Study Routines

@KJules where do you get the free lesson from?

I get it in person at the international center in my town, so it’s not broadly useful, sorry.

Wow - this is intense! I hadn’t heard of iKnow before; I will take a look at it.

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I’m one of those people with an extremely wordy study log that goes into much more detail if you’re curious, haha.

Full disclosure: I’m employed, but I only work very part time and don’t have family commitments, so I have a lot more time to study than most people. Learning Japanese is currently one of my primary hobbies, along with watching Japanese pro wrestling, so putting this much time into Japanese is neither desirable nor achievable for many people :sweat_smile:.

I spend quite a lot of hours immersing myself in Japanese each day. Most of this time is passive immersion that I don’t count as studying. Sometimes I have partial translation, sometimes I’m completely on my own. It’s a lot of (unsubtitled) spoken Japanese as well as written Japanese on places like twitter and interviews and blog posts and such.

For active study, I have sort of a three-pronged approach:


  • I do at least three sessions a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once at night. On most days, I break this up into smaller sessions if possible (it’s easier to do 20 reviews in one sitting than 50).
  • I do a consistent number of lessons every morning. On most days, it’s 9 vocab and 3 kanji. When I run out of kanji, I do 10 vocab a day until I level up. The first day on a new level, I do all radical lessons, and if I have less than 10, I usually do a few kanji, too.
  • After doing my lessons, I drill myself on the new material with the self-study quiz.
  • When I have time, I try to run the leech training script to practice the items that are giving me trouble. When I realize I’m confusing two kanji, I usually take a moment to compare the differences and figure out what was giving me trouble (the niai visually similar kanji script is helpful for this).
  • I’m also doing KaniWani to practice recall. I’m more lax with the SRS intervals on this, but I try to do my reviews at least two or three times a day. My KW is set up to only give me new items after they’ve reached guru on WK, so there are usually a few days of delay between me initially learning them and then practicing them here.
  • When I have the time/energy, I’ve also been learning how to write the kanji that I’m learning on WK, though I haven’t been able to keep up with this for all of them.

Minna no Nihongo

  • MNN is my beginner’s textbook and is currently the primary way I’m learning new grammar, as well as common vocab that isn’t taught on WK. I try to complete at least one new lesson before leveling up in WK. I can go a little faster if I push myself (by starting to learn the vocab for the next chapter before finishing the previous one), but it does increase the SRS strain, so I have to be careful.
  • The first thing I do when starting a new lesson is add the vocab to Anki. Then I spend several days just running through the flash cards until I feel comfortable with it. When I started out, I would also learn to write all of the unfamiliar kanji, but I eventually ran out of time to do this. Thankfully, my WK level has gotten high enough, there aren’t very many unknown kanji each level.
  • After learning the vocab, I read the grammar info for the chapter, then put down the translation book and attempt to work entirely from the Japanese-only main text as much as I can. I read the lesson, then do all of the exercises, except for the last one.
  • At this point, I do the exercises for that lesson in my two workbooks. If there are any additional reviews after it, I do those, too.
  • When I’ve finished the workbooks, I go back and do the last section in the textbook, as well as any further review sections.
  • Before moving on to the next lesson, I add all of the grammar information from the previous lesson to my (physical) notes.
  • I try to make at least some progress on the textbook every day. Some days, this means more work than others! No matter what else I have going on, though, I always make sure I at least clear my Anki reviews.

Reading/active immersion

  • I try to get some reading done every day if possible (the read every day challenge on this forum is nice motivation!), but at this point, I’m a little sporadic with it. I only know about 4,500 words and am somewhere between N5 and N4 grammar, so reading is still pretty slow.
  • I started reading my first manga (大海原と大海原) back in September along with the absolute beginner’s book club, and I’ve kept going with the spin-off clubs for volumes 2 and 3. Having deadlines because of the club is really helpful motivation! I often end up falling behind, but so far, I’ve been able to catch up by the end.
  • I realized that I can understand NHK Easy News pretty painlessly now with only a few word look-ups and no grammar look-ups needed, so I’ve dabbled with using this as my daily reading, but I have so much else I’ve been working on, I mostly stopped bothering. It’s a good source of common vocab, though.
  • I also started trying to translate the post-match comments for wrestling shows after a couple of my favorite companies lost their English translator. It has been a little slow-going, due to the fact that I’m very much still a beginner, haha, but it has been excellent practice, and it’s a great source of new words to learn. Trying to get each one translated before the next show also helps keep me motivated to work on them every day.
  • I use Yomichan to mine words from some of my reading. Right now, I’m just focusing on wrestling, and I’m only adding words that contain kanji I already know, and which I won’t be learning on WK. I add the word to Anki along with the sentence I encountered it in.
  • I also started adding kanji to Anki that I come across in my reading which aren’t in WK. For these kanji, in order to learn them more thoroughly, I’m forcing myself to memorize how to write them. I don’t add every kanji I come across that isn’t in WK (for many of them, I don’t even notice that they’re not part of the WK set), but after I reach level 60, my plan is to add anything I don’t recognize to Anki.
  • Eventually, once I’m done with WK, the Anki part of my study will probably ramp up a lot, but for now, I’m capping it at learning 10 new words a day, and most days I’m not even adding any new cards.
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Wow! This is kind of a dream scenario for me (having time to dedicate to this much Japanese study). I’m hoping to put in this kind of hours once summer vacation starts; we’ll see. I am in awe of your dedication! Once I’m a few levels up I might give KaniWani a try, as it seems a lot of people get a lot out of it.

