This is the definitive Japanese Language Quest Walkthrough. The goal: take you from zero to fluent to legendary. This walkthrough should be of use to you regardless of what level you are. Updates will appear frequently, and all new posts will be added. Posts may be shuffled around if I feel there is a better placement for them and time spans may be adjusted. Quickly read over the guideposts and key terms and let the language adventure begin.
* 1: Worlds should be done in order, but posts within each world can and should often be done simultaneously with each other.
* 2: Length of time provided is an average of how long completing the world may take you. Going slower or faster is up to you.
* 3: In worlds that contain a time span and “Continuous,” the time span is how long you should spend in the world before moving onto the next, and “Continuous” means that you will continue with this world for the rest of your studies even once you’ve moved onto the next world.
* 4: Anything involving Anki is always “Continuous,” as no matter what world you are on, you will always be reviewing what was added from a previous world.
* 1. Remembering The Kanji (RTK): A book which teaches kanji in a systematic and extremely fast fashion.
* 2. Anki: A popular and powerful flashcard program which sets automatic timed intervals for studying.
* 3. Japanese-English Sentences (J-E sentences): The period where you will be learning Japanese sentences by using English as assistance.
* 4. Japanese-Japanese Sentences (J-J sentences): The period where you will be learning Japanese sentences only through Japanese with no English assistance.
* 5. Immersion: The environment you create (and constantly expose yourself to) of native Japanese material (books, videos, music, games, etc.) which simulates the idea of you living in Japan and living like a native Japanese person.
* 6. Passive Learning: Learning that takes place in the background without any focus required (ex. listening to a movie while cleaning the dishes, listening to music while running.)
* 7. Active Learning: Learning that takes place where you are directly focused on it (ex. sitting down and watching a movie, reading a novel.)
World 1: Are you sure you really want to learn Japanese?
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is your motivation for learning Japanese?
Answers you should know in making your decision to learn Japanese:
- Is Chinese more beneficial to learn than Japanese?
- How long will it take you to become fluent?
- How many hours will you need to study a day to become fluent?
- Is this a New Year’s resolution? Did you fail it already?
- Is it bad to learn Japanese solely for the anime and manga?
- Do you have the dream of living in Japan?
World 2: What Japanese Level Up is all about.
World 3: How to use Japanese Level Up efficiently.
- How to properly use inspiration, motivation, and guidance.
- Always be developing your own strategy guide.
- Do you plan on being a power leveler (attempting to learn Japanese in as ridiculously short time as possible)?
- Follow your fellow adventurers, who are experiencing and discussing exactly what you are going through at this current moment.
- Develop the rage to master Japanese
- Can You Learn Japanese Simply By Having Fun?
- Playing With Japanese Study Time
- Do not get caught up in asking why.
- Don’t spend too much time developing your writing skill (except in the beginning with RTK and Anki) unless it is an important goal personally to you, since it is the least important ability with limited returns.
- Be careful with learning a 3rd language while learning Japanese.
- Avoid being a perfectionist.
- Make sure you are using your Japanese study time efficiently.
Second Attempt At Learning Japanese
- Already intermediate level? You should go back and complete RTK regardless of your length of study.
- Are you a start and stop learner? Free yourself of study baggage.
- Quit Japanese for a period of time and trying to restart?
World 4: Preparing your first equipment.
- The Jalup Beginner 1000
- If you would rather use a more traditional textbook, try Genki 1 + Genki 2 or another popular beginner textbook (online or print) that covers basic grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Do not buy more than a few beginner textbooks.
- Remembering The Kanji 1
- Remembering The Kana
- Japanese XPNAVI to keep of your progress, level, and experience points like you would in a video
- Cheap tickets to visit Japan (this can be done any time, but sometimes it is good to set a specific goal in mind when you are going to visit to boost your motivation). The sooner you can visit Japan, the better.
