Practice N5 test…oh boy. Feeling discouraged. Help?

So I’ve been using WK for a little bit now. Got up to L3 a few times and finally bought the sub. I’m glad I did cuz despite my other posts (yes, I’ve complained before, apologies), I seem to be learning a lot. I went back to DuoLingo and was able to skip ahead a lot of levels just on self-study from Genki and JFZ books 1&2. I felt kinda good. Actually, I felt really good. So, I mustered the courage the try an N5 test and I had zero idea what I was doing or reading. It literally felt like I was reading something I had never seen before.

Anyone else ever get that feeling when reading the language? I seriously felt so stupid. I obviously will get to WK L10 … I’ve seen numerous folks here say that’s roughly the level you need to obtain for all N5 kanji, vocabulary, etc. Then, I’m gonna run thru Genki 1 (thoroughly this time, no BSing), actually studying one chapter a week, even if I have to write the material over and over.

My BIGGEST issue is listening comprehension. I listen to a few podcasts on Spotify, but I really haven’t found one that seems to be “beginner” level. Anyone have any suggestions on N5 study, what your path was to N5, or any podcasts/listening channels you prefer for studying?

Please and thank you.


I’m not too ahead of you so I don’t have a ton to say but I have been on/off studying Japanese for a few years (just recently became dedicated to it). I try to read some manga in Japanese and I definitely feel that discouragement you’re talking about. It can be frustrating but the feeling that you get when you finally find things you understand outweighs any of the negatives.

As far as listening goes, well it hasn’t been a focus of mine at the moment. I do listen to a lot of Japanese music but that is mainly just because I really like Japanese music and occasionally there will be a word or phrase where I’m like “yo I just learned that!” and it feels great.

Honestly though my advice to you would be to not worry about what you don’t know yet because well… you simply don’t know it YET. If you keep at it then you’ll eventually learn it and it will feel amazing.


i haven’t tried out much of it, but i see JapanesePod101 videos on my youtube recommended a lot. they have videos geared for different levels, but by the time i found them, i was looking for something a little more advanced. so i can’t really attest to the quality of them, but they’re worth a try if you haven’t already!

maybe you can try finding a kids show in japanese to watch? maybe something like Anpanman or Doraemon?

other than that, i would probably stick with the audio/listening exercises in the Genki textbook. once you get a solid grasp of the basics in Genki 1 and 2, then you might have more luck with things like podcasts!


Also recommend trying out JapanesePod101. If you make a free account you can try out some of the lessons to see if it’s something you like. They have hundreds of lessons to cover everything from Very Beginner to Advanced conversations. It is subscription based but if you look around there’s some really good promo codes out there. (They have a Premium Level that breaks down more vocab but Basic subscription is good enough.)


I took a practice N5 test around wanikani level 12, while doing a bit of duolingo and got through about half of genki 1 and studied all of N5 on bunpro and I passed at 141/180, BUT I have also:

  • been into anime and jpop for 15 years,
  • had japanese friends who would sometimes talk japanese so I had listening practice
    before trying seriously.

I would say don’t rush, and don’t feel bad for not understanding! I think there’s just more time to give yourself to get it.

With anime I would look out for a phrase I hear a lot and tie it to the english subtitle, and even if i hear something and i want to know what it is ill look it up.
With music I would go learn the lyrics and then line it up to the translation and try to figure out what words mean what, as well as trying to google for what words mean.
Conversation is the best way to learn listening because you can straight up ask what something means but you might just need a bit more knowledge before you can retain it.
Bunpro has been really good at filling in some grammar gaps and I have started recognizing more when I com across them now: Log in - Japanese Grammar Explained | Bunpro
Also graded readers have helped me a lot! How to start tadoku – にほんごたどく
I also found 80/20 japanese to explain some grammar points to me really well: 80/20 japanese

Take your time and have fun :slightly_smiling_face: There’s no deadline on getting to N5 or any other test!


Hey! It’s easy to feel discouraged when you see/hear something you don’t understand; especially when you feel like you should! Try to shift perspectives and think to yourself, I’ll be able to understand this soon, I remember that thing(Genki 1 dialogue, etc) that I didn’t know before, but now I understand it. Be okay with not knowing too, because the more you listen and learn, the more will stick in your brain, if that makes sense.

Some easy listening:

  • Nihongo Con Teppei: A Japanese podcast by Japanese guy who learned languages by listening to them, and wants to help people who want to learn Japanese. They are short and while they are confusing at first, you’ll get the hang of them in no time, since he repeats the same stuff a lot.
  • Peppa Pig in Japanese on youtube. There is a great channel that has English and Japanese subtitles along with the videos. These are great to watch and listen to because you’ll pick up things from the video and audio combined.
  • I have a playlist of the Genki 1 dialogues on my phone and spend some time listening to that every day. It’s a boost of confidence to have audio you can understand pretty well and can reference vocabulary for when you don’t know.

Good luck! You can do it! :slight_smile:


I`m trying for N2 again (failed twice) and I can now confidently say I expect that feeling to last at least 6 years. For reference I tend to study 4+ hours per day for nearly 4 years now.


First off I’d like to say N5 isn’t worth worrying about, in the sense that you shouldn’t take the test. Taking some practice test online is fine, but don’t waste your time with signing up for it. Honestly I don’t think the JLPT is worth taking until N3 or even N2.

Now, about feeling stupid, yeah I always do. It just means you’re looking at content you’re not ready for. I read whatever I want, without regard to its difficulty and that’s why I get frustrated when I don’t know things.

