Setting a routine, what do I miss?

Hi everyone,

I started WaniKani on December 1st 2019. So far, so good, thanks Koichi-san!
I am now trying to set my daily and weekly global routines for learning Japanese at a steady pace.
I’m not particularly a fast learner, and, if I want to be honest, not what you’d call a hard worker.
Big goals (see below) with a laid-back ethos? That’s me! :hatched_chick:

Here’s how I see my routine:

  • daily WaniKani reviews
  • daily Bunpro reviews
  • 2 weekly 1H-sessions studying Mina No Nihongo (I intend to do all the exercises)
  • frequent watch of movies and series in Japanese (I’d say at least one anime episode every other day, and most certainly one full-length movie per week)
  • 2 weekly half hour-sessions studying ‘Remembering The Kanji’
  • 1 one-hour talking session every two weeks with a native Japanese teacher
  • occasional flashcards sessions with Quizlet to review sentences and vocab from WaniKani and Mina No Nihongo (like 5-minute sessions squeezed here and there)

From your experience, is it a good program?
Or do you think I miss something?
I was thinking trying the JLPT N5 in December 2020, is it a realistic short-term goal?

Thanks in advance for your inputs!


GOALS

Now, my personal long term motivation for learning Japanese: as a writer, one of my project for an animated series is in development and, IF it was to be produced (you might have heard about the concept of “development hell” in the creative industry, hence the big IF), it could involve a Japanese studio and/or Japanese production partners. At some point I’d like to be able to interact with these potential partners.

Secondary goals:

  • being able to book Japanese musicians and artists for cultural events in Europe
  • being able to read some manga and video-games (and as I progress, short stories) that are unreleased here in France

As a collateral benefit I also feel learning a language is a great way to keep my memory afloat as I grow older. Brain needs to work out my friends!

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That seems like a great study routine! Good luck with keeping up with it :smile:
If you still have some free time left, I would also try studying vocabulary outside of WaniKani since they only teach you words that use kanji. I’ve never used Minna no Nihongo so I’m not sure if that isn’t already a great source for vocabulary :thinking: But if you want to add another vocabulary SRS, I can recommend Torii! (It also tells you which words are N5 ^^)

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Make it 3 times a day based on SRS intervals if you want to optimise the learning.

SRS Level Next Level
Apprentice 1 4h
Apprentice 2 8h
Apprentice 3 ~1d
Apprentice 4 ~2d
Guru 1 ~1w
Guru 2 ~2w
Master ~1M
Enlightened ~4M
Burned -

I’d suggest focusing on kanji and vocab in the beginning because not being able to read at all in the beginning is a big blocker in learning. Around level 10 on WK you could slow down WK and start doing more textbook studies.

I wouldn’t count this as studying unless you specifically watch fragments with Japanese subtitles a few times. Otherwise, just relax and enjoy the shows :slight_smile:

You don’t need this if WK is working for you.

I’d advise to go for more frequent sessions if possible. It will help you a lot to get used to communication in Japanese.

A year is not a short term goal, actually :slight_smile: More like a mid-term. And yes, in a year you should be able to pass at least JLPT N5 if you are really going to study consistently.

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You don’t need RTK if you’re doing WK. Spend that time reading, writing, or talking. N5 within a year is definitely achievable for you.

One thing I’d keep in mind is that aside from WK/BunPro reviews, the lessons themselves also take time. If you’re really optimizing, there’s two good choices for when to do lessons (this is more important for WK than for BunPro IMO):

  1. in the morning - then you can do the first 4 hour review at lunchtime, and the second 8 hour review in the evening
  2. in the early evening - then you can do the first 4 hour review before going to bed, and the second 8 hour review after waking up.

Of course life can get in the way of having your entire day scheduled around your language studies, but it’s good to at least know what the ideal is.

