Tips to improve

Hi Everyone

I am on level 5, and thought I could ask for any tips to improve my japanese. Beyond doing the reviews, what else would you suggest??

Thank you


Depends on your goals, but you’ll probably want to study grammar. Here it’s a nice topic about it.

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I’d suggest some immersion learning: watching anime with subtitles, or movies or J-dramas - anything to get started on learning the sounds of Japanese. Then introduce reading with furigana. Learning vocab in the wild is really helpful to make them stick in the long run. :slight_smile:


I have found that listening to Japanese again and again and again has helped me enormously! There are some great beginner level podcasts – my favorite is Nihongo con Teppei. I fully buy his theory that the best way to learn a language is to listen again and again to native speakers speaking ordinary, everyday language (while also doing a bit of grammar and for Japanese, kanji study here!). Even if you don’t get most of it at first, you are training your brain to hear words in the stream of sounds and it is a huge boost to one’s confidence when you start to recognize words and actually GET what is being said. There’s also some simpler more textbook like audio – Fun Japanese Listening is good, slow listening practice that I used before I started with Teppei.


Hey :slight_smile:
I train listening on japanesepod101, grammar on plus a university text … but it is WaniKani who is giving me more results :slight_smile: Too happy to have bought the subscription for life!
Training with different sources is helping me a lot, I avoid getting bored.

Take a look at site too (from the creators of WaniKani), there are great recommendations :slight_smile:


Study grammar along side WaniKani, otherwise you will have a tremendous imbalance.

I recommend Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide, Imabi and Maggie Sensei. I have all used them and have got to N3ish level with not too much issue.

I used Genki beforehand and it really did not gel for me. It may work for you though!


Second thing I would recommend is listening, as many others have already suggested, just listening to Japanese music in the background whilst doing other stuff really helped me get my ear in.


Third and most important thing (once you get good enough) is reading: Reading not only helps consolidate everything you’ve been learning, but it also helps you learn new words, vocabulary and kanji.

I recommend buying from’s kindle store; it is a f**king pain buying from them (region locked b*llocks, fussy about the address, etc.), granted. Nevertheless, once you finally are able to buy you have access to an amazing built in dictionary! Simply highlight a word, select the Japanese → English dictionary and you’re away. This is BY FAR the best way to learn new vocabulary and kanji. The only disadvantage I could think of is that it requires a semi-decent level of literacy already.


Hiragana and katakana are pretty easy. Learning pronunciation isn’t bad as long as you don’t mind having an accent. WK is easy(ish) because it’s just a matching/memorization game. Grammar is harder. Going from recognizing kanji and some vocab to actually being able to read is harder. Listening comprehension is harder. Speaking at a natural speed is harder. Composing your own sentences is harder. There’s no way around these things, no magic app or secret learning technique that will make you good at them fast, and the only thing that makes the hard part fun is being passionate about what you’re doing and recognizing your successes. Otherwise it’s just a long, slow, frustrating grind.


Can you suggest anything for helping these stick? I’ve heard people like to put them into an srs, but I have no clue where to start, and I really dont want to end up in a spot where I lack a bunch of vocab knowledge :sweat_smile:

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I know some people make their own Anki Decks. So I guess that’s a good way to go about it.

That being said, I haven’t done anything. :joy: I just consume Japanese media and some words will get repeated between the anime, manga, computer games, drama CD, podcasts I happen to be into…and that will be enough for them to stick - because of the repetition.

But, this approach is a long-term investment and I think it’s important to recognize it as such. I’m just picking up words I encounter randomly.

Now I think your approach should reflect your expectations and goals for your Japanese studies. I don’t have a deadline as such for my studies. I’m not living in Japan. So, I can take my time learning words in a natural immersive way.

But, if you are planning on working in Japan or otherwise need quicker progression, I think the Anki deck-approach is perhaps prudent. Or just create your own diary over words you’ve encountered across media. Anything to keep track would help.

You can then decide if you wanna cram them on your own or not.


Thanks for the response!
I have always figured a good way to go about it would either be to let repetition from immersion do its job, and let it be memorized naturally, OR stick them in a notebook/notes app as I come across them, review them as necessary, and maybe even add them to an srs if I keep forgetting them.

In terms of my goals for Japanese, I’m in the same boat as you. :smile: nothing needs to be rushed as of now.

