Struggling to do more than WaniKani

going to approach this slightly differently, but what other things are you doing? how busy are you?

I also don’t do much more than Wanikani at the moment, and that probably only around 1 hour a day. But I also walk the dog two to three times a day, work full time, go the gym three times a week, hang out with friends at least once a week, and spend time with my partner. Between all of that, there isn’t a whole lot of time to spend on studying.

So before beating yourself up over lack of motivation, maybe ask yourself whether it is maybe more related to a lack of time? And if it is lack of time you can reconsider what has more priority, learning grammar or the other things that you are spending time on. for me personally, all of the other things are important as well. So for now I am content with my hour of Wanikani a day.


This is a great tip. :+1: You just have to try what sort of things work for you!

For me it was listening more than anything that has given me a sense of grammar, thought reading manga and playing games has also been part of my immersion diet.

The thing with listening is that you can fully concentrate on the language structures and vocab, without the prerequisite of actually being able to read those words and kanji. So for me that helped me get going with learning conjugation forms and internalizing them as something “natural sounding” rather than seeing them listed in a guide (which I always felt makes grammar very abstract and unrelatable).

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as many struggle with listening practice. But, trying different things out, you should find something that keeps your interest AND helps improve your Japanese beyond doing Wanikani. Just doing a little bit of reading before sleep will go a long way. :slight_smile:


I think you’re leaning on WaniKani as a crutch. It’s your comfy place, so you don’t want to leave. It’s understandable, but it’ll make learning Japanese as a whole harder.

I’d say there are two things you should do.

  1. Reduce your time on WaniKani. I don’t know how fast you’re leveling up on WaniKani, but at level 39, it’s probably too fast. However many lessons you’re doing a day, maybe cut it in half or something like that. Within a couple weeks, you’ll find that you have more time for other things.
  2. After that, time should no longer be a factor (or excuse) for not doing grammar. Then you need to address the motivation part. As someone else mentioned, forget about motivation and focus on discipline. Use the new time you have from fewer daily lessons to force yourself to do grammar. For example, set up a routine where you’re not allowed to do WaniKani lessons until you’ve done at least 30 minutes of grammar practice. If you set up something like that and force yourself to follow it, you should start making progress.

Once you learn the basics of grammar, it really opens up your opportunities for reading, which then allows you to learn more Japanese in a more fun way. But you need to learn the fundamentals first.


I think that one of the many positives to WK is the gamification element, which can be really addictive and keep you consistent. I’ve found Lingodeer to have the same attraction and it teaches grammar in bite-size lessons.

I’ve tried to learn grammar from Genki & JFZ, but I find textbooks rather stale. What I now use them for, along with Tae Kims Guide, is doubling down on the grammar concepts Lingodeer teaches.

What works for me might not work for you, but it sounds like we’ve hit a similar Grammar Wall before :grimacing:

If you need some more motivation, you’re welcome to join us in the Lingodeer leaderboard thread and compete with the cool kids :sunglasses:

Good luck with your learning :vulcan_salute:


Steve Kauffmann (find him on YouTube) suggests that grammar will “come to you” with massive exposure to the language. He recommends repeated reading and listening…over and over. But the key is to find stories, articles, content that is very interesting to you! Your brain will discover the grammar patterns if you expose yourself to more and more reading and listening. THEN you can refer to grammar books or apps to get the deeper understanding of what you have already discovered through your extensive reading and listening. SUMMARY: Read and Listen Everyday to content you Really Enjyoy and don’t focus much on grammar until later.


And to make it easier to take the first step, here are some useful links:

I think it’s best to join in with the next ABBC book/manga, and follow along in real time. However, if you see something interesting that’s been previously read, utilizing the existing threads works as well. The ABBC often gets easier material, but BBC material is fine as long as you don’t mind it taking longer to get through.

This is worth repeating, as it helps set expectations. No matter how much grammar you know already and how many words you know already, chances of your first attempt at reading is going to be very difficult.

The brain is a pattern recognition machine, and you’re starting with very few patterns. It takes time to build up those patterns of seeing words and particles and such organized in certain ways. But with your WaniKani level being where it is, you’ll have a really big head-start on the vocabulary portion.

Still, even knowing many of the words, it’s perfectly normal to pick up a manga, one’s first attempt at reading native material, and spend an hour looking up every grammar on the first page alone. (This is where the book clubs help, as often the grammar’s already been discussed. And you can still ask questions in threads for completed book clubs.)


Note that you could multitask at least two of those activities and listen to some japanese podcast / immersion resource / grammar explanations.


That sounds painfully inefficient. Yes, babies learn grammar from exposure and not from textbooks. But they do this with a support network of people reinforcing what is right and wrong, and it takes a few years even with this support. Without that support it could take even longer. Why would you want to learn basic particles and conjugations through hundreds or thousands of hours of exposure when you can learn them much more quickly through a textbook and then solidify them through exposure?


Battle Royale! I had forgotten about it :scream: but it was one of my favorites as a teen and I had dreamed about one day reading the original. I still own the translated version… Now I want to buy the Japanese version to see how difficult it’ll be to read :thinking:

(confident boost thanks to all the book club reading I’ve been doing. I imagine reading a book without pictures for context will be alot harder, but I’m curious HOW hard/painful it would be.)


