Every person’s study routine is different. Not only does it change from person to person but can vary over time. This post talks about different study routines you can do, why it’s important to keep it varied, and how to find one that works best for you. For someone who is just starting out it’s hard to get into the swing of a daily routine, but persistence brings out the best results.
If you would like more advice on studying Japanese I always recommend Master Japanese which has lots of useful information about study methods, types of learners, facts about classes vs private tutors, and study types. It’s a really good site that makes you think about what you want out of Japanese and how to structure you goals and study methods around that.
How your study routine plays out depends very much on the type of resources you use and how you learn best, which is why the following has a number of suggestions of resources you can use to study.
The following information consists mostly of advice. I encourage you to explore some of these suggestions as well as try and find your own. Ask friends or others for what they enjoy using/how they learn, and find what works best for you!
(These do not include teachers as study routines are supposed to be your day-to-day type studying you do outside of the classroom)
|Review regularly to remember!|
Flashcards – These are great for studying vocabulary and kanji. You can use a pre-made deck on an app or create your own on paper.
It’s important that you study these often. Don’t go through them once and think you’re done. That’s why it’s great to get an app that has spaced repetition which helps you remember the word just before you forget it.
Useful flashcard apps:
Audio Lessons – You might prefer learning through listening. The great thing about learning using audio programs is you can study on the go. Whether you’re walking the dog or commuting to work. Exposing yourself to Japanese speaking (especially if you don’t live in Japan), is extremely useful.
Useful audio programs:
- Podbay – find Japanese podcasts for beginners (such as JapanesePod 101) or advanced (such as NHK News)
- Japanese Audio Flashcards
Videos – Youtube is a great resource for finding lessons for learning Japanese (bellow are 4 suggestions). But don’t forget you can use dramas as well, although these are not direct lessons per-ce, it’s useful to expose yourself to the language and how it’s used in everyday situations. (But do use other methods as well as watching dramas)
- NHK News Video Clips
- Fluent Japanese (Youtube)
- Japanese Pod 101 (Youtube)
- Tae Kim (Youtube)
- Japan Society NYC (Youtube)
Reading – If your goal is to be able to read something (newspapers, manga etc) then include reading in your everyday Japanese practice.
- Manga – You can find Japanese language versions in online stores or the scanned raws.
- Newspapers – Short articles using videos and not too complicated Japanese can be found on NHK News
- Japanese language blogs – Google what you’re interested in, or ask Japanese friends/people for recommendation.
|Native Japanese person correcting my writing on Lang-8|
Speaking – With studying Japanese comes a time when you need to use your Japanese, and starting to speak early gets you improved super quickly. Doing this at least once a week (ideally more) will boost your skills.
- Find friends to practice with
- Language exchanges – Through MeetUp or My Language Exchange or even Lang-8
- Skype lessons with teachers – Through GenkiJACs (which is a school in Fukuoka I studied at once), or Verbal Planet
Once you’ve found a variety of things you’re interested in and enjoy using you should mix it up! Again, how you mix these up depend on you and how you study and what you want to prioritise in your studies. It’s really difficult to keep ontop of everything every single day if you’ve selected a HUGE number of resources to use.
Tip 1: Pick only what you enjoy and find useful.
Tip 2: Don’t pick something just because you’ll “use it later”. If it’s been sitting on your phone for more than 2 months without being used, delete it. It’s unwanted clutter and subconscious pressure.
Tip 3: Find 1 or 2 things that you can do everyday, and then another 1 or 2 things you can do every week when you have time. I.e flashcards everyday, do some reading every other day.
Now you need to time to do what you want to do. The following are a few suggestions for finding time to study.
- Commuting – in a car, stick on audio lesson; on the train, use a flashcard app.
- Between classes – turn up 20mins before a class starts and go through a flashcard app or read a page of a book/manga.
- During classes – dull class? Work through some flashcards or read a Japanese article
- In the morning – wake up 30mins earlier to do some studying.
- Before bed – go to bed 30mins earlier and do some studying before you sleep.
- While you’re cooking – that pasta bake will take 25mins, why not do some Japanese while you wait?
Again, mix these up! Do a number of small things throughout the day and you’ll find the time building up a lot more than if you were just setting aside an hour or two of intensive study, which (although may suit some) can fry your brain and make learning feel more like a chore.
As I mentioned, the above are just suggestions and it’s important to find what works best for you. It’s important to ask others for advice (although take advice with a pinch of salt and try them for yourself). Google the things you’re interested in and compare what you find.
To work out how what works well for you, you can ask yourself some simple questions:
- Why do I want to study Japanese? (If it’s reading focus on kanji and reading; if it’s speaking focus on listening and speaking etc.)
- What will I happily pick-up at odd times throughout the day? (If you’re glued to your phone download an app to work through; if you prefer turning off all electronics find a text book, manga or novel to work through)
- How do I study best? (Through reading, listening, doing, being taught, etc? You can pick more than one!)
- Why have I not studied this in a while? (Is it really lack of time or are you just bored? If you’re bored, find something else to re-invigorate your passion for learning!)
- What time of day does my brain best function? (Are you a morning person or evening person? What time works best for you to absorb the information?)