I’m curious to hear about how people are studying, and what you’re results have been like. Do you swear by Genki? Do you spend 20 hours/week on WK alone? Do you eat sleep a breath anime with Japanese subs? Did you pass the N3 after a year of this study? The N2 after 6 more months? A J-Cat of 350 in ten years? Tell me about what your study diet contains and how you feel it has/has not benefitted you.
Personally, my weekly study breakdown looks something like this:
- ~15 hours of WaniKani
- 6 hours of reading (anything, but mainly short stories and news)
- 3-4 hours of Podcasts while commuting
- 2 hours of conversation group
- 1 hour of italki lesson
I’d like to add another hour of italki with a different teacher, I think, but it’s really hard to imagine putting in more than 20 hours per week on Japanese study! That WK time represents what’s necessary to maintain a 1 level per week schedule for me.
Results so far, with two months on this schedule (and five months of homestay during high school) I just barely passed the N4 in December, and two weeks ago (after 6 months of this schedule) I got a J-Cat of 176. My hope is to be in the 225 range on the J-Cat next time I can take it in September, and to pass the N3 with more room to spare, and also to scale back my WK time after level 35 (the 95% mark for the N3). I really want to understand those podcasts better! ;_;
Kinda wish I had your drive and free time to put as much into learnin’ as you do.
I have a 45-60 minute bus commute every morning and afternoon, so I pop on WK to do all my lessons and reviews then, an hour during lunchtime when I do more reviews, and if I don’t have enough to fill in those time slots, I always carry my Genki 1 book to read over the grammar and vocab parts. Past that, I have very little time to devote to anything other than keepin’ on.
Yeah, for sure, it’s rough. I’ve been able to dedicate this much time through some pretty strict self-scheduling. For instance, I gave myself a bed-time. I mostly do like you, and pick up WK when I can, between other things, but I started to do the math and it really does add up fast. It sounds like you spend at least 2-3 hours 5 days a week on WK, which is like 10-15 hours per week, right? Basically the same amount I do. I schedule all my leveling and reviews, too, plus the hour before bed 6 nights/week is for reading. Podcasts are sort-of ad-hoc, whenever I get around to them, and the lesson and group are just two events that are part of my weekly routine now. I have a full-time job and a partner and dog, so for me it’s just about making sure I schedule time for them, and build some flexibility into my schedule, but otherwise trying to just make a schedule and stick to it. Google calendar is a godsend for this stuff.
But for you, it’s mostly WK and occasional Genki? Any reading/anime/native language content at all? How have you found your results so far?
It’s not much in comparison, but:
- 2 hours per week for new level
- 4 hours per week of total review
- 5-10 episodes of anime
- 2-3 hours of assortments of manga and web novels
Midterms are coming up, so I will only do WaniKani this week. I think reading is especially beneficial. Encountering vocabularies in the wild really cemented the readings and meanings into my memory. Watching anime also did the trick, but it’s much more fast paced so the benefits were minimal.
Not as fruitful as I’d like, but I am kind of an impatient person when it comes to personal progress, so that could just be me doin’ a dumb.
I know next to nothing about grammar, so I can’t really do much native language content really. Any writing that I come across in my daily life is consequential or coincidental; I get hecka excited when I can “read” anything, so I really should be using more Japanese material, but I haven’t a friggin’ clue where to get any reliable stuff. That’s also mainly due to me doin’ a dumb, as I know how to use Google and other research resources, just hasn’t hit the mental priority to-do list yet.
Out of curiosity, do you watch anime with Japanese subs? Do you read the subs beforehand at all? I’ve been thinking about trying something like a pre-study plan, to try to increase fluency and speed.
Finding level-appropriate reading content is super difficult. There really is very little in the way of beginner content, especially not as made for a native audience. I’ve burned through basically everything I could get my hands on that’s non-native, and I too am looking for more gentle sources for reading material. I search tirelessly, and have found nothing reliable, as I work towards someday, maybe hopefully being able to understand basic children’s chapter books. ;_;
Similarish, in case you’re interested:
Huh, cool yeah. Mostly I was interested in breakdowns of the uses of other resources than WK, but this is interesting too. Thanks for the link!
I don’t count how many hours/week I spend on each time. However, I do study seven days a week, usually doing:
All WaniKani reviews, usually as soon as they pop (Unless I’m sleeping).
