Japanese Language Study Log: metalosaurio

First of all a little introduction. I’ve wanted to learn Japanese for the last 2-3 years, mainly interested in movies, cooking and gradually in the details about the culture I’m getting exposure day by day.
I was in an intensive post graduated program until May 2017, so I only played with the idea of learning the language since February and took a look at the Jpod101 site without doing much besides listening to some cultural lessons.

In July I looked for Japanese classes in my city, and realized that my actual schedule was somewhat irregular and wasn’t very compatible with most programs, since I have only windows of time of about 2 hours in the morning and the afternoon, an when arriving at night as well.
So the search for my self-study routine started here. After reading a bit on how to learn by myself  I realized (probably after watching the “Japanese in a year” channel in Youtube) it would take me at least a year to see any practical skills that could let me interact with Japanese people, so I put myself a timeline to be intermediate and be able to have actual conversations and an OK understanding of daily Japanese exposure by September - October 2018, and should by then actually go to Japan for about a month on vacations.

I tried to search for material in my mother language (spanish) but soon realize that would be a great handicap ‘cause of the limited material available in Spanish. So my studies went like this.

July - October 2017

Found a great Spanish channel to follow the MNH books along with explanations. But that was after I bought Genki I, wish according to the many reviews I read was the number one method. Fortunately enough a friend of my had the first MNH book along with some extras, and he didn’t write much in those, so they were ok for a second use.

I decided to make use of both textbooks (and their workbooks), doing one lesson weekly, one week from one, the next from the other. I felt given I wasn’t taking classes it could end up being a nice way to review content.

I soon find out about RTK (many youtubers praise about it), got myself a copy and started to do a lesson a week.
I also downloaded the Kanji Study App for android and everyday would do 10’ stroke order practice with the entire RTK list as it was adding up.

As for readings an word examples (as after a few RTK lessons I didn’t like the idea to have to review all the kanjis again to get the readings) I started with the Kanken books, that ended up being a nice way to slowly put some reading to the kanjis learned in RTK (they teach you the common reading first along with words).

I mainly was listening to Jpod101 lessons according to NihongoNoBaka review of the seasons in the website. So I was end up listening the 75 lessons in Newbie season 2,3,5.
Using the flashcard app in the website to add my vocab coming from the 200 most common word list there, as well as the vocab in the lessons, Genki , MNH, and Kanken.

October - December 2017


By the end of October I was somewhat fed up with my grammar routine… I felt I was going so slow. So I just drop MNH and all the routine related. I was in chapter 8 of both MNH and Genki by then. After that it was just Genki, and my life was happier :-)


Kanji wise I was reaching 300 kanjis in the RTK method, but probably only 25-30 with readings and vocab examples using the Kanken 10 book. Still was doing the Kanji Study writing practice almost everyday.

By the last week of October I found WaniKani, and it seemed so less coordination, and basically a more well rounded method for me, a slower pace, but providing readings, mnemonics, and example words at the same time. The first 3 levels were free, so I gave it a shot. After 2-3 weeks I was sold.


I was getting really disappointed in Jpod101 flashcard app. Only a few words actually had example sentences (which didn’t matter initially, when basically I couldn’t grasp a sentence meaning anyway, but it did while I was getting more vocab). Same for images, only a few words had them. And no possibility to add anything to the flashcard.

I played with Anki for a while and after facing the really unintuitive interface, I was about to set it aside, but I found the Core10K deck with images and sentence audio !!

So I suspended all cards and gradually recreated my deck of known vocab coming from Jpod101 flashcard app. They were about 700 words by then.


As I reached de 600-700 word count and about chapter 8 in Genki  I, I picked up something to read, tried よつばと! , but I was really struggling so hard, so I desisted.
Finally I found the Graded Readers collection , and started by Level 0. I was really surprised to see text I could actually understand without being those Genki dialogs about college life that I was starting to really dislike :-P

January - present


By the  first weeks of January I finish with Genki I. It was the part of my routine I dislike the most. The whole workbook routine I tended delay it as much as possible ‘cause I felt it took me forever.
Went much better after finding the Bunpro website to put some SRS to my grammar knowledge.

So far given my readings are still fairly basic, many of the grammar points aren’t appearing very often, and that makes it harder to make them memorable.

