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Japanese study plan 2022/8/5 12:37
I have been learning Japanese off and on for the past year or so, but did not have much time until the last few weeks as I had postgrad final exams to study for. I am learning Japanese myself and did not have any formal education in Japanese. I hope to improve it to a level where I can spend 2-3 months in Japan (graduation trip, plus immersion practice).
I plan to sit N5 in December this year and am hoping for N4 next year. If it goes well, hoping to take N4 middle of next year, otherwise next December. The Japan trip will probably be in mid next year - hoping for a full visa-free reopening by then, and under the pre-covid system I am eligible for 90 days visa-free. I certainly do not expect to be anywhere near native level, but would like to be able to communicate in everyday settings in Japanese and improve to the point before my trip where this immersion would benefit me. I have been told this would be roughly the N4 going on N3 point where I will notice the benefits. I hope to attend a casual/conversational language school such as Coto Academy or similar for a month while I am there, but this trip is primarily a holiday.

Right now, I have finished WaniKani level 10, I got a lifetime subscription when it was on sale. It has taken me a year off and on to get there, but I hope to speed things up now that I have no other study commitments besides Japanese, and will be working part time this year and next.

I have also just finished my first cover-to-cover readthrough of Genki 1, but unfortunately cannot retain everything. I have also found TokiniAndy's Genki 1 grammar lessions handy.

So right now, my goals are to pass N5 end of this year, and then N4 and maybe N3 next year, while becoming more fluent to the point where my trip to Japan would actually help me improve.

At some point I should re-read Genki 1, probably re-watch those grammar lessions too. I should also try and get to WaniKani level 16+. It's just that there is always so much that can be done, to the point I am not really sure what to do next.
I would appreciate pointers as to what I should prioritize right now, and which resources I should focus on.
by SL (guest)  

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/5 13:35
What is your main focus for learning Japanese?
- just speaking / listening
- or also reading / writing?

Apart from the trip for what else do you want to use Japanese?

I am asking because if reading / writing and getting to N2 / N1 at some point is your focus , I would suggest to learn kanjis using Heisig method. It’s for people in the long play to learn Japanese and not for people just wanting to pass one exam and not worry too much about the future. It presents the kanji in a logical grouping rather than by frequency or exams. And it doesn’t teach the pronunciation. So you’ll still need other methods as well to learn the kanji.

by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/5 15:16
Thanks for the reply.
I am mainly concerned about reading and listening. Speaking and writing is secondary at present.
As to the purpose, there are a few, and honestly I am not entirely sure myself yet.
I spent some time in Japan pre-pandemic, and I can forsee it continuing to be my family's yearly holiday destination once they reopen to visa-free as before. I myself want to experience living in Japan for a while, starting with this 2-3 month goliday+language school trip.

So tying this all back to your question.
1-At the very least, in the short term, I want to pass my N5, read the signs/get around in Japan without having to rely on translation apps constantly (will likely still need to from time to time).
2-In the intermediate term, I would like to be able to watch anime, read manga, and other Japanese documentaries/NHK etc without needing translations/subtitles. I hope to be at this stage in a year.
3-In the long term, if I enjoy my semester in Japan and things work out, who knows, it is my dream to move to Japan but let's not worry about that today as that is a huge undertaking and we will worry about that if/after I achieve 1 and 2.

Currently I am using WaniKani to learn Kanji and Genki plus TokiniAndy to learn grammar. I might subscribe to his premium service to watch his videos but can't rely on those as the primary resource.
by SL (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/5 22:41
You might be in to a crude awakening. Learning Japanese is notoriously difficult.

I went to language school for 1,5 years (every day 4 h + 2-3 h homework every day) and then passed N2. Have been living in Japan for 3+ years and use Japanese at work since 6 years. But there are still many things I don’t understand and reading continues to be slow.

So being able to communicate w/o need for google translate is a long way down the road.

I have learned several languages in my life. And the good thing about Japanese is that you reach a very basic level (N5) relatively easily because there are not many grammar complications. For a basic Japanese sentence to be correct, something like 赤の椅子を買いました。 you don’t need to know nearly any grammar. Compare that to let’s say Spanish compré una silla roja you already need to know the conjugation of the verb, the right tense, gender of noun and adjective, plural/singular and the definite / indefinite article. Compare it to German Ich habe einen roten Stuhl gekauft you also need to know declinations of nouns, adjectives and articles.

So the good thing with Japanese is that you get rather easily to a position where you can say easy sentences. But Japanese gets more complicated as you go along. While European languages become easier over time because the vocabulary for more complicated concepts tends to converge, because many words either come from Latin or Greek and have found their way into most European languages. While the more complicated words in Japanese generally come from Chinese.

So unless you are fluent in Chinese , Japanese unfortunately is quite hard.

