What should be my study routine?

I know its a question that’s been asked many times before, but I need to be at a somewhat-decent reading level by the summer of 2023, because of a trip I’m taking to Japan. I’d like to be as fluent as possible while I’m there as well. I study for around 2-3 hours every day, and have been studying since January 1st. Any tips? Suggestions?

I don’t know where my grammar should be at. I’m on lesson 14 of Genki 2 right now, I’m hoping to finish by the end of this summer and move onto Tobira. I’m also not studying for any type of JLPT test or anything like that, my main focus is to be as conversational as possible, while also being able to consume light media.

Is Tobira enough textbook-wise or should I think about getting something more advanced? And is WaniKani enough for vocab or do I need some sort of Core 6k or 2k deck? I only have a slight idea of what I should do at the moment :crying_cat_face:.

TLDR: What should be my routine so I can get as fluent as possible by the summer of 2023? I’m at lesson 14 on Genki 2 at the moment and I’m willing have a pretty rigorous study routine if needed!

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Seems like you’re on the right track.
Are you doing immersion and listening?
Someone will chime in with a decent reply but here’s my routine

everyday stuff

Around 3 hours
Morning walk listening to talk radio
Wanikani reviews
Self made Anki cards for own words
10 mins reading
10 mins watching a video with japanese subs
10 mins studying for JLPT grammar stuff
Reply to Hello Talk
120 mins scrolling on the forums lol
Wanikani lessons if I got the energy

All day listening to as much as I can.
Background passive listening

Good luck studying!


I’d agree, sounds like you are doing the right things! You don’t mention if you are doing any reading though. Where you are with genki should definitely be enough to get you started with some manga. Yotsuba and flying witch are two manga that should be fine with your current level of grammar but there’s loads of options out there - worth checking book club current and previous picks to see if anything catches your eye.

With vocab, I think there’s generally two approaches. One is to do something like core 6k or 10k up front before getting properly into reading, with the theory that will reduce the friction when you begin to read as you will be looking up less. The other is to start reading and accept that you will have to look up a whole lot of vocab at the start. I prefer the second way as I love reading and find things easier to grasp if I see them in context but I think it really just depends on what approach works best for you.


I’d agree with @Nemuitanuki on you being on the right track and starting to include immersion into your routine.

While I did buy Tobira, I’ve barely used it. I think it’s a decent intro book for reading practice, although you can achieve the same thing with something like NHK news easy ( maybe a bit boring, since it’s news ), or Satori ( a web app that has plenty of texts, haven’t used it too much, since it was just launching with fairly easy texts when I found out about it ). I’d recommend you also try Bunpro for grammar, or maybe go through some of the N5/N4 grammar points that Genki doesn’t cover on some JLPT websites, even if your goal isn’t jplt, they generally format grammar well in terms of frequency.

As for Core 2k/6k, I think 2k has some merit. While Wanikani does teach you vocabulary, it’s in no way related to frequency. So might know some very obscure words 里心 (level 5 on WK), and not more frequent ones 掛ける ( level 25 ) by the time you can read at a decent pace. Wanikani is amazing for pacing you kanji learning, and decent enough for vocabulary learning, but I prefer simple reading + occasional anki sentence mining for the latter :). 6k takes too long, and by the time you get to around 3k, you can just start reading easier texts/books/games you find interesting ( well don’t expect to be able to go through very difficult ones ).

The main reason I wouldn’t recommend more than 3k is because it’s boring, and words without context can be easily forgotten. For example, it much easier to remember an expression in a sentence you found funny, or remember a word in the context for a story. They make more sense than a simple dictionary entry, if that itself makes sense :).

I’d recommend finishing Genki 2, since you’re almost done with it, try Tobira out for the grammar points and texts if you’re interested in it, then start reading and listening to whatever material you find fun. Spend more time doing activities you find enjoyable than simple studying. Keyword is honestly fun, as cheesy as it might sound :D. If you’re not having fun, you will burn out very quickly, and feel frustrated with the learning process.

