I stumble upon many tools/apps in my journey with learning Japanese. I’ve been lurking in the WK forums for quite some time and I always find people recommending different tools and The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List is great but it could be overwhelming.
So I thought it will be a good idea to have a poll so people can share what are the tools/methods they actively use while learning Japanese and also take the opportunity to share their experience and maybe some that are not mentioned here (I didn’t try to list all the tools/methods but to have different types).
Thanks for participating!
- ENG to JP (for eg. KaniWani)
- Grammar SRS (for eg. Bunpro)
- Flashcards (for eg. Kitsun)
- Sentenses or in-context vocab (for eg. Duendecat)
- Jap subs videos (for eg. Daiweeb)
- Youtube Videos
- Grammar books (for eg. Genki)
- (Other - Please share it with us)
Japanese TV shows. You could include anime too, or music?
For learning Kanji, I have three different resources:
Remembering the Kanji by James W. Heisig
A Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese
Of these books, I would recommend the guide over Heisig’s book, purely because he does not offer the readings, only memorization.
For grammar, I use:
TextFugu (but you can’t get subs anymore). I’ve been trying out EtoEto but don’t want to get attached to it till they finish.
Human Japanese - it’s good but hasn’t told me anything TF hasn’t
GENKI 1 with Workbook - this is my favorite, simply because I’m a huge physical textbook fan.
I also have a “Japanese the manga way” textbook that I enjoy, but it is not my first approach to learning the language.
And I watch a ton of jdramas but they really don’t help me to learn the language so much as they help me get used to hearing the language. I can typically make out a word or two lol.
There are many many many other programs that I drift in and out of, but those are my solid foundation resources.
I use several different methods.
Kanji: Obviously, Wanikani is my main method. Of course, reading helps you to pick up some new ones as well.
Vocabulary: I use HouHou (a dictionary program with a built in SRS so you can add words you look up immediately to your deck; created by a fellow wanikani user so the SRS is incredibly similar, requiring input and having the same or very similar spacing.)
Reading Practice: I use graded readers. Currently using those famous ones with the frog on them from white rabbit press (although I’ve found them at a local library). Whenever I encounter a word I don’t know, I throw it into HouHou.
Going to start with parallel texts and perhaps NHK easy news articles once I finish those (I’m currently on level 3 and find them mildly challenging to read in the sense that it’s exhausting but not above my level; I know pretty much all the grammar and most of the words). And I might even try to read the famed “Yotsuba” manga…but it honestly doesn’t look like something I would enjoy. Still, I’ve heard it’s a good starting point…
Grammar: I use Genki. I really enjoy these textbooks; I’ve tried many others in the past. Originally, I used Textfugu. I have a forever membership there and it was really great for beginner me but I’m not sure what Koichi’s done with it since and I opted to buy Genki instead. I have also used Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide which I find good for quickly brushing up on grammar you already know or to get a sense of new grammar you don’t know but I find it difficult to use as a main source; mainly because I don’t recall it having enough practice content. Maybe I’m recalling incorrectly though but I also remember the explanations being extremely simple. That said, I tried it years ago and if you’re on a budget, it’s definitely worth a look. I’ve also tried Situational Functional Japanese which I never hear anyone mention. It was a good textbook that we used at my university but I still prefer Genki. Currently almost finished with Genki II and will move on to Tobira after that.
I do use the Genki Workbook as well. I think that is incredibly important - if you don’t practice it, you’re gonna have a harder time remembering it and truly grasping it. At least, that’s how it is for me.
Listening: I’ve found some really short anime (like 4 minutes) with very simple dialogue. (It’s an anime aimed at girls; it’s supposed to be like your boyfriend talking sweetly to you when you get home I guess? But it’s conversational, as if it’s talking to you and very simple so I like that…) Anyway, I listen to it and try to write out a script for it. It helps a lot with listening imo and is another way to add some vocabulary in as well.
Also, listening comprehension from Genki is good as well. And, I have a listening book with exercises and an accompanying CD of course. It’s pretty good.(文法リスニング１００)
I may try to watch some dramas later when I get more vocabulary, as well.
Speaking: I’m married to a Japanese guy so … we have Japanese day sometimes. I also recommend shadowing (any listening comprehension or anime, songs, etc.)
Grammar/Textbooks: We used Genki (I and II) in class, and then later some other textbook (i think it was called 新日本語の中級 or something, can’t really recommend it). I also used some books for JLPT preparation like 新完全マスター (great for actual learning) and 合格できる (great for practice). Right now I just review grammar with Bunpro
Kanji: Tried RTK and learned a lot, but ultimately gave up because it’s kind of frustrating. Wanikani is easier
Reading: Honestly books have helped me so much. My #1 tip is to just read a lot. I started with some children’s books and then jumped straight to reading short stories by murakami hahaha
Listening: I just watch anime and play games in japanese
Speaking: There’s some kind of japanese speaking group in a language and culture institute nearby and i go there when i have the time (which is honestly not as often as i would like)
I voted, but it’s a bit more nuanced than what I voted for.
WK and Bunpro are what I use for more formal study. Formal in this case meaning a collection of facts to know made by someone else, which are reviewed after a while.
