How to acquire Japanese efficiently

Part 1: Language Learning Theory (Language Agnostic)
Stage 0: Principles of language acquisition 
Stage 1: building a base level of ability within the language
Active vs Passive Immersion
Thousands of Hours
Pronunciation and Phonetics
Anki 
Vocabulary
Grammar
Stage 2: increasing your comprehension within a domain
Various levels of comprehension
Comprehensible vs Incompr
Domains
Comprehension Factors
Reading Immersion
Anki Card Formats (Sentence and Vocab)
Sentence Mining (various methods)
  Monolingual transition 
Stage 3: output
Output Theory
Early Output
Language Learning Parent
Writing
Output Troubleshooting
The Basics of Speaking 
Shadowing
Improving your Speaking Ability
Stage 4: increasing comprehension within other domains
TBA
Part 2: Applications to Japanese
Stage 1 Resources
Resources for Active and Passive Immersion
Kana
Pronunciation
Kanji
Vocabulary 
Grammar
Technology (Anki and Yomichan)
Sentence Mining
Monolingual Transition
Stage 2 Resources
Resources for Reading
Stage 3 Resources
Language Parents
Pitch Accent
Stage 4 Resources
Production RTK
Japanese Dialects
国語文法
古文
漢字能力検定
敬語
Part 3: Other Language Learning Resources
Other Guides for learning Japanese
Youtube channels on learning Japanese
Interviews
Part 4: Miscellaneous
Useful websites/links
 
Stage 0
Core Language Acquisition Theory
 

Input Hypothesis

 
Stephen Krashen: A Forty Years’ War
 
Acquisition: subconscious knowledge (Intuition)
Largely unaware when acquisition is happening.
Ideally in a flow state- engaged in the story.
Leads to fluency and accuracy.
 
Learning: conscious knowledge 
Acts as a conscious monitor (very hard to use in real time).
Have to know the rule that needs to be applied.
Have to be thinking about applying the rule (takes away from the flow of the conversation as you are now not focused on what your conversational partner is saying).
Need to have time to apply the rule (not possible during a live conversation).
The ability to acquire a language never goes away.
 
Language is acquired in a certain order.
The order of acquisition does not depend on its simplicity/complexity. 
Some rules may never be acquired by adults. 
Knowing the rule consciously doesn’t help you to use it fluently. 
 
People all acquire language in the same way- through comprehensible, compelling input.
Comprehensible: when the message is understood.
Compelling: the story is so interesting that you forget that it is in another language. 
The ideal is to reach a “flow” state when immersing in the content. 
“Motivation doesn’t matter. I am pronouncing the death of the concept of motivation… Tell them a good story, and they will acquire the language whether they are interested in it or not.”
 
Output is the result of comprehensible input (language acquisition), not the cause of it.
Recommends going through a “Silent period” where one does not speak and instead only focuses on listening and reading.
If language is acquired in a certain, natural order then how do we move from point A to point B?
Consume comprehensible input that contains the next rule that you are ready for; the next rule that you are ready for (i+1) is contained within that comprehensible input. 
 
Language acquisition is a gradual process that occurs a little bit at a time. 
You won’t notice any progress day to day, but if you look back over weeks, months, and years you will see a drastic improvement if you stay consistent every day.

Consciousness and Language Acquisition

 
Consciousness and Language acquisition (Matt vs Japan)
 
Consciousness and the Unconscious Mind
Your sensory organs collect data from the environment and this gets sent to your unconscious mind for filtering; important information is then sent up to your conscious mind. 
It is believed that some portion of this filtering is due to innate ability, and another portion is due to past experiences. 
For language learning, we want our brain to turn this raw auditory data into meaning. 
When you are fluent, there is no time delay between hearing the sounds and understanding the meaning of what is being said- it’s impossible to not understand. 
Levels of Pattern Recognition
  Spontaneous
The more often that you are exposed to something (repetition), the more likely you are to pick up on more subtle details. 
Intentionality
When thinking about a certain thing (and it has become relevant to your brain), you will start to notice it more. 
Deliberate Practice
The main mechanism for getting good at a skill.
Requires a clear goal for success and failure, and immediate feedback on performance; without feedback you can’t improve.
Failure is the mechanism for improvement; you need to practice things that you can’t yet do in order to get to the next level (don’t get stuck in your comfort zone). 
 
