When to start learning grammar?

It’s also important to remember that WaniKani is useful to help you learn 2000+ kanji, a number too big to memorise by brute force. For the early chapters of textbooks however, you can just memorise kanji meanings and readings as you encounter them.

見る・みる・to see
食べる・たべる・to eat
and so on

You absolutely can learn these words outside of WaniKani. It’s fairly easy to memorise - or at least recognise - some 100 or 200 common kanji, which is more than enough for basic grammar. Plus, don’t beat yourself up if they don’t stick too well to your memory, WaniKani will teach them again later. As a bonus, lessons and reviews are way easier for items you were already familiar with.

Basic textbooks do not assume you’re doing WaniKani, so you should be fine.


…all my troubles seemed so far away…


For grammar the earlier the better as as been stated.

I am just going to leave this here:

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I also like “A Guide to Japanese Grammar: A Japanese approach to learning Japanese Grammar” by Tae Kim. It’s free on the web, but you can also for a small amount of money download the kindle version (which I did because I travel a lot and it’s nice to have it accessible offline as well).

Here’s the link to the grammar guide (the larger web site provides more support for learning japanese as well): http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar


Learn grammar before Kanji, if anything.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now.


rmizuno, that was actually beautiful.

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I fully agree, the first Japanese language lessons I was taking were Romaji only, and I remember finding that absolutely horrible. I actually ended up purchasing the same books we were using in Kana version to avoid running head first into a brick wall later on. Now I am slowly progressing towards fluency in reading and writing Hiragana and Katakana, which I find to be essential in the actual understanding of the words and the grammar.

I think language acquisition is a three direction approach, regardless if it is Japanese, German or Hungarian (it is in fact the same approach as infants use to they learn their mother tongue):

  1. Imitation - learning complete phrases and parts of sentences by ear only
  2. Vocabulary expansion - learning as many words as possible
  3. Synthesis - learning to create own sentences using the phrases and the words already known. This is the part when grammar comes in.

Japanese (and many other languages, like Arabic or Mandarin) furthermore requires you to learn a new graphical interface (writing and reading), which adds a fourth dimension to it. That is really the Kanji part.


How is it the same? Adult language acquisition is pretty different from how children learn. Adults don’t have years to waste just babbling incoherently before they say anything meaningful, and luckily we don’t have to.


I think early as well. Here’s a series a friend told me about that’s really good! Think she has a British accent but in any case she somehow makes grammar not a chore but a fun useful thing to know 45 free you tubes about 1/2 hour each. She’s a great tutor! ohttps://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLd5-Wp_4tLqYZxS5j3g6kbeOfVXlTkr3N There are also hundreds of people that go on Pinterest pin riffs about everything Japanese; Some are brilliant!

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Of course I am not talking about the raspberries and babbling part, which is pretty much just experimenting and practising how to use the voice generation functions of the lungs, throat, larynx, tongue, mouth cavity and lips. That part should (hopefully) be pretty familiar for adults.

But I strongly believe that even adults can acquire language skills using the same method as infants - albeit far less efficiently. Learning complete phrases and sentence fragments will place a lot of the learning in muscle memory, without actually worrying about things like particles or even where one word ends and the next one starts.

It will also make it easier to find grammatial errors, using the sounds of the phrases only. For a native English speaker, the phrase “you was here”, simply “sounds wrong”, even without considering the reason for the grammatical inaccuracy.

A lot of the basic Japanese lesson-one phrases like ”korewanhondes” will soon become one complete sound in the learner’s muscle and auditory memory (just like typed) and not just as separate words これ は 本です. By carefully imitating and adjusting the pronounciation to native speakers’ intonation and voicing, the inevitable differences will over time become gradually less obvious, however, for adult learners in most cases unfortunately never completely vanish.

Of course such automatic learning will only get the learner to a certain level from where the two other approaches will need to be phased in to actually understand the grammatical system and to reach a higher level of language proficiency.

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Even if we agreed on part of this, an L1 already existing makes learning a second language fundamentally different. Simply put, it is impossible to learn a second language without some level of L1 interaction. Both consciously and unconsciously.

A very similar question popped up today on /r/linguistics and rather than type things I’ll just share those answers: https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/78e999/what_are_the_stages_of_nativelanguage_acquisition/ within that, this link http://www.haskins.yale.edu/Reprints/HL1483.pdf is helpful.


By level 10 in WK, most of the first 100 iKnow words were familiar to me. The second 200 look familiar also. iKnow is great for its sentences. You’ll start picking up grammar as you work through them. I also found the first and second Memrise courses good for grammar intros…but it’s crap for kanji and katakana.

I’m not a fan of the Genki books. I’m not entirely sure why (too much romaji?), but I haven’t found them helpful for my own learning.

Measure your load day by day. When I level up on WK, I ignore iKnow for a couple of days because there’s too much on WK to muscle through. Around the third and fourth day (right before another set of kanji is about to dump on me and things have settled down) I double down on iKnow.

Whatever is fun for you. Play around.

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Yo Boss you ever heard of this? Way above my pay grade at the moment: http://info.japantimes.co.jp/study/?utm_source=Daily+News+Updates&utm_campaign=0545f1b5ba-Wednesday_email_updates25_10_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c5a6080d40-0545f1b5ba-333371897

Actually, there’s no romaji (or at least, almost no romaji, just in case there is) beyond the first two lessons, at which point they expect the student to have already at least learned hiragana. Not telling you to give it another chance or anything, just wanted to let you know.

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Ah. Thank you for saying that @sigolino. I went back and looked and I don’t see any in three or four. I’ll revisit the book and worksheet :slight_smile:

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Chapters 1 and 2 use Romaji as Chapters one and two teach the Kana. But after that, there is no more romaji at all. The book also says this in the intro.

Also the Memrise courses are absolutely crap for learning Grammar. I have seen so many fundamental questions and extremely wrong assumptions on Reddit from people who have used the Memrise course because it doesn’t explain anything it should.

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I’m currently using “LingoDeer” and it combines vocabulary with grammar and listening practice. But it can only teach u Japanese, Chinese and Korean. At the beginning you get an explanation of the grammar used in that chapter which you can immediately put to the test in the exercises after it


Wow this is really useful. I love how they group the pronunciation! For those that might not be so clever - I win! - to download that App and another I spent hours trying to figure out and gave up you have to be on either a pad or a phone. Just like Duolingo you can’t download them on a desktop.

(Hiragana/Katakana --> Genki 1 @ 2 plus kanji —> Tobira plus kanji —> Kanzen N 2, Nihongo Sou Matome N 2 ---- Kanzen N1, Nihongo Sou Matome N1 ) plus a lot … a lot of practice, language learning depression, accent training, learning plateau , reading , watching media, maybe some Japanese love interest and then more depression and finally happiness … worth it :slight_smile: