What is the most recent thing you realized was bad advice for learning Japanese?

A couple years ago I was really into MattVsJapan, and I had followed a lot of his advice and one thing that I started doing recently I wish I had done sooner was watch Japanese content with Japanese subtitles. I was really upset about this discovery because it was basically the missing link between my reading comprehension and my listening comprehension. He said to look at it as reading practice when actually if you can juggle the two you can use it for both at any given point in the content your watching.

“Was the phrase easy to understand without looking? Listening practice it is!”
“Did I need to check the subs to verify I heard the right world? Listening practice it is!”
“Do I not know the word or grammar in the subtitle? Reading practice it is!”

I am excited about this revelation but for someone who has been studying for 3 or 5 years (depending on who you ask) it was like finding your keys in your pocket after looking for them, replacing the locks, and getting a new key.


If I want to say a thing, that would be rushing to finish level 60 on WaniKani with EN=>JP vocabulary memorization as a companion. But then, it might just be a bad execution…

For now, IMO

  • Easier vocabularies work best in context, and require a degree of immersion and context understanding; therefore grammar is equally important. Also, vocabularies might be learnt before Kanji.
  • Some written literary vocabularies don’t require that much recall and can be learnt from Kanji first. Still, vocabularies work better in context.
  • Perhaps level ≦30 or easier vocabularies, EN=>JP is somewhat tolerable, if you need them to consume materials? But beyond that, probably better simply either gather from materials and JP=>EN?
  • Kanji have their own merits, and can be learnt separately. My opinion about this hasn’t changed since then. – There should be some ways to study Kanji as an adjunct, as well as, not only WaniKani vocabulary list. (So, by studying Kanji, I always peeked at Kanjipedia then, too.)

For subtitle, I am half-hearted about whether to turn subtitle on, but I do believe transcript should be studied. For YouTube, that would simply be “Show Transcript”; but for Netflix, Language Reactor might be required.

I am getting more and more convinced about audio being learnt along with written sentences, but then, it’s also about execution and making auditory sense, or auditory mind, a priority.

A method that is doable, is watching at least twice => first time without subs, second time with.


probably the advice that you shouldn’t look up words or study vocabulary, just listen. A lot of words have a very specific meaning in Japanese or could be memorized incorrectly I feel? So I wish I started studying words much earlier. However, I think it is completely true that you can’t really truly know a word without hearing it and reading it in real use.


This is largely how I gauge my actual comprehension. Reading I don’t think about as much but with listening I feel if I can’t write down what was said, I don’t understand it.


I believe it’s good to know the rough approximation of a Japanese word, until you drill the more precise Japanese definition into your head by encountering it later on while consuming native material. If you try to learn a Japanese word with all its unique nuances that can’t be expressed in the English language, what you’re learning is so abstract that it becomes really hard to memorize.

And it makes a lot of sense for you to think this now, but to have had a different a opinion when you first started out. Because now, if you know enough words, you almost don’t have to look up a word anymore, because it’s meaning will become apparent from the context. Bad example, but if you understand a sentence as “We don’t have to go to 学校 tomorrow. It’s a 祝日.”, you might have just learnt two new words without trying, but you need to understand the context in order to get to the point of being able to fill in the blanks. And until you get to that point, looking up words and memorizing the closest English equivalents is a good strategy, the way I see it.


Yesterday I found this true with 勝手. While the WK word is drilled in my head, I saw it used in an anime 足に勝手~I forget the Japanese in this part of the sentence~動きました
Now I see how to use it, I can actually use it!

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I’ve found that advice in general is strongly dependent on the timing and the audience, and it’s sometimes very hard to tell whether it’s good or not except in hindsight.


Not a recent realization, but something that has come back to haunt me recently… There are a lot of (reasonable) arguments against writing practice. Those arguments were mostly right in my case. I have no plans to live in Japan and might not even visit, so writing is essentially a worthless skill for me. However, it has helped me a lot with consuming handwritten content and stylized kanji fonts (more so than font tools). So here I am planning on writing practice siiiiiigh

In that sense I think alo has what will probably be my favorite comment on the advice topic. It’s all super relative to the person and their interests. It’s hard to see what really works until you try them, even when you are confident about the outcome. Even after all of that people change. Life happens. The perfect learning plan today might not be so great a year from now.


The worst advice I’ve ever heard is to skip studying and go pure immersion. You often hear this from people selling some kind of “slow and easy” method, and their method is basically paying them to teach you how to watch tv and read. A certain guy vs Japan sells a system advocating how pure immersion is key, and then mentions that he used Anki every day himself when he learned Japanese to near-native fluency with pitch accent (and sells an Anki deck).

I think most of the experienced people here on the forums would say that heavy study is a necessary evil when starting out, and that gradually winds down as your level increases until you are absorbing the language like a native.


Yeah, I think the biggest thing with learning is anticipate your learning routine to change and be open to change. Follow what makes you want to do the thing you’re trying to learn. Maybe its not the most efficient way but if you are getting enjoyment out of it while learning thats often good enough. I can maintain a routine for about 2-3 months but I expect to change my approach weekly. Recently I have been in a routine of watching a show or reading a manga consistently throughout the week then moving on to something new the next week. It’s low stress, I enjoy it and I am getting a lot of good practice in.


The worst advice that I heard (and followed) was to learn to recognize the kana without learning how to write them. In the long run, the time it takes to learn is only a tiny sliver of the time you’ll spend studying the language, and it’s just such a core, fundamental skill to have.

Because I didn’t learn how to write the kana when I originally learned them, I couldn’t write anything in my textbook workbooks, or my notebook. I couldn’t write a quick note in Japanese if I was out and about, without resorting to romaji. I couldn’t even write down the name of the manga I was reading in my planner or journal.

I think skipping that initial step of learning to write the literal basics makes writing seem much scarier and more intimidating for the rest of your time studying the language. Whereas if you learn it initially, you’ll still have that period where you feel like you’re in grade school writing lines of shaky letters, but you’ll eventually get past that period, and then by the time you do start learning kanji, the idea of learning to write them seems a lot less scary.

Plus, learning how to write the kana makes the relationships between し and シ, and between つ and ツ, so much clearer!

I also think that most people should learn how to write at least some kanji, even if you don’t spend a whole lot of time on it, because if nothing else, it’ll help you look up unknown kanji with the IME pad. And yeah, you’ll have an easier time deciphering handwritten kanji. But even if you never learn how to write kanji, I highly, highly recommend at least learning how to write the kana. It’s just really good to know how to write literal basic Japanese, even if that’s as far as you ever get with writing. The further you get without learning it, the harder it will be to motivate yourself to start.


…matt vs japan?


nah probably a broad vs japan :sweat_smile:


We don’t name names here


Well, I hope not…because what you said doesn’t apply to him lol

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It depends on when you catch him I suppose. His stances have shifted on occasion, and I’m not familiar with his most recent.

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Yep, that’s Refold. I was subscribed to his Patreon for a couple months a little whiles back. I see the portion you’re using for example that contains the word study. What I was referring to was the contradictions that occur during his videos, but I don’t care enough to find examples. We can agree to disagree and I’ll refrain from publicly besmirching him here.


Im sure he would be appreciative of that


Pass along to him that I appreciate his appreciation sir. Thank you.