About listening comprehension; I haven’t really studied this or anything, but I’ve listened to Japanese music and watched anime for many years, so I was pretty accustomed to the Japanese language, and even picked up some grammar points. As you learn a bit more grammar and vocabulary, you should find it become easier, but also make sure you just consume content


I will never forget taking the N5 and just thinking “I know all these sounds but I don’t know what they mean.” It takes a while to get that first “AH HA! This makes sense!” moment. Mine didn’t come until the end of Genki II. The reading section about Doraemon is what pushed me to finally read my first manga.


Pinpoint the most troublesome part. Is it about structure (grammar)? If so, basic drilling may help.

Is it about vocabularies? If so, “memorize” vocabularies, but be aware whether you can tell vocabularies from Kana or sounds. Taking vocabularies outside sentences is a much lower hanging fruit, than trying to totally “comprehend” them.

But then, there are also things that are only meaningful as a whole; but indeed they would crumble without strong parts.

My reading comprehension started after going through quite a bit of grammar; but I didn’t time when about listening. I believe that studying on one side help with others, just not as effective as studying those skills specifically.

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I don´t know if this would help you, but I listen to NihonGoal on Youtube for my grammar lessons. It helps me to hear the content.

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The thing with the JLPT tests is, you have to actually study for the test.

N5 is ‘The ability to understand some basic Japanese.’ level Japanese and you may very well have that, or higher, but it doesn’t mean you can pass. If you started studying now for the test itself and took in in a few months, you probably would.

I failed it after living in Japan for two year hehe. No issues with sitting in a bar and chatting to people but when faced with actual grammar questions I had not done enough study. Oops. From memory I passed each section but didn’t score high enough overall (or was it the other way around?).

So you don’t know N5 specific test stuff, it doesn’t mean your Japanese study is going badly.

It’s also worth noting that the more kanji you learn the harder the N5 test is because everything is written in hiragana unless it’s the 80 kanji you are supposed to know. That threw me last time I did the practice. Also I remember from actually taking it some things I knew the answer but didn’t know how to spell it, wanikani would have helped me there! One of the first questions the answer was small, easy! The four options were chiisai, chisai, chissai, chiisaii. OMG! And if you don’t answer immediately you have lost time and you are now behind, because you sat there pondering, it’s only ii, right…? I went and told my Japanese friends, I think I failed because the first question threw me and I don’t know how to write 小さい in hiragana! So much for the easy questions!

The test study is also really boring, so just keep studying Japanese and don’t worry about that exam unless you actually need to (or want to actually pass it one day).


Well, to be very accurate, you don’t have to study for the test. It’s just a good suggestion if you want to prepare yourself for it faster.

-Guy who passed N1 without previously taking or studying for the jlpt prior


For listening at very beginner level, I found the Easy Japanese Conversation Lessons by NHK very useful: they are available in a lot of different languages if your native is not English, and explain very simple conversations sentence by sentence.

It has its limitations, but if you feel like I did that starting with something like Nihon con Teppei is too harsh, I’d recommend you give it a try!


I have two recommendations for N5 level.

For podcasts, the best one I have found for beginners is Nihongo Con Teppei. The episodes are about 5 minutes each and there are over 600 beginner episodes to listen to. He also has other podcasts with higher difficulty, but I think you should stick to the beginner difficulty at this stage. Japanese podcast for beginners (Nihongo con Teppei) – The best way to learn how to speak Japanese naturally!

On Youtube, I recommend the channel Comprehensible Japanese. She speaks slowly and draws what she talks about which helps you to understand in the beginning. There are playlists in different difficulties (complete beginner, beginner and intermediate) which is very helpful. You could try the complete beginner and beginner difficulties. If you just want to listen, you could turn off the subtitles on Youtube. Comprehensible Japanese - YouTube

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Just want to say to anyone facing the N5, that if you feel totally bewildered by the instructions coming at you entirely in Japanese - that’s totally fine. Most people sitting it will feel that way, your language ability is in no way ready to act on those instructions and they throw them at you anyway. The key is to be comfortable enough ignoring them that you can focus your brain on the actual test content. In Japan, the N5 testing staff may have zero English ability - and this lead to some serious disruption and confusion when I took the test. Personally, I think it’s a really big failing of the N5 test.

That said, the format is consistent every year - so just take note of how each section works while you’re taking practice tests. That way you should know what’s expected of you in each section, even if you don’t understand the Japanese instructions. That doesn’t mean you’ll pass; my friend failed even after a year of living in Japan, and I barely passed. Some people are great at exams, some people aren’t. What’s important is that you choose to learn because you want to - and if you don’t, that’s fine too. For me, the exams really help to crack a whip on my poor study habits, but for others they might be only discouraging.


I haven’t tried taking the actual N5 test by myself, but from my own experience, only passing WK level 10 didn’t feel enough if WK is your only source for kanji and vocab. It certainly helped starting my grammar study easier. However, even in the earliest chapters of Genki I, I found that there were plenty of vocab and kanji that I didn’t know yet. So I ended up supplementing with some anki decks.

wkstats shows that all N5 kanji are covered in level 1-16. So, perhaps it would be easier to try N5 after level 16.

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Eh, no.

For N5 you definitely don’t have to “study for the test” oO


Hello :slight_smile:
my biggest problem during language learning is listening, as well!
I liked to listen to NHK Easy Japanese (you can download the app on your phone or just go on their website. They have short and easy dialogues) and Japanese with Shun.
I hoped it helped.

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What kind of listening practice did you do? I’m interested in taking the JLPT next year

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