Most of my other study is basically immersion into the language. There isn’t really a structure there, except that I actively avoid things too easy. Those can be the following:
- Anime, although i’ve lost interest in most quite a while ago, occassionally I rewatch something, or come across some really old one which interests me, like kaibutsu-kun or something. Can be subbed or not, some series are pretty hard to follow without, though.
- Variety shows (if it includes downtown ), this is actually very helpful, because a lot is subtitled in Japanese as part of the program. Also, I’m of the opinion that understanding culture leads to understanding humour, I actively try to understand why people are laughing.
- For now some easier manga, I want to start reading books relatively soon.
For every part of this immersion it’s pivotal to try to understand everything, and link what I hear/read to the more formal systems I use. If done correctly, at least for me, the two systems reinforce each other.
I use a lot of different things, some every day, some when I have more time.
What I do everyday
- WK (of course)
- Anki Core 6k (10 new cards/day)
- Lingodeer (1 lesson/day)
- Jalup (5 new cards/day)
- Listen to one episode of Nihongo Con Teppei podcast (20 minutes)
If I have more time then in addition I do
- Genki II
- NHK easy news
- Graded Readers
- N5 and N4 tango vocab books
I use WK for kanji, Bunpro for grammar and Torii for vocab (it has an app for mobile, so I use it instead of Houhou). I also studied through Genki I and II, soon will start Tobira maybe. In the beginning I used Human Japanese apps
and bad russian textbooks.
Also I do recommend starting to read, whether that’s a book, manga, graded readers, stories on hukumusume.com or NHK easy news (which were boring for me, so I’m not sure if anyone enjoys reading them). Seeing words and kanji in the wild makes them stick in your memory so much easier
Imabi. I copy example sentences like crazy, when I’m not writing new material I’m reviewing old material. Most of my expanded self built anki vocab deck has come from example sentences there. It’s a great resource but not very friendly if obtuse overly detailed explanations of subtleties aren’t your thing.
I sometimes read a couple of pages from Steins Gate too, but that’s slow work while I build up my vocab. I read NHK easy from time to time too for a confidence boost.
I love the user created courses on Memrise
in class i use minna no nihongo, i like it but i guess its something more class oriented.
you can use this to learn japanese while watching anime
Memrise is moving the user made courses out of Memrise into a new platform (aka, they’ll stop caring about them) btw xD
KW for Eng-Jpn and handwriting kanji, Memrise for vocabulary (we’ll see how this goes once they move the user decks), Anki for grammar and listening, textbook for general improvement (right now, Tobira), and misc native sources (books, TV, etc).
The things I found to be most effective for me over time:
- Kanzen master textbooks on grammar
- Nihongonomori grammar explanation videos
- Translating Japanese sentences to get familiar with sentence construction
Basically apart from Wanikani which I use for kanji and vocab, I focus mostly on grammar, although the videos from nihongonomori also help for listening practice.
Along with Bunpro I use Dictionary of (Basic/Intermediate/Advanced) Japanese Grammar – I can’t imagine doing anything in grammar without them.
I also do 2 weekly hours of Japanese lessons via iTalki tutoring, and have been for … 3 years? It does get expensive, but it gets me a) talking, b) listening, c) reading (we read books!), and it keeps me learning even when I’m on hiatus from anything else.
I don’t do handwriting anymore (used to for the 2 years of Japanese I had in uni), but for chatting I every now and then log into a Japanese-English language exchange Discord server that has native Japanese speakers looking to improve their English, and chat with them. I once even managed to hold an entire conversations on moras and syllables in Japanese, it was great.
I’m not the most focused student around, and for a self-learner I’m awful at self-learning, but with these tools I manage to at least make steady progress (albeit slow).
Kanji: Just WaniKani.
Vocabulary + Reading: I add the new words I find while reading to Anki. (Currently spending an hour reading, will increase that when I’m done with WK)
Listening: Was mostly anime uptil now. But since real Japanese is spoken way faster, I’ve started following some Japanese YouTube channels. Also, part of a discord server where I participate in vc sometimes.
Grammar: Bunpro + Reinforcement through reading + other grammar books (currently doing Shin Kanzen Master)
Speaking: Probably shadowing (Haven’t done anything yet). vc on discord server.
Kanji: Wanikani, RTK 100 lazy kanji in anki. (25 new cards/day)
Vocabulary: Wanikani and going though JLPT 単語 book series, have n5 and n4, half way through n5. Using anki for sentences to learn words i+1 style. (20 new cards/day)
Reading: Working through Yotsuba book series on first book.
Listening: Listening to anime episodes on phone all day, Haikyuu and Shirokuma Cafe
Grammar: Went through most of Genki I. Once done with RTK within a month or so, will go through a dictionary of basic Japanese grammar with anki.
My current beginner methodology:
Kanji: WaniKani + KaniWani
Vocab: Anki 10k Frequency + 10k Katakana Deck
Grammar/reading: LingDeer + Genki 1 (pdf version)
Game plan is to move beyond this once I reach around level 10 wanikani. Going to hopefully completed the first level of Lingodeer and be pretty familiar with Genki 1. I then want to move into graded readers and start iTalki lessons. After that transition into easy web news and Netflix movies using the extension that assists your reading of the subtitles.