Apart from hunting down books, tools and various apps during your language learning path. You will likely also start noticing that we all learn in very different ways. What works according to many on some ‘golden truth’ forum; may not work for you at all. And that is fine.

What I have enjoyed doing over the last few months is spending a bit more time to better understand my own preferences to study, and additionally what techniques seem to work better for me. This is all very nuanced, and even though teachers, authors and study groups may have the best intention when giving advice, its really up to each person to find their ‘happy path’ to language learning – or fluency. All that being said – I have found the following approach useful to me at this phase of my learning. (Which is just on 1-year of Japanese)

Pillar 1 – Kanji

Hope you have some…

I have recently added Kanji learning to my daily routine – using WaniKani, and this is definitely helping me feel more comfortable with:

a) Seeing Kanji and not instantly feeling intimidated

b) Learn some vocabulary – even though my brain does not seem to find it easy to bridge the gap between a word I’ve been seeing and learning on the screen e.g. だる (出す) with a verb I’d naturally use in conversation with my Japanese teacher on iTalki.

c) Gain insight (and limited understanding at this point) into the relationship between the kana and Kanji, along with sentence structure.

There is still work to be done for me in terms of making the Wanikani process better, however I’m only on Level 4 and need to absorb more about this prior to making changes.

Pillar 2 – Grammar

I find that working with my Japanese teacher to cover the grammar points is the most efficient way to get to grips with these concepts. Having the conversation with somebody else in the target language, and using the grammar throughout the lesson really reinforces this for me. So no changes on this approach as yet.

I do read through my textbook (Genki) from time-to-time as a reminder, but if you can afford lessons with a teacher – its fantastic. This also help dramatically with listening practice, which I think is a common challenge. Alternatively – some really amazing teachers are online and provide YouTube vids to help.

Pillar 3 – Vocabulary

I am constantly trying new ways to more efficiently learn new vocabulary, as this obviously can really level-up your language. Reading lists of vocab doesn’t really stick in my mind easily, so my initial approach was using Anki. I did this almost daily and quite religiously for just on a year, but somehow now have just run out of steam for this.

Personally it also seems to stick in my mind more if I take a handful of words and almost mull over them for a few days. Walk around the house making sentences (confusing the family), think about how they would change relating to tense and feel familiar with how they sound and feel – coming out of your mouth, not from the laptop 🙂

I modified this approach by picking a few words each week, and then keeping a vocab notebook (old school paper!) where I could write these word over a few times – and also draw a crazy picture or two relating to each one, just to keep it in my mind by adding another ‘sense’ to the learning experience. This can feel slightly slow and inefficient, but you will have better retention than scanning double or triple the vocab – and then remembering nothing.

The Goldlist method is one I have to try out still – but I have too many things going on for that too.

Pillar 4 – Conversation