BTW, I heard good things about Coto Language course. I did a test class at them years ago but didn’t choose them because they focused too much on communication and not enough on written Japanese for my purpose, but later on both my ex husband and an other friend went there to learn conversational Japanese and were very happy with the school. From the purpose you describe it sounds like this will be the right school for you.
by Like Bike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/5 22:44
Sorry typo
by Like Bike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/5 23:25
Indeed I am aware getting to native level is going to be hard, and I am not sure how long it will take me to get there, if at all. I may also not need to. N4 or N3 level is all I need if I am just being a tourist and enjoying Japanese media.
I did try the JLPT sample questions here https://www.jlpt.jp/e/samples/n5/index.html Passed each section. I am saving the official practice booklet for closer to the exam. Probably do it in a month or so from the exam just before I take study leave.
So yes it is hard but I think I am making progress.

Anyway so right now the main question is, for the purpose of passing the exam primarily, what should I do now, that I have learnt most of the kanji on the exam and finished reading genki 1. Thanks :)
by SL (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/9 00:02
There are a lot of good (and free!) learner resources at Japan Foundation:


I am not sure which country you are in but there are a lot of schools offering online Japanese classes (in Canada at least). Maybe try joining one in your country to practice speaking in class and reinforce the material you have learned?

I have finished classes using the Japanese for Busy People textbooks (books I and II) - now I am about to self-study using the Genki books to reinforce my own learning. I know a lot of it will be repetition but that helps me remember.
by SE (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/9 18:14
Hello SL,

I agree with Like Bike that Japanese is incredibly difficult unless you already know Chinese. Most Koreans I know also found it relatively easy to learn since some terms sound alike.

I’m genuinely curious, but why do you feel the need to take the N5 in the first place?

It’s not a prerequisite for the other JLPT exams and it won’t bear much weight in your resume if you were thinking of getting it for work reasons. Most companies require at least an N2 and you’d also need to pass their own language test.

If your goal is to use Japanese during your trip and enjoy Japanese media, I’d say save your money and skip the exam. Instead, spend the money you save on your trip or buy Japanese books/manga/etc.

Regarding the exam itself— I’ve only taken the N1 and successfully passed it about 10 years ago. Back then, you were only tested in reading (comprehension, grammar, etc.) and listening. It was also multiple-choice. My suggestions are to review what you’ll be tested on as well as test-taking strategies. For listening practice, you could try listening to radio shows on YouTube or just watching shows in general and listening to music. For reading practice, I suggest reading whatever interests you. A lot of things are available online nowadays.

Apps/sites I recommend— Imiwa app, Jim Breen dictionary, Google translate app (mostly for writing kanji), Google search in general.

For reference, I studied Japanese for a little over 5 years (4 years in university and over 1 year at a language school in Tokyo) before I passed the N1 exam. I also took N1 prep classes offered by my language school, Arc Academy. I’m not Chinese/Korean, so I had to simply memorize everything. Even now, I still use the apps and sites I recommended above.

Good luck!
by Ann (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/9 23:17
We've come a very, very long way in terms of the tools (and communities around them) available to make studying Japanese much less painless in the past few years. Check out sites like The Moe Way, JPDB, and the Discord servers attached to them. Many people are reaching extremely high levels of proficiency in very short periods of time. Talking multiple sub-2 year N1 passers who can actually speak Japanese too (you can look on YouTube for people like Doth, Aussieman, Jazzy).

For my own part I tried to study Japanese for well over a decade (probably more like two actually) but the tools and community support that we have now just wasn't there and I didn't manage to get much further than just nailing down the basics. If you weren't good at learning things already you pretty much had to go to language school. Then a few years ago when sites similar to The Moe Way started popping up I decided to give it one last shot, and ended up achieving more in one year than I had in over ten previously. Reached a point where I basically feel like I don't need to actively study anymore and think that with some prep I could probably aim for 180/180 on N1. To be clear I'm not smart at all and do not have a good aptitude for language learning in general.

Seriously, JPDB + something like Bunpro + a lot of reading and listening for a year or two will take you a very long way. With the right tools and techniques, plus the discipline required to put the hours in every day, N3 within a year is very easily doable. If you really want to get good at Japanese and are in the market for a tough but rewarding project to work on for a couple of years I would encourage you to look into some of the communities I mentioned.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese study plan 2022/8/9 23:46
Thanks for the info everyone. Just an update, I have signed up for the Coto Academy kanji course and working my way though it. Also covered the majority of N5 Kanji through WaniKani, currently level 11.
Finished reading Genki1 and watching tokiniandy's grammar lessons.
As I have some basic Chinese knowledge, I have encountered many of the Kanji before, but since I have not done much formal Chinese education, it is not as huge an advantage as those who speak Chinese natively.
I feel I am making good progress, and my current plan would be to finish up my existing materials with the Kanji self study short course, then re-read genki, then try and reach a higher WaniKani level.
After re-reading Genki I might try some sample questions and then re-evaluate my priorities based on areas of weakness. Right now I think my weakest point is grammar so I am planning to address that by trying to read and listen to Genki.

I did look into the moe way, anki etc, just seems a bit too advanced and self-directed to me. I plan to try for N5 this year and N4, possibly N3 next year depending on how much time I have. Why I am taking N5 is for the sense of personal achievement to show myself, my friends and family that I am "on the way" and "serious" about this, and have every intention to see this through. Not exactly bragging, N5 is nothing to brag about. But I need something to prove my effort and sincerity to myself and anyone who might ask.
by SL (guest) rate this post as useful

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