As for wanikani, and kanji, around level 20 I found that I knew enough kanji that looking up stuff with a hover over dictionary wasn’t annoying anymore. Also the added bonus of reading is that wanikani because easier when you keep seeing the same kanji over and over again in text.

If you like anime related media here’s a few links I always keep handy that rate content based on difficulty ( mostly anime, lns, vns ). Manga is easier in general. There’s also a program that can scan through text and then rate it. Although from testing I find that it rates almost everything an 8-9 ( out of 12 ) for difficulty, so I’m not sure if it has much merit ( Japanese Text Analysis Tool download | SourceForge.net )

note - difficulty is subjective, so if something rated a 4 could still be easier than something rated a 6 if you know more words related to the subject matter. Also don’t bother something easy but boring. It’s better to have more of a challenge, and find the text interesting

And finally for conversation/speaking, I’ve found that it becomes easier to output the more reading and listening I do. I’m not entirely sure on what the scientific/biological process is, but I’m guessing the easier it is for your brain to retrieve info while listening and reading, the easier it will be to do the same thing while also speaking. You could try later down the line to shadow and pickup some speech habits that Japanese people have from youtube/news/shows etc. Sort of imitate what you see around.

So all in all, you’re on the right track, once you feel more comfortable with the language start doing the activities you wanted to do when you started learning Japanese to remain motivated to push onward :slight_smile:


Thanks so much! :smiley_cat:

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While Wanikani does teach you vocabulary, it’s in no way related to frequency.

This is a bit disappointing. I could have sworn I read on the wanikani tutorials that you would be able to read newspaper when you finish all levels, for example. Oh well, I’m still going to finish everything but I was hoping the ~6000 vocabulary words would allow me to read most basic things. But reading old comments on the community, many people say that the vocabulary learned on WK is not the most common ones.

So I guess I need to learn my own vocabulary outside of WK. Could someone tell me whether kind of material I would be able to read and understand (when listening) once I finish all 60 levels?

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Oh, don’t get me wrong, you learn a lot of useful words on wanikani eventually. But with the example that I mentioned 里心(さとごころ = homesickness) vs 掛ける(かける = to hang… and like 20 other meanings). The latter is unlocked at lvl 25 and the other at level 5. It’s mostly an issue of time in my opinion :slight_smile:

There’s also the fact that there’s a whole bunch of useful & frequent words that are written only with hiragana & katakana, so they won’t appear here. With Core decks you generally have them sorted by frequency, so some of the first words you’ll learn are はい、いいえ、これ、それ etc. Wanikani does teach you over 6k words though. Which is still very good. It’s just that someone who just started doesn’t need 里心, and they’ll see 掛ける a lot more often. I’d even wager that Japanese people would rather use 懐かしい (なつかしい - nostalgic) or over homesick in katakana.

I could have worded that sentence better :slight_smile: It sounds almost as if wanikani doesn’t teach you common words. With common kanji it does teach you a lot of common words. I do sometimes have an issue with the translation/meaning of certain terms but you can add synonyms for that :smiley:

Edit - In terms of what material you’ll be able to understand at lvl 60, the https://www.wkstats.com/ page is a fairly good indicator. You’ll know about 93.88% of kanji found on Aozora ( big online library of various japanese texts ). That’s very good, and you’ll either naturally learn the others from words, or just find a good anki deck for the ‘lost’ wanikani levels ( teaches you the other remaning joyo kanji + jlpt 1 + news frequent ).

But, I don’t think you should wait until you’re level 60 to start reading. I’ve seen people recommend reading with as little as 500 kanji known. You’ll see them, look them up, over and over again, until you’ll learn them naturally. For example I already know 慕 from 慕う ( to yearn for, to adore ) because I’ve seen it a bunch of times while reading, even though it’s a level 60 kanji on wanikani. There’s also grammar, and hiragana/katakana only words that impact how well you can read a book

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Note that reading and understanding have different meanings in here. Reading means you being able to guess/you knowing the readings of the kanji used. Understanding implies a deeper understand. Nevertheless, knowing the readings is a step forward towards understanding something.

