Which ressources to pick?

Hello everyone,

I have reached the end of WaniKani’s third level, and enjoying it so far, I’m waiting for the Christmas sale to take a lifetime membership.

But I know learning kanji is far from enough ! And since it’s Christmas time, a lot of deals are dropping, and I thought it would be a good time to search other systems to pair with wanikani, to complete my goal to be able to read and listen to japanese easely.

But I’m a bit overwhelmed by the number of different learning resources, and I don’t know what to choose ! :anguished:

I wanted to know if you had some feedback, and pointers to some resources that I should check out. Among the listed ressources on the [The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List!], which ones are the most popular ? Which ones work best alongside WaniKani ? I prefer the ones that “gamify” the experience like WaniKani.

For the moment I tested Duolingo, liking it so far but people seem to find it quite limited in the long run. I’ve seen lingodeer mentioned a few times, it seems to look like Duo, is it better ? I’m currently trying bunpro for grammar, paired with the most commonly mentioned grammar resources site like Tae Kim’s. I’ve also seen japanesepod101 a few times, is it good ?

TLDR : What are your picks to learn japanese alongside WaniKani ?

Thanks a lot for your time, attention, and help. Of course if it’s not appropriate to post this here, tell me.

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I’m going to guess Genki is among the most popular stuff. I’m not sure there actually exists a gameified all-encompassing text like Genki or Minna no nihongo or other textbooks. I suggest you pick up a textbook, and that you start listening to podcasts.

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Isn’t it a bit early for podcasts ? I just know (and i need time to remember) like 100 words, and only some basic sentances. It looks a bit overwhelming.

Do you have some pointers ?

Honestly, even watching anime with subtitles is probably OK at this point, with the main objective just being to catch words that you already know. Complete understanding isn’t something you should be expecting now. It’s more a matter of getting used to hearing Japanese being used. It doesn’t have to be anime though, and ideally, you should be having fun listening to/watching Japanese being used.

Basically…

  • Duo is too rigid for my liking in the long run. Some people find it fun, but what frustrated me is the fact that if you already know some Japanese, you’ll often end up translating things in a way that it doesn’t accept, even if your translation isn’t actually wrong and just has a different nuance. I’d say you should drop it at some point unless you appreciate the vocabulary drilling aspect. It’s not very good for grammar, and there are mistakes in the lesson on multiple kanji (using the example of はかる).
  • Lingodeer is apparently pretty good, and it’s more ‘natural’ than Duolingo. However, some people feel it’s not worth the money they spend on it, even though they generally agree that it’s better than Duo. One thing though: Lingodeer is really meant to be used as a phone app. Their website is horrible, apparently.
  • Tae Kim’s site contains some errors (someone listed them somewhere on these forums), but it’s pretty decent otherwise. I think quite a lot of people on these forums like Bunpro. I’m not one of them, but that’s because I categorically refuse to use flashcards in almost all circumstances, so… eh, personal preference.
  • I think JapanesePod101 is a good resource, but I don’t think what’s available for free covers much. It feels more like something I’d use to supplement my knowledge, and probably isn’t good enough if you want to learn Japanese from the ground up.

My personal favourites:

