Yo-yo interest in learning Japanese

I’ll try to keep this short but basically I struggle with keeping focus on learning Japanese, a lot. I’ve been trying to teach myself for several years with varying degrees of success, but I’m still pretty much a beginner.

I’ve realised I have four “topics” I put all my energy into that rotate every few months.
So for example, I’ll be really into reading fantasy novels for a couple of months, then I’ll play solely video games whenever I can for a month or two, and then I’ll be watching a tonne of anime and trying to learn Japanese whenever I get some spare time.

It’s kinda frustrating because I’ve been wanting/trying to learn Japanese for a long time but it’s a constant two steps forward one step back kinda situation. It usually ends in me feeling like a failure and come off as a “faker” and someone who doesn’t really want to learn Japanese.

Does anyone else experience this? I understand this is probably because I’m burning myself out but I really can’t help it! I don’t even realise I’m doing it most of the time. I just get swept up in my eagerness.

For extra context, I’m a full-time software dev who has a long commute. I probably get an hour, maybe two if I’m lucky in the evenings to myself. By the weekend I usually have very little motivation to do anything that involves flexing my brain muscles. Buuut saying that, I have signed up for a 10 week Japanese class at the local uni because I tend to do a lot better in classroom situations, so hoping that will help.

Thanks if you read all of this, not really sure where I was going, just wanted to know if anyone else was in the same boat.


I’m sure it will. I’d say that you’re struggling to keep a solid routine around Japanese. I believe those classes will surely help because it’s a commitment :slight_smile:

Do you feel like you try to do a bunch of things at the same time, burn out, drop Japanese, and then come back later to try again? If so, I feel like a good solution will to start step by step. Japanese takes years to learn, even for those putting up hours every day. It’s a tough challenge. But this helps with the mentality that this is a long-term commitment, giving you time to add things to your Japanese learning step by step. You can start with these classes and add other tools as you go. Could you do things like reading/doing WK during your commute, for example?

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Yesss! This sounds like me in a nutshell. I’m not great discipline-wise, especially if I’m feeling a burst of motivation that makes me want to study hard leaving me to burnout harder. Putting in effort to get a routine going sounds like a good idea.

I drive to work, so not really… but that has giving me the idea that there must be some things I can listen to whilst I’m driving! Thanks for replying and for the advice :blush:


This sounds a lot like me with the rotating focus of downtime activites. I just signed up for adult language class this past semester (one night a week), and it’s made a huge difference to me. I’d been able to learn hiragana and katakana on my own over the years, and a ton of random vocabulary, but always bogged down on the grammar part.

Having the instructor explain things and be able to answer questions and make sure you’re understanding the grammar points involved helps a lot (compared to just reading a super dense 3 page section of textbook, and trying to make sense of it).

Make sure to volunteer to speak in class whenever possible (the instructors will usually go around the table in turn, but sometimes they ask for someone to call on, and it’s amusing to see everyone sit and squirm and hope for someone else, like it was elementary school or something.) You’re paying to be there, make use of it for the speaking practice, and to get corrected if you’ve gotten something wrong.

WK makes a great resource outside of class, because the kanji really helps and the classes don’t throw it in soon enough (I think this semester we’re suppsed to learn 1-10, 100, 1000, 10000, -hours, and yen), so nothing new there since you’re already on level 7.

As far as commuting, I’ve been listening to the nihongo shark kana loops, and then moved on to the Nihongo Con Teppei begginer podcast s(he speaks in simple japanese with lots of repetition of phrases and concepts. I can’t pretend to understand whole episodes yet (about 4min each) but I’m picking out more sentences here and there.


I too am in the ‘many years of study but still a super beginner’ boat.
My big issue I’m realizing, I think, is vocab. Spend more time in jisho than the source material it feels like. Grammar is poor too.
Only get like an hour, maybe two, a night. So, progress is very slow. I’ll never master it, as I once wished, but any ability I’ll be happy with.
I do regret not sticking with it the first time, when I was young and had the free time.

These are all things you can do in Japanese… if not now, maybe it could be worth it to work specifically towards being able to do so? Or do them in a way that makes it easier to do in Japanese (like frequent dictionary lookups) Or would that just make, say, reading feel like work?


Glad to know I’m not alone! And I definitely plan to speak up in class when I go, speaking is definitely me weak point.

And thanks for the material suggestions! Had a brief look at Nihongo con Teppei and that seems pretty good, so thanks!

I’ve tried doing this kind of thing before but I don’t think I ever nailed a workflow. I’ve got a few copies of Doraemon and similar manga in Japanese but I found I kept getting demoralised and giving up because I was getting hung up on almost every sentence. So think I should probably focus on grammar a bit more first?

Well, my strategy did pretty much become that I’ve studied grammar when I feel that grammar’s what’s holding me back, so if you feel like that go for it!

I personally used Tae Kim along with an anki deck to drill the sample sentences. I didn’t do the advanced topics though (I felt that at the time sample sentences from wikipedia were a bit above my pay grade), and that was enough of a foundation to get me by for about a year and a half.

Also, I found that to me the graded readers were a great stepping stone between just short sample sentences and native materials.

After going through Tae Kim and a few of the graded readers I was able to start playing the first Suikoden JRPG (albeit while constantly looking up words) and from there I pretty much went on to manga and later novels.

EDIT: For the longest time I also added all the words I looked up to anki, so I was always studying vocabulary that was at least related to the things I was reading. For anime, tools like voracious make this process even easier.

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