University Learning Routine / Pace

:speaking_head: :books: :speaking_head: :books: :speaking_head:

tl;dr - if you want to make a study routine for yourself based on the pace that university classes use, here you go

Hello, all. If you’ve stumbled across my study log, you might know that I am taking Japanese classes as part of my graduate program. As I approach another year of my program, I’m starting to feel the looming dread of knowing I’ll need to become a self-studier once again after completion. I wanted to record what my current classroom learning routines look like so I can recreate them on my own in the future.

I’ve dabbled in self-studying language before, but I was never able to make very much progress because I didn’t know how to create a routine for myself. I tried watching videos in the past about “How to Study Japanese” to get a taste of how others structured their studies, but those videos mostly just featured B-roll of someone flipping through a crisp unused Genki I and pouring strawberry milk, saying things like “watch anime <3” but not really offering any specifics on the routines they used to structure a study plan.

If you struggle with ways to structure your own language learning, I welcome you to glance at what a university class structure looks like and use it to guide the creation of your own routine. And if your current routine works great, feel free to read and chuckle if you’d like.


  • We use the Genki II text and workbook, and our schedule is paced by Genki chapters, which each have 5-8 new grammar point lessons. I encourage you to tweak and switch items for your own resources if you prefer to use other texts or if you are at a different level.

  • The regular semester-based schedule moves at a general one-N-level per year pace, a speed that gives consideration to the many other classes and commitments that students have. Please speed up or slow down the material as needed.
    During this coming summer, I will be attending an intensive language semester where the sole purpose is to complete the Tobira textbook from front to back in ten weeks using an accelerated model. I will add a reply to this thread with that crazy schedule probably midway through July for those who are intrigued. I’m sure the pace will be brutal.

  • The classroom method relies on :clap: excessive :clap: verbal :clap: usage to activate language memory - this doesn’t necessarily mean having conversations so much as it means continuous reading aloud and speaking sentences from the top of your head. Get used to talking to yourself!

University Japanese Learning Schedule

Five-Day Learning Loop
:speaking_head: Verbally practice all of last week’s grammar, finish text exercises for grammar points
:books: New grammar is learned*, verbally create many easy sentences using new points
:speaking_head: Use new grammar to verbally make many complex sentences, do textbook exercises
:books: Practice previous point, begin next new grammar with easy sentences
:speaking_head: Use yesterday’s grammar to make complex sentences, do textbook exercises

* “New grammar is learned”: For this, we will not only read the textbook grammar lesson aloud but we will also watch one or two videos specific to that grammar point.

・New grammar: させる
・Easy sentence practice: 母は私に野菜を食べさせました。
・Complex sentence practice: 高校生のころ、私の成績が悪かったので、父は毎日四時間に勉強させてしまいました。

This schedule repeats itself, beginning each week with the previous week’s grammar and ending it with two new points having been taught. When doing speaking practice, we are not meant to write any scripts for ourselves or jot our answers down before talking; it’s specifically to get our brain to make sentences first, increase our thoughts-to-speech speed, and then notes can be written afterward.

  • At home, try answering textbook exercise questions aloud, recording yourself, and continually answering with different perspectives to stretch your vocabulary memory.
  • For a greater challenge, try to answer the text questions aloud in less than a minute - this is how long we get in class before moving to the next question!

    (Q: “If you were a teacher…” Answer as a nice teacher, a mean teacher, a hungover substitute, etc.)


The most recurring tests we take are vocabulary and kanji tests. As you likely use WaniKani, neither of these is particularly necessary unless you want more of a challenge. Try listing all of the chapter vocabulary from memory in ten minutes (that’s how long we get!). Afterward, check which ones are missing and add those to your Anki/Mochi/Kitsun deck.


