How I reached Japanese Level 40 In 8 Months

The normal methods of learning Japanese feeling too slow? Do you not just need good Japanese but need it fast? If you have an interest in power leveling (learning Japanese as fast as possible) then you may have read the other power leveling articles on this site. Those are great to give you start, but I want to give you a more personal and detailed process. I went from level 0 to 40 in the span of around eight months and you can too. You may even be faster because you will be using improvements on my original methods.

Level 40 In 8 Months

First, I want to make it clear that power leveling has a very high fail rate, especially at the beginning. It definitely isn’t for everyone. You will be filling every available moment with Japanese from dawn until dusk. But don’t let that sound like a bad thing. Power leveling can be an extremely fun way to learn Japanese due to the fact that you will see constant progress and it creates a very minimal mid-level blues because you’ll be blowing right past it.

This guide is designed for anyone to be able to jump in at any interval, so if you haven’t been following from the beginning don’t worry. As long as you have completed the goals in previous level brackets and want to give power leveling a shot, feel free to join right in.

Why would you want to power level?

The 2 most common reasons:

1. You have a job interview lined up that absolutely needs good Japanese.

2. You are moving to Japan

However, for me it was neither. I just really loved all things Japan, and was determined to learn. So don’t worry if you think your reason isn’t good enough. Using these methods, I believe anyone with enough determination and will power can propel themselves to swift success.

So where do you get started?

Tell your friends and family

When you’ve fully made your commitment to this process, begin by telling your friends and relatives that you plan on being advanced in Japanese in eight months. Yes, you will get a lot of sarcastic replies and skeptic looks, but this is what we’re going for. People thrive when they have someone else to prove wrong and this is what you’ll set up the chance to do. Opposition breeds progression.

Schedule a test

Schedule a test like the JLPT or a similar one around four to six months in advance. While these tests don’t really determine ability, they give you a deadline and encouragement when you pass. It’s something to show the people you told, and really makes you feel like you’re progressing.

Find a competitive partner

Level 40 In 8 Months 3

Get a partner to compete on who gets it done first. Competition is another great way to motivate you to get those last few pages read, a few more anki cards done, and a few more episodes watched.

Make sure to regularly share progress to see who’s winning! This isn’t too likely, but if you haven’t engaged in much Japanese material before beginning your quest, take a week to find some favorite shows, drama, manga, or bands that you like. For now it’s fine in English because you can enjoy it more and get a feel for your Japanese taste.

“Over-goaling”

This is a method where I’ll be setting goals that may seem crazy, but that’s the point! The idea is that the over-goal will be much more than what we’re really looking for so even if you fail you still attain the necessary progress in time. However, this only works if you genuinely try to complete the goal.

So what does the actual break down look like, from level 1-40 in 8 months? Let’s take it in blocks of 5 levels at a time.

Humble Beginnings (0-5)

The very first thing you need is RTK combined with its anki equivalent. While there are articles on this site explaining alternate methods I don’t believe it’s possible to achieve our desired speed without them.

The typical pace for a normal RTK learner is anywhere from 10-30 kanji a day.

We are going for 65 a day.

65, are you insane!? No, and with the power of Anki and the JALUP RTK mod this will probably only take two hours of writing the kanji and an hour and a half for reviews. Anyone who has done RTK can tell you they would’ve loved to be done in a month. You will be.

The most important part is to never ever skip your reviews in Anki. On your reviews you will forget, forget, and forget, but Anki has you covered and you’ll balance out over time. I started skipping my reviews and had to restart after 1000 because the pace got to me and I realized I hardly knew any kanji. This won’t be you, and you’re already ahead of where I was.

The next step will be to learn the kana. After 1900 kanji this should be a piece of cake and take around a week. There’s plenty of ways to learn these. Songs, apps, flash cards, the Jalup Kana Deck, mnemonics, etc. Just find one that works for you. There’s plenty to choose from.

Level 40 In 8 Months - 2

Getting into high gear (5-10)

This is what you’ve been waiting for. Now that you’ve learned the reading blocks, it’s time to actually learn Japanese. My first and last textbook was Tae Kims’s Complete Guide to Japanese. It covers all your basic Japanese up until around level 20. There’s a free deck on ankiweb to accompany the complete guide.

An alternative (or supplementary) option, and one I would also encourage, is picking up JALUP Beginner, as this also prepares yourself for Intermediate. I personally never used the Beginner package, and dived directly into Intermediate, so I was lost on a lot of words, which makes J-J much more difficult.

