Tips for getting past "the brick wall" DX

So I’m new here, hello.

I’ve been studying Japanese for a few years on and off, am now working as an ALT in Japan so I can study more, and while I’ve made some progress I feel like I’ve reached “the brick wall”. Essentially I feel like I’m at a point where my current biggest hurdle is my lack of vocabulary, but I’m also at a point where very few new words are sticking. As a result I feel like I’m not making any real progress beyond incredibly simple Japanese and it’s infuriating. Sadly I’m not in a big city so I don’t have as many opportunities to practice as I would like.

Does anyone have any tips or tricks for how to get past this particular mental block so I can truly level up, as it were?

I don’t know for japanese but when I learned English and had the feeling I reached a point where I was fine with grammar but needed more vocabulary… I just read more and more from novels to newspaper I tried to do at least 1 to 2 hours of reading everyday.
I think it’s the best part in learning a language when you get everything except “huh I don’t know that word”, it’s just fun !

This website will help you for sure with the ton of vocabulary it provides :slight_smile:

But yeah… just read read read (use a kindle it’s crazy good you don’t know a word just tap it and boom definition…)


Hm, Kindle… I wonder why I’d never thought of that! I’ll have to give that a try and see if that helps during the periods where WaniKani makes me wait. :smiley:

Hey there. I’m also an ALT in the inaka, just about to finish up my fourth year!

I’d recommend chugging away at Wanikan/anki to build up that vocab, which I started myself about 6 months after moving here. Also try to find a tutor in your town. If there isn’t any, finding one online is a possibility! You already know the value of practice, it seems, which is terrific. The fact that I used paid-services like wanikani and a tutor also helped in terms of motivation.

Try to fight through those plateaus as well. I’ve had my share of times where it didn’t feel like I was making progress (or moving backwards). When you feel unmotivated, try to bring yourself to do just a few reviews or lessons. Every little bit helps!

I may only be a level 34 on here, but what I have learned thru this website and my lessons helped me get up to an N2 qualification, with some incredible relationships built within my community along the way! I’m confident you can do the same.

Good luck!


Thanks for the advice! I don’t think I’ll find a tutor up here on the mountain side but I can look. XD I’ll keep chugging away at WaniKani (I admit I didn’t fully sign up until I had fully exhausted the first 3 levels… orz) but it’s getting to a point where I really really need to break through and better communicate with my colleagues!

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You can also try to watch Japanese shows with Japanese subtitles, either just for pleasure, or for study.

If the latter, try to watch (a part of) an episode, and any word that jumps out at you as new/surprising/befuddling, write it down, preferably with the sentence around it attached and try to translate it. Then watch the episode again, either with Japanese subtitles, or English/native language if available.

It takes a lot of work (and luckily I have a teacher that does it for us) but it does increase your vocab and listening skills exponentially.

Also be sure to pick a show with lots of useful vocab, like a workplace drama or something.

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Duly noted, though I don’t currently have a way to record TV. orz Does Netflix have shows with Japanese subs?

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They do. Especially if you change your language settings to Japanese

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Awesome. Now I just need to get me a streaming device lol. XD

Some digital tv providers also have a tv app for netflix (at least in the Netherlands)

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I’m kinda not signed up for anyone at the moment. I’ve been a little reluctant to watch broadcast TV in fear that the NHK people will come a knockin’ lol

Enjoy those periods while you can. :joy::joy::joy::joy::sob::sob::sob::sob:


I’ll try LOL

In all seriousness, I came in pretty much at the same point you did. Grammar is fine, but I can’t say what I want because my vocab level is super low. WaniKani is 100% the answer for that. Even by the time I hit level 5 or 6 I had learned so many new words. Things are starting to get really exciting at level 12 because I’m starting to see a lot of the stuff I’m learning out in the wild.


Sounds great! I’ll keep pushing forward! Can’t wait to get to a truly “speak-able” level! :slight_smile:

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Oh you are actually in Japan! They’ll definitely have japanese subtitles then! And a lot morr Japanese titles to boot!

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I read an article just a couple days ago from about that wall. It said that brick wall is usually caused by the brain trying to process all the new knowledge you have been learning, and that you need a day or two (and some good sleep) to allow the brain to process it. So take a day or two to do something else and let your brain work. Then you will be ready to go full speed again.

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