Linguistic Competence vs Performance
Competence: your understanding of what is correct or not within the language.
Performance: what you actually produce within the language.
Your level of performance can never exceed your competence level. 
The task of the language learner is to develop near native competence (to install an unconscious model of the language in their brain). 
Boosting your performance level is relatively easy once you have the intuition of what is right and wrong.
This allows for self-correcting feedback.
You need to be able to tell when you are hitting or missing the target, otherwise you won’t be able to have effective deliberate practice that allows you to produce natural language like a native. 
Language vs General Skill Acquisition
Certain parts of the brain are innately dedicated to language acquisition.
Just through getting input, you will become able to naturally output.
1st vs 2nd Language Acquisition
Adults largely have the same capacity to learn a language as a child does. 
Children seem to not need deliberate practice in order to improve in their first language, while an adult language learner does. 
Adults need to be actively engaged with the language in order for acquisition.
Only doing passive immersion is not enough; it supplements active immersion by giving repetition of content. 
 
Deliberate Practice and Language Acquisition
In the beginning we engage in deliberate practice by having the intention to understand the language during immersion. 
Eventually you will reach a plateau where you stop improving because you understand all of your input. However, the level of competence that is necessary to produce language at a native level is higher than the amount of competence required to understand language at native level. 
If you want to continue to improve past this plateau then we need to figure out what aspect of the language we are missing.
Ask a native speaker and then train yourself to notice that thing during your immersion. 
If creating a deliberate practice loop is not possible, then we at least want to maintain an intention to notice those patterns during our immersion.
We can then use that new level of competence to train our performance.

Theory vs Practice 

 
Theory vs Practice (Matt vs Japan)
 
If you want to get better at a language then you actively have to use that language in order to understand content- don’t just study a language.
Regularly engage with Japanese content.
Don’t fool yourself by using dumbed down content for language learners: graded readers, textbooks, dubbed shows.
Use content made by natives and made for natives.
 
Balance efficiency and enjoyment
If you don’t enjoy the process then you will end up quitting- and that’s the least efficient method.
It is easiest to start out with building habits (doing something everyday, even if for a small amount of time), and then increase the time you invest with the language as you keep going. 
 
Language isn’t math (Matt vs Japan)
 
Skill building model
Doesn’t distinguish between learning and acquisition.
Consciously study vocabulary and grammar rules and then practice using these to build speaking skills early on. 
In reality, this method fails to help people reach a high level in foreign languages.
People end up becoming too focused on translating thoughts from English into their target language using various grammar rules that they have learned.
 
“Human language is highly specific in unpredictable ways”
Thinking in your target language and using rules to translate your thoughts into your target language leads to unnatural speech, and possibly not being understood.
Each language expresses different, unique ideas from others, and will express the same idea in different ways: set phrases, idioms, etc.
If you want to express an idea in a way that sounds natural to native speakers then you need to know the specific way that a native speaker would express that idea, and the type of ideas that a native speaker would express in the first place. 
 
Getting better and being able to engage with content and people in a meaningful manner is the most fun part of the process.
Sometimes you have to embrace the grind in order for this to happen.
Studying helps to speed up the language acquisition process by increasing your conscious knowledge. This allows you to pay more attention (to that specific aspect) during your immersion in order to subconsciously acquire the language. 
Note that studying is not a replacement for language acquisition, but rather acts as a catalyst for it. 
 
Stage 1
Building a base level of ability within a language
 

Active and Passive Immersion

 
Audio immersion should be started from day 1
Build up a habit of immersing and then increase time once you are consistent
“Grow some balls and listen to anime all day”
 
Active immersion
Focusing all of your effort while watching a show or listening to audio. 
Stay engaged with the content
Try to understand as much as possible
Turn off any distractions (Social Media, Discord, etc)
 
Types of Active Immersion
Intensive Immersion
Looking up as much as possible to understand the show
Some people pause at the end of each subtitle line to read it.
Eventually your reading speed will be sufficient enough to where you can just read the subtitles in real time along with the show.
Rewind parts to re-listen
This is a great time to sentence mine and make anime cards.
Free-Flow Immersion
Sit back and enjoy the content
You can still look up the occasional word if it catches your eye
How often should you look words up? (Matt vs Japan)
Try to avoid looking up every unknown word: tolerate ambiguity
Focus on learning frequent words
 
Mindset and staying engaged when you don’t understand anything
Instead of focusing on what you don’t understand, focus on what you can. 
“Small victories” will keep you in the game. 
Focus on picking out new words that you have recently learned.
Having fun in a Language you suck at (Matt vs Japan) 
Use Compelling input: something you want to watch
If it’s boring then throw it out and find something new
 
Tricks to increase comprehension
Watch something you have seen before.
This could be a show you have watched before with English subtitles or a dubbed TV show from your Native Language.
Read a short summary of the show/episode before watching it.
Use Target Language subtitles and read alongside the episode.
 