Please do NOT attempt to create your own deck. With all the amazing decks already created, making your own, especially in the beginning is an unnecessary waste of time compared to borrowing one.

Shoot for 20 new cards a day for beginner. You should finish reading half of the Complete Guide and grammar guide (or Jalup Beginner) within a month and a half. Just like with RTK and almost everything else in your power leveling journey, there will be a lag between what you’ve read and learned and how much you retain.

This is normal. Don’t be frustrated. This is what Anki is here for; to cover the seemingly never ending amount of cracks in your Japanese wall. This should bring you up to level 10 in record breaking time.

Even getting this far in this short amount of time is something very few people accomplish, so stand tall, be proud, and prepare yourself for the next major leap.

From Level 10 on

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2

Nice job making it to level 10! You’ve started to learn some Japanese, all the kanji are memorized and you should be around 900 on the Jalup Beginner series. It’s a strong start but this is the point where the doubts and worries may start to creep in.

Motivation

Throughout your power level quest there will be a lot of times where you think there’s not enough time, these methods aren’t working or languages just aren’t your thing. Maybe you should just quit and move on to something you’re better at.

You must absolutely ignore these thoughts!

This type of self doubt is present in anyone who has pursued something great. Myself and many others on this site have experienced times of tremendous self-doubt and lack of belief in ourselves. Overcoming these doubts will push you over the wall the separates those who succeed and those who make excuses as to why they couldn’t. This brings me to the most important aspect of power leveling and one of the biggest aspects of this guide.

The Secret

The real trick to power leveling is probably the most simple yet hardest tasks on your quest.

Stop caring about your level.

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2a

That’s it. Obviously as a power leveler it’s going to be one of your biggest worries that you aren’t progressing as fast as you should be especially if you have a deadline you’re trying to meet. You need to ignore how fast you’re going and just enjoy the material. Isn’t that why you started learning Japanese in the first place?

That should be your main focus. The methods here on Jalup have been proven by numerous people. If you’re following these strategies, it will work. You will achieve your goals. Just keep in mind that this is fun and enjoyable. The fluency will come while you’re having a great time.

Managing Time

With power leveling there are a lot of things that need to get accomplished daily. So how do you fit it all in?

The biggest thing taking up your study time probably isn’t all the things you have to get done. It’s probably all the little distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, English news websites, and pretty much anything on the Internet. You get it. The easiest way to get rid of these is to just delete them. There are ways to save them so they will still be there when you’re done power leveling so until then it’s best that they aren’t there.

Also an important thing to understand is that for learning, the best way to study is actually NOT the long cram sessions you are likely to have done all the way through school. The best approach is the slow extended repetition over longer periods of time. If you can do 2-3 ten minute sessions per day, it can really add up in the long run. Here are some ideas for study places.

*On the toilet
*On the bus
*When waiting for the bus/someone
*When you feel bored
*In between other tasks
*During breaks (if you are truly busy)

Another thing to think about is your three most time consuming unproductive habits. Getting rid of those should provide you with time to study.

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2b

The Ultimate Immersion Environment

Now that you’re around level 10 it’s time to begin the real training. The first step is to get the tools that you’ll need for this.

The biggest component of the environment will be to have an MP3 player of some kind like your phone, iPod, or really anything that you can put ripped audio on. There’s already many articles on this site explaining what kind of material to put on it so check those out here.

The aspect that will be differing in power leveling is that you strive to get a complete 24 hour immersion environment every day. At first this sounds crazy but it can definitely be done. This is where your immersion iPod will come in to play. Every moment (and I mean every moment) you aren’t actively engaging in Japanese like doing anki, watching an anime, reading a book, etc. it’s very important to have the headphones on.

You can tell when it’s working when everyone asks you what you’re always listening to. Even if you’re eating dinner with your family, at church, work, or school try to have them on. A lot of times you will have to just do one ear, but that’s much better than none. It may be more difficult at work or school because sometimes they won’t allow headphones, but there are ways of getting around that. At work try using a Bluetooth that lets you play audio from your phone, and at school you can always string one headphone up out your sleeve and lean on it like this.

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2c

Switching Out The Material

When beginning your immersion environment you should start off with around thirty episodes of shows and add them over time as you find ones you like and would be appropriate for your level until fifty. From here this is where the power level aspect comes into play.

You’ll notice as you start to re-listen to episodes numerous times that for a while every time you re-listen you hear words you couldn’t, notice different grammar points, and increase your overall understanding of the episode. However, after a certain amount of listens (depending on the person and show) you realize that you aren’t really hearing anything new when you listen.