  • Maggie Sensei: she writes a lot about grammar and common expressions, and her articles contain tons of examples written in easy-to-understand English. There are occasionally English grammatical errors or slightly bizarre sentences, but they usually don’t create comprehension problems. She also has a Twitter account on which she frequently tweets mini kanji/vocabulary lists, which are quite fun to read.
  • Kanji reading, writing, origins and common expressions: try following Kayo-sensei (@kayoshodo) on Twitter. She posts in English and frequently publishes writing tips, possible kanji origin theories (some of which I don’t believe, but hey, even in the Chinese resources I use, opinions diverge and there are multiple theories), and lists of useful/common words. She’s really good, in my opinion.
  • Textbooks: Genki looks good, in my opinion. Its website is also full of resources, including a pitch accent pronunciation guide for the chapters. One thing that might not be helpful, however, is the fact that the comprehension and activity questions are in English, meaning your understanding is tested without requiring you to use Japanese, which is the whole point of learning Japanese, in my opinion.
    My first textbook was Le Japonais from Assimil, a French publisher. If you speak French, I highly recommend it. It’s much faster and more comprehensive than most of the textbooks available in English, allowing me to jump straight to Tobira (an intermediate textbook pitched around the N3-N2 level) after finishing it. The only thing that some people dislike about it is the length of grammatical explanations: some people feel there isn’t enough explanation. I think it was sufficient. Only two problems: 1. there were a few kanji errors 2. register changes (e.g. formal → informal) and the double meaning of the continuous tenses weren’t explained well. I had to figure them out myself. That aside, it’s great. Assimil has an English edition of the book (‘Japanese with Ease’, I think), but it’s old and can only be bought from third parties. It’s not on their website anymore, and it’s split into 3 volumes – 2 volumes of lessons, and 1 volume of kanji writing practice.
    One thing though: I’m a Chinese speaker, so kanji aren’t a problem for me, meaning I don’t feel the level jump between kanji usage in beginners’ textbooks and intermediate textbooks. Your mileage may vary. Still, let’s just say that that first textbook + lots of anime with dictionary checking meant that almost all of the grammar in Tobira was known to me before I started each chapter. I learnt at most three new grammar points per chapter, and fairly often learnt nothing aside from additional nuances. I’m now at chapter 13 and I’m taking a break.
    Genki 1&2 will probably get you to a level where you can start Tobira, but you probably won’t be as comfortable as I was. Still, the point of a textbook is provide you with new knowledge, so you could also tell yourself that Tobira will be more worthwhile for you to read than it was for me, since all I picked up was vocabulary, much of it being interesting, and some of it being unusable since it refers to things specific to Japanese culture that I can’t talk about since I’m not living there.

All that aside… I love digging through the dictionary looking up words I’ve seen in newspaper articles and anime. To help me along, I go to websites that transcribe anime so people can react to their favourite scenes, like Anicobin: I just search ‘[anime name in Japanese] [episode number in Arabic numerals]話 感想 anicobin’. That almost always brings up what I need. Even the ‘worst’ transcriptions cover about 70% of the dialogue, which is plenty for sentence mining. If you want a good EN-JP dictionary with more examples than Jisho.org, you can try https://ejje.weblio.jp. Jisho is good too, of course, but I think Weblio’s EN-JP-EN resources are more complete. However, Jisho provides stroke order and other data, so it’s worth a look too.

Not all these things are resources that will be useful to you right now at your current level, but I think they’ll gradually become more relevant over time. I think the ones that you’ll find most useful at the moment, among the things I recommended, are Genki, Maggie Sensei, and the two dictionary sites. The rest can wait. All the best in any case!

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Thanks a lot for the detailed response ! ^^

I didn’t know about Tae Kim’s problems, i guess that’s why you need to cross multiple sources like that (imabi is another exemple i use). Maggie sensei’s posts seem to be super cute, i will come back regurlarly ^^

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Bunpro.com has a game-y type interface for practicing grammar, and you can use it in conjunction with Tae Kim. I’m personally not a fan just because I don’t get the point of grammar exercises when I could just, like, read, but it sounds like it would be right up your alley!

I also used Memrise to learn vocabulary early on and it is super game-y. In the long run you’ll probably want to switch to something like Anki or Kitsun.io, but Memrise is great when you’re first starting because of the fun interface. I did the Genki I vocab course, but there’s tons to choose from.

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Depending on how old you are, these are two recommendations I have for resources that are somewhat user-friendly.

Japanese from Zero
Japanese for Busy People

Either could be used by any beginner, but I’d give some caveats for both.

Tae Kim’s is free. Many people here use Cure Dolly, Japanese Anmo with Misa, and other free resources on YouTube.

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Thanks !
I will stick with Bunpro + Grammar Books for now then, and switch to reading when i will be able to decipher enough of it.

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Thanks for your time, especially for the youtube recommandations !

CJapanese ammo seems easy to use, and Cure Dolly seems to have a more divercified content, but is harder to listen to XD

One grammar resource that hasn’t been mentioned yet in this thread is “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” (and its two sequels which are intermediate and advanced respectively). It’s on the pricey side but i’ve found it incredibly useful. At the beginning there’s a short section covering the basic principles that tie together all parts of the grammar, and then there’s the dictionary part.

I suggest going through the dictionary front to back at some point (probably should get to around level 10 first for the basic kanji knowledge). However, the main usefulness is that whenever you’re reading something and see a grammatical word or conjugation that you don’t understand, you can just open the dictionary to that grammar entry and find an explanation of its meaning, example sentences, explanations of nuance, etc. Truly one of the best $40 I’ve ever spent for Japanese learning.

