Ready to try learning Japanese for the 2nd time, any advice?

First of all, hello (again) to the WaniKani community!

I found a lot of great stuff when I first joined last year and it really set me up well before I took my break from learning.

I had been learning Japanese about 4 or 6 months ago for about a 4 month period and gave up due to being burnt out and not feeling like a lot of progress had been made as I still couldn’t understand hardly anything, even basic sentences in graded readers books as well as using time I should have been spending with my wife and kids as study time.

This time I would like to do it much smarter and with more realistic expectations and would appreciate any advice or help anyone could give to assist on my journey to learning Japanese.

Please see below a breakdown of my goals, past learning experiences, current position and future plans.

My Goals
  • Learn to speak, listen, read & type Japanese
  • I would like to watch tv shows, play video games and listen to podcasts in the language.
  • I have no intention of working there and little to no chance of visiting the country currently, so tourist and/or business type communications are not a priority.
Previous learning (4 to 6 months ago)
  • Tried Genki books, didn’t work well for me as I just couldn’t concentrate and work through it
  • Tried WaniKani for several months and managed to get to level 8 but felt overwhelmed as I maxed out my lessons are reviews as soon as they became available 24/7
  • I watched around 10 - 20 ‘Cure Dolly’ videos to try and grasp basic grammar over around a few weeks and it defintely helped
  • Tried a few weeks of listening to a JapanesePod101 audiobook and a Japanese Pimsleur audiobook while working/driving/cooking/cleaning but felt the audiobooks was more for tourists]
  • Tried a few weeks of listening to a few Japanese podcasts (‘Nihongo con Teppei’ & ‘Let’s learn Japanese from small talk!’) for listening immersion while working/driving/cooking/cleaning but hardly understood anything, although it definitely helped me pick up on the small pool of words I knew though
  • Tried watching basic anime (‘Shirokuma Cafe’, ‘Non Non Biyori’ & ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’) with Japanese subtitles on my lunch breaks but it was extremely slow and had to look up almost every word so gave up
Current Position
  • Since I last studied I have lost access to my old account and cannot recover it so created a new account
  • Currently back to learning radicals which feels like a HUGE step back from where I was considering I feel I remember a large amountof the kanji I learned to a certain degree and the majority the hiragana and katakana which is good
  • Trying to think how best to not get burned out when getting back into learning Japanese and trying to use my spare time to learn it rather than sacrificing other aspects of my day to day life such as time with my kids and wife, as previously this is what made me stop
Future Plans
  • If there is a way to skip a few levels forward in WaniKani then I would do this, if not then I will chip away at doing as many lessons and reviews as possible until I am all caught up or find a platform where I can skip ahead (Maybe Kanji Garden?)
  • Use my 1 hour lunch time at work to watch anime, japanese tv shows, youtube Japanese grammar/immersion (‘Cure Dolly’, ‘Japanese Ammo with Misa’ & ‘JapanesePod101’) and/or play japanese games with no subtitles or japanese subtitles for active immersion, even just to get used to the sound of the langauge on a daily basis
  • Use my work time and driving time to listen to Japanese podcasts as passive immersion or even active immersion if possible at points
  • For at least 30 minutes a day use a vocabulary app such as Anki, Memrise or Lingodeer to help link pieces together I am learning in WaniKani/Kanji Garden

Does the above sound achievable and like the best way to spend my time?

Also, are there any resource I have mentioned that you would or wouldn’t recommend and any alternatives or extra resources?

Thank you in advance

Edit 1: Initial post formatting
Edit 2: See my latest post summarising the responses and showing my plans going forward: Ready to try learning Japanese for the 2nd time, any advice? - #30 by JapAndi


こんにちは Andi!

I’m also coming back to Japanese after a few month break in the middle of last year!
I think everything you would like to do is possible, and the journey looks so different for everyone! As someone who lingers on a lot of websites and forums but never posts, I’ll just tell you what I’ve found helpful my second time around.
My favorite resources so far are:

  • Duolingo (even just one lesson a day is nice if you can’t dedicate any additional time that day. They also added a section to learn both Hiragana and Katakana now, which is helpful if you aren’t totally familiar)
  • Sakura Tips with Mari (She has an awesome podcast which releases a new episode everyday. She also sends a monthly newsletter where she shares cultural information about Japan in both Japanese and English! I’m part of her Discord community which is super active with lots of other learners, so check it out for fun casual conversation in both English and Japanese!)
  • I love watching anime on Netflix in Japanese and also Japanese vloggers! A lot of time they have both language subtitles on the screen which can be helpful to read and compare.
  • I’m currently following along with a JLPT N5 course through Udemy, which I would recommend only if you want to pay for learning material. Each lesson is over an hour of video including dialogue, expressions, vocabulary and greetings!
  • I love listening to J-Pop too, it’s fun to try and pick up on phrases and every time I listen, I recognize a new word or phrase.

