Stopped Studying for 2 years, how the heck do I get back into it?

(Also posted this on reddit for broader answers, but you guys are my ‘ride or die’ when it comes to Japanese so I wanted to ask)

So, two years ago, I was probably N3+. I could read manga like Angelic Layer and some shoujou fairly well with dictionary lookups, was starting to get into more advanced grammar, etc. I’d gone through core2k+, mined probably 500+ more vocab cards from whatever I was reading/studying, gone through the Dictionary of Basic Grammar and part of the intermediate, along with the N4 book and JtMW. Then my Dad died, and needless to say studying wasn’t my focus for a while. It’s been two years now and although I’ve tried, I haven’t made much progress, and I miss it. I was doing /so well/ and I hate that I’ve lost it.

Obviously I still have my Anki decks, but the grammar is overwhelming since my knowledge base has fallen so far, and the vocab is just tedious. Do I just start over? Do I try and salvage my existing decks? I primarily use recognition because my goal is to read, not produce, so all of my cards (including grammar) are recognition-based. I had been using Bunpro but I’m not sure I will since I’ve mostly started memorizing the English instead of the Japanese, so I think recognition is my best bet.

I’ve never done Genki or any really ‘basic’ textbook, and yes I’m a nerd but I really like the Dictionaries of Japanese Grammar. I’m considering starting to go through them again, adding every sentence, and start with a handful of sentences a day, then…vocab…I tend to do best with vocab in isolation, which I know tends to go against general thought processes, but. Maybe immersion and mining vocab and using yomichan or something to make cards? I’m considering reading one of the manga I have (I have several series in full, half of which I’ve read, half I haven’t) and mining as I go, that sort of thing. Do you think it would be worth going through the existing vocab deck? Should I just delete it?

I also have 780-odd mined cards and 380 cards from Kanken and Kanji in Context because I was trying to go that route to learn vocab. Does anyone still use that anymore?

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You don’t really lose all the things you learned before. Even if you forget them now, you’ll relearn it faster and better than you did before.

I wouldn’t get too caught up with the details. It’s fine if you ditch your Anki deck, it’s also fine to slowly bring it back. If you want to immerse, immerse. The most important thing is just get back into a consistent routine and things will work itself out. You just need to comfortable with the language again, that may take a few months but soon, you wouldn’t think twice about your little break.

You may feel some anxieties right now but in the grand scheme of things, you are still early in journey. Even if you pretended you never were at that previous level and start from scratch. As long as you stay focused and consistent, in short period of time, you’ll get back to your old level and be better than what you were. None of the things you have to “redo” is wasted effort. You have no idea how long it took me to truly acquired “basic” grammar, so reviewing things is never a wasted effort.


It can be overwhelming to try and start where you last left off. I’ve had this same issue with Chinese and didn’t feel comfortable jumping back in. Instead I spend a month or so going back over the textbook I had finished before my 1-2 year break. I did this at a pretty fast pace, but most of it came back without too much trouble.

Like what @nebbie said, just getting started and being consistent is key. You’ll get there eventually if you stay consistent.


Hello nohika! Glad to see a familiar name :smiley: I too have more of less fallen off the wagon myself around the same time you did. This community has always been a great motivator with my language studies!

頑張って to us both! ^^


That…is a good point. That is the advantage of starting over several times, I have a fairly good understanding of basic grammar (or if I don’t, it comes back fairly quickly). Except for verbs like passive and causative. Those just make me cry like an infant in a crib. So, I’m printing out the conjugation pages from N4 Kanzen Master and doing those until I can at least recognize a verb tense when smacked over the head with it. Whoops.

I’m about to get super busy with work, and my partner was like ‘uh why are you picking up Japanese now when you’re about to get busy’, it’s because even if you do a grammar point a day or three sentences and five vocab cards a day or something, it’s /something/ and eventually you’ll make more progress than you would if you started with five grammar points and fifty vocab cards, because it’s more sustainable. Plus, this is easy on my hands (I have chronic RSI).

@Nandemonai Thank you! I’ve been toying with Kanzen Master N4, but I already have most of the DoBJG explanations typed up so it might be worth just going with those and redoing the deck. Hmmm. Going to definitely start slow, nothing like overcommitting and getting in over my head!

@RawrPk Hi you!! I’m sorry you fell off the wagon too, but this place is awesomely familiar, isn’t it? I always enjoy seeing familiar names too. XD I think I’ll go browse the language learning logs next, to see what the current ‘in’ methods are. Thank you, I hope you have luck too!!

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To begin with, I suggest you try just listening to easy material for fun. Start with the freely available audio downloads of the tadoku book series from ASK and from Tadoku and Taishukan.