There may be a few new words here and there, but for the most part you’ve learned all you can from this episode. Now it’s time to switch it out and get a new episode. This shouldn’t be a problem as you’ll be watching new episodes everyday so there shouldn’t be a shortage of shows you can use. Essentially what this means is that you’ll listen to an episode until you’ve gotten all the use out of it, and then switch it out for something new. Now just rinse and repeat.

The Two Types of Passive Listening

For the most part passive listening is just anything you listen to without actually watching the show but just hearing it. However, there are really two types and it’s important to distinguish them.

1. Background Passive

This is what is normally thought of for passive listening which is having your Japanese playing while your focusing on something else. This listening generally improves your ability to distinguish syllables and gets you more used to listening to Japanese.

2. Foreground Passive

This is the more important type of passive listening. This type is where you can focus on the words and grammar more closely and can be done commuting to work, waiting in a lobby, anytime you can focus on listening but can’t actually sit down and watch the show. You want to get as much of this type as you can.

This is where you can hear and internalize the words you’ve learned to read but aren’t used to hearing, or realize that you knew a word but weren’t used to hearing it in a different grammar form. Unfortunately you can’t do this all the time, but try to get as much as you can every day.

Is Music OK for Power Leveling?

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2d

At some point you probably would’ve asked yourself if it’s ok to listen to music when you’re power leveling.

Yes, it’s true that music is not nearly as beneficial as listening to a show, and you can’t really use background passive listening with music because you’ll just listen to rhythm and beat so you aren’t focusing on the words.

However, music can be very motivating and is a nice break from your constant immersion so I wouldn’t say never. But try and limit it to one period of time a day like when you’re getting ready in the morning or working out. This way you aren’t spending more time jamming out than you are really learning.

Implementing Immersion 10-15

Now that you actually know some Japanese it’s time to get rid of those subtitles and really begin the immersion environment. I don’t want to sugarcoat these first stages as they will not be a lot of fun. It’s important to realize that no you aren’t very good yet so don’t expect to understand too much at the beginning even though you’ll be listening to easier shows. Just keep at it and your level will rise before you know it.

You should be half way through Tae Kim’s guide or Jalup Beginner and now it’s time to get through the other half. Keep reading and using the deck and you should finish this up in another month and a half. For the Jalup beginner path you should be at exactly 900 after a month and a half.

Yes, this is a lot of cards at the beginning. Just remember that these are over-goals. Finish up the deck and keep doing reviews. Until you finish do all the reviews it tells you and then use the cram function which randomizes all cards in the deck to do fifty extra reviews a day because the regular reviews will drop fast when you aren’t adding twenty new cards a day.

Lastly, remember to always have the immersion iPod playing when you aren’t actively watching. Even when you’re reading the textbook or doing Anki reviews it’s better to have them on at a low volume. If you’re someone who really can’t have anything playing while you read that’s okay. Just have them on when you aren’t reading.

Woah-o You’re Halfway There 15-20

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2e

This is more of a plug-and-chug stage where you’re not going to shake anything up. You should now be finished with Tae Kim and/or Jalup Beginner, but now it’s time for some re-reading.

Aw come on you say.

I just finished and I have to read the thing again?

Yes.

You’re understanding of the material will increase dramatically as you read it again. You probably already noticed that it was easier to understand previous concepts as you kept seeing them used again and again in the later concepts. Confused about は and が before? I doubt you are now. Not because you got a really good explanation of what they are and how to use them, but because you saw them being used and just picked it up.

This stage follows the same concept as it’s just a lot of review to make you better before the greatest challenge of all: J-J! Keep using the cram function on Anki.

The J-J Challenge 20-30

Level 40 In 8 Months - Part 2 of 2f

Now that the bases and basics of your Japanese learning are covered the level explanations need less detail and more of a general direction. At this point your journey will become more individualized. You will engage in what you like whether that’s Shounen anime or celebrity talk shows.

This is when you should get Jalup Intermediate. Shoot for twenty cards a day, which should be an easy pace at this point.

Another goal you should be going for now is trying to watch five episodes of TV a day. This can be anything you want. Don’t get bogged down in whether you think it is too hard unless you really are not getting anything. Watching things you like will spur motivation even if they are hard rather than understanding a lot of something you could care less about.

The last goal to aim for is to read around fifty pages of manga a day. I say manga because there are generally easier subjects and more frequently have furigana along with the text. Stay on pace and you’ll be done with Intermediate in two months.

