1.) I was introduced to manga and anime in middle school and have wanted to learn Japanese since around then or high school (don’t really remember), but I never got much further than teaching myself the kana and a handful of random, more common words/kanji. I discovered character songs in college and actually picked up a fair bit (at least vocab- and kanji-wise, if not exactly grammar-wise) from following along with the lyrics, since the series wiki would generally have them in kanji+kana, rōmaji, and English. After college, I downloaded some language-learning apps I saw mentioned to try out, and I even picked up a textbook (Japanese for Busy People) and some reference books, but I touched none of them. Later I also downloaded the JP>EN dictionary app imiwa? after seeing it mentioned on tumblr, and I would actually look stuff up in that sometimes, but that’s as far as my learning went until… Early 2021, I found the 2.43 清陰高校男子バレー部 anime when there were 3 eps out and immediately fell in love with it. I learned it was adapted from a novel/LN series (officially they’re regular novels, but apparently everyone considers them to be LNs anyway. Personally, I find the distinction a giant headache) and moreover that the chances of them getting translated into English are just about nil. In August 2021, I bought the novels that were out and started reading the side story collection with only imiwa? and trying to get Google Translate not to spit crap (yeah, didn’t go so well) to help me, though I still understood quite a bit more than I thought I would, and I quite enjoyed the experience of reading that first short story. In October 2021, I discovered WaniKani, and that plus 2.43 finally kicked my ass into gear and I started learning Japanese “properly.”
2.) I did two years of Spanish in high school and three semesters of Latin in college (was going to go the full four but unfortunately had to drop out before then). Considering I didn’t get very far with either of them (and I didn’t continue with either afterward), and that was structured classroom learning, then no, I’d say it didn’t help me with Japanese at all.
3.) I do think immersion is probably the most important. Actual studying is necessary (to me, “just immerse” doesn’t mean “immerse and do nothing else” but “just go for it, don’t be afraid to start!”), but immersing and actually using the language, in one way or another, is essential to it sticking in your brain.
4.) Immersion is… pretty much all I do. I know I should spend more time on actually studying, I’ve still got a long way to go, but it turns out I hate studying. Especially grammar. I don’t use textbooks because I am apparently allergic to them (even though I had fun reading my science textbooks in school and would sometimes accidentally read more than I needed to…), so the closest thing I have to structured learning is BP. I stopped using WK on desktop after the major change that made the UI gross… and then a while after that TsuruKame changed the font or did something that made the appearance seem off and suddenly made it uncomfortable to use, and I quit WK entirely. I still found it helpful though, so I’m waiting for Hakubun’s iOS release to try that out. I haven’t touched KameSame in forever despite my ever growing “add to KS” folder in Shirabe Jisho… I’m trying to be consistent about using BP though, to minor success. I can pretty much read, and even though I want to be able to smoothly read (and to translate), it’s easier, less energy-consuming, and generally less headache-inducing to just keep reading than it is to properly study. I think I haven’t quite given up the hope that I can just learn the language (grammar, mostly) via osmosis (reading extensively), either.
5.) I love reading. I always have—as my dad put it, I took to reading like a duck takes to water. I love being able to read a novel or manga in Japanese and be able to understand it, I love going back to “old” songs I learned mostly if not entirely phonetically before I started “properly” learning the language and realizing I can pretty much—if not entirely! —understand it now, even just from listening—sometimes even while the words are leaving my mouth as I sing it. I love when I read something I’d read before in English, and maybe my comprehension isn’t as high in Japanese, no, but I can still pick up on things that had been lost in translation. I love rereading something several months down the line and realizing I can understand more/better this time around.
6.) Really the only thing I actually track is what books I’ve read and when I finished them (I use both Bookmeter and Natively). Any other tracking seems like a pain, not to mention, I would almost certainly forget to do it. Hell, sometimes I forget to mark books finished! But I see my progress when early last year I suddenly found myself able to read a novel or LN in 3 weeks, then a week and a half, then 6 days, 4, 3; and when I fly through 50 pages and barely notice because it feels more like 15—when I started out, I could manage like 2-6 depending on the day; 10 was the absolute max, and that was as exhausting as that one time I pushed myself to read 120 pages in a day last May—and when I reread something and find I understand more now. And that now I can go for pages without having to look stuff up when I’m reading 2.43, and that there’s a lot more that I can translate as I go.