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Salut nopiro, comment tu va? Prêt à commencer ton aventure japonaise? :smiley:

  • daily WaniKani reviews (this is good)
  • daily Bunpro reviews (this is good)
  • 2 weekly 1H-sessions studying Mina No Nihongo (this is good)
  • frequent watch of movies and series in Japanese (As someone else said, this doesn’t count. Watching anime is a waste of time if you have no grammar knowledge unless you are using a transcript. It’s good to keep that Japanese atmosphere though)
  • 2 weekly half hour-sessions studying ‘Remembering The Kanji’ (this is overkill, pick an SRS such as Anki or WaniKani and you are good. Since you are doing WaniKani don’t use any other source for Kanji. WaniKani will already take A LOT of time especially when you get to a higher level).
  • 1 one-hour talking session every two weeks with a native Japanese teacher (if you can bump this to one weekly it’ll be great, that way you can discuss what you reviewed with your teacher. It’ll also force you to be consistent since you have to find something new to talk about, I mean you said you aren’t into hard work :stuck_out_tongue:)
  • occasional flashcards sessions with Quizlet to review sentences and vocab from WaniKani and Mina No Nihongo (like 5-minute sessions squeezed here and there)

N5 won’t be that useful and it’s easily achievable by that time especially with your plan. You can focus on improving your Japanese and go for N4 or N3 next year depending on how well things go. You can always check the N5 samples on the official website: https://www.jlpt.jp/e/samples/sampleindex.html#anchor01

Bon courage mec, tu commence bien!

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Thanks @Sosogami! Good think with Minna No Nihongo is that the flashcards sets have already been created for each lessons by the Quizlet community. I think it will probably be very simple vocab linked to the “storyline” of Minna No Nihongo : it’s this American corporate dude who meets those Japanese corporate dudes, and also he has some kind of love interest, and he goes to have some beer and meets a Portuguese family etc. Not the most exhilarating but vocab for the daily life.

Thanks @d-hermit, can I set WaniKani for this 3 times a day or should I just have fixed hours? I already do reviews with my morning coffee (9A), could have another review session at noon and one late evening?

Yep, I think for now it will just be to relax, though I was seeing it as “passive” studying, just to start to getting my ears used to the talking.

Even if I want to be able to write? I’m not sure I can remember the writing if I only use WK for Kanji…

You’re right, for now it’s more of a budget constraint but as soon as I can, I’ll try to make it one session per week.

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Thanks @cehrlich, insightful! Solution 2 sounds best for me: in the morning, reviews kind of wake my brain up, but I don’t feel like studying new stuff so early in the day. :sloth:

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Do your lessons at a set time (sometime within a particular hour, eg. 0700-0759), then your first review 4 hours later and your 2nd review 8 hours after that (12 hours after lesson); I personally to 0700, 1100 and 1900. Bear in mind that if your accuracy is good, most of your lessons will accumulate at the 2nd review timeslot (eg. 1900), so that will be when the bulk of your reviews keep coming back as they progress through SRS levels.

As for watching anime, as others said previously, it doesn’t count as study, but it is also not a waste - you will be attuning yourself to the sound and rhythm of Japanese, and enjoying the culture!

Bienvenue!

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Well writing kanji is wasn’t mentioned in your goals and frankly won’t elevate your Japanese knowledge that much, especially in the beginning.

But if you do want to learn writing, why not look up writing diagrams when you do WK lessons? And by the way in many cases you can “guess” the stroke order. Otherwise look it up on jisho.org for instance https://jisho.org/search/%23kanji%20本

You could do lessons about 4-5 hours before going to bed, then doing a review session just just before bed and then reviewing the items once again in the morning.

By the way, I was trying to study using Minna no Nihongo. I did a few chapters a year ago and it was super frustrating that the grammar was easy but reading a book in kanji was too difficult at the time. So, dropped it. When I tried picking it up half a year later the whole book was way too easy and I couldn’t benefit from it. So I ended up skipping it altogether. It’s about JLPT N5-N4 while I was aiming for N3 already. I did N3 this December actually but the results aren’t out yet.