I’m using my old first edition copy of Kanji in Context and a vocab deck from here.

  1. Each day, I unsuspend and activate the basic vocabs words for two kanji.
  2. Then I run the MorphMan addin to help me identfy all the sentences from my sentence bank which contain only those new vocab words (or any vocab which I have just failed) and words which I already know.
  3. Then I unsuspend one or two sentence for each of these new vocab words and just failed voacb words
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Soo many good ideas. I echo what nebbie said. Find something that gets you excited about studying again. Make it a way of life again and don’t get caught up with the idea of ‘relearning’ vs learning. If you want something new to keep you motivated I recommend the jalup deck/app. Includes learning grammer as you go… Whatever works for you.


I started again and apart from the basics, relearned vocab/kanji again. It definitely is faster the second time around!

I used iKnow for N4 and did the Soumatome book to re-learn any basic grammar. I don’t think there’s any need for you to go back to say Genki 1 level stuff!

I redid RTK as production (previously did recognition) which I found useful. It was very easy at first, but started to drag towards the end!

It didn’t take long (maybe 30-60 days) before I found I could read similar or even harder materials than before.


I’ve never really gotten MorphMan working. I’m not super tech-savvy so I’ve avoided it, even though it seems super useful. Yomichan spooked me enough. XD Where do you get your sentence bank, or do you create it? Is it one of the core decks?

@laddr - I’ve used JALUP before, the problem is there’s just so much in the beginning deck that i’ve seen before but I’ve not seen all of it so skipping to the intermediate trips things up? Then again, using the app I can reference things…decisions, decisions. I’m considering pausing Japanese for a week or two because I’m shifting things and getting into a new relationship and I want to give that a focus, too, and not back-burner Japanese just because it’s driving me nuts, haha.
I do have Satori Reader and do want to finish reading their story about the Zama 9 killer. Because, serial killers XD Maybe I’ll focus on that for now and not actively Anki except for grammar. Hmmm. I struggle with decisions, which is part of why I’ve given up restarting a few times.

@rawtoast - I’m pretty sure I would sleep through things if I went that far back. XD I mean, I still can’t conjugate or recognize passive/causative verbs, but. What are you reading recently?? I’m so out of touch with what’s new nowadays.

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I tried to use morphman during the koohii days and could not figure it out xD With my personal vocab+sentence deck, I collected using rikaisama (RIP) using the command to save into anki and later used cb’s frequency tool which would create a txt files ranking words and kanji into frequency order and sort my anki cards in said order.

I know there is yomichan with the same anki feature and I recently discovered that cb’s frequency tool is now an anki add-on! I’ll have a go with the add-on but I still want to compare it to the original tool to see if the results matches.

I started by manually creating cards for some of the sentences in my textbooks and readers (using WorkAudioBook and subs2srs).

Then I downloaded the largest Core deck I could find, Nayr’s deck, and I created one J->E bank from the latest version of the Tanaka Corpus (whilst expecting there to be plenty of unnatural translations in the latter).

Next I crawled some web sources for J-E sentence pairs. Also, I’ve used audio sources such as my CDs, NHK radio new podcasts and other free audio on the web; ran them in 100MB batches through IBM Watson’s free speech-to-text service (free up to 500 mins per month) to obtain rough JSON transcript and then ran my own scripts which broke the audio into segments for each phrase/sentence and simultaneously created the corresponding .tsv file with the (rough) Japanese transcript for importing into Anki. I use AwesomeTTS, with googletts now, to add audio to J->E cards as and when needed.

Currently, I have

  • one sentence bank where I read for meaning with about 400k J->E sentences.

  • one sentence bank where I read for pronuciation with about 180k J->
    audio+furigana sentences.

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@nohika させられる :face_vomiting:

I found どんどん読める to be a good step up from textbooks. I’ve read a bunch of manga volumes this year:

Bilingual Manga makes life easy at first. They have some easy manga like Yotsuba up to volume 3 and Shirokuma Cafe.

I read three volumes of Jojo, that’s not so easy and is as you expect vocab/grammar wise. Lots of みせてやろう!てめい、きさま!etc.

It’s an old manga, but I found Detective Conan to be pretty good. For a manga, it’s pretty wordy and it’s not full of crazy manga slang. For something newer, I also found the first volume of Beastars to be approachable.

I found this supposedly popular kids book on iBooks 人狼サバイバル I’ve read the first chapters and it seemed okay. Far easier than Kino’s Jouney, which used to get recommended all the time.

Thanks for this @rawtoast! I’ve been wanting something like this for a while.

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