I hope you find something here that’s helpful or you didn’t know about! Like I said, the path for everyone is different and everyone has their own awesome set of goals! Have fun learning and enjoy the process.



Only advice I can give is don’t burn yourself out. It’s great to be motivated but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to learn everything as quickly as possible or get discouraged if you aren’t picking things up as quickly as you expected.

Learning a language is hard and takes time, to do it successfuly will take years. Enjoy the process, especially at the begining when it’s pretty linear and tracking your progress is pretty easy and super rewarding.

It sounds like you’ve got a good plan and you’re on the right track, so good luck to you.


it would be great if you could share the link to the discord server!

This is based on my learning experience.

In my opinion

  • You’d tried too many things at the same time. You should better focuse on fewer learning resources.
  • Your expectation was too high. You wouldn’t be able to completely understand anime that quickly. Even they’re anime that many people claim they are for beginners.
  • Just accpet you would not understand everything and let it goes. (I think Cure Dolly discussed about this in one of her video. Something like top-down approach.)
  • Good luck!!

Nihongo Con Teppei is an intermediate podcast, even the one that says “For Beginners”. So yeah, makes sense you didn’t understand much yet.
Non Non Biyori seems to use a lot of casual language/weird anime pronounciation that aren’t the first thing a textbook teaches you. I have no issues listening to Teppei, but Non Non Biyori is really difficult XD
Best advice would be to keep in mind that learning a language is a very slow process. We’re talking years. And you probably won’t notice much progress yourself, because it’s so slow.
Especially at the start it’s quite difficult because you have to build a foundation first, with relatively boring stuff like memorising vocab, kanji and basic grammar. Once you have that you can start to actually understand some media and learn more by immersion, which is generally a lot more fun. (Ofc you can start listening to podcasts etc before you understand much if you want.)
Until then, pace yourself so you don’t burn out. You’ll have to figure out yourself what your limit is for “boring” practice stuff, as everybody has a different limit, and it may change depending on your situation in life.
As for resources, I generally recommend the Marugoto courses. JF Japanese e-Learning Minato |The Japan Foundation Marugoto is a textbook, but the beginner ones have been turned into free online courses. Lots of listening practice as pretty much everything has audio. The grammar explanations are extremely lacking though, so you’d want to read up on those on another site (I used Wasabi mostly)
Anyway, good luck, take it slow :slight_smile: And if you need a break, just stop learning new stuff, but keep reviewing the stuff you already learned. That way you don’t fall backwards.


If you feel discouraged by the lack of understanding, maybe starting with a more down to earth, interactive textbook like Human Japanese ( or grammar sources on websites could help. Something that slowly explains and then allows you to immediately look up every single element in the Japanese text.


Thank you for your detailed response, it looks like you have some great ideas and resources and I really appreciate you sharing them with me and the rest of the community!

I just have a few questions if you don’t mind:

  • Duolingo

Can I ask if you have tried Lingodeer? If so, was there any reason why you preferred Duolingo over it? I have heard that Duolingo is not aimed very suited to Asian languages and that Lingodeer for Japanese.

I understand that any studying is better than constantly flipping between different sources, so I appreciate you may have initially picked something and stuck to it. I was just wondering what your experience has been like with this specific platform and why you chose/stuck with it.

  • Sakura Tips with Mari

Fantastic, I will subscribe straight away!

  • I love watching anime on Netflix in Japanese and also Japanese vloggers!

I am definitely going to start watching anime again on Netflix. I actually found a decent website that lets you check which shows have Japanese audio/subtitles based on which country you viewing from (Website HERE, originally found the link on this forum HERE)

As you mentioned Japanese vloggers, I have been looking and only found 1 so far that actually speaks Japanese (HikakinTV, most I find speak English but live in Japan.

Are there any you suggest?

And again, thank you for your response!


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Seems to me your approach is too broad.

From ZERO, nibble away at kana, kanji, vocabulary, and grammar. Move on only after each little bit is thoroughly (strike, see below) mastered. There’s no point to taking on more if you are forgetting as fast as you are learning.

Lower your expectations. IMHO, studying native materials while lacking the basics takes tedious effort with little reward and great frustration. I view Japanese dramas when I am getting too cocky about my progress.

