At The Crossroads - Looking For Feedback!

Hello. I’ve been lurking around in the forums for quite a while now, but haven’t posted anything. I thought that I’d properly introduce myself for once today!!

I’ve been into anime and manga since around 2019, but had never really thought about sitting down and properly studying Japanese. Towards the end of October last year (2023) was when I decided that I really wanted to learn Japanese, and get somewhere with it. So at that time, I got a lifetime sub for both Bunpro and Wanikani, and started hammering away at them daily.

Today, however, I’ve finally hit the crossroads. I’m not really sure where I want to go from here. Due to life circumstances, I will only really have time to devote to Japanese until around September of this year (5 and a half months away), after which just keeping up with daily reviews will be difficult, and learning new content will be impossible. So until then, I’d like to get as far as I possibly can with Japanese.

As to where I’m at, today, I’ve just finished up the last grammar points for N3, and for Wanikani, I’m due to level up to Level 23 tomorrow. I’m thinking that perhaps I want to sit for the N3 this July. Only problem is, I’ve done little other than Bunpro and Wanikani up to this point, so the reading, and definitely listening in particular, will be a struggle. For vocabulary, I really only have the words from Wanikani and Torii (I went through all of the N5 and N4 vocab on that app over the course of November and December last year, but quit the app shortly thereafter due to SRS overload). And perhaps I’ve also picked up some words that have appeared often in the Bunpro sentences in my reviews.

I understand that I could maybe just make the jump and try immersing myself in native media, but given that the JLPT is only a few months away, I wonder if anyone more experienced in the community has any, I guess, more “targeted” suggestion for the JLPT; books, practice tests, podcasts, and whatnot, specifically designed for the test. Both paid and free resources are welcome.

Another question I would like to ask for opinions on is whether taking the JLPT itself is worthwhile, especially if it is just the N3 (I don’t think I can make it to N2 in time).

Also, the other thing I have is this, umm, “little voice in the back of my mind” that keeps telling me to forget about the JLPT (since the N3 certification may not be all that practically useful), and just have fun and work through as much of the rest of Bunpro as I can with the time I have. I’m unfortunately an absolute sucker when it comes to completion.

With that being said, I wonder, when it comes to everyday conversation - how does N3 correlate to that? Supposing that one could listen and speak using N3 grammar and vocabulary comfortably. How hard would they find it to listen to and speak in everyday conversations? Because I’ve heard from some others that N2 and N1 grammar is quite formal and not used that much in everyday conversation. And well, an even more hypothetical case, but what if one had N3 grammar ability, but their vocabulary was at N1 level? How would they fare?

But in any case, if N2 and N1 grammar are important in everyday conversation, I might think more about perhaps trying to, I guess, go through as much of N2 and N1 on Bunpro now so that in the future, when life allows time for me to study Japanese again, I would have some degree of familiarity with those grammar structures.

Sorry for the long post; I tend to digress. Anyway, it’s nice to meet you all, and please let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback as to what I should do in my case! Thank you!


Hello! Personally, I see no need for the N5-N1 tests at all. You might as well just focus on trying to enjoy content and reading native content and when you feel you are good enough, taking N1 to see how far you have come (trust me after reading enough for a short while you’ll realise just how easy N1 is and it’s nowhere close to reading fluency). Also N1 is the one that matters for jobs in Japan etc and Japanese job related positions iirc so more useful than the others.

If I were you, I’d try go through the rest of the Bunpro grammar at a fast rate (3-4 a day or more) because N2 AND N1 ARE LITERALLY MOSTLY GLORIFIED VOCABULARY xD. Nowhere as tricky as n5-n3.
As you go through N2 and N1, read some eroge or light novels for your main study (you can even use anime with subtitles as your primary source too with yomichan) and add words to your anki deck using the yomichan mouse over dictionary as you go a long with a click of a button.
If you don’t feel ready completely yet for native material perhaps try satori reader which guides you through the reading process very nicely with grammar explanations in every story it has and clickable vocab

Remember, Japanese is supposed to be fun, not something you learn for a test! I made TONS of improvement these past months reading eroge and now am reading very well. I remember being in your place and the jump to reading made a world of difference even though it was slow at first, it got better much quicker than expected.

