Your Methods of Study

I got a question to you all. I’m trying to come up with a sort of learning plan for when I have finished RTK, so I’m trying to find appropriate material to read. For the beginning I’m thinking about reading a lot more articles from NHK WebEasy and starting with some graded readers before going into some Manga. Are there any specific graded readers you would recommend?

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Whatever you choose to read, I suggest you to focus a lot on listening. Don’t fall into the trap that Japanese is hard to read so you must focus only on reading.
I think that listening is way more difficult and I wish I had known this when I began studying Japanese.
When you read something, for example on NHK easy, ask yourself “would I understand this if someone read it aloud to me without looking at the text?”.
Try to listen to the audio they put in NHK easy articles and see if your listening skill is lacking compared to your reading skill.


The White Rabbit Press graded reader series (they have them from Level 0-Level 5). They’re pricey, but extremely high-quality, come with audio recordings, are graded, and you learn to understand the text and audio through context, pictures, and sound, all in the target language. They introduce you to a lot of cultural stories (fact and fiction), fantasy, ghost stories, discussions, etc. I think they are pretty much the only “graded” readers that I have come across, although there are several readers like Learning Japanese through Literature, I think, and others, but those are aimed at intermediate learners, and not graded.

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Totally agree with this. On that note if you wanted to focus more on listening where would you start at an intermediate level? Anything similar to graded readers for listening?

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I agree, totally. Almost all of my contact with Japanese is through listening. Even with the graded readers (I didn’t finish them, and wish I could read them just for the enjoyment factor), I listened and looked at the pictures. Trying to understand language as you hear it is a skill that will serve you extremely well in all aspects of learning (reading, writing, speaking). Of course, I need to increase my reading, but it’s because of all that listening that I am not having trouble hearing it clearly, understanding generally what is going on, and even reading is easier than I suspect it would have been if listening has been weaker.

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Listening is definitely something I don’t want to neglect. Listening to the NHK articles before reading along is something I’m definitely doing from now on. I’m also looking to get vocab decks that come with audio (like Jalup). And because I’m listening to a lot of Japanese music I might also now and then just sit down focus to really listen to what is being said and trying to transcribe as much as I can make out.

I’m also wondering if it would be useful to listen to podcasts, even though I might not really understand that much. Do you have experience with this? Do you think listening to stuff that may be beyond your skill level is still helpful, or should I stick to things that are on my level?


tbh I’m still trying to figure this out. I try to listen to a lot of YouTube, but the difficulty level varies a lot. For example sometimes I try to listen to the news, and there are some easy to understand (those where they talk about animals etc…) while other are more difficult to understand (politics, economy), and a lot depends on the speaker speed and clarity.

I agree with the fact that listening helps other skills too.
If you know a word phonetically it’s easier to understand it in text.
While the opposite is not always true. You can read a word and recognize its meaning because kanji are basically saying the meaning to you. But as katzumoto used to say, there are no kanji in speaking.

I will probably check them out. I also have a japanese/english parallel text book which I will probably go through at the start. But I would like to move to J-J only as soon as possible.

I’ve tried to do a lot of “passive listening” to things I didn’t understand and my feeling is that it helped next to nothing ._.
What helped me was listening to horror stories on youtube. If you transcribe a small section of what you hear and search it on google, you’ll find the exact text for it.


if you hear the first few seconds of the first story, and transcribe it:


then search this text with google, you’ll end up with the full transcript:

Another thing that helped me was listening to a lot of radio, just search ラジオ on YouTube. Especially things with idols. Thay usually talk about day to day things.

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How about drama CD maybe? It’s usually dialogue only which should make it easier than audiobooks or such. I remember listening some for Madoka long time ago and they didn’t feel that hard (as far as I remember :D).

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I have had the most success improving listening by doing reverse srs. Audio only on front, words in Japanese on back. If I had to do one thing to improve listening this is it.

I’ve also benefited from passive immersion of sentences I’ve already learned (jalup) and from listening to jalup stories using words I should already know active and passive.