My main worry is that I get stuck at a learning plateau from a lack of vocabulary, and I’ll have trouble writing, expressing myself, or even understanding more difficult content because of it. That’s really the only reason I feel pressure to shove them into an SRS or something similar. :sweat_smile:


Thanks for your response, do you have any recommendations of books considering i’m a beginner

I could give you a thousand different ‘beginner choices’, however none of them will help in the slightest if you’re not motivated. Therefore, I strongly suggest you pick a book of your own choosing; this will help you stay motivated and keep going with the book. If you happen to find an easy one that you also enjoy reading the terrific, otherwise just pick one (within reasonable difficulty, don’t go straight for classical Japanese classics with tons of archaic language :rofl:) and start reading.

「よつばと!」was my first experience with reading and it put me off for a long time because I simply didn’t care what was going on. If you enjoy the story though, by all means go for it!


There are a ton of great free online books (some can be downloaded as pdfs, some also have audio) at Tadoku means “wide reading” and the idea is to read as much as possible as a way to get comfortable with Japanese. To see each one click on the “free” icons. They are graded by number with 0 level books being the easiest – often super simple, with most things in hiragana, but it does get you reading. They go on upwards from there.


There’s a lot to take in, if you mean Japanese as a whole. If you just mean kanji, you might want to look at the 20-30(?) common kanji not included in Wanikani. There’s a list on WKStats. Remember the Kanji is also a textbook I’ve heard works wonders alongside WK, and is only about forty dollars.

If you mean Japanese as a whole, you’ll need to take from multiple sources. Duolingo is free/a few bucks a month as is surprisingly good, especially for getting your feet wet metaphorically. If you have the money, Genki is also rather highly reviewed, but I’ve yet to more than skim my own Genki textbook so I can’t give a personal opinion.

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Speaking of Genki, there is also a great website that has all of the Genki exercises as web-based quizzes. You might be able to just do those and learn a lot without having to drop the cash on the textbooks themselves. It’s here: Genki Exercises - 2nd Edition | Genki Study Resources

@mofassalr Above all though, be patient (learning Japanese, for most of us at least) is a long process and, even more important, have fun!

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There are a lot of tips to give but the biggest tip that I can give is that know the goal that you want to use. Make sure that you maximize your learning when there are chances to become a good speaker of the language. Setting a goal to make you more motivated is great to see because being directionless will not be good if you are looking for doing your lessons and reviews with a set goal. If you are motivated, you can have the chance to be a top speaker of the language.

I’ve heard from multiple sources (including tofugu itself and here and there in the forums) that learning grammar should be put off until reaching level 10 at the very least and/or having a solid enough kanji base as to not be constantly looking for kanji that you do not know, which makes sense on paper. But in practice, how much does this hold true? Would you all mind sharing your experiences on that?

Imo, if you have limited time allocated to studying Japanese, this can make sense. Certainly learning grammar is easier if you already have some kanji/vocab under your belt.
So, if you only have enough time to go full speed on WaniKani right now, I agree with this. Go all out on WaniKani and slow it down once you hit level 10.

But… If you want to study more than that, I don’t think this is a good reason to hold yourself back. Sure, it might be slightly harder/less efficient, but some study is always better than non.
Personally I’m lvl 11 and way ahead on grammar :')

Welcome to WaniKani!

I would advise you not to forget the speaking portion of the language! :slight_smile:

As many others have mentioned, grammar and SRS systems are great and important, however one cannot stress enough how important it is to actually speak the language if you want actual fluency in speech! (All tips are very valid though!)

A good starter are the five levels of Pimsleur Japanese courses (30x 30 min per course). It get’s you used to the pronunciation and makes speaking more natural. That way you will probably not have a situation like I did when I studied abroad in Japan and had to stutter my way through my first conversation with a Japanese person, despite knowing the words! The courses are very expensive, but there is also a subscription model on the pimsleur app. You can also buy installments of the audio course on audiable. :slight_smile:

After that, I would wholeheartedly recommend finding a teacher or teachers on Italki. It did wonders for me and allowed me to meet some pretty sweet Japanese natives. You get to practice conversation for a small fee with someone whom is basically paid to be patient with you! It’s a great stepping stone for the real thing. (especially if you’re somewhat shy or anxious about talking to new people, paradoxically enough). They even have professional teachers on there. Also, don’t forego books as a learning source. The Genki books are popular for a reason.

Best of luck!

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I’m a lazy bum and I like Satori Reader and Bunpro because everything is chopped in little pieces so it’s not too much pain to do a bit every day. I also watch anime (with subtitles) and as I go through WaniKani I can feel that I understand more and more words, which keeps me motivated.

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