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Tips for Learning Japanese


I am new to Japanese and I have just conquered the Hiragana alphabet. I would love to reach at least N3 in next 2 years (compulsory level of second foreign language in my university).

If you some effective techniques, good studying materials please kindly share them with me, as well as other readers!

Thank you a lot!


September 10, 2017


  1. Do NOT learn kanji by their individual readings. Instead, learn them in compound words.

  2. Memrise is an excellent tool for learning vocabulary

  3. Japanesepod is an excellent resource

  4. Talk to native speakers; that's the only way to actual become "fluent" in a language

  5. Flashcards can be your best friend or your worst enemy but it's always worth a shot


Could you elaborate on your first point?


What the above poster means is that for example the 生 kanji, you should memorise 生徒 (seito) and not just 生(sei) by itself.

The thing is if you go to say jisho.org, and type in sei, you'll get a BUNCH of kanji. They all have the same reading so just memorizing sei might not get you anywhere. Which sei? And then of course 生 the kanji itself doesn't just have sei as a reading but a bunch of others.

This may or may not work for you...some kanji are easily memorised by themselves because they have a concrete meaning. Others may have a set of vague, unrelated meanings (I'm looking at you 省). In the latter case this is really good advice - learn the compound words which contain it, instead of trying to memorise that it means ministry, government, look back on or cut down on all together.

There is one caveat to this: for example 生, it is not just a kanji but a radical. And if you look at some other kanji that use the sei reading: 姓, 性 for example you'll see that they have a 生 radical. So you can sometimes glean a kanji's reading from the radical it contains. Just something to keep in mind.


A lot of thanks! Btw, is it necessary to study the Katakana?


Yes yes yes. You must study Katakana, there's really no question to it.


The JLPT is a skill balance test, which means that if you don't achieve the minimum score set for each of the four sections of the test (grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening), you'll fail the test even if your final score exceeds the minimum required. So my advice is that you attain that balance in the four sub-skills of the test. For that, the 日本語総まとめ(にほんごそうまとめ) book series should be sufficient to help you pass the test, and you should attain a good basic-to-medium level of fluency in the process. Good luck.


Arachnje, would you have a ISBN or even a link for the book(s) you are recommending? I'm asking because sometimes I have been able to find Japanese books online (i.e. on amazon) via the ISBN, even when a title search yielded nothing.


Here are the links for the日本語総まとめ Vocabulary books:




The remaining four books (Grammar, Listening, Kanji, and Reading) for each N level will be shown below the book description in the Frequently bought together section.

The JLPT N4 study material seems to be summarized in one book, but I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t recommend or advise against it.

  1. Study/practice/use the language at least a little bit everyday. This is true for almost anything you wish to learn, but it's especially true for language and a language as different from many european languages as Japanese.

  2. Definitely try to speak the language as much as you can. Italki is a resource for finding speaking practice. Language is like music or sport, it is physical, and you have to practice it physically.

Resources: The Genki series of textbooks is considered pretty good. I haven't tried Assimil Japanese myself but I've used their Polish course and it seems good. Someone else mentioned JapanesePod. There is also iknow.jp, a sentence repetition program, Clozemaster, another sentence repetition program, Tae Kim's free grammar guide, KanjiDamage (alert: lots of profanity! not for everyone), and Satori Reader, a reading program. Some of these are free, some freemium, some not.

Good luck in your studies.


Thanks a lot for your advices. Actually, I have to study at the university from 8am to 6pm. I don't think a period of about 30mins-1hr is enough. But it could be much better if we have a group/community to help each other :D.


Just learn a litle at a time. Learn a, i, u, e, o hiragana than the rest. Spend 5 minutes on each group when you can and go from there.


I recommend using Wanikani for kanji, it helps with vocabulary also. I also use italki, it great to learn with a teacher. I also use human japanese apps and website, very useful.


こんにちわ! 私も。

I recently started using japanesepod101 alongside duolingo, and found it's been great for more in-depth study :D it's definitely good for understanding grammar, and has already taught me how to use practical phrases.



Thank you! Hope daily small efforts will make a big success in next 2 years :D.


When learning, rely not solely on Duolingo. They teach you to speak in a very unnatural way. They teach you to conjugate the verbs extremely formally. If you were to use this way of speaking with a friend, someone you meet on the street, a storekeeper, etc., you would surely get looks.

Please look up how to conjugate verbs informally. Best of luck.

Also, the Kanshudo website is an invaluable resource of my quest to master Kanji. I highly recommend it.

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