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Have you ever wondered how I learnt Japanese? You probably haven't, but I'm going to tell you anyway!

Before I start, I want to just point out that I'm not an expert yet, in fact, I'm pretty rubbish at Japanese. But I'm still going to share my learning journey/methods in case anybody wants to know! This "study method" I use is more for people who find textbooks a little bit boring unless they're in a classroom.

To start off my Japanese learning journey, I learnt Hiragana and Katakana. How did I learn it, you ask? By using a flashcard app on my phone. The specific program I used was TinyCards by Duolingo. The way I drilled the characters into my head was by going through all the cards, and then just constantly doing the quizzes over and over again, learning from my mistakes until each character was etched into my memory.

After that, I had to actually learn how to say something other than "kawaii" or "baka", and to be able to read more Kanji than the few I already knew from my Chinese learning days. At this point, I didn't have a textbook at all, so I tried to use Duolingo instead. It's rubbish for Japanese, don't use it at all if you actually want to learn it. It confuses you so much by not even explaining anything. I then decided to use a bit of JapanesePod101 and Tae Kim's Grammar Guide to pick up the basics. Those two resources were actually useful. I was also playing otome games with voice acting that also gave me a bit of vocabulary to use.

Eventually, I managed to find a copy of Genki 1. It was really useful, but I found a lot of the exercises quite tiring. They never actually helped me learn too much Kanji, because everytime I couldn't read one, I'd just skip back to the vocabulary page, look it up, then forget about it. It was a good book for learning grammar and stuff though. I haven't actually finished it yet, I sort of forgot about it, but I'll pick it up again later. I find it hard to get through textbooks when I'm not in a class with a teacher forcing you to get through it.

But if I've forgotten about the textbook, how else do I pick up words and grammar? Immersion. I browse the Internet in Japanese, watch otome anime adaptations without subtitles (even though I can't understand 70% of it), play otome games in Japanese, listen to drama CDs, and add J-Pop to my Spotify playlists. A lot of people don't bother playing games or watching anime without subtitles until they're quite advanced, but I don't care about that. For anybody wishing to learn a language, I would suggest that they knock those language barriers down and just start immersing themselves in it. It doesn't matter if you don't understand most of it, at least you can pick up a few words or phrases. It's better than just using a textbook and only knowing how to say boring stuff like "I am going to the supermarket." or "How are you?". Actually, a lot of my Japanese I've learnt from otome games, especially Diabolik Lovers. I learnt a lot of words from that. Even though they were words like "blood" and "suck", they're still words in another language!

I'm not one of those people who spend hours and hours trying to learn every single Kanji character in a month or less. I just try to focus on a few Kanji at a time, constantly revisiting them in my head every so often so I don't forget them. I pick up a lot of characters from playing otome too, because most games repeat a lot of the same words often, so they get etched into my memory easily. I'm one of those people who learns better when I hear stuff repeated to me instead of just reading it in a book. I've actually found that the best way for me to remember characters is to create little mnemonics, and it seems to work really well for me.

So, that's how I learn Japanese. It's not exactly one of the best methods, but it works for me. A lot of the time, I'm not motivated enough for the textbook, but playing games and listening to music I'm fine with. I know it sounds like a lazy way to learn a language, but whatever. I feel a bit inferior to those people who spend every waking moment studying Japanese really hard, but at least the people I know in real life think I'm cool. Some people think I'm some kind of master at languages, but I'm actually far from that.

I would write a list of suggestions on manga/anime/games to play when you're just starting out with Japanese, but I don't know what to put down. You could look at anything really. Even stuff with English subtitles even teaches you a bit. I would just suggest starting on stuff with more simpler language, like slice-of-life stuff, not fantasy or stuff where people talk about taxes and politics and all that. Even just changing the language of your Xbox or phone or whatever into Japanese helps a bit. I sometimes like watching clips from my favourite films dubbed in the language. There is a good app called Manabi Reader on iOS where you can find lots of stuff to read, and Japanese.io for computers. There's also this really useful flashcard program called Anki that I'd recommend checking out. I recently started using it and I've found that it's been really useful.

I hope this page helped somebody somewhere. Even if you don't get fluent at a language quickly, it doesn't matter. Learning a language is something that takes a long time, and people will still think you're cool, even if you can only say a few things.