If you need any help on setting up Yomichan or reading eroge/Vns with textractor or finding light novels in Japanese to your level, give me a DM anytime! Or if you have any questions about what I said, please feel free to ask here


I share the same opinion as @SoreWaMaichiru. In practice, if you are not using the JLPT for an actual useful application, like a job or pure challenge, the only thing you gain is a “Not a Poser” certificate, or a harsh reality check on your face. If you just want to check how good your japanese is (in input, at least), I recommend you do mock N5-N3 tests online or a old test. Not to mention, the actual “test” is trying to read what you actually want to read.

But if your (primary) objective is to just enjoy native media like me, there’s nothing better than to train yourself to that instead. If you want to read manga X, it’s way better to learn X vocabulary, than JLPT specific vocabulary. In simple terms, if you want to learn japanese to watch anime, then watch anime. My primary immersion medium is manga and doujins, with anime for listening. I use a few tools like the mentioned yomichan (now Yomitan), and Mokuro for manga OCR, then pre-learn their vocabulary on jpdb instead of anki. You can also DM me if you want help with that.

You won’t be able to devote AS MUCH time as you are devoting now, but by all means, don’t stop completely. If doing all daily reviews is too much, do less of them, until it’s bearable. 5 months is a very long time, before it even ends, your reviews will be probably small enough you can even start learning new things again, so don’t stop.

JLPT test listening, but doesn’t really test you on your conversation ability. I have seen relates of people with N1 certificates that can’t hold a conversation, but I don’t know much to talk about it.


I think that the N3 is a great step. It is used to convey to companies that you’re not a completely illiterate weeaboo that only know words like “yare yare” or “kawaii.”
N2 can be used for some integrated japanese courses through japanese universities. In my research, n2 is the absolute minimum in order to be considered for a university outside osaka, tokyo, or kyoto.
Then of course N1 is the grand daddy of the bunch and definitely worth taking.

I’m prepping for the N3 right now as job insurance, shall I say. It all depends on your goals if it is actually worth going for anything higher.

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The real question you gotta ask yourself is, do I really wanna speed run Japanese to take a test? Or do I actually love this language and would like to come back to it after things in my life get better? If you love the language you will always find a way to come back to it, or it sometimes comes back to you.

If I we’re you I would learn what I can in the next five months, but find ways to squeeze it in after that cause it will all just slowly drift away. I’ve seen this happen one too many a time with students.


OP, your reviews will continue being scheduled after that don’t forget so I wouldn’t lean too heavily on SRS if it means you won’t be able to maintain it after that point. Getting a good immersion habit started will be more beneficial in the longrun, I suspect.

Agreed. Good advice here although…

I would point out that some people wouldn’t find eroge or LNs fun or worth their time and you can obviously study from whatever native materials you like. I know there are many cases online of people leveraging their love of porn or trashy novels into a basic Japanese reading ability but you can learn Japanese from youtube or classic novels or the news or whatever you find interesting and/or fun. I know this is obvious but it is worth pointing out OP’s options are not restricted to porn and YA fiction.

Overall I agree with your advice entirely though. Find something you enjoy reading and try and read a tonne of it.


I do agree with this. It does gross me out when people’s first recommendation is this kinda stuff.
Another strategy I noticed is read books translated from english. It will help a lot with recognizing names in katakana, as well as easier to put information together as it is written as a western-style story, where things are typically more laid out.


I mean eroge doesn’t have to always be nukige lol. Most eroge have detailed plot and there are many all ages editions too. They were just suggestions though, you can read normal novels too for sure or something else you enjoy like anime and manga he mentioned, which is similar material to mine from.

