Trouble making the transition to grammar

I’m not very high level, but am finding myself high enough to feel that I am ready to make the transition to something beyond WaniKani as I try to grow my literacy. I am most interested in learning language fluency for the purpose of reading Japanese (though conversational Japanese would be a bonus for traveling someday) but have to admit that I am not coming at this as a big Manga or Anime fan.

The leveling system that WK brings to the equation is tremendously helpful to me, and when I try to take a stab at Genki I mostly get bored and slack off at a certain point. Alternatively I read and learn something, but don’t really practice it. I am currently a quite busy working adult and do not have time for classes, but have found WK to be an engaging and fun hobby.

Do people have ideas for how to independently study grammar and make progress with reading without the pressure of a classroom schedule? Are there “easy reading” books or literature that even someone in the low levels of WK can start to try to work their way through? I’m open to any and all ideas.


There’s a bunch of free grammar resources if you dislike textbooks. Tae Kim, Maggie Sensei, Imabi, Japanese Ammo with Misa, Curry Dolly, etc.


BunPro is a grammar SRS website that I find very useful. It also has XP and levels, and like WK, you can simply tell yourself to do lessons and do reviews.

The CureDolly videos really clicked for me to get my foot in the door with grammar, then I moved on to BunPro + reading native things.

There is also the Satori Reader site, and Graded Readers to potentially help ease you into things. WK book clubs are also really helpful for some people.

Good luck finding the mix that works for you!


Just mentioned this in like 2-3 other topics lol … but if you’re coming from a “textbooks are boring” standpoint I can’t recommend LingoDeer enough. It’s a gamified app like Duolingo but built from the ground up for Japanese and Chinese specifically. It covers grammar through N4 pretty thoroughly. I went through the Japanese I and II courses on my phone during downtime between jobs over the course of a year and a half (about 1-2 chapters a week). I also read Genki back to back afterwards for review and didn’t encounter anything in Genki I hadn’t learned yet, so I’d say the coverage of material is pretty thorough. It’s no longer free but it’s not much more expensive than buying Genki I and II and the workbooks.

Bunpro is also very handy but imo really meant to be used alongside another resource like the Genki books.


+1 for Japanese Ammo with Misa and CureDolly as @Omun and @athomasm mentioned those videos are excellent resources as well.


Japanese Ammo with Misa and Japanese From Zero are what I’m using right now; I also have Tae Kim’s grammar guide which is excellent.

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I’ve been studying Japanese since I was 14 and I absolutely love George Trombley’s take on textbook teaching. His example sentences are funny. I’m teaching a friend with his books on Skype and we’re enjoying it.


His style of teaching is really charismatic and I love that he uses so many examples. The textbooks are the same way and have you answering the same kind of questions over and over to really drill the grammar in but it’s not so much that it gets boring.


I especially love the “Japanese in 5” Series. My Anki Grammar deck is full of sentences from that series.


I also like Cure Dolly for grammar. She explains things in a manner that removes much of the memorization that a textbook like Genki requires.


For reading I quite like Satori Reader. I’ve heard a few people say they’re not into it but you can access some articles for free and see for yourself. I like that you can sync your WaniKani progress to it so it will only show you kanji which you have already Guru’d or above. You can turn the furigana off too so you’re not tempted to read it but can simply tap each word or sentence for a reading or definition. NHK easy Japanese is good too, but probably more advanced than Satori Reader, but free!

I didn’t really use any classic textbook like Genki. I started with TextFugu (didn’t finish it though) and then just started to look up various things on the internet as I came across them. I did go through Japanese From Zero 1 at one point to recap (I’d won the JFZ series in a giveaway right here on the forums from a very generous user so I felt like I had to put them to good use).
My favorite grammar resources became YouTube channels. I went through a lot, but the one that helped me the most is Japanese From Zero. I’ve also been watching Japanese Ammo as well, but she covers topics I already know mostly so it’s not very helpful. As for Cure Dolly, I’ve watched a few videos, and I like how she explains things that I learned in very hard and roundabout ways in very simple, concise ways. If I ever go on to teach Japanese, I’d follow a similar approach myself.
After a certain level (once you can understand basic grammar), you can try Nihongo no Mori. They have great content for many difficulty levels (mostly centered around JLPT, and more), but it’s all in Japanese so you need to have some basic grammar before using this channel for studies.


I have the exact same problem as you! I got the Genki 1 and 2 textbooks and workbooks for Christmas; while I got through Lessons 1 and 2 easy enough, Lesson 3 made my eyes glaze over and took me three weeks to complete. I’m too tired to do Genki when I get home from work, however I’ve committed to doing some Genki every Saturday, first thing in the morning before I get lazy.

Whenever there’s a new word I usually look it up on WaniKani just so I know if I’ll learn it through osmosis, allowing me to mainly focus on learning the new grammar. This does create a bit of a problem though when examples keep using words you don’t know, however once you’ve used them enough you’ll kind of memorize them (I’ve somehow remembered that “history” is rekishi).