After finishing Genki I, I was thinking in taking a break with textbooks for 2-3 months (I will continue with Genki 2 after that), just to try to practice my grammar using sentences. And maybe cementing the topics learned looking some of the one I feel unclear yet, by looking them in the DBJG.


I’m strictly following the WK method, currently level 13 with about 430 kanjis learned, with readings (some all of them, some still the most common one) and the related vocab. I’m really glad of how much of a help the structure in this method has proven to me.
Since WK doesn’t really encourage you to practice writing, I see I’m letting pass more and more days without practice them in the Kanji Study app, I feel I should come back to that routine, since whenever a similar kanji comes up, If I know how to write it, the difference it’s much more clear to me.


Probably the biggest change in my routine has to do with vocab. While I initially maintained to add vocab coming from Genki, Graded Readers, WK and occasionally Jpod101 (I use it less and less, mainly for the vocab now), after Genki, the vocab coming was less and less. So after reading both the AJATT table of content and the JALUP website, I was tempted to start with some immersion, if only to force my listening (was mainly coming from Genki and Jpod101) while getting some vocab in context.
Finally the AJATT method seemed like a huge change to what I was actually doing and I felt like working ok. So the idea started to cool down.
That was until I found BrittVSJapan channel on Youtube. And then I found about how to setup Subs2SRS properly. Downloaded a VM to run the program in a Mac, and I was set, bringing content I really like (coming from Netflix) to my flashcards. Even better, a WK member pointed my towards the Morphman add-on. So after struggling for weeks I kinda was able to set it up so I can find sentences In a N+1 manner (review + learn new vocab) or a N+0 (reviewing known vocab).

So far so good. It has become my preferred method of learning. Some immersion (watching a chapter with Jsubs, then again with Spanish subs) and then over the week work with the sentences of that show with Subs2SRS cards treated with Morphman. Depending If I don’t have enough new vocab queue to add (20 word / day) I will setup Moprhman to discard known vocab and throw me only N+1 new cards, if not I will also have N+0 cards as vocab revision.

The reviews of sentences can take some time (I set it up to 5 new cards / day), mainly ‘cause I put them in and look into each part, and then add a card of vocab for the new word, if particle I search it in the DBJG book too.


My lowest ability has to be speaking, ‘cause I just don’t expose myself to do it. That until a couple of weeks ago. I was on a trip, and ended in a Japanese bookstore (it was in Paris), and since I did’t speak French , I was forced to speak with the few Japanese words I had with me. I ended up ok, and really motivate me to start practicing a bit.

Coming back home I bought Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese Vol. 1. Did the first section (10’ daily of shadowing for 10 days) and I was surprise to see how difficult was, even considering the vocab was somewhat bellow my current level (in the first section that is). So I will continue with the rest of the book, and probably make Anki decks of the section already reviewed (including the audio).Don’t know what use will give it yet (voice message over HelloTalk maybe) to any speaking ability I could come up.

My current material so far:
Genki 1 (finished)
Bunpro (probably reviewing once weekly now, should be more often I think )
DBJG and Effective Japanese Usage Guide (references for particles and similar words)
Anki Vocab deck (Core10k based)
Anki Subs2SRS sentences (using Morphman)
Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese 1  (just starting with shadowing)
- Graded Readers Level 1 Vol. 2 (so far the only reading besides sentences and flashcards)

Untested material so far:

- Common Japanese Collocations (with the sentences made Anki deck, but still to define what kind of roll will play In my routine).
- JalupNEXT Intermediate *

Anki Stats (Vocab deck)
Mature: 1342
Young+Learn: 394

Kanji: WK Level 13 (430 kanjis)

That was a long wall of text !!!

Anyway I think I'll keep updates to every 2-4 weeks. If anyone has any hint or suggestion it's always apretiated.


EDIT: I thought of mentioning this since I tried, 2 weeks ago, the free cards they offer and actually found it to be right for my level, meaning the monolingual transition it's quite possible. But then I thought making the material myself can be too much time consuming and adding yet another SRS review method seems like to much of a risk for burning right now. Not sure what to do with this resource actually...
Edited: 2018-02-12, 2:53 pm
Hi metalosaurio. Seems like you are making good progress. Do you like the shadowing series? Do you record yourself when shadowing?
To be honest, I don't quite figure out yet how could I test myself on Shadowing. I really like the Shadowing series, mainly because of the phrases, that seem like actual dialogues (not textbook dialogue) that  I could end up using in real situations.
Besides the speed it's quite up-tempo when compared to the Jpod101 lines for example (or the Genki dialogues for that matter), so I feel that if I can get used to this speed, then should be ok for actual real conversational listening.