The Last Push 30-40

This last stage is especially simple.

Just get Jalup Advanced and do twenty cards a day once again. Continue until another two months has passed and you have finished Jalup Advanced. Other than doing these cards the only advice is to move into novels at some time during this period. Then you can move on towards Expert.

There will be challenges when moving into Japanese novel territory, but the key is to simply press on and just like the rest of this journey you will get the hang of it over time and through great effort! If you have done the math then you realize that on this schedule you are now done in seven months, even sooner than me!

Continuing on!

Level 40 isn’t the end. In a way it is the beginning. The beginning of your awesome Japanese life ahead of you. Though please remember, whether it takes you 8 months or 8 years, as long as you keep going you will reach it. Go at the pace you decide matters to you, and you will absolutely succeed.

This was my journey (up till level 40) and I hope you enjoyed it. I’d be happy to answer any questions in the comments!

Have any question, comments, or suggestions? Leave them below!



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Jonathon

Jonathon

Power leveler. Just a regular guy trying to learn Japanese as fast as possible.

Comments

How I reached Japanese Level 40 In 8 Months — 66 Comments

  1. I like the idea of this guide and hope it helps a lot of people! Makes me think, I’d be interested in a “part two” guide from Adshap or someone around that level on how to powerup from level 40 to 70 next! For someone like me who is already past level 40.

    Very good advice on choosing a pre-made deck over making your own. When I did Anki, I sometimes felt like all I did was create decks. Nice little hack for power leveling.

    Looking forward to reading your next post!

    • I’d be very interested in that as well! Although I think the later parts of the guide will be helpful to even high leveled learners because at some point in the thirties it’s really all about time management and finding the right native material.

      • Hmm… From my experience I think there’s a little more to it than that for higher levels, but I’m sure a lot of people, regardless of level, would be interested in time management advice. Especially if they’re having a hard time fitting in their study into their day. I personally don’t have any trouble in those arenas. It may be that when you’re a higher level, you pretty much know what you need to be doing.

        There are other aspects of fluency that come into play at higher levels, such as speaking and writing naturally and accurately.

        Edit: Oh, but for the thirties, I agree with what you said (^_^). Just talking about level 40+.

        • I just misunderstood what you said. I thought you said that’s all that’s to it for higher levels in general, when you just meant level thirties, and that the advice can also be applicable to higher levels.

          Sorry about that! I get it now (^_^).

  2. And I agree! Opposition does breed progression. When I told a Japanese professor over the phone back when I was looking into colleges to go to years ago the method I was using, he told me I should hold off and wait to learn in college when I can take a class. Boy did that make me question myself for two weeks, and man did it make me mad. But that really pushed me and I proved him wrong, because I jumped into Japanese 202 by the time I went to college. I’ll never forget that.

  3. Scheduling a test is a great idea! If you’re starting Japanese before the end of high school, there are Japanese AP exams available (check CollegeBoard).

    My goal was to study for about a year and hope to get at least a couple courses worth of credit from the exam. Although I ended up not being able to take it as an adult, I was able to enroll in the first Japanese course online this semester and finished it within a couple days. It felt great seeing how far I had come!

    • That’s what I’m hoping to do! I passed the N3 in December and I’m hoping to take the AP exam this Spring. It really gives you something solid to show your progress.

  4. Nice post. Being around level 25 currently, I am really looking forward to seeing the subsequent part(s) to this article. I really want to blast past any sort of mid-level blues and into level 40 territory as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    • I’m hoping to get the next parts of the series out soon because I know the twenties and up are where you can really start to power level.

  5. You dirty rat! Haha just kidding! Good work bro! Glad your experiences can really help other people out! You da man! :D

  6. As a possible improvement, you could consider dropping RTK altogether and just learning words using the Kanji in RTK order. That way you would get vocabulary, kanji readings and you’d still ‘learn’ the kanji.

    In the interest of learning more and more new material, you might also consider changing your anki graduating interval from 1 day to something like 14 days, and suspending cards that pass the 14 day interval.

  7. Interested to see where this goes post JALUP series decks. I’m assuming once the original 3000 end you’re left in the early to mid 30s area. Is it approach that goes towards branching eventually or have you come up with some other J-J solution?

    I branch and am using the JALUP expert at the moment. But it’s difficult to keep a pace as fast as when using JALUP premades when you’re making your own cards, unfortunately.

    • Using tools like Rikaisama or Epwing2Anki can help speed up the card creation process. It takes me about half a second to create a new vocabulary / sentence card, for example. If you get an EPWING version of 大辞林, it could work well with J-J sentence cards.