Passive immersion
Listening to audio in the background while doing some other task
Walking, Cooking, Cleaning, Commuting, etc.
The more attention you can pay to your passive immersion the more beneficial it will be
Passively immerse in content that you have already watched actively
Repetition will help you to acquire the language faster. 
 
Active/Passive immersion ratio (Matt vs Japan)
Active immersion is the most important component of language acquisition
Passive immersion is used when you aren’t able to actively immerse because you have things to do
 

Thousands of Hours

 
Why you still can’t understand your TL (Matt vs Japan)
 
Not enough time spent with your target language
Fear of ambiguity
It can be hard to spend time doing something when you don’t understand what is going on.
If you aren’t satisfied with your listening ability then invest another 1000 hours into raw listening; rinse and repeat.
 
Focus on the sounds of the language
Try to identify words that you recognize
Listen to how words blend together
 
Knowledge vs ability
Conscious knowledge can be gained through studying
Ability is only gained through hours of actually practicing the skill
Need to be able to understand native speech at a natural speed
Parsing the phonemes: ability to differentiate between sounds
Connected speech: how words are combined during natural spoken language.
Intrusion: sound gets inserted between two words
Elision: sounds get removed
Assimilation: 2 sounds blend together to form a new one
Phonetic Ambiguity: have to rely on context to fill in the blanks
Homophones: same pronunciation, different spelling & meaning
Homonyms: same pronunciation & spelling, different meaning
Compressing your Language Immersion (Brit vs Japan)
More time immersing each day leads to more gains that compound on top of each other.
However, it is better to be consistent than to go intense for a couple of days and burn out. 
By consistent I mean that at a minimum you are immersing for 3 hours every day.
 
Language Density (Luke Truman)
If you get bored/tired of harder media then switch to easier content
Match content’s difficulty according to energy levels
Balance efficiency and enjoyment
Novels and Audiobooks are the most dense form of content
Contains the widest variety of language (large potential for gaining ability)

Basic Pronunciation 

 
Learn what sounds exist in your target language and how are they made
 
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
One symbol corresponds to one specific sound
Interactive IPA chart (contains audio)
 
Consonants
Places of articulation
Obstruction of airflow can be achieved by various parts of the mouth
Bilabial: upper and lower lips
Labiodental: lower lip and upper teeth
Dental: tip of tongue and upper teeth
Alveolar: tip of tongue and alveolar ridge (behind upper teeth)
Post Alveolar: tongue and back of alveolar ridge 
Retroflex (none in English): curl tip of  tongue back and touch roof of mouth just beyond alveolar ridge
Palatal: body of tongue against hard palate
Velar: back of tongue touches soft palate
Uvular (none in English): back of tongue touches uvula
Pharyngeal (none in English): root of tongue against Pharynx (upper throat)
Epi-Glottal (none in human languages)
Glottal: use glottis (opening of vocal folds)
Manner of articulation
Nasal: air escapes through the nose
Plosive: stops all airflow, builds up pressure and releases
Fricative: forces air through narrow channel
Approximant: articulators approach each other
Tap: one articulator thrown against the other a single time
Trill: vibration
Lateral: tongues obstructs middle of mouth and causes air to flow on the outside
Voicing
Some consonants have pairs.
Voiced: vocal cords vibrate (buzzing sound). Placed on the right of the IPA chart.
Unvoiced: vocal cords do not vibrate. Placed on the left of the IPA chart.
Aspiration: how much air is exhaled 
An aspirated consonant will have a stronger burst of air
Vowels
Diphthong: 2 vowel sounds combined with glide
 
Intonation
Pitch: frequency of vibration (often high vs low)
Stress: emphasis on words/syllables (often strong vs weak)
Rhythm: feel of the language (fast vs slow, stops and starts)
 
Watching YouTube videos of native speakers break down each sound in your target language is generally sufficient for this stage.
Don’t worry if you can’t completely replicate each sound perfectly yet- just get a basic knowledge of how sounds are pronounced (tongue position) and learn to recognize them.

Downloading Anki

 
Role of the SRS
 
Create a mental dictionary for vocabulary
Lets you know that words exist and gives you a rough idea of the meaning
The full usage of a word/grammar point is acquired through immersion
 
Maintain less frequent words
Eventually your vocabulary will grow so large that you are learning words that only pop up every couple of months during immersion.
Using the SRS will allow you to see these cards more often than they naturally appear in immersion which helps you to maintain your knowledge. 
 