I came across recently, which it's shadowing with voice recognition as a way to test yourself. Seems a good resource, but haven't put it into my routine thus far. So far I go according to the method explained in the book. Listen, then imagine how to produce the sound, mumble about it, and then speak till my dialogue and the speed perfectly overlaps the actual audio. 10 dialogues are doable in the 10' proposed by the authors, so I think I'm doing it correctly.  And that's the only feedback I'm having for now Shy
Edited: 2018-02-12, 9:32 am
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(2018-02-12, 9:21 am)metalosaurio Wrote: Thanks!!
To be honest, I don't quite figure out yet how could I test myself on Shadowing. I really like the Shadowing series, mainly because of the phrases, that seem like actual dialogues (not textbook dialogue) that  I could end up using in real situations.
Besides the speed it's quite up-tempo when compared to the Jpod101 lines for example (or the Genki dialogues for that matter), so I feel that if I can get used to this speed, then should be ok for actual real conversational listening.

I came across recently, which it's shadowing with voice recognition as a way to test yourself. Seems a good resource, but haven't put it into my routine thus far. So far I go according to the method explained in the book. Listen, then imagine how to produce the sound, mumble about it, and then speak till my dialogue and the speed perfectly overlaps the actual audio. 10 dialogues are doable in the 10' proposed by the authors, so I think I'm doing it correctly.  And that's the only feedback I'm having for now Shy

Thanks!  I have been meaning to try shadowing but I haven't tried it yet.  Let us know how it goes!
I've been looking into Supernative myself - I'd love to hear your thoughts on it once you have a chance to try it.
I've continued this week with unit 2 of the Shadowing book. I can really notice the days without doing shadowing, as I realize it's feels a bit like doing exercise, and comming back it's not as smoothly as I suspected; besides I'm already finding grammar points that I haven't seen in the phrases of this unit. Probably I'll resume my grammar textbook a bit early than expected, as I'm guessing Genki I and Genki II it's really basic grammar that I'll encounter everywhere, so I've rather be over with it quickly, as I think will prove of use when faced with content in the wild, wich I'm trying to aim more and more.

As for the rest of the routine, I felt like putting some images of the kanji + vocab routine, which now I'm seeing It could be really mixed with both listening and shadowing in the end, and doesn't feels like such an isolated practice these days, more like a method to actually make use of them sooner than later.

So, my review with WK goes from learning some kanjis per level with the respective mnemonics based on the radicals (only some of WK radicals are named sometimes with different names than standard names)

This ones for example:

[Image: kanji2.jpg][Image: kanji1.jpg]

An afterwards WK throws some vocab with the learned kanji, like this one:

[Image: word.jpg]

So far so good. That + an example sentence it's the point where WK leaves you, (not complaining, I'm a big fan of the website).

Then Anki  (Core10k) takes over and povides a "nice" vocab card  with image and sentence audio, like this one for this example:

[Image: anki_word.png]

Afterwards it's my favorite part of the whole process, when I start seeing sentences from my shows (via Subs2SRS / Morphman) with the same vocab put to use, like this:

[Image: Subs_SRS_sentence.jpg]

With the audio of this sentence I'm starting to do some shadowing as well. But just if it's a sentence I fully understand, like the one above for example.

Basically I try to follow the method of the book, that it's explained as follow (word by word from the first pages of the book) :

How to practice

By looking at your own level and weak points try different ways of practicing until you find the style you like.

Silent shadowing
A style where you listen to the sound and practice inside your head without saying the dialogue out loud. For high-speed dialogue and difficult to voice expressions please try this style first.

A style where you listen to the sound and practice by not voicing the dialogue clearl but in a small voice whispering to yourself. Good for getting a grasp of the intonation.

Prosody shadowing
A style where you pay extra attention to the rhythm and intonation. For example, in this book the intonation is different for "あー"and "あ〜". Practise by being conscious of these differences.

(specially useful for particles that denote emphasis, and words ending sentences)

Contents shadowing
A style where you pay extra attention to the meaning of the dialogue. After practising the prosody style thoroughly, and once proficient with the dialogue, please shadow once more by imagining the situation and understanding the meaning of the dialogue in that situation. Here the dialogue really becomes part of your Japanese vocabulary and you'll be able to use it properly in a real life situation.

