Trying to actively study more, tips?

a couple years ago, my brother challenged me to learn this language, and if I was near fluent by 2020, he would take me to the olympics. I want to do that, so I’ve been studying. I find myself with a lot of time but I’m always wasting it away playing video games with my friends or doing some unhealthy habit like eating at my desk. How can I get myself to study more? Maybe set a time to study? Label items around my house? Not play video games ever again? I’m at a level where I can kind of understand my computer, phone, and switch in japanese, and when I was watching some Black Mirror earlier I found myself understanding about 70% of the bit of Japanese dialogue in the episode with the backpacker and his neck implant. I’m going too slow, I feel. I do want to study abroad there eventually, but until then, I want to be as prepared as possible. My older brother took Chinese in HS and then forgot but moved to china to immerse himself as much as possible and he studied atop that. I don’t have the means or the bravery to do that, so what can I do before I eventually pay Japan a visit?


Set minimum commitments every day, or ideally study times. Don’t play video games until after you clear your review queue. Sign off for the day early and do some reading before bed. There’s a few simple suggestions.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is consistency. Make sure you study every day, and don’t take days off.


Sounds like you’re doing pretty good already if you can understand 70% of what you’re watching. My advice though is to focus on your weaknesses. What are you not good at or struggle with? When you find those hammer down on them.

As for studying, definitely set aside time everyday to study. And do it at the same time everyday until it becomes a habit. I always do Wanikani (mostly) at the same time. I also study grammar everyday at the same time. Setting aside that time at a specific part of the day tells your mind that you only are doing X during that time.

Good luck in your studies, and hopefully next year you can go to Japan for the olympics!


I’m studying japanese for my own leisure, but when I had to study for college/school what I would do it’s set a time goal: let’s say 1-2 hours everyday, and I would do at least 25-30min of study and then do 30min of fun.

This was some kind of reward system, and also had the benefit of giving some time to rest my brain and get me ready for absorbing more information. My grades shot up when I used this system to study.
The important it’s to do almost everyday, so it becomes a habit!

But! If you’re at a level where you can comprehend some native content, I’d also suggest indulging in more fun activites in japanese. If you can understand games/movies in japanese, then look for a game/movie where the japanese is a little harder than what you’re confortable it and go for it. That way learning is a side effect of the fun.


(I’ve been considering visiting Japan during the olympics. Last time I went to an olympics was in 2000, and that’s only because it came to me…)

Out of idle curiosity, how does your brother define “near fluent”? Is he going to test it by having you watch an episode of something in Japanese, or something? Because I’ve held several extended conversations with people in Japan, but still wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of an entire episode of something.

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Play Japanese games, make Japanese friends, eat unhealthy Japanese snacks :laughing:


I made a daily to-do list, alternating between …parts of the language? each day. For example Mon is an Italki lesson, Tuesday grammar, Wed writing, etc. And do WK and Anki reviews each day.

I think what slows me down the most is having so many materials and resources available, and being weighed down by indecision and wanting to do everything at once. But if I just look at my schedule and do what I wrote down for that day, then I know I’m hitting everything in time.

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I can’t even make English friends!

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I’ve been studying the language for a long time on and off; I would always give up and have to restart from square one. This time, I’ve been sticking to it quite well and it’s been paying off nicely.

What I’m doing this time: I bought Genki I and its workbook companion. Since this was easy for me, considering I had already trudged through beginner lessons a million times in the past and because I had a lot of motivation to start, I went through Genki I at the rate of 1 lesson per day, including the workbook component.

By the time I finished Genki I, things were getting to a point where I was being introduced new grammar that I was either completely unfamiliar with or very shaky with. At this point, I bought Genki II and its workbook and decided to change my study pattern.

I would do the textbook portion of a lesson on one day, the next day I would do the accompanying chapter’s workbook section. And the following day, I threw in a new piece of material: graded readers. I live in Japan and very near to a foreign studies university. As such, I found that their library had all of the graded readers and I was able to loan them out. Perhaps you could find them at a library, too. In any case, I started with reading just one graded reader on my reading day. At first it was a bit of a struggle, even starting from level 1. Putting what you learn into practice is huge, though. After some weeks, I got a lot better at reading them and started reading 2 books per reading day.

Then, I decided to come back to Wanikani. I had done it in the past and reached around level 20. To this day, I still retain much of what I learned from here (I started way back in 2012 and haven’t touched it much since 2013), so I know it’s a great resource. I reset back to level 1 and have been trudging along on it once again. Back in 2012, I went at breakneck speeds and it ended up burning me out to do literally something like 1,000 reviews daily. So this time I’m trying to go a bit slower.

And most importantly, after my two workbook days and my reading day…I take a day off. This is completely optional but I think taking a day off is important for me. Otherwise, I get really stressed and sick of it and tend to give up. Each day, I allot 2 hours to studying (not including WK).

I’m almost done with Genki II now and once I finish that, I may pick up Tobira or some other text book. I’m going to start translating an NHK Easy News article every day and I’ll be keeping an anki deck for words I encounter that I don’t know while doing that.

At some point, I’d like to start translating songs. This way, I can also sing along. Being able to sing along and keep pace would be really great practice. I’d also like to throw in some easy shows into the mix and try shadowing the dialogue.

Another thing that I do, that I respect that many people don’t have the benefit of doing, is on my “break day” I use Japanese to speak with my husband (who is a native speaker). I don’t take it too seriously and if I don’t know how to say something after trying a few times, I’ll just say it in English. As time goes by, I’ll try harder to stick to Japanese only.

Another thing you could try is playing video games in Japanese, as well. I’d like to do this when I get to a higher level.

Hope my post has helped you some. I’ve been seeing more improvement that ever following this routine but the most important thing is consistency. You absolutely HAVE to study EVERY SINGLE DAY (except your pre-planned break days), or else you risk the chance of not progressing or worse…regressing. And make sure you’re spending enough time on it, too. Studying 20 minutes a day is certainly better than not at all but ideally you want to spend at least an hour studying every day. I find 2 hours is a good amount, personally. I like to study first thing when I wake up, just so I can get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of my day.


Or if you’re weird like me do both at the same time. :sweat_smile:
I’ve cleared a few 200-ish review sessions using the loading screens of SSBU. They took forever, but it’s not like I otherwise have the patience to sit in front of WK for 4 hours.

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True story: I used to play one of the Total War games on the oldest and slowest computer, and loading battles would take literal minutes. I read the five Harry Potter books while playing that game.

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Smaller tip, but when I lived in the US, I’d make a point of rereading several of my textbook’s (Japanese for Busy People) example sentences over again. Somehow reading before bed helped the grammar stick.

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