      • would you mind elaborating on this process for me? J-J card creation preferrably.

        I use the one deck already, and the times that I need to make cards are for branching almost exclusively. How exactly would this speed up the process of branching? Does this epwing2anki give you the J-J definition and an example sentence automatically generated into an anki card? What happens for words with like 9+ definitions? Rikaichan on chrome is pretty good at breaking down conjugations, but I’ve heard you can get J-J defintions with Rikaisama.

        • Use Rikaisama or Rikaichan to save words to a text file. Once you have a list of words in a text file, setup Epwing2Anki to use the 大辞林 Epwing version that you (il)legally acquired and setup an appropriate card layout. Then press “go” and wait for it to finish and then import the file (with potentially thousands of sentences) into anki.

          A much easier process is to use anki for vocabulary and use rikaisama along with the anki plugin. As long as you can copy a word into a text field, you can press one button to instantly create a card, with a definition, example sentence and audio.

          As an Aside, I’m tempted to create a program that will gloss an entire dictionary and create sentence cards for everything, along with appropriate defintions. This database of around 100K sentences could then be sorted using the MorphMan anki plugin to create an optimal i+1 study environment.

          • you’re the best! Thanks so much :)

            Ps. how does rikaisama+anki addon handle cards with mmultiple defiinitons? Do you get 8 separate cards with example sentences?

            And what happens when there isn’t an example sentence in the dictionary? Does it generate it with a blank field or does it just fail to make one?

            • If you can be bothered to input the entire sentence into a text field, you can use the sentence the word came from. It won’t fail if it cannot find examples.

              If you add a word like “かかる” It will give you the entire entry, including all the definitions and example sentences for the word. This can be quite funny if you’re using Kenkyusha and you get about 300 example sentences along with the word.

          • I tried that morphman and was going to try and use it on my J-J deck. Maybe I’m just tech illiterate, but I could not understand how to set it up at all, and was too scared of mucking up the existing cards in my deck.

            That would be awesome if you morphman’ed it before releasing it. Saves spastics like me that do not understand how to use that application at all. I sat there for like an hour reading the wiki before i gave up haha

  8. And people though I was crazy for studying just a few hours a day… Really inspiring stuff though, I should probably step it up a little myself. You’re right, I definitely would like to just be done with RTK already. At my current rate, I’ll probably be level 16 or 17 by the end of 8 months. I can’t wait see what I can do to speed that up (beside the obvious of studying longer).

  9. Love this article, especially the heavy use of comedic Dragonball pics. I did try powering through kanji last summer but could only average at about 35 a day, and that was after a lot of stumbling in the early part of the holiday, leaving me with about 700 kanji. Now I’m in school, I need to organise my time a bit better because I need to speed up without jeopardising my other subjects. I do 3 other subjects (this is British A-levels which are few but in huge depth to prepare you for uni) and teachers advice is 5 hours per subject per week. I am awful at keeping to anything like that so I need to start timetabling that properly and hopefully once I’ve done that I’ll be able to see where I can fit more Japanese in.

    • The next article in the series will feature ways to manage your time and create the best immersion environment so it should help with your busy schedule.

      • That great, thanks, that would be so helpful. 15 hours of non-japanese study sounds okay but when I’m at school or travelling for 12 hours a day and only 2 of those hours are time I can spend studying and when I get home I’m exhausted and need to practise guitar too, and I’m failing maths so I need to spend twice the reccomended time on that, plus to do well at History I need to read as much as possible, it does get busy. Mostly because I have gone from barely giving my homework in and only studying for Japanese to being expected to study all day and I’m not sure how to handle it. (Wow that sounded like a rant sorry). My 2 hours bus time has become great flashcard time since I got an android phone though. Anyway, really looking forward to the next installment judged on the quality of this one!

        • I was failing math last semester too and it was soo rough! (Thankfully, I did end up passing and graduating, though I was on the verge of failing.) Usually I have no problem fitting my interests around my school life, but that semester I really had to put studying first. I feel your pain (;’_’;).

          Another way you could fit in some listening time is using an mp3 player (android phone will work for that) to listen to Japanese while you walk around school. Even listening to things as you do your flashcards can work. I find it really relaxing too. I recommend listening to ripped audio from your favorite dramas or anime, drama CDs or podcasts, as opposed to music, to get the most out of it.