The flipside however is the slower I go, the more words I conveniently know from my most recent levels! I started using BunPro a bit to help commit some of the grammar to memory; it’s cool that BunPro has knowledge of Genki build in, which makes it easy to add stuff you’ve learned as you go along - BunPro still leaves a lot to be desired though (the website is pretty bad IMO)

I’m now up to Lesson 4; I had a perusal of the content, however when I got to the first set of practical exercises my brain shut off. I’m sure I’ll get through it this weekend!

I’m able to do WaniKani all throughout the day, every day, so I imagine if Eto Eto ever comes to fruition it will be the magical solution I’ve been looking for. In the meantime, while Genki isn’t as magical as WaniKani, it has lots of exercises to train you on what you’ve learned, that I don’t know you’d necessarily get as much of in some of the existing free online resources. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes you to learn Japanese - as long as you’re steadily making progress, you’ll get there in the end

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I’ve watched some Japanese Ammo videos randomly and liked them, but I don’t know how if I could use them as my main grammar resource. I don’t have an easy way to keep track of which ones I’ve seen already, or which one I should watch next.

How are you doing it? Did you make some kind of lesson plan document and are marking things off as you go, or what?


I feel like I’m exactly in the same situation as you. I’m aware of all grammar resources that were mentioned, have bunpro subscription, Genki I and some books/manga in Japanese, follow community bookclubs. But I cannot build a habit of working on grammar consistently. I prioritize slow and steady WK daily progress, and that eats almost all of my free time. I feel very strongly that without grammar I won’t be able to progress in the language itself, so grammar is the must.

In couple of days Absolute Beginners Bookclub will start reading a book for 2nd graders. I promised myself to study at least one grammar point (bunpro point) from each page, will see how it goes.
Here is a link to the thread:


I haven’t watched many Japanese Ammo videos, mostly because I didn’t find a well structured playlist, so it felt like I was browsing random grammar points - but I do see that her videos are sometimes linked as reference “readings” for grammar points in Bunpro.
If you decide to get a Bunpro account, that could be a way to organize your grammar learning and revision. They propose learning paths of grammar points that follow the progressive structure/order of text books, so you learn things in a logical order.

Otherwise the Cure Dolly videos are often recommended by quite a lot of senpai here (including the senpai in this thread :heart:), so I tried them a few weeks ago and wow they really are helpful! I’m using them to supplement my grammar now but others use them as a primary resource.
They’re a little strange at first but if you can get past the weird voice (or mute it and turn on subtitles) and the sometimes spammy “secrets they never tell you about X!!”, there are some solid foundations and some really great explanations that break things down in an original way.
Specifically this ordered playlist is currently blowing my mind:

For reading, graded readers helped me get started, although they’re quite expensive. After that I started using the TangoRisto app for iPhone every day - it’s free and makes it easier to start reading NHK news easy and Hukumusme folk stories, with the built in dictionary, JLPT-level highlighting, and audio. After a while I just started trying to read whatever easy-looking books/magazines/manga I could find (they weren’t all as easy as I thought, especially not all children’s books).

Since I joined WaniKani I’ve been going through the book recommendations in the book club threads - they have interesting discussions and vocabulary sheets. You might enjoy the structure that goes with a book club (I joined the one @sansarret linked to above).


You could make Anki cards based on the points she covers or find the points in bunpro and review them that way. Basically (unfortunately), no one resource is going to say here’s everything you need to learn, in the order you need to learn it, and all the materials you need to review it until fluency.

The art (or discipline) of putting that all together yourself really is half the battle.

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I’m attempting using Kumon’s correspondence Japanese classes soon. Basically you have due dates and assignments and an online meeting twice a week with a native speaker to make sure your pronunciation is okay and then they give you tips or help with motivation.
I work full time as an instructor so I need some freedom of programs. I’m the same with using free sources, I lose interest or motivation.
Program is quite cheap. They send you a test and you send it back and then they put you in a level. Not sure if the program sends the test overseas though? It’s just something to look at for now.

Good luck!

One thing I really like about BP is that for each grammar point they have a ‘Readings’ section for reference material, usually with at least one of the references on the Internet. They’re not always the greatest resources, but they are always there as at least a starting point, and sometimes as a solid resource.

This is not to say that having a more self-contained and ‘complete’ resource like the Genki books isn’t also worthwhile, only that you don’t necessarily need to have something like that directly available.


I hate BunPro… a lot. It multiplies the amount of example sentences to the same grammar points and you get overwhelmed because grammar, SRS, and written answers do not go together. I recommend Memrise and finding a few Genki-based Courses and getting the Genki books to get started. I’m in JLPT mode, so it’s also kind of a good motivator to have that going for you and maybe getting some N5 prep books like the So-Matome book, and Try! JLPT N5 book. Just some ideas to get you started.