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Interesting @d-hermit ! So what has been your preferred method to study grammar as you were preparing for N3?

Thanks @Rowena! Hehe, indeed! Actually animation (Japanese or not) is really my thing as I’m actually writing some (in script form). But you’re right, while watching I already focus a lot on storytelling and general mise-en-scène so the “Japanese” part can definitely not count as “language study”.

So if I understand well, the “study” part of WK represents 1 hour per day as you reach higher levels?

I don’t think I had a good strategy for grammar in the long-run.
Before starting WK I almost finished a beginner japanese course in Lingo Deer, which was very helpful to get the basics down.

Then I’d do sessions with a tutor once or twice a week. We would spend time reading and translating stuff. And I’d have questions about grammar. So, the tutor would explain and ask me to write sentences with the new grammar points as homework.

I’d research the grammar using the Dictionary Basic Japanese Grammar and other resources like http://maggiesensei.com/.

But only about 3 months before JLPT I started learning grammar in a more structured way using Shin-Kanzen Master N4 and N3.

Salut et merci @Noursaidana! So there’s quite a consensus RTK is overkill, so for kanji, I’ll stick with WK for now.

As for N5 or N4 I’ll definitely see how it goes! In any case I think passing a test is just a secondary incentive, yet it kind of “rationalize” things a bit in terms of progress.

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Really depends on your review accuracy. For me it takes from 20 min on a good day to over 40 min to do 100 reviews. And 100 reviews is about the minimum number of reviews you can expect per day if you are doing 1 level in 9-10 days. For me it’s more like 1.5 - 2 hours per day.

Also, you will be getting more and more daily reviews up to ~lvl 20 if I remember correctly.

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I see. I think I’ll stick with MNN as I need a somewhat structured method when it comes to learning a language. I cannot go all explorer way as you did in the beginning.

I also like that Bunpro mentions the MNN lessons of each grammar items. It allows working with these two different tools in parallel.

It also depends on how quickly you progress through the levels - if you are levelling up in 8-9 days you are going to end up with a much larger workload than if you are levelling up once every three weeks.

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Hi nopiro, welcome to the WK community!
I’ll give my input, although I’m not that much more experienced anyway.

This is the one that needs some more work: I agree with d-hermit’s advice, the first thing you have to keep in mind are the review times, especially the first ones. Doing WK at least twice is a good idea (morning and evening), doing it three times a day (morning, lunch, evening) is perfect.

@cehrlich’s advice is also great. Timing lessons is very important.

Seems good to me, timing is less important for grammar. But it’s good that you are following a structured and well organized grammar.

It sure helps. But I haven’t read it so I can’t say. Since a lot of BunPro’s points point to Minna No Nihongo look them up after you study them on Bunpro.

I guess the experience varies, and as others said, without some grammar foundation it’s not really useful, but after a (really short time) watching and listening to japanese movies/anime does help (a lot, vocabulary is much easier for me because of that!). Still it’s not work. Do enjoy it too :wink:

I don’t think you’ll need RTK. I tried it before WK (only 200 kanji). It’s an alternative so focus on just one. Writing is for me an optional long term goal so I’m not the best to give advice about that. But right now I want to learn Japanese, writing Kanji can wait till after I learn how to read stuff. I do use the “stroke order userscipt” to write the new kanji (I’ve written all kanji/vocab + readings + meaning) but I’m not worried about it that much. If I can’t remember the strokes, I guess them. Unless you want to impress someone with your writing, can’t that wait?

When you see that you can do this amount of work without burning up (trust me, it will get much more difficult than what it is at lv 3), you could focus a little bit more on vocabulary. Either Torii or Anki 4K/6K.

Finally, if you keep that program, I’ll be damned if you can’t pass N5…I think you can easily aim for N4. (Maybe N3 if you never slack off)

Good luck with your Japanese studies and your animated series. (I thought about Radiant when I read you are from France) Tell us the name if/when it becomes real!