Thank you so so much everyone for all the great insight! Having considered all of the feedback and slept on it for a bit, I think I will pause the addition of new grammar points on Bunpro (while still keeping up with reviews of course), but still continue with Wanikani. That way, I’ll have enough time to consume native media, thereby allowing me to deepen my grasp of the grammar and vocab I’ve learned thus far.

After all, I think that if I were to just keep up the SRS grind and continue onwards with the N2 and N1 grammar points on Bunpro, I would only improve my ability to answer SRS grammar questions, but my practical ability would probably be the same, if not worse. And it would be unlikely that I would be able to keep up with my daily grammar reviews after September hits, as @CursedKitsune mentioned. Although, if my daily review count does decline to the point that I find myself free on the bus, etc, I’ll add a grammar point or two. But slowly.

Speaking is something I think I want to try out too, so I might look into apps like HelloTalk. If anyone has had any experiences with such apps, please let me know!

Finally, it seems that the general consensus is that the N3 does not have much practical use, and it’s quite unlikely that I’ll move to Japan and work there anytime in the near future. Although I did ask some of my friends and they mentioned wanting to take the N3, so if they actually commit to that, I might, as well. Maybe get the Shin Kanzen Masuta and official books for the JLPT or something?

Anyway, thanks again for all the insight everyone! I’m quite excited to make the jump into consuming the media I enjoy. I remember back when I was maybe late N5 or early N4 on Bunpro, I had tried to implement immersion as part of my routine, but I got frustrated quite quickly and quit after a week, feeling that all the time I was spending on media was unproductive and would’ve been better off spent grinding Bunpro and Wanikani. (They were simple SoL anime/manga like Gochiusa, Non Non Biyori, etc.) Hopefully this time around I’ll have enough of a foundation to really enjoy what brought me to learning Japanese in the first place :slight_smile:


Taking the test doesn’t, but learning N3 grammar does. Personally I think ALL the JLPT levels are necessary in order to become fluent in Japanese. I encounter N2 and N1 grammar in anime and video games all the time, so it’s all valuable.

That said, given your situation, you should at least aim to learn up to N3 grammar/Vocabulary. That should get you to a point where you’ll start to understand Japanese a bit better. N4 is simply not enough, and you’ll just get frustrated because you’re not gonna understand much of anything. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still struggle even with N3, but at least you’ll be at a better place than with just N4 knowledge (which is super basic).

I’ve used HelloTalk and it’s a great way to find people interested in conversing in different languages. That’s how I met one of my Japanese friends, and a few others through her when I visited Japan last year. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in speaking.

Good luck!

Immersion is work. Treat it like SRS. Biggest mistake people make I think is not properly identifying fun time vs work time and not properly splitting their time between them.

I highly recommend going for the N3. Its really nice to have the certificate. It may seem to be just a paper but its something concrete that you can show to people / potential companies. Its much better to have something vs nothing, in a way. Its also something for yourself - hey, I have something to show for my hard work :).

Personally, I have found it quite practical to have it as it shows commitment.

Also the JLPT exam is quite a lot of fun in a way as there are “no real consequences” for failing and it is more a challenge.

Some ideas for the JLPT exam: There are a lot of listening exams on YouTube for free, the Kanzen Master Reading and Grammar books are great too. I listened from time to time (while working) to the podcast “Japanese with Teppei and Noriko” before the JLPT N3 exam.

Hey! I’m actually in a very similar position. Currently living in Japan and just finished N3 grammar but only a few months before I go back to “regular life”. There’s always that fear that things will get busy and I’ll forget everything I’ve learned so my goal is basically to keep progressing where I can with vocab and kanji but mostly to set up a habit of integrating immersion into my daily life and I’ve found setting up yomichan for VNs and using language reactor for anime on Netflix plus some podcasts has been really helpful. My only goal for when I go home is to make sure that learning Japanese is as little a grind as possible. I’d really only recommend doing JLPT if you’re going for N2 in the case where you want it for your CV for jobs in Japan.