for later on :slight_smile:

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Graded readers are basically books that are simplified for the purpose of being accessible to language-learners. They’re not unique to Japanese.

I was at a point where I could understand simple example sentences (from Tae Kim or etc) but something longer (like a manga och video game) was still too difficult for me!

I then used those graded readers as a sort of stopgap to get me up to speed until I could start reading native materials!

The graded readers themselves come in several difficulties, with the easiest ones being stuff like “Here’s an ant. Here’s a grasshopper. The ant is singing. The grasshopper is also singing”, so I think it should be possible to find one at whatever level you’re currently on.

If you buy them, don’t buy a ton of them at once though. If you’re like me they become super boring the second you actually become able to read anything aimed at natives :slight_smile:

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I’m in a different situation, since I’ve been learning Japanese verbally for years, so kanji is just the missing piece for me, but I thought a lot about what I would do if I was starting Japanese by learning kanji with Wanikani.

This site was suggested on another post in the forums,, and I think it looks like a great way to complement your learning. They use graded readers, like other posts above have suggested. The beginner stuff uses a lot of pictures, so that the meanings are self explanatory, and you can infer meanings without having to look them up in the dictionary. The philosophy that you lose interest if you have to look things up really hits home to me.

Yup, english sub, silly me. I didn’t think about it that way probably because the subs were in english and I’m spanish, so that already count as “learning” to my brain. :laughing:
But you are right, I’ll remove them.

I’ll try with japanese, both will feel like furigana. (That remind me to the meme in this thread

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Oh, thanks! I’ll check it out.

Yeah, especially when you are about to go to bed. More times than I would like to admit I ended up with the phone falling into my face and almost giving me a heart attack.

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Oh well, I guess that’s not so bad then. I only mentioned to remove them because the whole point of immersing is to be as namesake ‘immersed’ in Japanese. But if your goal is to learn Japanese then yeah perhaps it would be better to remove the eng subs anyway. I guess you could learn eng and jap at the same time by having jap audio and eng subs but it may be more efficient to just have jap subs so you can focus solely on japanese?

Yeah! Totally! Actually, I did that unintentionally. I definitely need to “switch my brain” to japanese, and keeping the english subs will keep me thinking in english.

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