Woohoo! Progress

I’ve been studying Japanese since February and I’ve been following the Tofugu Ridiculously Detailed Guide to the letter. And man, how efficient is this thing? It’s a well-oiled machine.

I started seeing a private tutor last month and while at first I was having trouble stringing the simplest of sentences, now I’m getting more and more comfortable and my teacher sees just how much vocab I know and it’s very satisfying to have that reaction. (Oooooh… so you know this word?! and this word?! and this word… ooh that’s jukugo… that’s a little advanced.) It’s all thanks to WaniKani and a little bit of brain grease.

So what’s great is that because I have all this vocab and kanji to attempt to build words with, I’m having so much fun just talking. (slowly mind you) But I’m speaking, reading and writing Japanese, y’all!

Look daddy, I’m stealing! :smiley:


Hey, congrats! Awesome to hear of your progress.

I paid for a private tutor from 1986 to 1988, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I’m pretty sure Tsujimoto-sensei has since passed, but I would give anything to discuss WaniKani with her.

I know for certain my path toward learning Japanese would have been immensely easier if WK had been around in the last millenium. Trying to learn Japanese grammar and vocabulary and then learn to read kanji is much, much harder. Trust me.

I’m astonished at how much my Japanese has improved after just 20 months of WK (after literal decades at about the same level). While I’ve barely crossed the halfway point here, I’m now able to communicate via email with friends, family, and co-workers in Japanese without resorting to English.

While I’m still a long way from “literate” in Japanese, I’m no longer completely illiterate. This has had a profound impact on my life. I’m incredibly grateful to both Tsujimoto-sensei and Wanikani because of it.


It’s great that you have those memories.

Not being able to speak in Japanese to someone was getting to be a little bit of a problem for me.

I’ve started wanting to speak Japanese with everyone! And even asking strangers if they knew any local speakers hahaha. I come from a fairly small city, but we do have a lot thai speakers, mandarin speakers, etc. Not many native japanese speakers however.

But I have developed a craving to apply all this new found knowledge I have. I think hiring a private tutor is essential… For me especially.


Wow, what a great resource! I agree strongly with every word. Shockingly, I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen it before. If I did, I’d forgotten about it. Probably because the URL https://www.tofugu.com/learn-japanese/ is so indecipherable and hard to remember. :roll_eyes:

My only tiny nit is with Koichi’s emphasis on the “spacing effect” in the introduction to spaced repetition. The spacing effect is an important but slightly academic discovery about how our memories work, but I think it sort of misses the point about how to use an SRS effectively.

Where angels fear to tread. I can’t believe I’m about to suggest improvements to Koichi’s introduction, and his first four paragraphs are “chef’s kiss” perfect, but I can’t help but feel the fifth paragraph needs improvement.

This is almost certainly the wrong place to write this, but instead of:

Spaced repetition is a learning technique based on flashcards. If you get a card correct, the interval between now and the next review will get longer. If you get it wrong, the interval gets shorter.

Basically, an SRS will adjust when you review something based on your performance (did you get it right? Kind of right? Wrong?) using what’s called the spacing effect. You develop a stronger memory when you recall something right before you forget it. A good spaced repetition algorithm will line reviews up in this important window, allowing you to review your flashcards at the most efficient moment possible.

I wish it said something like:

Spaced repetition is a learning technique based on flashcards. If you get a card correct, the interval between now and the next review will get longer. If you get it wrong, the interval gets shorter.

Basically, an SRS attempts to show you flashcards you find difficult more often, and ones you find easier less often.

As an aside, SRS scheduling algorithms attempt to take advantage of what memory experts call the spacing effect. In a nutshell: we develop a stronger memory when we are forced to recall something right before we forget it.

It’s important to realize that an SRS cannot know that you find an item difficult unless you answer it incorrectly! (Some SRS’s attempt to work around this issue by having you grade your responses as, say, hard/medium/easy, but this doesn’t always work well in practice.) If you struggle too hard to get every question right, you are doing all the heavy lifting instead of letting the SRS work its magic for you. Repetition aids memory: you want more reviews of the items you find difficult!

It’s also important to follow “Rule One” for any SRS: review items that are “due” regularly, every single day if at all possible. Ideally, you want to review all due items each day. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t finish all your reviews occasionally or skip a day entirely, but know that you’ll have a larger “backlog” of items to review when you get back to it. Some SRS’s have a “vacation mode” that can be of enormous help if you must be away for a while.