- Need personalized one-on-one guidance? Try a Personal Japanese Advisor Session with me (see an in depth review here). If you can’t afford it, try the much cheaper Japanese Self Advisor that takes and summarizes the best advice given out to dozens of people who suffered the same problems as you.
- Language setting on your computer so you can input Japanese characters with your keyboard.
- Color settings on Anki to prevent eye fatigue.
- Your schedule to make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Decide if you:
- Want to take Japanese classes in addition to self-study (and some things to watch out for).
- Should major in Japanese in college.
- Want to do a Japanese-related independent study in college.
- Want to study abroad in Japan.
- Will blog about your Japanese experience.
- Want to use online Japanese study forums.
- Will raise your budget of spending money on Japanese language materials.
- Should You Learn Japanese Slowly Or Quickly.
- Want study partners, both as a source of friendly competition, and as someone to forge on together with.
- Want to use some other popular programs and websites to learn Japanese in conjunction with JALUP? See if any of the following might match your interests: 1) Your Anime Teacher Awaits, 2) All Japanese All The Time (AJATT), 3) Lang-8, 4) WaniKani, 5) YesJapan, 6) Reviewing the Kanji 7) Japanesepod101 8) Kickstarter Resources
- Understand how to set up and use Anki by reading both the user manual and watching the introduction videos. If you are going to start with Anki Version 2 (which is now the current version), check out this quick JALUP review.
- Get a mental image of how Anki works at building and maintaining your “Japanese Wall.”
- Keep in mind what role Romaji (English lettering of Japanese characters) will play in your studies.
- Learn how to write and pronounce the kana (the first 2 Japanese alphabets) using Anki and “Remembering The Kana”. Note: their are excellent pre-made hiragana and katakana decks (with sounds + stroke order) on the shared decks Anki server.
- Master the the first 950 of 1901 kanji (the third Japanese alphabet) using the RTK mod and Anki. If you don’t want to use my RTK mod deck and want to use the standard RTK 1 + 3 deck that is provided in Anki shared decks, make sure to delete the unnecessary kanji.
- Self-enter and review 500 Japanese-English sentences that you take from your purchased beginner textbooks into Anki.
- Set yourself up with short, specific, and achievable goals
Decide whether you will:
- Use a pre-made Anki deck or create your own.
- Boost Anki’s power with media enhancements: intro, audio, graphics, colorful kanji stroke order diagrams, SRS2Subs, and your Japan Travel Diary.
- Add additional kanji not found in the original sentences.
- Team up with other Japanese learners like yourself and push forward together.
World 6: Setting up and engaging in your immersion environment.
(2-5 days, Continuous)
Understanding The Immersion Method and Passive Listening
- Convert everything you do in English to Japanese, creating a need for Japanese.
- Understand how you will utilize the incredible power of passive studying.
- Having immersion learning doubts and the effectiveness of this method?
- Dividing your focus while doing immersion: point distribution.
- Feeling like immersion isn’t working for you?
Create Your Immersion World
- Create your Immersion Ipod (or other mp3 player), and upload the audio only. You can download video with a program like this and convert from video to mp3 with a program like this or this.
- Clean up the unnecessary parts of what you upload to your Ipod.
- Watch videos and then upload the audio to your Ipod. Use the Japanese Level Up media guide which covers J-dramas, anime, movies, variety shows, comedy, video games.
- Also use video game walk-throughs, news, American movie dubs, and idol-related media.
- Use the most popular websites that people use to watch online Japanese videos.
- Is it bad to learn Japanese from anime?
- Does listening to music count as studying?
- How to block English subtitles.
- Try keeping your immersion pure, banishing any English.
- If you insist on using English subtitles, how to use them most efficiently.
- Learn the 5-minute rule when watching media.
- Make full use of Netflix, Japanese iTunes, the Japanese Level Up Amazon store, and other video websites.
- Leave Your TV On And Say Hello To Your New Teacher
- Preparing your Japanese video game equipment.