          A good podcast app for Android is Podcast Addict. Set it to download automatically while on wifi so that you have new episodes to listen to on the go and you’ll be all set! I recommend きくどら, a voice drama podcast (kikudorabungak.main.jp/feed/podcast).

          • Ooh wow thanks for the podcast app and recommendations. A voice drama podcast sounds great. Its rather encouraging to hear that you managed to turn around your maths situation; I hope I do to.

            Yeah I have a lot of drama audio (split into 10-15min chunks) and Japanese music on my iPod and recently I deleted all the English so I can listen to it on shuffle whenever I’m not going to get in trouble for wearing headphones. Thus i get a mix of the useful drama audio and the more motivating music. I need to get some in-ears for walking around school and such like you said though.I just have one pair of good but huge headphones.

  10. 4/5ths of the way through RTK I switched from training production to recognition. From searching the web on this topic, I can see that the consensus is that training recognition instead of production with RTK doesn’t work very well. There is a post on this site somewhere from Adam that recommends against this approach.

    So I’d been wanting to switch for so long, but every time, I would look for an opinion from someone who has made the switch, and each time I would be discouraged. Eventually I was so desperate. I’d started RTK at a healthy pace, and I enjoyed it up until about 1200. The last few hundred were progressing so slowly, and I hated every minute of it.

    So I switched, and started enjoying RTK again, and finished much faster than I started. If only I could go back and reassure myself, I could have invested months more time into the language itself. Sure, I won’t be handwriting, but then I doubt I ever would anyway. Honestly, I won’t handwrite english unless I absolutely have to.

    Anyhow, it is true that stories you have created while training production might not work well the other way. It’s an association thing. Quite often the associations work well both ways, but sometimes you will need to retrain an association, tweak the story somewhat, or just add a detail that helps bridge the gap. I’m finding this easy as reviews come up for my mature cards, which were all trained by production.

    Anyhow, YMMV. My accuracy is ok @ 95.5%. I can’t see how to work out what my accuracy was before I switched, but it had gotten pretty bad. After 1200 cards, the reviews were killing me, even without adding new cards sometimes for days in a row.

    One piece of advice I have that works either way, and really restates Jonathon’s advice to ensure that the reviews are done, is to complete the reviews each day before adding new cards. Set daily new cards to zero, and only add them through custom study after the reviews are done.

    This really helps, because nothing puts the brakes on completing reviews, like stopping to develop a story. It also helps because the cycle time on learning new cards is really low when they’re added in small chunks and not mixed with lots of reviews. So accuracy improves, and you breeze through the new cards.

    • Yes! Doing all of your reviews everyday is one of the greatest things you can do for your studies. The way I did it was to make all of my stories for the day first on paper, and then do my reviews later. Making the stories first really helps anki’s flow and you aren’t taking time to develop stories.

  11. Using the level guide i would say im around level 40, been learning japanese for a few years in and off. I wonder if its possible to go from level 40 to around 60 in a month or two of studyng and listening to japanese 24 7

    • depends how you measure it. if you’re looking at japanese levelup guide you’d need around another 4-5000 sentences to reach level 65. If you did 50 a day for 3 months you’d get 4500 sentences. So it’s definitely possible but you’d be spending 6-8 hours a day minimum to do so I’d say.

      • Thanks for your input. Lately ive been making 100 new cards per day which takes about 4 hours and i do it while watching j drama in the background. Im planning to start working twice as hard, hopefully i can keep that pace up

  12. That is some damn impressive power-leveling, especially considering the only fire you had under you was “I just really loved all things Japan, and was determined to learn”. Congrats!

    This is especially inspiring for me because I (re-)started my Japanese early last year, and took the N3 JLPT about 9 months in or so… and did *not* pass, heh. I had just recently been patting myself on the back for getting as far as I did in 9 months, when really I should be getting my ass in gear and pushing even harder!

    • Nah, you should be proud of what you did. But being proud doesn’t mean you have to complacently slow down. Inspire yourself ;)

  13. Looking forward to part 2! I was wondering how many cards people add per day. I’m in the JALUP Advanced deck and some days I only feel like doing 10 but others I can easily do like 60 in a day. I always wonder if this is bad because the reviews might bog me down later, but I feel that if I have the momentum, why waste it? My plan is to finish the advanced deck really soon and just go solo after that.

    • I’ve been doing 100 per day for awhile now. If you feel like you can do more then do it, but you also need to know your limits. Usually if I feel like reviews are getting too much I just skip a day of adding new cards. The time you get from not doing new cards will be enough to finish your reviews.