Lastly, realize that adding and reviewing items today also creates work in the future. Further, brand new items are usually harder than items you’ve reviewed previously. Pace yourself and try to balance the number of new vs. previously reviewed items in your queue. If you add too many new items today (by doing “lessons” in WaniKani, for example), you also make the next several review sessions more difficult. You’ll find any SRS easier if you perform roughly the same number of reviews every day, and keep the percentage of new, unfamiliar flashcards reasonably low. Find your own comfort zone. It’s easy to burn out if you don’t.

No matter which SRS you use: JUST DO YOUR REVIEWS. You’ll be amazed at how quickly and easily you learn.

That is, I wish it emphasized how to use an SRS efficiently, rather than describing why they were designed to work the way they do.

I also wish that right up front, it steered people away from what I perceive as the three most common failure modes:

  1. Not doing your reviews every day.
  2. Trying too hard to answer every question correctly.
  3. Having too many new (“Apprentice”) items in your queue.

Since February? so happy whenever I hear someone is sticking with the program. I wish I could get a private tutor as you’ve mentioned, but I’ve been fortunate in other ways.

One thing my Kazahkstan taught me is this…

“You need to create scenarios in your mind. Create a set of characters with different personalities that you can share different conversations within conversations. Sit and daydream Take them to different places and different events. The more you do this, the more you can ‘think’ in the language and become more fluid.”

I haven’t felt comfortable with applying my friend’s training tool until only recently, but I’m all the better for it! It sounds like you are much further than I am in conversation in general, but know that you don’t always need someone to talk with in order to grow conversationally.

Take children…“the only child” will sit and “play house” with her “imaginary friends” or her stuff animals. She gives them phrases that fit their varying personalities and that’s how she copes until opportunities to socialize present themselves. It’s a pretty ancient technique that we forget when we get older.

Have you listened to the Tofugu Podcasts? I almost die laughing sometimes.


That sounds… Unbelievably painful. I can’t even imagine making any progress in Japanese without Kanji.


It was. It’s precisely as difficult as being illiterate in your native language.

We all learn to speak and understand our native languages long before we learn to read and write, and sadly there are still many adults in the world who never acquire the skill. You can definitely learn basic grammar and vocabulary by sheer repetition and exposure.

It’s just S-L-O-W and painful.

The web, youtube, SRS’s like WaniKani: it’s so much easier to learn today!

In my day, I had to travel one hour by train twice a week after work for a two-hour private lesson. And I had to walk 20 minutes from the station at each end. Uphill. Both ways. <laugh>

1 Like

Wow, that’s so cool, it reminds me of this one time, I was with my grandma’s Japanese friend and I accidentally read this jukugo word and she started flipping out, I felt so happy, all my hard, hard work had paid off…

1 Like

I’ve never heard of the Tofugu podcasts. I should totally listen to them. I’m sure I would enjoy. :slight_smile:

In terms of Youtubers, I follow ToKini Andy’s channel. He creates most of his content based on The Japan Times book series (Genki, Quartet, etc.) But he also does a lot of variety content that I like as well.

As for the conversational skills part, I absolutely agree that you can get better on your own. However, I like speaking with someone as it forces me out of my comfort zone and it’s really fun. I find I learn so fast.

yh wanikani is amazing. we live in a really great age where thanks to youtube/apps/srs programs language learning have never been easy. Just by devoting 2-3 hours a day to WaniKani and torii I already know 400 kanji and 1500+ words in 3+ months. Even without dedicated grammar study, you can decipher many sentences thanks to browsers extension like yomichan which literally allows translating any sentence word by word+ explaining the role of all particles in context sentences.

without all of these? just relying on old textbooks + heavy dictionaries- i would probably reach the same level in a year.


All I see is bob saget in your profile pic Lol

How odd! I mostly get Clooney or Pitt.


say whaaaaaaat… I was just on a post about “Google Translate” versus “DeepL” because I want to find a way to take a phrase and see how it’s used in context. I already use Bunpro to help with my grammar, but I find hearing and reading sentences from regular conversations much better cement grammatical concepts for me. I started Bunpro months ago and made very little gains. I’ve since completed Rosetta Stone and an additional 20 Levels of WaniKani with little but a few lessons on Bunpro completed. When Bunrpo asks me to determine what particle to use it’s easier for me to translate the entire sentence instead and THEN see what particle seems to fit naturally.

If yomichan can help me see phrases in natural context I am all for it! I’m on a macbook so I’ll have to download chrome, but no biggie. Thanks for telling me about this!