After a 20-year hiatus, six months ago I started again with Wanikani and Bunpro, reaching level 24 and finishing N3, respectively. (Studied from 1982 at UCLA extension; weekly private tutor 1985-1987, then 1992-1997; and expatriate from 1992-2000, so there was lots of review. And I’m at this more than eight hours per day.) After all this, I rate my comprehension of “first glance” native materials as “poor”.

My motivation is to keep going for as long as I find the learning process enjoyable and then accept whatever competence that results. After the pandemic is over, I intend to split my time between Japan and the United States until I have to check into assisted living.

My point is that (IMHO) it is essential to have a well thought out reason to study Japanese rather than something easier, like Spanish. That reason will be different for everyone.


One of the things that I find most fun and also incredibly productive–even as I find it very stressful because I’m confident I’m doing it poorly–is practicing output. I know you said you didn’t like Genki, which is what I use, but whatever you end up using to learn the grammar (Tae Kim’s guide is pretty good and also free), I think it’s worth taking the time to sit with the grammar points you learn and literally make up sentences to fit them. You said you previously got to level 8 in WaniKani, which isn’t super far in terms of reading comprehension but should absolutely give you enough to string together stupid sentences. (“I think about my teacher’s ancient cow every morning” or whatever, is completely made up of stuff from lvl 8 and below, and covers possessives and adjective-noun construction and time phrases and present tense conjugation, etc.)

It’s not necessarily easy, but as part of learning grammar I cannot recommend it enough. Make up a sentence using words you know (or words you look up, tbh), translate it, and then read it out loud to yourself. It’s something you can practice at any point in the day and it’s something I don’t feel like I see recommended enough, given how helpful I think it is for helping both grammar and vocabulary stick in my brain. Plus it gives you a chance to practice your pronunciation while also hearing the sounds of the language, even if they’re just coming from you.

Good luck on your journey!


My advice is really to not try to take on too much at once. Maybe try to get a certain base level and try to build up from there, introducing new elements as you go. To keep things interesting, switch it up from time to time. Like do reading practice one day, then do listening on another day, speaking and writing on another day. See what sticks, also what doesn’t work and then go from there.

Accelerate your learning when you feel comfortable at the current pace and slow down when you feel like it is too much. I’ve seen many people, including myself get burned out and it takes a lot of time to feel comfortable again studying with hopefully healthier habits. As you’ve said you don’t have any aspirations to live or work in Japan at this moment, so treat it as a marathon and not a sprint. If you only got 1 hours worth to study in a day, then using that every day is always better than studying more and quitting several months after.


Don’t feel too bad about this one. The super basic ones tend to be nonsensical in their grammar, like how many people speak to children. The ones that get non-trivial tend to be all over the place in their vocab. The one’s that try to stick to some sort of standard (eg. N5/N4) will probably be really boring.

Imo, Japanese has something of an initial wall (around the N4 level or having finished the new learner texbooks like Genki II, Human Japanese Intermediate, Tae Kim). Everything you do up to crossing that wall is bootstrapping and will be kind of painful. You don’t want to burn out, but I do think it’s better to cross that wall when you can since it’s much easier to take an easy pace when learning from more immersive activities are on the table. As far as getting there, basic vocab and grammar is the most important.

As others have brought up, explore your options. I think the absolute beginner phase is as much finding the learning resources/methods that work for you as much as it is learning Japanese.

I do not like the phrasing “thoroughly mastered”. I feel like that’s the kind of thing some beginners read out of context then get trapped into things like trying to understand every possible use of particles off the bat. Or maybe they get into the idea that they need to memorize every meaning, reading, and pitch accent of everything on WK. Forgetting is part of the process as well as relearning or refining what is already known (especially when it comes to J → E definitions siiiiiigh). Definitely learn the basics and learn them well, but accept that there are a lot of times where things will have to be left unclear (lower those expectations).


I agree 100%. Having the general idea of a point firmly established in one’s long-term memory is a better articulation of what I was trying to convey.


I would recommend checking out the thread :durtle_hello: Let’s Durtle the Scenic Route :turtle:, as that ‘philosophy’ expressed there (taking it slow and steady, but especially to enjoy the process of learning) is closest to my current approach, and I’ve found it very helpful overall to maintain interest, maintain steady progress, and also to pretty much eliminate the risk of burnout.

As for resetting back to lvl 1 and radicals, yes I know the feeling of going tooo far back, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s only a couple of levels. Probably by level 5-ish you’ll start hitting things you forgot. And at that point you can slow right down to your ‘scenic route’ pace (i.e. whatever pace feels comfortable and sustainable and enjoyable to you), and before you know it, all the early stuff will go to Enlightened level, and then in a couple months you’ll be making your first Burns! Just remember to slow down to a comfortable pace once you start hitting things you don’t remember. Then just maintain (and sometimes adjust) that steady pace, and you’ll be safe from burnout forever. :beach_umbrella: :sunglasses: :+1:


just dont burn yourself out trying to get everything at the same time

I tried doing this and quit japanese for 10 years,

now I only use WK and bunpro and they are helping me step by step, I am not in a hurry, I get some retention and eventually after years I will be able to read manga without any dictionary I hope.