I can really say that the shadowing practice in the book sounds like native material, now that I compare it to Subs2SRS sentences, and DOES NOT sound like the sentences in Core10K and specially NOT like the dialogues in Jpod101 (wich in comparition are super slow).

Anyway, this was just I quick update to how shadowing can be put to action into a beginner's routine. Those working already into more advance material and native media probably don't need Morphman as a crutch. For now it's been a nice tool to make the connection between kanji / vocab -> listening / shadowing possible at my current level.

Edited: 2018-02-16, 6:54 pm
@metalosaurio : You are doing a great job, thanks for sharing. My advice : I noticed that you are trying to progress on all disciplines at the same time : kanji, vocab, grammar, speaking etc... from my experience the lack of focus is one of the reasons of failure. Doing a little bit of everything is a good way to not progress at anything and get demotivated as a result. Of course I understand that you want your japanese skills to be balanced, but most probably what you want the most is to be fluent in Japanese after a certain time.

In my own case when I learnt Japanese something like 10 years ago, I had defined a 2 years learning strategy to get JLPT N2 in which I was focusing alternatively on each discipline block : kanji 500 ➞ grammar N5-N4➞ vocab 500 ➞ kanji 1000 ➞ grammar N3 etc... I was still doing my reviews of previous blocks, but focusing new things learning on only 1 discipline at once (I was also listening 24h to Japanese podcasts, anime soundtracks throughout the 2 years). To be honest I think I could not find an efficient way to handle speaking Big Grin so I decided that I'll learn it eventually after I move to Japan at the end of the 2 years which was my project. I remember that I tried shadowing, but it didnt work well for me (probably I did it bad...). However after the 2 years of learning outside of Japan I passed the N2 and moved to Japan to work. My speaking ability improved quite fast in Japan : it took something like 6 months -1 year to be able to handle normal daily life discussions. The good thing is that it was 1 year without any "efforts" to improve my speaking, it was done naturally in the environment, I was not thinking about it. Therefore my personal conclusion for speaking is that you need to immerse yourself, ideally by spending time in Japan asap. Of course, I know that that it is not so easy... Anyway, I encourage you to continue your speaking routine if you feel it is fun and if it allows you to progress!
You're making some great progress! 
Can you tell me more about the subs2srs thing? I tried that a few years ago without much luck. 

Did you use the Genki Japanese audio? Its pretty good. I used to listen to it when I drove and got to a point that I could say the whole thing in real time with the voice actors. It really helped for when I came to Japan the first time.
@deign  thanks for the advice. Yeah... I might have my fingers in too many pies here. I guess I could always add pitch accent to the blend as well Big Grin .

I see the shadowing book more of an aproximation to what real japanese sounds like actually, maybe I'll hold the actual routine (and make it into a separate deck too) after I'm done with the book and make use of that practice in my sentences mining cards, until the real speaking opportunity comes.

@ihatefall3 you could look into BritVsJapan blog for more Subs2SRS setup,  he has also some posts of a website that you could use to get some made decks. Though once you get the hang of it, doing it with your shows it's always more motivating.
As for the Genki audio, I just listened it for completing the actual exercises, didn't listened to the dialogues much. Mostly because they feel very textbook speed and diction; this guy addresses this topic too.... and I found it so true when listening to almost any educational material vs raw material, the Shadowing book been the exception here.
Edited: 2018-02-19, 4:25 pm
(2018-02-19, 3:55 pm)metalosaurio Wrote: Thank you I will look into it. (It will have to wait a few weeks, currently in Tokyo looking for a job.)

As for the Genki audio, I found it to be really helpful because you knew every word in them from the chapter. You'll find that the second books' audio is much faster. It got me to the point of being able to say words and sentences quickly. I would then put in different words with the same speed, nailing down pronunciation and intonation in the beginning stages is really important in my opinion. Genki really helped me with that. I also had a language exchange partner.   
@ihatefall3 Thanks, I'll give a try to the audio in Genki 2 then, as probably by the next month it will be back in my routine :-)


I’ve been able to maintain my routine pretty well. Some family members were visiting my town for the last weeks, so I’ve had less time to do a couple of activities, like watching Japanese series with Jsubs (probably not an activity to share with those not learning Japanese)  and Shadowing as well, which I’ve found it to be somewhat embarrassing when done with someone else nearby.