** Да, я думаю что я понимаю…так думаю что мы чуть-чуть похоже…на самом деле я американка но я хочу практичести японский язык каждый день. (русски тоже) я учил настолько лет но только сейчас серьёзно. я люблю языки. Да, японский язык вам очень простой если вы говорите русский!! хахаха!

yh reading in context is the main reason why I decided to drop off bunpro. It’s a good tool to cement something you already know/encountered in the wild- but learning from zero?- it feels like you are trying to just memorize specific sentences instead of actually acquiring knowledge of grammar points.

Yomichan is amazing with dictionaries installed (FooSoft Productions - Yomichan) it gives a very broad list of meanings, it helped me tremendously with just wanikani vocab because sometimes some synonyms just don’t make sense. And yes, it translates all grammar points.
+it also shows how frequently this word is being used in news articles and books. Helps massively with tons of similar words where you just don’t know which one you should really learn and use.

If you know about anki it actually synergizes well with yomichan. Whenever you see the unknown word in a sentence, book, movie-anime with Japanese subtitles- by hovering your mouse over the unknown word you can immediately save this word into your Anki deck. It will be saved automatically with translation+ whole context sentence. Its the best tool for immersion.

1)* но я учу-learn. хочу=(want). японский язык практически каждый день ( correct word order)
2)Я учил несколько лет ( настолько= so much, несколько =a few).
3) японский язык для вас. Вам= you. для вас- for you.
just a few corrections)

1 Like

I’m sorry, I don’t think you knew what I was saying! I only read Russian for fifteen minutes a day and I typed that super quick!

  1. **на самом деле я американка но я хочу практичести русский язык каждый день.
    I’m actually American but I want to practice Russian every day.
  2. я учил несколько лет но только сейчас серьёзно - I’ve been learning/studying for several years, but only now am I getting serious. несколько…“several” being neither “so much”(много) nor “a few” (несколько) in that sense although “few” and “several” are the same in Russian. Очевидно, со временем станy лучше со сложные вещи-obviously over time I will get better with difficult stuff, thanks.
  3. японский язык для вас…yeah… I didn’t say that… nor did I want to say that. that’s a different “for you” than the "for you in that sentence. японский язык вам очень простой если вы говорите русский!! I was trying to say…*the japanese language is very easy for you if you speak russian. для вас doesn’t really work for this kind of sentence because the subject is not material. do you disagree? for instance: "I have a present for you-- У меня есть подарок для тебя " would use для вас?? Correct? OR…
    У меня есть Вам подарок… но придумаю что возможно… both are correct? but one is better? what do you think?

Grammar!!! It’s killing me! Arghh…

I wish I could write a word or a phrase in Russian (not just Japanese), do a search and find common uses in sentences. Do you know of anything like that for Russian?


1 Like

для вас is completely correct and natural. Difference between для тебя and для вас is just politeness. Usually, you would use the latter with people whom you don’t know well. Or who are significantly older than you. But it’s quite funny to look at your own language from a foreigner’s perspective. It’s one of the main reasons why I think native teachers are the worst because they hardly can understand the struggles of foreigners).

Honestly, I would not really worry about writing that much. I genuinely believe in Stephen Krashen’s theory about language acquisition where he makes a heavy emphasis on the fact that we truly acquire language only through listening+reading first. Output- always comes later. I can relate to this because in my case I never actually practiced speaking or writing in english- just played tons of roleplaying games for 2 years- pure listening and reading with an occasional translation of a few words. Only during my master’s degree studies I actually started to output- it took me around 4 weeks to fully activate all my passive knowledge.

For phrases, the best analog going to be probably https://en.openrussian.org/

I also heavily advise checking to refold guide. its immersion language community that follows Stephen Krashen’s theory- listening/reading first- then output. They have a full list of all useful resources depending on your current level. They actually have that list for all major languages including Japanese and Chinese. always worth checking.
This is their list of all usseful resources for Russian learners.Refold Russian - Google Docs

Refold Japanese - Google Docs this one is for japanese

1 Like

Hah! Ha Hah! I have no idea what you’re talking about! I regret nothing! <whimper> :sob:

A year? I spent decades “improving” my Japanese at a glacially, almost imperceptibly slow pace, then somehow stumbled across WaniKani about 1.5 years ago. Since then my progress has been shockingly fast.

In addition to WaniKani itself, the kind and knowledgeable people here have introduced me to:

All are astonishingly useful resources.

Then this thread introduced me to Tofugu’s Learn Japanese page. Which just now lead me to Tofugu’s Japanese Grammar page. [Edit: And holy cow! The podcast that was just mentioned looks amazing.]

How have I been here this long without discovering these terrific Tofugu resources?!!


i especially love torii- these context sentences help tremendously in acquiring new words, and the fact it supplements wanikani- just instant love.

1 Like