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daily WaniKani reviews

This is good at minimum, though I’d recommend doing them 3 times a day to maximize the SRS benefits, as others have said here already.

daily Bunpro reviews

I haven’t used bunpro but it seems like a good system, daily seems like a good pace for bunpro.

2 weekly 1H-sessions studying Mina No Nihongo (I intend to do all the exercises)

This sounds good, I’m not sure exactly what the pace of Minna no nihongo is, but since it’s entirely in Japanese, it may take some more work to get through it. You may want to increase this a bit, but 2 hours a week is still decent, especially if you’re using bunpro as well to help retain what you’re learning.

frequent watch of movies and series in Japanese (I’d say at least one anime episode every other day, and most certainly one full-length movie per week)

Other people are criticizing this, but I think it’s a good thing to do. It’s always a good idea to start practicing listening very early. It takes some time for your ear to adjust to the sounds of japanese. No matter how much vocab or grammar you know, you won’t be able to understand what you’re listening to without practice actually listening to stuff (at least from my experience). Until you know more grammar and vocab, you won’t be learning a ton from immersing like this, but you will be training your ear, which is a good thing.

2 weekly half hour-sessions studying ‘Remembering The Kanji’

I personally don’t think you need to do this, but you mentioned wanting to be able to write, so I think RTK will be good for that. However, writing kanji isn’t really used much nowadays, especially if you’re not living in Japan (even those living in Japan report not having to really write much). An hour a week isn’t a huge time commitment for it though, so if writing is something you really want to do, then go for it.

1 one-hour talking session every two weeks with a native Japanese teacher

As others said, as long as money and time isn’t an issue, you might want to increase this once you have some grammar and vocab under your belt. You might not benefit from increased practice right now, but once you start learning more, it’ll really be helpful to have more regular practice. If you’re not able to increase it, you might want to practice your Japanese either in the Japanese-only section of this forum, on Hinative, LangCorrect, or Hellotalk.

occasional flashcards sessions with Quizlet to review sentences and vocab from WaniKani and Mina No Nihongo (like 5-minute sessions squeezed here and there)

I personally think Anki would be a better program to use than Quizlet. It’s SRS like wanikani and bunpro. I’m sure there are Minna no Nihongo decks on Anki. It’s not extremely user-friendly, but it’s not difficult to use if you aren’t worrying about advanced customization.

I was thinking trying the JLPT N5 in December 2020, is it a realistic short-term goal?

I think you could definitely reach N5 level within a year. You may even be able to reach N4 level. I assume by the time you finish both Minna no nihongo books, you’ll be at about an N4 level, so I guess it depends on if you can get through them both in a year.

Or do you think I miss something?

Once you finish the first textbook and reach about level 20 in wanikani, I recommend beginning to read. There are a ton of beginner-friendly resources you can use. I personally use NHK Easier, Hukumusume, and Tadoku readers. There are more resources in the thread Starting to read Japanese content. With reading, like listening, it takes practice before it gets easier, no matter what level you’re at, so once you’re able to have a basic grasp of beginner grammar and vocab, I think it’s a good idea to start reading.

Edit: Also, you will want to start learning vocab from another source. WK doesn’t teach kana-only vocab, and it doesn’t teach a lot of common words that use kanji. I recommend Tori for this, they have a mode where you can organize vocab you learn in order of wanikani level, so you only learn vocab using kanji you know.

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Something to keep in mind, are you looking to hand write Japanese? Or are you more likely to be typing? As long as you are typing (which is probably the majority of all Japanese I will ever write), you setup a Japanese keyboard. As long as you can remember the reading for the Kanji, you can type it!

FWIW, I do plan to get a stroke order practice workbook at some point, just to work on my handwriting for the rare case I’d need it and to help with reading handwritten kanji that looks like chicken scratch. But it isn’t a priority for me right now.

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Wow, thanks for all these remarks @Ayokana! I definitely want to read as soon as possible. I was actually wondering what are the prerequisites to read simple things, like graded readers. Thanks for the resources, I’m bookmarking everything for future use.

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