We have homework every other night, including weekends, which each take about an hour to complete. Using the Genki textbook, our homework is usually directly associated with chapter dialogue or activities. Here are some examples:

  • Workbook: Completion of the workbook pages that coincide with the grammar points of the week - these include sentence translation, general questions, dialogue to complete, and multi-sentence writing prompts. Two grammar points per week will usually mean about 4 workbook pages coinciding with them. There are also kanji practice worksheets in the back of the Genki workbooks, which we are assigned as well.

  • Conjugation: I dread these but they are necessary - we conjugate every single verb and adjective in the current chapter. They will be conjugated into て-form, present negative, casual past, potential, volitional, passive, causative, ば-form, and そう-form.

  • Listening Comprehension: In the Genki series, every chapter begins with a dialogue scene. Our homework is to listen to the official audio for the dialogue on the OTO Navi app (this is free and has audio for every single Genki chapter) and our task is to summarize the dialogue based solely on what we listened to. Afterward, we then read the written version in the chapter and red-pen mark anything in our summary that was wrong or missing.

  • Reading Comprehension: Genki books have a lengthy passage in the back section (where the kanji is) for every chapter which includes grammar and vocab from the lesson, and also has 5-10 comprehension questions to be answered afterward. I find that these are particularly difficult for me as one of my major weaknesses is understanding complex questions.

  • Writing Projects: After every two chapters we type one full-page essay on a broad personal topic (favorite childhood moment, your hometown, future plans, family history, etc.) and use as much of the grammar in as complex of sentences as possible. A page full of first-year 私 は すし が 好き です-type sentences is fully unacceptable if we’ve spent the last two chapters learning complex modifications and conjugations. We write drafts and exchange them for feedback before writing the finished versions, so this would be a good chance to connect with a proofreading buddy.

Final Pacing Notes

This purely based on classroom and assigned work - it doesn’t include the general input (reading books, listen to music, watching series) that you should be engaging in, too.

Two grammar points per week
Make your own sentences for everything you learn
Come up with every sentence verbally :speaking_head: before writing it :memo:
Do the workbook pages by hand! Do red-pen corrections alongside the answer key
Be weird and roleplay your answers for exercises. Answer them as a different person would
→ As you fill a notebook with your sentences and musings, decorate it with doodles or stickers… this is essential to the learning process

Class is one hour and homework is one hour - before ever getting to the fun stuff like WK or manga, we have put two hours into academic study and verbal practice every weekday.

So this is what my learning routine currently looks like as a university student. Like I said before, I really only wanted to record this so I could use it as a guideline when I eventually end up self-studying again.

If this helps you, I’m so glad! Study routines are always one of those mysteries that are difficult to find as many people seem to either make it up as they go /or/ are so set into their routine that it seems too boring to explain to others.

If you have more that you add to your own schedule, I would love to hear about it! I’ve heard of people who study Japanese for 8 hours per day - WOW! What I would give to know what that learning routine looks like.

:warning: For the most authentic classroom experience, make sure you stumble over your words in front of a group of 30 people who are all better speakers than you. Use the grammar incorrectly and forget three vocab words. Answer the wrong question. Have a friend sternly call your name to answer aloud but you were jotting down a note in the four seconds that a question was asked so you don’t know what the question was but the entire room is now completely silent as everyone waits to listen to your answer.


[ placeholder for intensive program info ]

Nice post, thanks! There are lots of great ideas in there, especially to make more progress with output.

Going from the pacing of Genki in 1 year (at 2+ hours per day), to Tobira in 10 weeks sound like you will soon find out! :wink:


I’ve never studied Japanese in a classroom, so it’s interesting to get a glimpse of what the experience is like! I feel like I’ve talked about my own routine enough on this forum, so I will spare you all from hearing about it again.

The thought of studying for 8 hours a day is very intimidating to me, too! My routine is like an hour and a half on an absolute bare minimum day, with 3-4 hours a day being more common (not counting a billion hours of passive immersion each week lol).

Yeah, I am very curious and also afraid to hear how that goes :sweat_smile:!