Overall: Anki is a supplement to immersion
It acts as a catalyst to speed up your acquisition of the language.
Try to spend less than 1 hour in Anki per day 
This ends up being around 10-20 new cards per day for most people.
If you are doing a premade deck (in the beginning) then you might be able to do more cards then the suggested amount above; just be wary of your total time spent in Anki each day (you don’t acquire language in Anki).
I recommend doing all of your reviews and new cards first thing in the morning so that you can get it out of the way and not have to worry about it for the rest of the day.
Downloading the Anki app for your phone is really useful for this (even though it costs $25 for Iphone users)
 
Anki download (The currently recommend version is Anki 2.1.35)
User manual (for reference)

Optimizing Anki Settings

 
Anki Tutorial | Deck Options and Algorithm (Matt vs Japan)
This is a must watch video in order to understand how Anki works and what each option in the settings page does. 
 
Low-Key Anki
Articles on how the SRS works and optimizing Anki settings for maximum efficiency
Installation
 
Recommended Settings
Go into Anki preferences (ctrl + p) → Scheduling: Show new cards after reviews
To access the options page click on the little cog wheel on the side of a deck
 
I have new cards set to 9999 but you should only learn 10-20 new cards per day
Easy interval doesn’t matter since the Low-Key Add-Ons remove that functionality.
Adjust your interval modifier for each deck until your mature retention rate is 80-90%. Higher interval modifier leads to less reviews but also worse retention.
 
New Interval can be anywhere from 40-70%, experiment and find out what works for you.
Keep the leech threshold low (4-6).
Some people have their leech action on “tag” and then they just move all of their leeches to a separate deck.
 

Anki Add-ons

 
Role of the SRS 2
Migaku retirement add-on download
No point in repping a card if you can maintain your knowledge of it through immersion.
Eventually your Anki interval for a card will surpass its natural “Immersion interval”. Just by immersing you will be able to maintain this word.
These cards will then be suspended and you won’t have to waste time repping.
Setting retirement interval (depends on frequency of words)
 
Migaku Editor
Edit your cards while reviewing without having to open up the Edit menu.
See real time changes in cards if you use the Edit menu.
 
Review Heatmap
Keeps track of your Anki streak and is cool to look at (flex your stats)!
 

Vocabulary Acquisition

 
Learn the most frequent 2000 words in a language
 
Zipf’s law
Word frequency: 2000 most frequent words are 80% of conversation
Focusing on the most frequent words in the beginning will give you the biggest boost in comprehension. 
98% comprehension: ~25,000 words
 
You can either mine a basic grammar guide for vocabulary or use a premade anki deck.
 
Ideally the deck you are using has example sentences for each word and native audio of the target word (if not the entire sentence).
 

The Role of Grammar Study

How to (not) think in your target language (Matt vs Japan)

 
You want to go from pure meaning to language
You should only study from your Target leaning to your Native Language (eventually your Target language when you complete the monolingual transition).
Conscious knowledge of grammar is used to improve your comprehension (much like a visual aid) which helps in acquiring the language
Language is only acquired when the message is understood.
 
Translating leads to your speaking being error-prone, slow and awkward
Just become aware of various patterns: don’t memorize conjugation tables.
Once you become aware of something then you can pay attention to it during immersion and gain an intuitive understanding of how it works.
 
Simply read through a basic grammar guide or textbook and make sentence cards for the example sentences.
Skip doing any exercises. 
We are aiming for recognition and understanding of the language; natural use of the language is obtained through understanding hours of immersion and gaining a correct intuition for the language (building an unconscious model of the language in your brain).
 
Stage 2
Building your comprehension 
 

Levels of comprehension

 
Level 1: not able to understand anything
Level 2: able to pick out words occasionally 
Level 3: able to follow some main ideas, but many details are lost
Level 4: able to follow the majority of main ideas and only a few details are lost
Level 5: with effort, able to understand the content with virtually no details lost
Level 6: effortlessly able to understand the entirety of the content (Native level comprehension) 
 
Ultimately comprehension is a scale and the levels created are an abstract model created for ease of use.
 