I highly recommend not adding any new items until you’re grammar is up to speed. I did that for N5 and was amazed at how much more I could read after just a few grammar lessons and I’m nowhere near level 40. You’re way too far ahead on kanji so it’s time to put kanji on the back burner for quite a while in my opinion.

For now just tackled all of the N5 grammar and start doing more input, reading and listening. You’ll be amazed at what you can read.


Another thing to consider is that we as native speakers of our own language often don’t actually ‘know’ the grammar that we use every day, without even thinking about it. If you really are struggling to get your head around a grammar point to the extent that it affects your motivation, I would say forget the grammar specifics for the time being, and simply focus on example sentences where it’s used instead. In short, learn it without learning it by just knowing examples rather than memorising some grammatical equation that isn’t sinking in. You’ve got this!


Immersion isn’t an efficient method of learning at the absolute beginner level, but I think at the intermediate level it starts to outstrip textbooks.

Once you understand enough context and vocab to start picking up meaning it’s great. If you’re just getting hit with a wall of nonsense it’s pretty useless.


By lvl 42 I was thinking about quitting and also did not have time for learning anything else but WK. I stopped every other Japanese learning and waited until lvl 60 to re-start learning grammar and reading. So far, I have no complaints with this path.


You don’t say much about your future of going to college, but depending on when and where that is it might be a great solution for you as well. If you’re going to college in the US/Canada this fall, then I would jus take Japanese from level 1 once you’re there. It’ll be slow in the beginning as you’ll already know hiragana and a lot of kanji/words, but that’ll just make it easier for you to focus on the grammar and content that will literally be spoon fed to you. College language classes are designed to get you to a study abroad level by your junior year, you won’t have to worry about choosing which resources to use or how to pace yourself, and the time to study and learn Japanese will be by definition baked into your schedule. And you’ll have a grade depending on it, so you will have an external motivation to study all things non vocab+kanji. College classes, unlike online resources, are comprehensive, and include grammar, vocab, listening and speaking practice. And if you’re already in college, they’re part of your 12-15 credits you’d be taking anyway and don’t cost any extra. So that’s something to consider.


Without grammar it becomes really difficult indeed to understand sentences

that’s why since level 22 I started checking gramar, so far n5 to n2 and it is helping a lot to understand the nhk easy articles, later I will start manga, I hope I can also understand the dialogues way better without checking dicitionary frequently.

just like many kanji have many meanings, same happens to n3 and n2 grammar, lmao

Is bunpo better than bunpro?


Completely agree!

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Well tbf OP has made it pretty clear he doesn’t want to/can’t get himself to do this.


I definitely agree with this. Having spent hours on sheer exposure (still doesn’t irk me as much as “immersion” :stuck_out_tongue: ) by watching anime throughout the years I can say it’s not a very efficient method if one doesn’t have the core grammar structures and loads of vocab nailed down.

The reason I think it works for children is because they start from zero or close to that and don’t yet have an established view on a lot of concepts, not to mention a main language. So they just absorb and “machine learn” their way to a degree of fluency.

@sittingmilk I’m afraid you need to take a step back, as @seanblue suggested, cut down on WaniKani time and focus that time on grammar.

You mentioned you spent 1-2 hours/day doing WaniKani. Can you break down that time into blocks or is it more like “doing WaniKani while sitting on a train” kind of time?

If you can break it down, you can for instance stop doing lessons on WaniKani and focus only on reviews, and spend that time watching Cure Dolls videos, reading Tae Kim’s Guide to Grammar, doing Genki or similar activities.

The issue I see is that your kanji knowledge has outstripped your overall proficiency so the sooner you focus on grammar (and possibly some useful vocabulary), the sooner you can get back on track and will stop forgetting the kanji you’ve already Burned.

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Because reading grammar is booooring! :sweat_smile: I think that’s exaggerating a bit how long it will take to notice patterns and grammar. If you can find proper level material you can notice basic things pretty quickly. At the start you need a simple medium with a lot of visual guides. You can’t just listen to native material from zero, of course.

I did a test recently starting from zero Spanish and learning with a channel called Dreaming Spanish, that has videos for absolute beginners. Even after a few hours of listening I could start to understand basic particles and structures. Granted, Spanish is a lot easier compared to Japanese but it only adds some multiplier to the process.
As an added bonus, it feels like I’m getting a better grasp of the pronunciation, as I’m learning ‘by ear’ right from the get go.

Besides, it’s so much more fun to discover the language yourself! I believe those initial connections will be much stronger having realized a lot of the things on your own. Of course, even Kaufmann recommends you skim some basic grammar guides, but not really fixating on them and coming back later. Grammar does give you a clutch to start understanding more, but I don’t think you have to be even intermediate to start learning like this and it being relatively “efficient”. You don’t actually have to understand the grammar completely if you understand the sentence, and still make progress.

But yeah it’s pretty overwhelming to not understand much and keep listening; the teacher is really important. It’s probably not for everyone, but I found it a neat experience how powerful the brain can be.


Just to make sure I’m understanding correctly, are you talking about anime with English subs? Or no subs/japanese subs?