Even English, it took me almost 5 years to feel confident, and that’s because I live and breath watching and listening to US movies and songs.

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Have you tried contacting the WK team to see if they can get you access to your old account? I’d assume they’d be able to help with that

As for advice: I feel like I was in a similar situation to you until quite recently, where I put in a lot of work but still couldn’t understand anything. Here’s what I would suggest:

Narrow down your goals. Of course you can still want to achieve all those things someday, but I find it’s easier to achieve your goals if they’re more specific.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of SMART goals but I find that method is a good way to see if you have clear enough goals (I think it’s a business thing?? but I’ve found it helpful for figuring out my language goals).

Basically, if you follow the SMART criteria your goals should be...
  • Specific (figure out which area specifically you want to improve in, e.g. reading)
  • Measurable (how do you know when you’ve achieved your goal?)
  • Achievable (how can you achieve this goal? what steps do you need to take? is it realistic?)
  • Relevant (is this the right time for this goal? e.g. a goal of playing a text heavy video game may not be relevant right now, but reading a graded reader may be)
  • Time-bound (e.g. in 1 year, in 3 months, etc.)

You can take the goals you currently have and adjust them to meet the criteria.

For example...

A goal like “be able to read” is too broad, so maybe something like “read a book with the Absolute Beginner Book Club” could be a more attainable goal. Or maybe “read X amount of graded readers this month.” Or if you want to improve grammar / vocab, a goal could be watching a certain amount of Japanese Ammo with Misa videos in the next month.

The long term goals can still be the things you listed, but breaking them down into smaller goals will make the steps you need to take more obvious. Of course you don’t have to follow the SMART criteria, I just personally find it helpful.

Good luck with your studies!!
edit: put some of this under the hide details thing since it got a bit long, sorry


Nihongo Con Teppei is an intermediate podcast, even the one that says “For Beginners”. So yeah, makes sense you didn’t understand much yet.
Non Non Biyori seems to use a lot of casual language/weird anime pronounciation that aren’t the first thing a textbook teaches you. I have no issues listening to Teppei, but Non Non Biyori is really difficult XD

This has made me feel a lot better, as in a lot of places I have seen these two as being the easiest to digest!

Thank you! :grin:

Just thought of something that might be helpful (at least for confidence) - I love this youtube channel - Comprehensible Japanese - her complete beginner videos have tons of repetition, visuals etc - you can pick up what’s happening even without a lot of Japanese vocabulary/grammar, which is pretty great feeling. Definitely easier than Nihongo Con Teppei (but you really do want to watch the video, not just listen.


I have been learning Japanese on and off for a couple of years now. And what is really working for me now is a couple of things:

  • Dont collect methods. I used to buy al kinds of books, all kinds of subscriptions, browsed all the websites etc. And never really stuck to any of it, just continued to do the beginner stuff all over the place. Pick something that works for you and stick with it.
  • Actually pick something that works for you. There is a lot of advice out there, and a lot of it is great and will work. But if you are not into it, then it will not grab you and it’s harder to stick to it.
  • Don’t overdo it. The best method, is the method that you can sustain for a long period of time. Learning Japanese, will take a while, and you have to be able to stick with it for atleast a couple of years, depending on where you want to end up. So the best method would be the one that doesn’t burn you out.
  • Start reading. This one is tricky in the beginning, but there are even level 0 books out there, like the Tadoku graded readers etc. (Free ones here). But for me atleast, once I started reading, not only did I make a lot of progress, but I also felt like I made a lot of progress, which is motivating on its own.

In the end, you really want to stick to what works for you. I think people get burned out a lot on following all kinds of advice that doesn’t really suit them. Or try to do the whole immersion in anime even though they don’t really understand a single word. That stuff will break you very quickly unless you have some type of iron determination and immense amounts of time a day to spend on it. Which I don’t have.


Comprehensible Japanese is amazing I think, might be one of the better resources to start with. The whole concept of natural/immersed learning is amazing. It is how I used to learn other languages as well, but I thought that Japanese would be too different from my own language or any other that I understand. But the way she does it, you can really immidiatly follow just about anything, and just watching them, and repeating a couple of times, can really get you going quite fast into understanding sentence sentences etc.

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