Of course podcasts, anime, Netflix as well…


That might be quite useful.:thinking: Is there any source where you can get Japanese audio dramas?

That’s the way I want to go about my regular vocab sentence decks. First only listening to the audio and trying to understand what is being said, and if I don’t get it completely right looking at the sentence written down.

How much of Jalup did you use? I find the concept really cool, and would love to simply go through the complete Jalup decks, but 300$ is a lot of money for me at the moment. Would you recommend the Jalup decks?

I 100% get the hesitation of the $300 purchase. I was in the same place a year ago, really worried about pulling the trigger. I bought just the beginner deck at first because I could get a refund if I didn’t like it. Fast forward a month and I bought the maximum package. As soon as I started using it, it was a no brainer. So damn efficient.

A year later and I feel like I would have paid triple the price for what I got. I went way farther in the year then I ever could have messing around with core5/10k which was my original plan.

If you are worried about it just buy the first deck. Then the maximum package. But really there is no need. Get the maximum and don’t look back. For me having spent that $300 gave me a bunch of motivation at the start to put it to good use. I just finished Jalup Expert yesterday (4000 cards) and am ready to start Hero next (cards 4000-5000).

If you love anki get the anki decks. But if you aren’t already tied to anki I would recommend the Jalup App. It has gotten really good fast with built in listening immersion. Any other questions or details you want to know just ping me…

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One of the biggest frustrations I had with the core decks were that it wasn’t i+1 which meant that some cards required you to learn more than one thing at a time. Jalup does a good job to eliminate that problem. I’m at the verge of the finishing all the audio enabled decks. Jalup won’t bring you to fluency but you’ll get to a level where J to J dictionaries are comfortable.

Sooner or later, you’ll still have to mine your own cards. If you have more time than money then you might want to just do that instead. Seeking fluency is a pretty long journey so anything that can save time is 100% worth it. I haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do after all the prebuilt decks are done, but eventually I’ll work towards to using light novels audiobooks and mine sentences with audio there.

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It seems there’s quite a lot of them on youtube

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That’s great to hear. That the decks are i+1 and transition to J-J quickly are both things I find really interesting. Because looking through Core Decks that aren’t i+1 I found it hard to find one that would actually fit my current ability. And if there are sentences that have parts that are totally beyond me, it really makes it hard.

Mining my own cards is definitely something I want to do as soon as immerse myself deeper. But I hope Jalup will help me get the groundwork to be actually able to create my own decks in J-J. And like you said, for the beginning, it’s really great to have pre-built decks, because it would just take an eternity to build my own decks at my current level.

I agree with some of what Nebbie and Laddr are saying, but I’m inclined to say don’t drop $300 on the Jalup decks. While it is true that when viewed alongside the years you’ll be investing in your Japanese (using it as well as studying) $300 probably isn’t that much, that’s only if you do stick with this for years. Unless such an initial investment is necessary I personally prefer to calculate value based on what I’ve shown myself willing to commit to.

That all comes down to personal preference and a persons own financial situation though, so I’m just going to share some options and let you worry about the cost. I’m aware that you already learned English to a higher level than I’ve learned Japanese so you probably have your own opinions about how to learn, but I might have some insight on how to self study through the early parts without the benefit of a curriculum.

Core Decks

There is a plugin called MorphMan that will order unknown cards on the number of unknowns (i+1, i+2 etc). Knowns are anything you tell it you know + anything you review in anki. You could do the first 100 or so cards of Core and then use that to reorder the rest to make them approachable. I would suggest suspending all but the first thousand until you run out of i+1 cards then working your way through the next thousand and so on.

It’s also absolutely fine to suspend sentences you find hard. Work your way through the easy ones first then come back and do the hard ones later if you still want to. They likely won’t be hard by that point. You could also make a pure vocab deck using words that come up in your sentence deck. It may be overkill but reviewing components individually is what makes more complicated cards go smoothly. One advantage of a vocab deck is that the cards tend to be of a uniform length so you can hold yourself to a time limit and review quickly.