Comprehensible vs Incomprehensible Input

 
Does Input have to be “Comprehensible”? (Matt vs Japan)
Use material that is made by Natives and is meant for Natives.
Natural rate of speech
The brain has to learn to parse the phonemes in real time.
Denser content means more overall sentences
You can focus on “picking out” words that you know
More opportunities for 1T sentences to mine
 
Tolerating Ambiguity
Become comfortable with not understanding everything.
Avoid looking up every unknown word; this quickly becomes very tiring and disengages you from actually engaging with the content. 
A good rule of thumb is to only look up words that you feel that you have seen twice or more. 
The proper attitude to have during immersion
Focus on how much material you can understand instead of the swathe of things that you don’t. 
Turn immersion into a game of how many words you can pick out, how many sentences did you understand, etc. 
Graded/Learner Material
Mainly used as a stepping stone into native content during the beginning phase.
Using Dubs of your favorite shows can be a good way to stay engaged; you already know the story and this allows you to solely focus on the TL.
Engaging content
You should want to spend time doing things in the language
Engaging with TL media should be fun; if it is boring then you should throw it out and go immerse with something that grabs your attention.
Having fun with the language will make you more likely to do that activity more frequently and for longer periods each time.
Overall: the only way to become real is by doing the real thing.
You will never be “ready” to start immersing with native materials. If you continually put it off then you will make NO progress, and you will find that even if you continue your studies it will not be any easier when you come back to native content months later. 
You don’t get good at your TL in order to interact with native materials- you get good by interacting with native materials.
Make incomprehensible content more comprehensible by using a dictionary, and sentence mining the material. 
You should mainly focus on finding compelling content as this is what is going to keep you engaged with the language. Ideally, something is both comprehensible and compelling.

Domains

 
Focus on one area at a time when building comprehension
Broad scale: same genre of tv show/drama, books from the same author
  Small scale: a specific tv show, blog or website
Having a smaller domain means that you will increase your comprehension faster.
Doing one thing at a time allows you to focus your attention on that content.
You will get progress faster rather than doing a little bit of everything all at once. 
The downside is that you might get bored of only immersing in one type of content.
I recommend that you intensively mine one domain/show while still having enough diversity in the rest of your immersion to stay engaged and interested. 
Work on getting this domain to a level 5 through sentence mining and immersion
When you finish, move onto something that is similar in content and style.
Once you feel that you have mastered that domain then move onto building comprehension in other domains.
 
It is a good idea to continue to immerse in level 5 content in order to reduce the effort required for full comprehension (level 6).
 
Building up your first domain will be the hardest part as you are starting from nothing. Once that base level of ability is reached then it is easier to transfer that ability to other domains.
There is an overlap of common language between various domains.

Comprehensibility Factors

 
Visual Context
Listening and reading without visual context adds a layer of complexity because the context needs to be described entirely with words. 
This is why reading Novels is one of the best things that you can do to grow your vocabulary; the things that would normally be described with pictures now have to be described with words. 
 
Narrative Predictability
Familiarity with characters and the story: tropes/cliches. 
Unscripted content (podcasts, talk shows, etc.) tends to be more difficult because they don’t follow a set storyline. 
 
Domain Familiarity
News broadcasts, stand-up comedy, talk-shows, and interviews tend to bounce around between many different topics in a short period of time; this means you need to master multiple domains to understand them.
Most domains will have specific vocabulary that isn’t really used outside of that domain; this will be an initial barrier when first getting into that field.
Regional Dialects
Differences in slang, vocabulary, grammar,  pitch accent, and intonation.
 
Audience 
Infant: exaggerated visual context and extremely simple language, low language density.
Child: simple and repetitive story lines. Good for beginner learners if you can maintain interest. 
Adolescent: stories are complex enough that they can hold an adult’s interest for multiple seasons, and the language is dense and complex enough to stretch an intermediate learner’s abilities.
Adult: varies wildly in terms of comprehension depending on the genre.
Technical: college lectures, conference talks, and textbooks on technical subjects (physics, chemistry, programming, etc). Comprehensibility for this type of media also depends on your prior knowledge of the subject matter rather than just your language ability.
 
Inherent Difficulty of Various Domains
Slice of Life tends to use everyday vocabulary and revolve around a number of typical life experiences such as romance or school. This can be a good first choice for a domain if you can maintain interest.
I personally found SoL boring so I generally watched shows that were more difficult but also that held my interest more.
Politics, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime, etc. tend to have more specialized vocabulary that is only used within that domain. 
 
Dubbed vs Native Content
Dubbed versions of shows tend to be simplified compared to the original.
Jokes and puns don’t translate.
Lack of cultural relevance to your target language. 
Dubbed content is good for getting into your target language, but ideally you will use native content.
 