- How to create your immersion environment when you don’t have any money: 1) Music, 2) Podcasts
- Think Japanese TV sucks? Think again.
- Why You Hate Japanese Variety Shows.
- Why you should use YouTube for Japanese viewing
- Use Statistics To Your Advantage: J-Drama Audience Ratings
- How To Understand Your Very First Japanese TV Series
- 3 Signs You’re Getting The Japanese Immersion You Need
- Correct Your Japanese Mistakes With Variety Shows
World 7: Delivering your second attack.
- Finish mastering the remaining 951 of 1901 kanji using the RTK mod and Anki (or remaining RTK 1+3 if using the standard deck, and continue deleting the unnecessary kanji).
- Self-enter and review 500 more Japanese-English sentences that you take from your purchased beginner textbooks into Anki, giving you a grand total of 1000.
- What To Do When You Just Don’t Understand
World 8: Frustration, setbacks, boredom, discouragement, and low points.
- Understand and come to terms with the 4 phases of language shock.
- How your Japanese ability will actually progress.
- How learning Japanese is not block building, but a game of Tetris.
- Japanese is not impossible to learn.
- How to fight boredom.
- How studying makes studying more enjoyable.
- Maintaining the Anime hero training mentality
- Learning Japanese is harder than learning English.
- Start visualizing your Japanese-speaking future self.
- Japanese is improving your life in ways you never imagined.
- Why is Japanese taking you so long to learn?
- Learn your Anki threshold number (what “reviews due” number pushes you past the point of no return).
- When you reach your Japanese breakdown point.
- 4 reasons why you will never become fluent in Japanese.
- Transform your studying chores into studying habits
- Lacking motivation and need to remember why learning Japanese is so freaking awesome? Check out the Motivation Power-ups Treasure Chest.
- Remember, you don’t have to learn everything.
- The Survival Of The Most Interesting
- How To Study Japanese When You Are Too Busy
- The George Costanza Guide to Learning Japanese
- This may be the most important thing you read today
- Enjoy Japanese Now, Not Later
- Is Doing Something Really Better Than Doing Nothing?
- Is Learning Japanese Difficult?
- Only You Can Build Your Japanese Up
- Who Has The Most Unfair Japanese Study Advantage?
World 9: Taking the Japanese-only plunge.
(1-3 months, Continuous)
- Why make the switch from Japanese-English (J-E) to Japanese-Japanese (J-J)?
- Switch from creating J-E cards to J-J cards only using Anki and continue adding J-J cards to your heart’s content. (Check out the level guide to see around how many J-J cards you need to reach what level of Japanese.)
- Acquire use of the branching process when doing J-J cards in Anki.
- If you’ve finished J-E, and feel that you aren’t quite ready for J-J, then use the J-E-J method first.
- Purchase The Branch Annihilator (the definitive guide on taking the Japanese-only plunge) and The One Deck (my J-J deck that I created and used to reach level 73). If you are a manga lover and want some great sentences, also purchase the Memorable Manga Moments Portal.
- Discover the only J-J dictionary you will ever need.
- Make the very difficult switch from the J-E dictionary to the J-J dictionary (read parts 1-4)
- Utilize the most common Japanese words found in the J-J dictionary (read parts 1-3)
- Use pictures to aid you in tough J-J definitions.
- Try using a simpler Japanese dictionary.
- Embrace the never-ending dictionary dive.
- Keep in mind the minor exceptions where you can still use English.
- Techniques for easier J-J branching part 1 and part 2.
- Maintaining the right mindset while J-J branching.
- You can still keep a special place for your English entertainment.
- How to approach Anime once the English subtitles are gone.
- Try watching easier anime that you won’t need to resort to English subtitles to watch.
- Learning A Japanese Word In Japanese
- The Power of Using 音記号 When Reading Kanji
World 10: Enter the reading.
(1-2 months, Continuous)
- Buy and read Japanese novels, manga, magazines, websites and whatever else you can get your hands on. Try the following bookstores: Kinokuniya, YesAsia, Amazon Japan or Bookoff)
- Consider giving yourself a reading handicap.