30 to 60 minutes of study a day with Kanzen Master N4.
About 30 minutes of reading a day from a children’s book. With this one I don’t just read new stuff every day, but I force myself to reread all previous pages in each chapter until the chapter is done, just so that I get more used to it and I get a chance to better understand what’s going on.
30 to 60 minutes of vocabulary practice with Anki.
10 minutes with Kanji Senpai.
A random amount of time (could be none, could be 30 minutes, could be 3 hours) playing video games in Japanese, based on my free time and how tired I am.
Occasionally, an episode of some Anime.
Once a week, on Saturdays, three hours of private Japanese lessons, where we use Minna No Nihongo although my sensei allows me to study with Kanzen Master there too and corrects my practices there.
This on top of two jobs (that I do from home luckily) and a workout schedule.
Awesome! I’d never heard of Kanji Senpai, that sounds like something I’d like to incorporate! How do you find Minna No Nihongo and Kanzen Master? I’ve never used a textbook, but I imagine it would be useful for feeling confidence about grammar, yeah?
Are your three hours/week of lessons fun? Sounds like a big block. Is it through italki? Mangade?
Your approach to reading sounds interesting. I’ve never re-read anything, but that sounds useful. I bought this really lovely hard-bound 365 story tome of bedtime stories, and your approach would probably work well, revisiting the last two stories every day. I’ll think about doing that when I finish my current book.
I forgot all about video games! I just got the Switch, so I’ve been playing 45-60 minutes per day playing Zelda in Japanese as well, although that’s not really a recognizable pattern yet, and I’m really struggling with most of the writing. Do you find games to be profitable studying for you?
In general, what parts of your regimen would you say are most useful, and which ones less so? Do you have any test results of anything to indicate how well your studying is going? Self-assessment wise, how would you judge your progress?
I usually do WK twice a day, once when I wake up and again when I get in from work.
I do a JapanesePod101 Intermediate lesson on the way to work, and again on the way home.
I do a portion of a text book chapter on non gym days in the morning.
I try to read/play games in japanese for “fun” xD then I use a personal Anki deck of everything I come across in games/manga/news/anything else.
I used to do iTalki lessons and they were great, but my day off kept getting messed around and it became difficult to keep them scheduled.
That’s a lot of questions there
For the books I use, I love Kanzen Master but it’s not for beginners at all. At my class I’m only recommending it for people who have finished Minna No Nihongo I, because there are a bunch of things it expects you to already know, and the explanations are quite short. Still, I love that book and it’s my main study material these days, but be warned if you go this route that at times you’ll have to look up more in-depth explanations on the internet because some points are left rather unexplained.
As for Minna No Nihongo, I’ll be honest: I don’t like it. The book seems far too drawn-out, often re-explaining things or using contrived ways of explaining. For example, in lesson 29 or 30 it explains how “~て います” is used to describe the current state of something, for example a broken window. However, first, we are first introduced to the form all the way back in lesson 14 where it’s made clear that it’s continuous present and therefore would apply to the current state of something, making the whole grammar point redundant. Second, at least in the Spanish edition, the explanation goes something like “~て います is used to point out the current state of something as the result of an action taken by someone in the past, and not a current action being taken in the present”, which to be honest is horribly contrived.
I really don’t like it, but it’s what we use in classes and at the moment I’m just using it to help cement stuff I’m learning with Kanzen Master.
As for where I take my lessons, it’s with a local teacher, which is quite lucky. I live in a small city among the Andean mountains, yet in here of all places there’s a (very small) Japanese community, among them one of the few Japanese teachers in the country (who’s also a native). Lessons are 3 hours, but they’re not too heavy since we’re mostly left to do stuff on our own, advancing at our own pace, the teacher being there to explain to us whenever we need help.
As for video games, I actually started playing them regularly (in Japanese) back in December, and they’ve been both a good source of new vocabulary and a nice way of measuring how much I’ve been learning since you can see how you understand more and more each day. I wouldn’t recommend them as your only study source, but they’re good to entertain you while also reinforcing some knowledge and allowing you to acquire some vocabulary. Mostly, they help immerse you on the language.