    • Personally I like to do 30-35 per day. This will get you to around 1000 in a month. I’ve been at this pace for around 3 months now and the reviews aren’t too bad, just recently got over 300. If I just did reviews it would probably only take an hour or so. If you can handle the reviews and want to go for more that’s fine, but I see using Anki as more of a marathon and like to “run” at an even pace. Though that’s just me, you should do as much as you think you can!

  14. It also depends on the way you review.

    I personally put a lot of effort into regurgitating the sentence out aloud and working on smooth pronunciation.

    Sometimes I will read the same sentence 5-6 times until I can do it at the same speed as the native voice without a mistake. So for me reviews my take a lot longer than others. I usually average 30sec per card though.

    I don’t like to let me reviews go above 100-ish cards, so I have only been adding 20 card during the week and then just doing reviews on Saturday and Sunday.

  15. Took me about 4 years to get to level 40 haha didnt learn about anki or immersion for a couple years, lets see if i can power level up to 60 soon. Just started talkin japanese to some waitresses at a japanese restaurant, wish me luck。Got just ovet 8000 anki sentences, deleted about 1500 that were too easy, but i dont feel im as good as i should be yet

  16. I’d like to suggest an less alternative method to power up (not necessarily better) for those who only want to focus on their comprehension (are in it just for tv shows and anime) than speaking/writing based on my personal experience.
    It should roughly take you 6 months to enjoy 3 starred media on this site. I am assuming you are using JalUp battle equipment package. Let’s say you start Japanese on January 1:

    January 1:
    -Learn Kana using visual mnemonics (Dr. Moku, Tofugu..etc.). (~4 hours for both)
    -Start Kana Conqueror. Choose your own pace (minimum 10 cards/day).
    -Start Heisig’s RTK at moderate 32 cards/day. I am assuming you are using RTK standard deck (2200 cards).
    -Start Reading Tae Kim (Basic Section).
    -(optional)Read Japanese the Manga way
    -You may want to read each entry in these books multiple times. I repeat, “multiple times”.
    -(optional)Japanese Pod 101 (Nihongo Dojo order up to Beginner season 5)
    If possible, start immersing a little.
    -(optional) Read textfugu season 1 (free).

    February 1:
    -Tae Kim (up to advanced lesson 1). You have 40 days to read it multiple times.
    -(Optional)Start using Tae Kim deck (mentioned in the post). Only recognition cards.
    -Start reading JalUp’s posts.
    -Start reading Tae Kim’s blog
    Feb 15:
    -Start beginner deck at 40 cards/day. You should be able to power through it easily.

    March 10:
    -You should be finished with Kana Conqueror, RTk and Beginner and feel like a Boss! You should have read all the Tae Kim (upto Lesson 1 of Advanced)and (optional) Japanese The Manga Way multiple times by now.
    -Delete the Kana Conqueror and the Tae Kim deck (but…).
    -You have the rest of the month free! That means keeping up with reviews, immersing (active+passive) a LOT (Level 1 materials are a good starting point). You can ditch the Japanesepod101 podcasts for more “native” stuff :D.

    Here are some things you should do before advancing:
    -Read Jalup post about phonetic components.
    -Learn how Kanji compounds are formed. This will help you a LOT in Intermediate: http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~terry/t-morph-2kcw+.pdf

    April 1:
    -You are fluent in Japanese! (April Fools!)
    -Okay, seriously. Start JalUp Intermediate@40 cards/day. When finished, Start JalUp Advanced@40 cards/day and so on.
    -Immerse a lot during this time. Don’t focus on new words that you encounter, just trust Adam’s decks and you’ll be fine.
    -Be strict with your reviewing.

    You will be level 40+ in 6 months. Now it will take some time to internalize what you have learned, but just like RTK, you “know” stuff now. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.

    • Just curious, but is this what you did? If so, how did it go for you? About how many hours a day did you need to finish it all? Do you have any advice for getting past that?

      • This is almost what I did, except one little thing. I did not do Beginner Deck. Rest everything else is same. It took ~5-6 hours per day, but now it takes ~2.5 hours to make and review anki cards. I am currently at level 50-55 and can enjoy most of the Japanese media.
        The problem I can see someone see someone having is the illusion of late results I.e. It would seem you are not making any process, but continue for some months, and BAM, you’d be there. You are making progreds every time, just not visible progress.