Input Channels
Visual, Reading, Listening
Combining multiple forms of input makes the content easier to understand
3-channel input (easiest)
TV show w/ target language subtitles
2-channel input
Manga (visual + reading)
TV shows/Youtube videos w/o subtitles (visual + listening)
Reading the transcript of a podcast (reading + listening)
1-channel input (hardest)
Pure reading: blog posts, web articles, novels
Pure listening: podcasts, talk shows, audiobooks

Reading immersion 

 
Reading immersion can be started alongside a basic acquisition of grammar and vocabulary.
 
Why you should read Novels
Novels use a wider variety of vocabulary and grammar in order to describe everything through a written medium instead of relying on visual elements. 
Non-fiction works tend to be more straightforward and easier to understand than fiction.
Generally conveys information in a way that is easily digestible.
Added benefit of actually learning something new in your target language. 
Reading your first novel is going to be tough no matter what and at some level you just have to brute force it.
The more novels you read the easier it will get: it’s better to read 10 novels at a level 4 comprehension than to spend that entire time on 1 novel in order to get it to a level 6 comprehension. 
Light novels are generally easier than novels and can be a good intermediate step.
Try to obtain the book in an electronic format (compared to physical books) as you will be able to use electronic dictionaries to easily look up unknown words. 
Physical books are better suited towards when you are already comfortable with reading novels; when you aren’t going to be heavily sentence mining or using a dictionary.
 
Why you can’t understand a sentence even if you know all of the words (Matt vs Japan)
Grammar
A sentence is more than the sum of its parts
Unknown grammar pattern/rule
Unable to recognize which grammar patterns
Center embedding: clauses inserted into the middle of sentences (this often creates sentences that are tricky to decipher)
Vocabulary
Words can have multiple meanings or nuances
Not aware of the different meanings
Not aware of the general vs specific nuance of a word
Unable to determine which meaning is relevant
Context 
In what situation is the sentence being said
What type of ideas do natives tend to have in that situation?
How do natives tend to express these ideas?
Usage of idiomatic phrases
Information being left out
Often smaller mistakes in various areas compound
 
Balancing listening and reading ability (Matt vs Japan)
Reading ability will always be easier to cultivate than listening comprehension
Can make the fastest gains by focusing exclusively on reading skills
Listening is playing “catch up” (learning to hear what you can already read)
If the skill gap gets too large then it could have a negative impact on accent.
This is negligible in my opinion if you get enough audio input.
If your reading comprehension becomes too high while your listening drags behind then you may develop an adversity to tolerating ambiguity.
I would focus on reading more than listening in order to improve your comprehension.
Aim for at least a 50/50 split if you don’t want to focus on one area specifically.

Sentence cards

 
1 Target (1T): Contains only 1 new word/grammar point to learn.
The sentence becomes understandable once you look up the target word.
It’s more efficient to learn 5 easy sentences than to waste your time on one sentence with multiple unknowns: “Pick low-hanging fruit”. 
 
Card Format (*=essential)
Front: sentence in Target Language*
Back: 
Definition and pronunciation of the target word/grammar point*
Eventually the definition will also be in your target language
Additional Example Sentences
Native audio of the target word 
Native audio of the sentence 
Image
 
Benefits of Sentence Cards
See the word being used in context
What words are commonly used together
Solidify grammar points
 
Disadvantages
Context dependent memories
Sometimes you end up memorizing the entire card instead of just the target word and won’t recognize the target word during your immersion even though you have an Anki card for it.
Longer review time in Anki due to having to read the entire sentence for every card.
Try to keep the sentences 4-10 words long (sometimes you only need the phrase or subclause and not the entire sentence)
 
How to grade sentence cards (Matt vs Japan)
Pass
You understood the meaning of the sentence
You understood how the individual words contribute to the overall meaning
You knew the pronunciation of the sentence
You would not benefit from seeing the card more often
Fail
You didn’t understand the sentence
You didn’t know the pronunciation of the sentence/words
You would benefit from seeing the card more often
Grading new cards (first time seeing a card):
Read the front; note the unknown target word or grammar point
Read the back/definition of the target word/grammar point
Reread the front (it should now be comprehensible)
Press “Pass/Good”
Grading old cards (reviews):
Read the front
Read the back (some people skip this, but I read the back on every review)
Grade the card Pass/Fail according to the above criteria.

