How would you Reroll your Japanese Character?

When you’re stuck in the middle of a slump, or you felt you’ve been plateaued for too long, you think back to a more carefree time. Your beginner days, when life was easier, and full of hopes and dreams.

But somewhere things went wrong. You ended up using a technique that didn’t work. You wasted too much time learning something that wasn’t interesting to you. You never disciplined yourself with a firm study schedule. If only you could go back and do it again. If only you could reroll your Japanese character from scratch.


I wish I did…
I wish I didn’t do…

These are the magic words that you would form your reroll. I’ve been there. The higher the level you are, the more these two feelings grow, and the more you share these feelings with others.

Sharing your character reroll ideas benefits everyone. Just like with games, people copy character rerolls because they work. While you can’t erase your stats in Japanese, you can still have a restart. You can at any time, at any moment, completely change how you are studying right now. This is enough to make a reroll something serious to think about, especially when nothing else is working.

How would I have rerolled my character?


Some (of many) things I would have done differently:

● Start learning all the kanji right from the beginning (after kana), and not make it something that I would eventually learn over the years.

Shadow right from the start of immersion. Even if I could only mimic 2% of what I was hearing, I think this would have made a big difference in my early levels.

● Start J-J earlier. Just like everyone else, the change was hard for me, and I pushed it off too long.

● Stay away from memorizing vocabulary lists.

● Only focus on a few textbooks (instead of dozens), and then immediately move to native materials.

● Study more right from the start. I thought I was hardcore with my 1-2 hours a day. I still had plenty of free time. I could’ve used this more.

● Begin immersion much quicker, and not beat myself up about only understanding 5% and wondering whether I would ever be able to comprehend more.

● Never use English subtitles again once I started learning the language, avoiding watching hundreds of episodes, counting this all as study time.

● Try taking a beginner class (yes), but only stay in it if the teacher was supportive and engaging. Also, I would use this as a place to meet and make more friends with people learning the language.

● Not endlessly stress about whether I had the ability or talent to become fluent.


That’s me. How about you?

While I’m sure my list could go on, what would your character reroll look like? If you could go back to the beginning and start studying Japanese from zero with all the information you know now, what would you have done differently?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


How would you Reroll your Japanese Character? — 6 Comments

  1. Hmm… tough one.

    * Spend wayyyyy less time on random Japanese learning forums (which can be confusing and negative) and find JALUP first :)
    * Focus on sentance decks in Anki rather than really confusing and terrible vocab decks (with both E-J and J-E sides, sigh…)
    * Not used tutors. I found working with a tutor demotivating. Mostly because it just felt like a chore and that I was in school again.
    * Eschewed all but maybe a few textbook exercises. Which were also demotivating.
    * Not bought as many grammar books as I did. I have maybe read 40 pages of one of them… I would have been fine with just 3 of the books I own.
    * Read and watched a lot more from the beginning. I always worried about listening comprehension and that I’d never improve in it. But, gasp, watching and listening more makes you better at listening! Wow.

    Mostly what I’m trying to say is that I should have read through the textbooks I had fast rather that stupidly slowly. I worried so much about not understanding a concept in a textbook, while now it’s very apparent to present-day me that I would have had almost everything I was confused about cleared up through reading native materials.

    Also, I could have learned Japanese for a lot cheaper. But I tend to sell resources I don’t use on Ebay, so it’s not like I can’t get a decent chunk of my money back.

  2. If I could re-roll…

    1. Shadow from day 1. I’m not sure why I didn’t do this? Actually now that I think about it. I probably didn’t do it because I didn’t really understand the benefit, but more importantly I didn’t really know how to do it. (yes, when you start shadowing you sound absolutely ridiculous stumbling and mumbling over words and anyone watching would laugh at you so it is pretty difficult to start doing it).

    2. Write full sentences from day 1. There is something sickly satisfying about writing. It’s extremely tough writing full sentences, but man does it help solidify things in my mind.

    Whenever I’m finally at an advanced level and start my 3rd language, I’m pretty much gonna shadow and write from day 1.