I was using Anki before I started WaniKani; now I occasionally add some new vocab to it but have not reviewed it in many weeks. Another thing to add to my routine once I have a few more hours a day.

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In my case. Working full time. No children.

6 a.m. I deplete all my reviews (not lessons cuz time’s limited :skull_and_crossbones:)

Through the day: I use WK on my smartphone so, getting access is straigthforward, just two movements from my fingertips. Then I use every free moment to review those little stacks of a few words which appear from time to time.

8 p.m. Again I make my best effort to reach 0/0 (reviews/lessons). After that, usually pick some fun activity, mainly reading something REAL such as Manga (now reading Claymore and Kumo desu ga nani ka?), books (I have several Ghibli 絵本 for children) or a couple of chapters from Satori Reader.

11 p.m. I look at one or two anime chapters before falling asleep :sleeping:

For grammar I studied Minna No Nihongo 18 years ago (Books 1 and 2), so I usually get the meaning rigth away. My advice for you is: Try to read and genuinely understand those context sentences which come for every new word on Wanikani, at least the easy ones. That simple exercise will complement whatever grammar method you choose :smiley::smiley::smiley:

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:slight_smile: I do find those context sentences very helpful! I have been trying to track down Ghibli books for children but it has been tough to find them in Canada, even through Amazon. Reading しろくまカフェ has been really fun though!

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Something that’s very important to keep in mind is that if you add to your SRS workload, these are long-term decisions, not short-term ones. If you only have increased free time for a short period of time, be careful with adding new SRS cards/programs, because they’ll keep coming back when your life gets busy again!

I would plan yourself an exit strategy for your increased SRS workload if you decide to take it on. Stop adding new material at least a week or two before your vacation ends, and make sure that you’re still able to at least do all of your reviews when your life gets busy again. If you are feeling the strain, spend some time just doing reviews and not adding new cards across all programs (WK included) until your daily review numbers drop to a point where they’re manageable again.

With KW, if you do take it up, you might want to adjust your WK pace a little to account for the extra time that KW takes. KW is easier to manage if you keep up with it every day. Some people have theirs set so that it only gives them new items once they’ve burned those items in WK, so that is another thing to consider, though that is also tied to your WK pace. Basically, if you do both KW and WK and have limited free time, I would highly recommend against going full speed on WK. Especially if you also add Anki on top of this.

It’s possible to balance WK, KW, and Anki all at once (I’ve been doing it for almost a year :sweat_smile:), but it takes pretty aggressive scheduling and daily commitment, and letting any one of them go for a day or two often means losing that resource because it’s very easy to fall out of the habit and then become overwhelmed by reviews and have a hard time getting back on the horse.

If you have a lot of temporary extra time, it might be a good idea to fill that with types of study that don’t add to your SRS workload, like reading, writing, grammar practice, etc. That way, you’ll still benefit from the extra hours, but won’t have the extra work coming back to bite you later on :blush:


So true. The forums are littered with people who inadvertently got buried under the workload.

Brilliant advice. :smiley::+1:

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This is all excellent advice!

The main SRS-based learning I want to add is Bunpro, so once I feel ready for that I will probably go ahead and do it. As for everything else, I’m fine with suspending things (like I said, my Anki has been lying idle for a while now and that’s fine with me). And I do like to take things slow. With WK I am currently doing one new lesson (5 items) a day, so my reviews are completely under control. If I can exercise the same restraint with Bunpro, I’m hoping I’ll be ok! But I’ll definitely keep all this advice in mind; my hope is to spend the summer more focused on reading and conversation than on adding more stuff.

I have a dream that one of these days I’ll be able to take a year, or at least a semester, off and expand my learning routine to include all sorts of things. Until then, I’ll just have to pace myself.

Thanks for the tips!