Vocabulary Cards

 
Format (*=essential)
Front of the card
Word in Target language*
Back of the card
Definition and pronunciation of the word*
Example Sentence (highly recommended)
Audio for the Word 
Audio for the sentence
Image
 
Benefits
Faster repping time
Less time in Anki or a able to do more cards in a similar amount of time
No context dependent memories
Once the card is learned the word will be easier to recognize in your immersion.
The downside of this is that it might be harder to learn that specific anki card.
 
Disadvantages
It doesn’t test you on what the word actually means in context.
Include an example sentence so that you see the word being used in context.
If the word has multiple meanings then you won’t know which one is being tested.
I would use a sentence card in this case or at least include an example sentence on the front of the card in a hint field for reference if needed.
Because the memories aren’t as context dependent these cards can generally lead to more reviews in the short term as your retention rate won’t be as strong.
 
These cards are better suited if you already read a lot and don’t need to see the context of the sentence in order to understand the word.
 
I’ve found that vocab cards work best for words that have a single definition (mainly nouns).
 
I would create a separate deck (from your sentence deck) for vocabulary cards as they have a different intrinsic difficulty than sentence cards and thus you will want to mess with the interval and lapse modifier in order to adjust your retention rate (without affecting your sentence deck).

On Frequency

 
There are generally two schools of thought:
Add everything you can find
Limit your mining to words that are below a certain frequency threshold
 
Personally I subscribe to the first and then let my judgement guide me:
Do I want to add a card for this word (is it something that I want to learn)?
Will a card be useful for learning this or can I just learn it through immersion?
If a word appears so frequently in the content you are immersing with then you may be better off looking up the definition a couple of times during immersion instead of making a card.
Does this word appear familiar/important? (internal frequency list)
 
There are plenty of 1T sentences out there; grab the easy and juicy looking sentences!
Eventually new words will become so rare that you will be forced to mine every unknown word that you come across otherwise you won’t make enough cards for the next day.
 

“Old School” Sentence mining

 
Making monolingual sentence cards in real time (Matt vs Japan)
Making sentence cards (Matt vs Japan)
 
 Look for 1T sentences while immersing
Gives context to your cards as you are able to pick what words you want to learn. 
Type/Copy & paste the sentence + relevant dictionary entry into Notepad++ for later
 
I generally use this approach when mining from a written medium.
If you are mining from Netflix, etc. then it is better to create the cards in real time with various technology so that you can include audio and images on your cards.
I generally will create cards at the end of the day after I have amassed all of my sentences/words for the day. I do not recommend building up a giant backlog on your text document that you will have to work through; I generally only mine 10-20 sentences per day.
 
Finding example sentences (if you don’t want to use the sentence you found in your immersion)
Monolingual dictionaries (this is what I would check first)
Subs2SRS sentence bank

Monolingual transition

 
Using TL-TL dictionaries for target word definition in sentence cards 
Suggested that you have at least 2000 sentences
You can always try to go monolingual earlier if you feel like it; if it doesn’t work out then just try again in a couple months. 
Building a base level of ability in the language before transitioning makes it easier
 
I generally do not recommend going “cold turkey” one day, but instead recommend a gradual transition.
 
How to make the monolingual transition
 
Start looking up words in a monolingual dictionary when creating sentence cards
If you understand the definition then create a monolingual card.
 
If there is an unknown word in the definition then look you have a couple of options: 
Create a sentence card for the unknown word in the definition and then create the original monolingual card. 
If you can make this card monolingual then do so, otherwise just create a bilingual card. 
Look up the unknown word in the definition in a bilingual dictionary and add both definitions to the back of the card (monolingual definition of the original word + english definition of whatever you need to understand the monolingual one). 
Eventually these recursive definitions will also be in your TL.
Try not to include more than 2 recursive lookups for a definition otherwise your cards will start to take forever to rep. At this point I would create separate cards for each word and then create the original (or just abandon learning that word).
 
Tips for the Monolingual Transition
Look up the definition of words that you already know
This will let you get a feel for how dictionaries tend to phrase ideas since you will already know the concept that is being described. 
Cross reference multiple monolingual dictionaries
They often provide different perspectives and will give different definitions (some are short and concise while others will give you a lot of additional information)
Look at the example sentences to see how words are used in context.
Prioritize learning “dictionary vocabulary”
Words that are commonly used in definitions.
You can create cards where the front is the dictionary entry for a word, and the back is the definition of the unknown word in the original definition.
Eventually you will want to start using a monolingual dictionary when looking up words during immersion. 
The more you use a monolingual dictionary then the more you will get comfortable with it.
 