  3. 1. I would have bought Jalup Beginner instead of fiddling with other stuff for a year.

    2. Drop English subtitles immediately.

    3. Study grammar like 10x more.

    4. Not try to shortcut my studying and really try to understand what I was reading.

    5. Read way more.

  4. What I’d do different:

    1) Not buy a bunch of textbooks and do the first few chapters in each one of them, without finishing any…
    2) Study more consistently from the start
    3) I wish I knew about srs earlier and had used it from the start… that actually might have fixed some other problems I had (e.g. number 4)
    3.a) After I discovered srs… use sentences earlier on!
    4) I remember that the vocab in my textbooks bored me, but I felt like I couldn’t move on before I learned them properly… and so I got stuck a lot… Basically I wish I had just moved on instead of getting stuck on unimportant stuff. Because honestly… if it’s important it’ll probably pop up again. And if I would have look it up 10 times, so be it, I probably would have known it the 11th time around… or if I just had used srs, that problem might have solved itself anyway
    5) Immerse more earlier on! Relisten to stuff I watched. I watched a lot of subtitled stuff even before starting to learn Japanese, I wish I had stripped the audio off and just listened to it more.
    6) Use some way of learning kanji earlier on… I probably learned like 50 kanji early on… at some point in time that was probably upped to like 100… and then I basically gave up on that. I’m not entirely sure which way of learning kanji I’d recommend to a younger me, but the “stopping” part was just really stupid :S
    7) Learn more while I had the opportunity in Japan… I basically got a lot of passive immersion, but wasted a lot of time reading English books instead of upping the “actively studying Japanese” part… (As I’m not an English native that’s still language acquisition, but come on, younger me! You could have gotten that much further in Japanese with just a liiiittle bit more effort :S)

  5. This is a great idea for a post! Not just for people to think about how they’d do things differently, but for others to learn from the mistakes/missteps/etc of higher level folks. (e.g. Adam’s post makes me realize I should probably be shadowing…)

    Not sure this is a comprehensive list, but for me:

    1) Do RTK immediately. I avoided RTK and didn’t really start getting serious about kanji at all until last year’s “Summer of RTK” challenge here on Jalup. I was around level 25 then, but still consider that challenge as the single biggest boost of my Japanese ability to date. (Kanji Kingdom didn’t exist then but I’m sure it’d have a similar effect.)

    2) Immerse! I kept putting off reading/listening to native materials because it was “too hard”. Turns out the only way to make reading native materials easier is to — wait for it — read more native materials.

    3) Track my high-level milestones. I only recently started doing this (though I did attempt to do it retroactively using Anki stats, my Goodreads profile, etc). It feels great to look back and concretely see that, not long ago, you were struggling to finish a volume of manga in a month while now you’re reading a novel in a month. Or to correlate things like “finish RTK” with level spikes. (Or to correlate “found Japanese Level up website” with massive leaps forward in ability, haha.) Only tricky part here is that sometimes you don’t realize what your milestones are until after-the-fact, so it’s handy to go back through the list and add/remove things occasionally.

    4) Use the Jalup pre-made Anki sentence decks. I always preferred to make my own cards, but I also was moving very slowly, adding at most 25 new cards per week. And it took forever to create those cards, was a bigger time-sink than I ever realized. Once I dipped my toes into Jalup Intermediate and realized not only the quality of the cards but also the fact that I could now tear through 15 to 20 new cards per day without any of the tedium of actually adding cards, it was a huge eye opener. (I’m revisiting this realization now that I finally finished Jalup Expert. My new cards have slowed waaaay down again, and now I’m thinking of digging into the One Deck for new material…)

    Looking at my list so far and thinking of other things I would add to it, I realize I can actually summarize it all pretty well as a single item: follow the Jalup method more closely. I was pretty skeptical of most of the methods outlined here when I first discovered the site, but my own approach to studying has almost entirely converged on Jalup’s recommendations at this point.

    Heh, who’d have thunk that someone with a decade of experience studying Japanese would know what they’re talking about?! :P

    • Start shadowing haha :P

      And thanks for indirectly telling your story of how you’ve worked with Jalup.

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