    • Why did you suggest to delete production part of Taekim deck? Is it only because of your specific goal of improving input skills rather than output ones? Or do you have other reasons too? I’m currently using Tae Kim deck now and am curious to know your answer.
      One more question doesn’t studying too much new cards per day make it difficult to realize and use them out of Anki, in real situations? Or doesn’t it leads to confusion and mixing up similar words?

  17. This is a very inspiring post, due to this, I just increased my daily new cards count for RTK from 30 to 40 so I can get them over with in 20 days, I hate doing new RTK cards so much but I am completely fine with reviews.

      • I just don’t know why I dislike it so much to be honest, but I keep saying to myself “This isn’t forever.” Granted if I was feeling this way about Jalup decks I would’ve quit them a long time ago because they never seem to finish.

    • I don’t know why, but I LOVED RTK. I used to look forward to adding new cards, and was actually a bit sad when it was over.

      • I’m so jealous. If I had that mentality I would’ve already been done with RTK a long time ago but whatever. This month will be the last of this!

      • Ah, you’re one of those, huh? It’s pretty rare to see someone who likes doing RTK, that’s definitely something to be grateful about! Also I do agree that it’s really about the mentality. If you say you hate it then it becomes easier to hate, but if you reinforce that it’s not so bad and the benefits well outweigh the time to do it then the load can feel a bit lighter.

        • This is a good comment. Your mentality is yours to control.

          Find reasons to convince yourself that you enjoy doing it, and focus on them, not the things you hate about it. For example, every Kanji you learn lets you enjoy your favourite manga or anime a little bit more. Then try to associate that feeling of enjoyment with RTK.

  18. Sounds like I need to get into novels soon. Hopefully in a few months, I’m nervous but excited. Should be just as hard as manga were in the beginning.
    I’ve also been slacking on passive listening; I’ve starting telling everyone I know I’m going to be fluent in Japanese, I should play the part!

    • Good to hear you’re going to start novels soon! In the beginning it’s very important to try and picture the words and story in your head as you read. That way even when you don’t understand all the words you can still get the story. Good luck!

  19. Good article, dude. If you ever want to lend me any of your textbooks or anki decks or anything, throw ’em on over. :D I’m at a lower level (as you know), but going through the Intermediate decks definitely helps me deepen my vocab (something I really want/need) and kanji, especially with the ones that I won’t be seeing in Genki.

  20. I’m not a beginner but I’m considering attempting a Lv.53 to Lv.65 power level over the next 6 months.

    What you say about stop caring about your level is really good advice. It’s started me thinking that actually “Level 65” and “Fluent according to JALUP” isn’t the point. I’m starting a Masters degree in September and after that I’m aiming to go to university in Japan. So I really need to be at the ‘all the groundwork is there, I have the JLPT N1 piece of paper for application purposes, now let’s get reading native material on my specialism’ stage a.s.a.p. I think that’s a better thing to be focused on than a “level”.

    So just to say thanks for reminding me what’s important :) Also the headphone down the sleeve is a great idea!

    • Also you when you were reading you manga/playing games were you inputting words that you did not know into anki? Or was most of your focus was on the premade decks?

    • First, hit custom study, then study a random selection of cards. Then hit the number of cards you want to study from the deck.

      As for your other question; no, I advise against making your own cards because I believe that the Jalup decks are great and there is no need for personal cards because I think that the time it takes to make them is not worth the speed you get by not doing them.

      • I didn’t know about that type of cram study. Anyways, “Review ahead” is really useful for me on the weekends, I choose 5 days ahead on Sunday so I get to do all my reviews for the weekdays so I don’t have an excuse to not do them during school. With that, my review count drops from a 100 everyday to a measly, and very manageable 30. Review forgotten cards really helps reinforce cards you suck at. I assume random selection of cards is really what it is, just a random selection of cards, I am gonna try it today and see how I like it.

      • Exactly. Start making cards when you’ve exhausted the JalUp decks i.e. when you have completed Expert Stage 8.

    • Not the author, but I can assist here as I use this function daily. So after you finish your deck for the day, you can click “Custom Study.” There are a TON of Custom Study options that are helpful. The one that I use is “Review Forgotten Cards.” This function will make a deck with all of the cards that you missed for that day. I always do my reviews in the morning, and I will do this cram session of reviews at night. When you look at the data in anki, this is listed as cram time. Hope this was helpful!

      • I’ve always wondered about this feature… does it actually affect the cards’ “ease”? Like, does it change the state of the deck, or is it something totally outside of your normal deck state?

        Just wondering how a feature like that might negatively affect Anki’s spaced-repetition algorithm, if at all.

        I guess I should just try it, really :)

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