Family aside, the more silent part of the routine, WK for kanji and Anki, I’ve managed to keep a regular pace. I’ve even found a new anime series mentioned in one of the posts here. I was having trouble finding a good anime to watch (I’m somewhat picky), but after watching a few episodes of Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon) I'm hooked…. Been a Jazz enthusiast learning Japanese, it’s a no brainer.. and above all it's a great show.
I’ve already have made the first half into Subs2SRS cards, so the sentences from the show are starting to appear in my reviews (still it’s the part of my studies that I enjoy the most, kinda like  when a package that I’ve waiting for long finally arrives).

The kanji writing routine, still it’s on hold… don’t know why… just haven’t done it. Same with Bunpro.  Confused

This last week I’ve started to support in Patreon to MattvsJapan, mostly for the AJATT content I’ve seen already in Youtube, which I think provides with enough information to implement immersion up to any degree in one's routine. It’s been really fun to watch the extra material and see the content people share in the discord channel he provides. Although not doing full immersion myself, the content and recommendations are usefull.

Also, his last video talking about Kanji learning and RTK being a more efficient method, served as a confirmation of the drawbacks I already perceived with WK, mostly the lack of writing practice and the out of context words, both things suitable to corrections if identified soon enough (with the Kanji Study routine and the Subs2SRS sentences).

Reading wise… haven’t done much… actually I’m still in the 2nd tale from Graded Readers Level 1, vol.2. It’s about Sushi!!! And I love to cook, so it has provided lots of interesting vocab to add (with which I readily make Anki cards, but given they are specialty vocab, I end up making cards from scratch that take a bit more than usual).

About the sentence mining deck (Subs2SRS) I’ve put the limit of new cards to 20. It is taking me less to review them, so seems ok (I think I know more particles and common connecting words now).

I've continued to learn about setting up Morhpman. Actually the MattVsJapan's Kanji video mentions about the out of context words in WK. And it's true. The example sentances are sometimes wacky and not very practical. So here, making use of the sentences from my Subs2SRS decks it's a big improvement over the regular use of the website.

Some snapshots about one of the features I found (it's actually quite easily found Big Grin  ... I just wasn't using it until recently) and how can be used to address the context problem (considering the previous routine I've shown in previous entries wich already presents sentences as they are added to my vocab deck)

[Image: nro1.png]

Here's a vocab word coming from my WK reviews with the corresponding Core10K sentence card. In this case 支度 (したく); the reading for 支 it's known (し) , but the reading for 度 as たく is new to me. So I found I was having trouble remembering the second reading and failed a couple of reviews with the word.

A good moment to use Morphman to reinforce the vocab then :
- First editing the card, putting the actual vocab as Focus Morpheme (you must have a field in your cards named "MorphMan_FocusMorph" in order for this to work).

[Image: Captura_de_pantalla_2018_02_23_a_las_13_52_32.jpg]

- Then after closing the edit dialog, pressing the "L" key will bring you to the explorer in Anki with a search for any card in your Subs2SRS decks containing that word as a FocusMorpheme

In this case there were 2 cards with the same vocab as FocusMorpheme. So I select both and then in the Morphman options I choose the "Learn Now" function to immediately review those and bring them to my daily session.

[Image: Captura_de_pantalla_2018_02_23_a_las_13_53_21.jpg]

[Image: Captura_de_pantalla_2018_02_23_a_las_13_53_37.jpg]

Now, I rarely use this function, as context sentences are coming on a regular basis, but if I fail more than usual any given vocab card, then it comes handy to reinforce the word (the bigger the Subs2SRS deck more chances to have a chunk of samples for any given word).

Anyway, bear with me this "tutorial like" posts Big Grin  , I'm trying to put some images to the Subs2SRS / Morphman routine as I didn't find many examples when I started with it (an ended up loosing more than a few hours in figuring out how it did work), so I think could be of use to anyone wanting to experiment with these combination.

Anki Stats

Mature: 1515
Young + Learn: 459

Subs2SRS sentences
Mature: 123
Young + Lear: 160

WK Kanji
Level 14: 481 kanjis

I'll try to finish the second unit of the Shadowing book this week (only half way through) and definitely resume the kanji writing routine.

Edited: Yesterday, 11:27 am