japanese language study guide

part of learning japanese

to be merged into the parent page


read, read, read. always look up new words and grammar. alternatively, talk, talk, talk. entertainment media can help to learn about the many nuances and practical usage of the language.



  • start learning about kanji right after learning kana, there is no helping it, japanese is written with kanji
  • they are in effect read like letters in english and you need to know the common ~2200 ones to read. it takes years
  • readings are important because knowing them allows for guessing a selection of possible readings for a word at least, which practically allows to read any word like alphabet letters
  • first you learn meanings, then writing, then readings, then words, their readings and meanings and writing
  • reading and vocabulary

    • for each kanji, learn the most common readings and one or more words from a list. (kanji readings words)
    • when you learned the reading of the kanji, move the entry to another list, reverse it and test yourself with only the kanji and words. (words kanji)
  • writing

    • write down a few times any kanji for which you dont yet know how it is written. use the correct stroke order. there is a system to it and at some point you are good

    • writing from memory is a test if you remember each stroke, which you have to. sometimes characters look complex but seem simpler after writing them

    • there is little margin for error, all strokes must be right enough

example exercises

  • write all kana characters from memory in gojoun order
  • begin to write sentences then essays regularly. find something to write about
  • copy example sentences by handwriting
  • collect phrases you find interesting
  • collect new words you find and keep adding them to text files, categorised by noun (can include na-adjectives), verb, ideophone or other. review the list sometimes to be exposed to recently seen words
  • write down as many words you can remember ordered by initial
  • do learning exercises that you want to do right now and mix it up if progress is lacking


  • the dictionary of basic/intermediate/advanced japanese grammar three part book series. for lookup of usage notes and examples, but not explanations of how the expressions came to be. it has an english expression to japanese index, a relatively large preamble and appendix with detailed and useful information about general topics, and it lists grammar elements alphabetically. ~$50 per volume. would benefit from being digital with clickable links
  • human japanese intermediate