Making your own deck

It is my personal opinion that one of the greatest benefits of SRSs like anki is that they force you to think about what you want to learn and break it down in to manageable chunks. In other words, if you only add one sentence a day to anki but in order to do that you spend half an hour reading Japanese, paying attention to exactly what you know/don’t know and singling out sentences that concisely teach just one new thing at a time, I would expect you to improve faster than if you just relied on a pre-made deck to teach you. Thinking less flash cards learned means less Japanese learned is a mistake.*

Learning this way would also mean practicing skills you would still need after finishing a pre-made deck, so comparing only rate of vocab acquisition is misleading. When the hypothetical JoshEli that chose to do Jalup or core finishes that deck he will still have to learn to identify points of confusion and research answers for himself. Made-his-own-deck JoshEli will probably be quite comfortable doing those things by that point. The issue is that doing these things requires some pre-requisite level of Japanese knowledge. Based on your translation thread I do think it’s possible for you to do it, but it might be more efficient to work through a little more pre-made stuff first. I genuinely have no idea.

*That being said, if you can be mindful about what you’re reading/listening to while using a pre-made deck to quickly increase your vocabulary, that might be the best of both worlds. Easier said than done, of course.

No Deck

I think it’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need anki or any app to learn Japanese. Read and listen to lots of level appropriate Japanese. If you have money to spend graded readers would likely be a good investment.

Dictionaries of basic/intermediate/advanced Japanese grammar

If you’re willing to spend money to make learning Japanese easier, I think a reference that allows you to more efficiently look up things you don’t know is always a good investment. These dictionaries have been incredibly useful to me. I’m not aware of an equivalent resource, free or otherwise, and they will be useful now and for many years to come. I bought them to study for the N1 but they start with the basics.


  • Graded readers and reference materials may be better value for money than JALUP
  • Core6k can be made easier if you approach it in the right way
  • There are advantages to studying without a pre-made deck that may be less obvious than a list of all the words you’ve learned but are just as important

Edit: I forgot to say that the Jalup decks do look to be high quality. If I were to restart as a beginner I’d probably try and make my own deck, but if money were no object and I wanted to work through a pre-made beginner deck I would choose JALUP.


Thanks for the thorough response.:grin:
I completely agree with most of what you said. And I definitely don’t consider Jalup to be the one and only thing I would use for studying. Rather I see it as, as far as I can tell and as far as I’ve heard from other people, as a very well curated and organized tool to build up a certain foundation. Studying with graded readers, through immersion and creating my own decks based on things I’ve come across are all things I plan to do anyway, and I want to use Jalup more as a starting point.

I’m sure you can do similar things using regular core decks, though I think for the start this would be to time-consuming for me in my current situation. And small stuff like having the audio in Jalup, or the transition from J-E to J-J are things I think will probably really helpful, and is something you don’t see that much in regular core decks.

Unfortunately, my experiences in learning English don’t really help that much when it comes to Japanese.:sweat_smile: When I was first learning English it really was 90% through immersion simply because English was all around me anyway, and the differences to German aren’t that difficult. While I’m sure it would be possible to learn Japanese in a similar way, I don’t think I personally would be able to do it.

These grammar dictionaries are definitely something I’m looking to get in the future. That would probably save a lot of googling now and then.:sweat_smile:

I’d also like to suggest Bunpro.
It’s a cloze-delete style grammar SRS. Each grammar point has 12 sentences with clozes of increasing complexity (usually by incorporating a previous grammar point), most of which are voiced. It’s divided up by JLPT level or by textbook. Mostly complete, they’re working on adding N1 and a few outstanding items from popular textbooks (namely, Tobira) right now with an update every other week.

I’ve found it super helpful for making sure I actually understand each grammar point, and not just “I know it when I see it”, and Bunpro’s lifetime subscription is half the cost of JALUP ultimate

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Thanks for the recommendation. It is probably pretty helpful for learning grammar. Though I don’t think it really compares to Jalup because they are somewhat different things. But having a tool for grammar besides regular textbooks or straight up immersion is always good to have.