As for what’s the most important, I’d say WaniKani/Anki/Textbooks. It’s impossible to understand a book, or a game, if you can’t understand the grammar or if you have to look up every second word on a dictionary. The overreliance in the dictionary is common in the beginning, but ideally it should go down as your knowledge builds up and it’s great when you find yourself reading several sentences in a row on a non-textbook setting and understanding them without having to look anything up. As expected, tho, the reading and playing help reinforce what you learn through the textbooks, so they help each other. But the proper study is always the main thing here.
I don’t have any test results yet, though I did take N4 and failed about five years ago I only started studying more seriously last December, tho. Hopefully I’ll be able to take N3 next year, although considering it implies traveling (they don’t host the test on my city) I might skip it. That’s why I skipped out of N4 this year too, traveling in this country is quite annoying (and dangerous) :\
I don’t count my hours on WK (and try to avoid looking at my time spent reading the forums) because it would probably highlight that I am spending too much time here…
I take a weekly three hour Japanese class (using the Genki book) and typically study about two or three more hours per week. It isn’t enough, I should study more.
I think taking the class really helps so far as being kept accountable (although @alexbeldan is a wonderful person who keeps us accountable for self-study here).
As for anime, I don’t really watch much anymore, but I do try to listen to Japanese tv series when I find interesting ones on Netflix or DramaFever. Only counterproductive thing right now I do is watch K-Dramas because my brain picks up Korean words instead of Japanese ones.
(Thank you. Made my day.)
Very cool! Thanks for all the explanation/thoughts!
Check out the J-Cat. It’s free and online, so it might be a good assessment tool for your situation.
That’s the plan, but I want to wait and complete Kanzen Master N4 at least before I take the J-cat
My regimen currently is very Anki-related.
- 1-2 days before level up, drill Kanji meaning by typing 5 times, then drill Kanji reading by typing 5 times (deck:“WaniKani LevelUP drill” level:“43” card:“Meaning”) with custom steps (1 1 1 1 1)
- On level up, try to do all lessons at once, or split by 25 if I have no time.
- 1-2 days after level up, before new vocab lesson comes up; drill Core 10K WK breakdown by Kanji --> meaning “Encounter”, mark my preferred items, split by 25 at once. Customs steps (1 240 480)
- drill Core 10K meaning to reading “Recall” (deck:“10k WK Recall” tag:marked (tag:“L41” OR tag:“L42”) is:new) custom steps (1 10 240 480)
- After finishing the first batch of “Recall”, go back to “Encounter” and do another 25, plus mark some items.
- Rebuild the “Recall” deck and do the second batch of “Recall”; and so forth, until there is no “Encounter” left
- After every vocab for a level is done, drill the Kanji handwriting. (1 240 480)
- drill JLPT N3 “Encounter” by (deck:“JLPT by WK::N3” is:new -tag:‘L1-10’ -tag:‘L11-20’ -tag:‘L21-30’ -tag:‘L31-40’ -tag:‘L41-50’ -tag:‘L51-60’); step (1 240 480); 25 at once; mark my preferred vocab; add furigana is need be
- drill (deck:“JLPT by WK Reading::N3” tag:marked is:new); step (1 10 240 280)
- go back to “Encounter”. Drill and mark another 25.
- rebuild “Reading” drill; and so forth, until there is no encounter.
- create Anki grammar deck for 1 chapter per day, Mar 28 = Chapter 28 (みんなの日本語)
- listening exercise for 1 chapter per day, Mar 28 = Chapter 28
- After finishing Chapter 50, I will get Tobira, or Kanzen Master N3.
- Japanese Graded Readers, Lv 3 is planned after finishing JLPT N3 vocab
- If I can’t finish N3 vocab, continue reading Lv 2, newer volume
- Game, songs
- Material creating
- I am making Lv 61-71 Kanji by 1 level per 1 day, Mar 28 = Level 68
Sorry if this doesn’t make much sense, but this comes from my experience (good and bad) with Anki, and by copying WaniKani’s system.
For transcripts, I used to use Aegisub to track lyric of a song I liked, line-by-line; and track the meaning, line-by-line also. In the end, I did about 20 songs or so.
Wow! So organized! That’s a lot! It seems like you’ve really got your own approach going. Seems hard to emulate!
I just finished the Level 4 graded readers. I strongly doubt you have anything to worry about in terms of comprehension from level 3 or 4 with that kind of schedule. Good luck!