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I’ve been using lingodeer as my main source for learning grammar (along with a little bunpro but not a lot as already at max SRS what with wanikani and other vocab learning) and really love it! There’s a christmas sale on just now for lifetime membership. What I really like as opposed to duolingo is that there are little textbook like explanations at the start of each chapter, then you work through kind of gamified exercises (I think it is initially set up to have drag and drop answers but you can change that to have you type in the answers, and you can also change the display language for exercises between kanji or kana only (and maybe romanji too but not used that for obvious reasons). I would recommend changing the display language to kanji and making yourself type answers. Then at the end of each mini unit there is a little story which is based on the stuff you have learned with reading questions and then you can record yourself speaking along line by line after hearing the native speaker. These often introduce some additional vocab that you can grasp from context and the pictures which is nice, kind of like a mini graded reader.

Then after you finish each ‘unit’ of a few chapters you can do a test. The tests can be a bit too easy if you leave the audio on as you can just listen to it autoplay and type what you hear but I’ve found that they are much more challenging with the audio off so I usually do that so as not to fool myself into thinking I know things that I don’t! You can also go in and do quick reviews of say 20 grammar points or vocab and it will give you a quick quiz on things you know (you can pick to work on things it has identified you as being weak on) - which I like to do on days that I am too busy to learn something new. I have probably given you more info than you ever needed to know haha but all in all I think it’s a really great resource and I much prefer it to Duolingo which I also tried but was too unstructured for me.

If I get stuck on a particular grammar point I tend to go watch a Japanese Ammo with Misa video and generally always find those really helpful( link : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBSyd8tXJoEJKIXfrwkPdbA).

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thanks a lot for the detailed feedback !
i will look more into it then ^^

I really can’t recommend Duolingo. They eventually start throwing kanji and grammar at you that they haven’t actually taught you. You’ll learn sort of how a sentence goes together but not why.

I use Genki. There’s also a github site (Genki Exercises - 2nd Edition | Genki Study Resources) that has a lot of interactive quizzes and stuff on the material which I’m finding incredibly helpful. Genki has its issues, but really any resource you pick will. It is designed for a classroom setting so I’m finding the github a really great alternative to the partner exercises. For Youtube if you pick Genki there’s a guy Tokini Andy (pretty sure that’s the name) that goes through all the grammar points chapter by chapter. I’ve only watched his first video but it was fantastic. Really explains things in depth.

On the note of Lingodeer - I like it but it’s pretty spendy. Not sure I’ll keep my membership when it expires. Better than Duo because it will actually go over grammar points and makes an effort to teach you the vocab. I absolutely loathe when it makes you spell out a sentence however.

I recommend Torii for vocab (you can filter out WaniKani vocab), Bunpro and Japanese pod only if you really want to put the time into it. It’s a decent enough resource but I eventually cancelled because I didn’t have the time to sink into it and really be getting my money’s worth.

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You’ll need to supplement wanikani with something that focuses on grammar, and actually speaking/reading Japanese, because WK is really only for kanji. You could use really any textbook or resource for that. I used the bunpro beta and I liked it, but I couldn’t really have two subscriptions going. I also like gamified things, and that was definitely working for me.

One thing I have that is free is an iPhone app called TangoRisto which is beginner-level reading practice with news stories, it’s been great practice.
But, of course, still need to work with textbooks or grammar-focused apps to keep learning sentence structure, beep forms, etc.

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My recommendation:

Find an app you like, find a textbook that you like, and check out BunPro.

From an app perspective, skip DuoLingo. It doesn’t allow you to type in Japanese, you just click tiles to make sentences which is good at making you feel like you know something when really, you are just trial and erroring it until it all fits.

I picked up a subscription to LingoDeer this past weekend ($100 for lifetime access to LingoDeer and Lingo+) and it seems to be pretty good. Having the Lingo+ games really helps in my opinion with understanding the patterns around things when it comes to the conjugation games. It also allows you to type your answers in with Japanese input, which is something I recommend to help with retention and overall understanding. Is LingoDeer the best option? I am not sure but I have bounced around with so many apps I decided I need to stop pecking and just jump in. I don’t regret LingoDeer. Check it out for a few days before deciding though. I just wish they didn’t bombard you with ads every time you complete an activity, asking you to ugprade.

BunPro is like WaniKani and follows the WK SRS stages but for grammar. The reason I say pick a textbook is because there are several “paths” in BunPro for grammar, according to different books. Don’t want to pay for Genki? Check out TaeKim. IMABI is another free Japanese grammar option, though there is no BunProi path for it.

