Studying without textbooks

After studying from textbooks and several grammar guides for about 3 years and making small progress, I decided to learn Japanese the same way as I learned English - by reading, watching anime/TV shows, listening to music, writing.
I’ve just started with this new method but I still can’t create my own sentences, only the basic, simple ones. Has anyone studied like this? No textbooks etc.? And what’s your progress?


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I, too want to study like this, since there are no Japanese teachers or textbooks anywhere near I live, and delivery isn’t safe. So yes, what I’m doing right now is watching japanese movies/shows/anime, using WaniKani, and also KanjiDamage (free version of WaniKani) and JiSho (really good kanji dictionary with readings, on/kunyomi, etc). I’ve only started a few weeks ago, and I can say that my progress has been quite good (I can already read Hiragana, at least 200 words, and some Kanji as well!)

Sadly, I can’t practice reading manga/articles or writing yet because I don’t know enough kanji/vocab. I’ve also downloaded this grammar booklet, which is apparently good, and I’m hoping to get a start on that at some point.

I don’t know your level exactly, but you seem to have some vocabulary. I think that to become comfortable using it, you need to either find a patient native, or do some “input” activities (reading/watching). This is because first you have to learn before you can use, right? Also, as you said, if you try writing then you’ll either make mistakes without knowing it or become frustrated that your sentences are too simple. I suggest that once you read/watch things, keep a small paper/digital notebook of vocab and sentences. Look over those in “spare time” that you have (eg while on public transport or waiting in line or whatever).

Don’t overdo it, that’s my main point. Often is better that cramming, as I’ve learned while learning other languages.

Then, once you know more, you can start writing, and maybe even getting someone to look over your work (that amiable Japanese-speaking fellow, maybe?).


Learning without textbooks it’s nothing unheard of. Eventually it’s the way many people end up doing it.
After the basic textbooks you could continue the textbook road, but depending on your particular goals they could go into vocab and gammar details that won’t necessarily facilitate your particular demands (specially if you’re not going after the JLPT) as fast as you may want.

Self immersion can seem a little daunting at first. As for myself, I diligently went trough Genki I and realized I wasn’t very enthusiastic about continuing that road. After asking people here, I picked a very different approach with grammar, reading much more about grammar as I bumped into it while immersing.
Japanese the Manga Way it’s a book I really enjoy for this, concise and to the point, so I read it regularly and always learn something new about grammar I mostly get, but this really helps to round the edges.

My sentence mining routine works great for me as a bridge from immersion and my grammar reference books. Maybe you could give it a try :wink:

Anyway, I would suggest reading this article (and maybe some others in the same website) so you get how to get some structure to your immersion even whithout textbooks. There’re ways to systematize your studies without textbooks using graded readers, books aimed at children, etc… Basically material that will allow you to advance in a +1 manner, so you can always use your current knowledge to build new one. :+1::+1:

Best of luck!

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The timing of this topic is almost unreal. I just made a topic: Grammar Predicament - #11 by greasyButter

I started with Japanese the way you want to. I wasn’t very serious in the beginning though. I started to watch anime and listen to music. Now, the thing is this method will take a long time, to really get that intuitive understanding.

You should go through this link one of the user’s posted on my topic: How I Struggled with and Overcame Japanese Grammar - Japanese Level Up

So, I can say two things. One, learning grammar without a textbook is doable. Two, you should probably use a textbook as well as learning in the wild. I have been studying pretty seriously for two years now but refuse to use a textbook. The result is that my passive grammar knowledge is pretty darned solid, but my active grammar knowledge is terrible. In other words, I can read Japanese or listen to Japanese and grammar is not usually a major issue. But if I try to write, or especially to talk, it is a mess. I think textbooks probably force you to work on active use of grammar more which might help you avoid the problems I am running into now because of my decisions.


Hi, thanks for your answer. I’m happy to hear that this method is working for you. It’s how I learned English, I never really opened a textbook and studied grammar, apart from school, but I already knew what was new to others, so I was just reinforcing my knowledge, I guess. So I truly hope it’ll be same for my Japanese studies.

As for learning only for a few weeks, your progress is pretty great I’d say! Keep it up. Once you start studying grammar and perhaps reading, can you let me know how things are going for you? I’m quite interested in your progress studying similarly to me.

I’d like to do more of output activities, finding a native Japanese speaker would be a great thing, since I barely practice making my own sentences, simply becase I get so discouraged. I already write down sentences that I find useful though, it’s good for either using them later or becoming familiar with sentence structures and so.

I just read your topic about keeping grammar in place, and I like the idea of doing N5 etc. tests over again until you know everything, then moving on, as someone there suggested. I can read through grammar guides and so on but until I repeatedly see the grammar rule, I won’t probably remember it and use it.

wow wow and I checked your post, the Subs2SRS, and I like how you get to have both picture and audio in the deck, I think it helps immensely! jeez it just look a bit complicated to me to make that, isn’t it? I might give it a try, better than just having plain sentences in Anki, even though they come from a context.

Thanks a lot! Best of luck to you too!

As the guy in the article mentions, googling the grammar you just saw used is the best, because you already have it in context! I’m reading Breaking into Japanese Literature currently, and I think I’ve managed to remember quite a lot of grammar because I see particular grammar used, then I re-read the chunks of text so I’m seeing it over and over again, along with vocab learning.

Oh, exactly! I can understand it when I see it or hear it, but making my own sentences…a mad mess. Seeing some grammar over and over again helps me, so going to several grammar guides wouldn’t be so bad? I’ll see, but I find doing N5 etc. tests repeatedly as a good way, for me at least.

Good luck with your studies!

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