I am doing Tobira at about two weeks a level, and even that is a lot! I’m doing the grammar workbook, but am skipping all of the kanji stuff and all of the speaking practice, and I can’t imagine doing more than what I’m doing in even less time! :scream:



Having only studied in a class room after self study til the N3 and doing the N2 after like the first few lectures it is interesting to see the routine… but even in my class room experience it was always a course where we had to adjust to the weakest member (because it were like hobby courses) so I never ended up studying really serious with review etc… and even if i plan a routine for myself after like 2 weeks I end up droping it :neutral_face:

maybe I should take a serious look at setting a routine… :thinking:

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From what i can tell, the schedule is two hours of lecture and two hours of conversation every weekday. I’m sure the amount of homework and self-study will also be, erm, interesting :sob:

But I’ve also seen people here express interest in doing that sort of thing on their own at home, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to record information about the methods of torture :melting_face:


I definitely need a routine because I am a serial justifier who can justify not studying with nearly any excuse :sweat_smile: “I did my wani reviews today, I watched a good language video on Youtube, I skimmed a news article, I don’t need to study grammar today” [four weeks of no grammar later…]

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It’ll be totally worth it, you’ll get through this way faster than on your own, there’s nothing like the camaraderie of the group and having to hit deadlines to push it forward. you got this!

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i reached out to the summer intensive tobira professor to ask for ways that i could use to prepare for such a high-speed class and this is what she responded with:

“漢字を知っていたら、ちょっと楽なはずです” very relieved to hear this as a wk user lol :sweat_smile:


Interesting - I was able to read and understand most of that without looking things up…

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such a good feeling!!

This was so interesting to read!! Very cool to get a glimpse into what studying a language at university is like. I’m going to bookmark this post for when I’m wanting to step up the hours I can give for Japanese each day (don’t think now is the time!) because this seems like a really solid routine! Thanks for posting (I’m excited to see your follow up post about the intensive course too :>)

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I’m glad it could seem helpful! I posted the same information on the r/LearnJapanese subreddit and was essentially laughed off the stage for it “not being enough work” or it not taking up as many hours in the day as a “real learner” would use, so I’m very excited that anyone over here might find it interesting :sweat_smile:


People on the internet are really wild. Nothing is ever right, I wouldn’t worry about it


screw that! There’s no such thing as “real” learning lol every person is different and the closest thing to real learning in my mind is finding the best routine for you personally !

the WK forums really are a cute little safehaven on the internet haha everywhere else seems scary and mean to me


That subreddit is honestly so unpleasant… I’ve only set foot in there a few times, and people there love to be very discouraging in general, unfortunately. They have one particular vision in mind for how people “should” learn, and if you don’t follow that, then, well, you’re wasting your own time and others’, in their mind.

If I came in there and talked about my wrestling translations, they’d probably laugh me off the stage for spending so much time doing unnecessary work that is taking away from time I could be spending just consuming native media, not understanding that my goals might be different than the average learner.

Personally, I’m interested in seeing how a university learning routine is paced because I’ve never taken a Japanese class myself before, and it gives me a ballpark to compare my own pace to, in terms of how much time I’m spending, and how far I should expect to get with that time. It’s definitely possible to go faster than university pacing, but it’s also totally possible to go slower, haha, so to me, university pacing is sort of the default/average speed, and when you tell someone “I’ve been studying for two years”, most people will imagine two years at university pacing.

So even for people who don’t plan on actually following that pace, I think it can still be useful information to have!


The difference between genki and tobira is that it has more kanji, vocabulary and grammar. Additionally it puts a bigger emphasis on reading.

It helps if you start reading before tobira, to get used to reading Japanese regularly. As the reading sections are longer, you need to build up some stamina. So news web easy like your teacher mentioned is a good example, but if you have something else like manga or children’s book or a game or whatever interests you that’s even better.

Two years back I used tobira for self study and I had read some easy manga before. Started playing skyward sword around the same time, so I ended up benefiting from doing them in tandem. Although it took me a few months to finish them both.