- Only read what is appropriate to your interests.
- Understand the difference between extensive and intensive reading.
- Skip parts you don’t understand.
- Avoid Japanese study in disguise (the in-about ratio).
- Video games: powerhouse of written material.
- Ameba and Japanese Blogging
- Should you be reading the Japanese classics?
- A Transition into Manga Magic.
- Finding a different mode of Manga.
- Rev up your reading rampage: taking up your game.
- Making use of Japan’s abundant “Free Papers”
- Get yourself following some great Japanese Twitter feeds.
- Fill yourself with Google Plus communities and feeds.
- Manga is the pinnacle of Japanese learning.
- Enjoy some of Japanese Level Up’s published articles in Japanese by native (or high fluent) speakers.
- How To Learn Japanese Grammar Like A Winner
World 11: Let the conversations begin.
(2-3 weeks, Continuous)
- Register a Mixi account (like the Japanese version of Facebook) and avoid “language exchanges.”
- Make friends on Mixi and talk with them on Skype.
- Can’t or don’t want to use Mixi? Try Facebook. An even better way to make Japanese friends.
- Engage in Japanese Twitcasting (live streaming community sites).
- Prove yourself quickly in any conversation.
- Keep in mind some of the confusing things Japanese people will say to you.
- React properly to the difference of between not understanding versus not hearing.
- Get used to the background noise you will have to deal with while talking.
- Converse with yourself by developing your own inner monologue.
- Don’t discuss your study methods with others.
- Japanese speaking mastery: the never ending struggle
- Getting used to the formal language
- Learn to express yourself through shadowing and mimicking
- Ways To React To Repetitive Compliments About Your “Great Japanese”
- Bad Habits That Make Your Japanese Sound Unnatural
- 8 Phases Of Transition From Immersion To Fluent Japanese Speaking
- Don’t shy away from talking with other foreigners in Japanese
- 4 Reasons To Use Japan’s Line App Now
- Use Google Maps To Bring Your Home Closer To Japan
World 12: Lack of motivation and confidence, burnout, and self-doubt.
- Overcoming the Mid-level blues.
- Get rid of frustration towards kanji?
- The Japanese fluent illusion: everyone doesn’t sound as good as you think.
- Don’t be jealous of Japanese babies.
- Don’t worry about your Japanese becoming too masculine/feminine.
- Your need for Anki will slowly fade away.
- You will become your own most valuable teacher.
- Your skills will be unbalanced, and that is okay.
- Experiencing the Japanese Random Level Down.
- Stop any jealousy of foreign halves.
- Not living in Japan? No big deal.
- Don’t play the comparison game.
- Enter motivating Japanese reading contests to push your competitive self forward.
- Are you aiming for Native Japanese Level?
- Do you hate using Anki?
- How to learn Japanese without Anki.
- Keeping up your Japanese while travelling on a long vacation
- Why You Really Really Really Shouldn’t Learn Japanese
- Deciding Whether To Leave Japan Or Make It Your Home
- 10 Life-Changing Quotes In Japanese And English
- Annoying Excuses Why You Can Learn Japanese But They Can’t
- Why Polite Vs. Casual Japanese Is Hard For Foreigners
- Try taking some fun quizzes: 1) Anime Listening Quiz, 2) Manga Reading Quiz
World 13: Techniques to make your speaking sound more natural.
World 14: From student to master
- Be of guidance to others who are just beginning. Respond to their comments on posts on this site with sage advice, and reveal some of the best examples of your Anki deck.
- Real masters don’t show off abilities.
- Don’t fall prey to the desire to trade in your culture.
- Join the Japanese Level Up Alliance (Write for us!)
- Write published articles in Japanese for JALUP.
- Write Japanese manga for JALUP.
Never give up. You can and will do this. This is your quest. Make it a memorable one.
(Last Updated 4/18/2014)