And actually, some WK vocab is rare, sure. But more than half of them will be on a daily-basis of a Japanese person. I’d say not to be worried about learning WK’s vocab. It’s not wasted time.

Core 10k vocabulary is definitely common. Some people say it’s boring, so you shouldn’t do it… but if you’re up for it, why the hell not? I did 7k words from it, and now I’m learning the rest as I see them through reading. If I find a word that I still haven’t learned from the Core 10k through exposure, I just push it to lessons and learn it.


good anki deck for the ‘lost’ wanikani levels

I liked the Mario bros reference :slight_smile:

Right now I have 50 kanji and 91 vocabulary learned. I do try to read but I get discouraged when I see many kanji that I don’t understand. I guess I’ll push through and just look them up and learned them outside of WK. I would have to create my own mnemonics because it’s hard for me to learn kanji without it.

I gave Torii a try yesterday and it seems good. I like that it has audio but I am not very good at just memorizing words without mnemonics (at least not yet). Right now, I’m listening to Mari sakura’s podcast while reading her transcript. It is very useful because she also has the English translation and once I see what each word of a sentence means by using Jisho, then I’m able to train my brain as to how to form expressions in Japanese. It is very hard to rid myself from how we say things in English because Japanese is very different. My brain is still trying to form sentences as we do in English and so I fail.

Thank you for the response! I will keep reading, listening to podcasts, and watching videos on YouTube about grammar. I am definitely making progress and it is a great feeling when I see a few of the kanji that I have learned on WK out in the wild. What I need to work on is my speed when reading hiragana. I know hiragana but it takes me a few seconds sometimes to decode certain characters in my head. Especially the annoying ぬ、れ、め、ね.

Usually I can tell nu and me apart (due to some mnemonics I learned from a YouTube video) but I still sometimes forget and get them confused.

I hope you’re right about the speaking and listening part.

I’ve been learning for a few weeks and I find it demoralising how difficult I find it to read a sentence out loud, I find it difficult to wrap my mouth around the words as the sentence goes on.

I guess part of it is not enough practice and the other part is not knowing vocabulary. I know this is the case but it still feelsbadman

I think pronunciation is just something that gets better over time, not necessarily something you can practice. That was how it was for me at least. Maybe try listening to more native Japanese speakers pronounce words, and eventually you’ll just get used to how the language sounds. I think watching anime really helps as its entertaining and something you can do without feeling like you’re studying.

And don’t worry! You’ve got this! :relaxed:


I feel like the best plan is to become good enough to consume content asap, and then start consuming content you find interesting. Lessonlike learning structure doesn’t cut it for me. It kind of forces you to switch to a language learning mode for your studies instead of eventually making you feel comfortable when using the language. Besides, there’s no need for a routine if you can kind of enjoy the learning process, and there is no risk of burning out.

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Sorry if I’m a little late on reading this but, you mentioned games and I’m wondering when do you think i’d be a good time to start playing Animal Crossing in Japanese at a level where I’m not struggling too bad? It’s one of my favorite games and I’d like to play it in Japanese :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: .

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Yeah, that’s a great idea ! I haven’t played Animal Crossing myself, but I’ve heard people recommend it for beginners :slight_smile: . I’m not sure if you’d be able to hook the text somehow to check words you might not know, apart from apps that can recognize text ( like using your phone to take a picture of the text on the switch and then looking up the words automatically ). But other than that I think most of it is in hiragana (and maybe furigana for kanji), and you might be able to grab most words through context, especially if you’ve played the game before and know what’s going on :smiley:

Think you just have to change the language of the switch to japanese and it automatically switches the language of the games as well ( at least from what I’ve heard )

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