All this said, assuming you get to the bottom, one more major recommendation I have: try a few options out and when you find one you like, stick to it. I have spent a large portion of my 20 years of “learning” Japanese jumping around to different apps, books, etc and every time I think “man, I am super SMART! I know ALL this stuff already!” and eventually stop checking in because it’s too easy. Well, it’s too easy because I’ve gone through the starter material 10s of times… and I have only recently begun sticking to one solution and going forward, so I am now getting into material I have not seen before… so there is challenge where skiping around there was none.

Hope that wall of text helps you.

The other, absolutely most important things to remember:

  1. don’t give up. Ever. You can do this. Even if it takes you long than others, every day you spend studying is a day you learn and get a step closer to your goal.
  2. stop in here whenever you need help or just want to chat. We all love talking about Japanese and helping!
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What kind of japanese resources you use is an intense topic, because different things work for different people. Just remember to not get lost in the hunt and do some actual studying :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d stay away from Duolingo, not sure about Lingodeer. Duolingo makes the learning “fun” by making it less efficient. Feels really good to cobble together a sentence via drag and drop. Look at the words that remained and you’ll realise there was no way you could have gotten it wrong.
Multiple Choice isnt very effective for learning.

Personally I use WaniKani, Jalup and Bunpro. I’d say this is close to ideal, if you have money. Lots of money. All three are kinda pricy paid services. Jalup is a “+1” kind of sentence deck. You start out with a really simple sentence card, the next sentence introduces smthg new (New vocab, new grammar) and so on. Takes about 500 cards for you to be N5’ish.

I like this approach of teaching grammar via sentences. Using Bunpro as a supplement gives you pretty solid reading comprehension. Personally I’d say give Jalup a try, the first 100 cards are free.Be warned though: The first 1000 Cards (N4’ish) cost about 100€. (Unless you get the old Anki version somewhere)

I thought about supplementing Vocab via Anki, Kitsun or the like, but I’d rather just go faster on WaniKani for now. And consistently going 8 days/level on WaniKani can be pretty brutal.

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I made good experiences with the Genki book series. Much more so than with Tae Kim. It’s around 30$ but the investment is well worth it. Should you reside in the Russian Federation you can also legally get a free copy by downloading it from http://gen.lib.rus.ec
Personally I bought a paperback copy because it’s so much nicer to hold it in hand than reading on a screen.
Different things work for different people. except Duolingo. Stay away from Duolingo. It’s useless.

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Thanks a lot for the detailed answer and the motivation ! :muscle:
I’m starting to narrow my picks, trying different stuff, and your answer really confort me in thinking that i should soon drop Duolingo, and switch to Bunpro and LingoDeer.
Thanks again !

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Thanks for pointing me to Jalup, having a sentence focused resource seems to be a relly good thing for me.
I’m not really a fast learner and need a lot of repetition, but for the moment, i learn grammar and vocab fast enough to not get frustrated. The only thing that really bothers me are the small phrases that don’t have direct translation, i mix them all the time… Thanks for the idea !

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Just be careful. What works for me may not be what works best for you.

I had gone through the entirety of the Japanese Duolingo 2 years ago. At first I thought I was learning something but without having to shadow, without building the sentences on my own, without having to write them in instead of pressing tiles, I didn’t really retain any of it. I guess part of that was that I was more advanced than what they were teaching at that point. I went back into it a few weeks ago as I was trying to see if it had gotten better.

They added a ton of content since I had done it but the basics were the same. Click the picture, click the tiles. No reason to learn the kanji, just learn how to cheat the system by pressing each tile, listen to what it says and match what it is looking for.

There is some of this in LingoDeer as well. If you don’t get it on the lifetime sale for $99, where it includes the Lingo+, I am not sure I would find the package as useful. The lessons so far have been basic but it’s sticking better than Duolingo did. The Lingo+ app though, as long as you know the grammar and vocab they are using (it doesn’t try to teach it; it’s just working through building skills in the language), it really challenges you to keep building and going. Or does me! I may not you, so download the app and give it a try.

I also have Rocket Language for lifetime. I go back to it once in a while and it’s nicely done also. Try that out as well.

Duolingo, if you have useful apps actually teaching you, is OK for dumb practice IMO. It’s too hard to learn anything properly with it’s Japanese version. With some of the other languages they have added stories and such that you read along with the lessons. If they had THAT in Japanese, I might be more inclined to try it all again. Until then, I am skipping it.

Sorry for the second novel. :smiley:

Spend quality time finding the tools that work for you, but don’t spend so much time 20 years go by (like me). :smiley:

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