Ultimately the monolingual transition will take multiple months before you are comfortable with the vast majority of definitions that you come across. It is okay to reference the bilingual dictionary and to continue creating bilingual cards because the real learning happens during your immersion. 
 
Stage 3
Output
 

Output Theory

 
How to start outputting (Matt vs Japan)
 
Through input your brain constructs a subconscious model of how the language works: your brain automatically converts listening and reading into pure meaning. In order to build a strong intuition for what sounds correct or not you need to build up your competence in comprehending the language first. 
Comprehension of more domains will lead to a higher level of competence within the language which makes the process of improving your performance easier. 
 
Language Activation: your brain runs your subconscious model of the language in reverse (meaning→language) in order to express thoughts.
 
Ultimately, when you output it should happen naturally: you should not be translating thoughts, but rather going straight from “mentalese” (meaning) to your target language. 
Reaching this stage occurs when you have reached a “critical mass” of input.
 
Comprehensible Output Hypothesis
Noticing function
Learners encounter gaps between what they want to say and what they are able to say, and so they notice what they do not know or only partially know in the language.
This can help you to reduce your gaps of active vs passive knowledge in the language by showing you what you need to pay more attention to in your immersion. 
Hypothesis-testing function
When a learner initially says something there is a hesitation underlying his or her utterance (about grammar, word choice, etc). By uttering something, the learner tests this hypothesis and receives feedback (self correcting or from a native).
Metalinguistic function
Learners reflect on the language they learn, and thereby the output enables them to control and internalize linguistic knowledge.
 
When first starting to output you will most likely want to focus on everyday conversations. Because you need to be able to understand a domain first before you can output in it, you can use the following list of ideas to immerse in everyday speech: 
Instagram, Twitter, Youtube comments
Blogs, Forums, Chatrooms 
Street Interviews
Talk shows
Variety Shows
Reality TV Shows
 

Is Early Output Actually Bad?

 
Is early output a sin? (Matt vs Japan)
 
Interacting with other people is a fun way to be engaged in the language and to see your progress.
 
Output Anxiety 
Don’t avoid speaking forever. 
Speaking a few times early on has negligible negative side effects if your volume of input is much greater than your volume of output. 
Silent period
Period of 6 months to 1 year where you focus solely on input in order to revamp your linguistic model and eliminate bad habits
It’s easier to create good habits in the first place rather than creating bad habits and having to go back and fix them later.
Self awareness
Say things that you know are correct
If you are unsure of how to say something then be skeptical of its correctness
Most likely you are wrong
 

Adopting a Language Learning Parent

 
Using a parent narrows your target from sounding like “native” to sounding like a specific person. This smaller target means you have a much better basis to judge your own output against.
This is going to be the person that you will end up shadowing (mimicking). 
Make listening to your parent at least half of your active listening immersion, and the entirety of your passive listening immersion. 
Eventually you should be able to effortlessly and automatically understand everything your parent says without thinking (level 6 comprehension). 
 
Picking a Language Parent
You should choose someone that you want to sound like in the language (their speaking style resonates with you)
This person should be the same gender as you
This person should be close in age
They should speak the standard dialect 
They should have an abundance of content available to watch; unscripted and unedited speaking on various topics 
 

Writing

 
Writing allows you to focus on producing thoughts/ideas correctly without having to worry about staying up to speed in a real time conversation.
Being able to take your time can help you to avoid making mistakes. 
Try to stick to phrases that you have heard natives say and are confident in.
You don’t have to worry about pronunciation. 
 
Remember that language isn’t math.
Don’t try to translate ideas; focus on going from pure thought/meaning into language. 
Don’t try making up your own ideas that you have never heard before; natives tend to phrase thoughts in specific ways and you have to know how these things are said beforehand in order to sound natural. 
When starting to write you goal is to try to activate the language you have subconsciously acquired (not looking up grammar, phrases, etc). 
 
Useful websites for native feedback & interaction
Hello Talk
Using a tutor with Italki
Tandem
Language Learning/Exchange Discord Servers
Line (texting Native speakers)
 
When writing you may be uncertain on how to express some ideas.
Look out for these thoughts during your immersion and see how natives express their thoughts in the situations that you were wanting to. 
Introspection: do the sentences that you are writing feel natural and correct?
Confirmation: getting native feedback/corrections from a conversation partner. 
 
On Native Corrections
Native speakers won’t always correct you; sometimes they just want to keep the conversation flowing and will decide not to point out your every mistake.
Native speakers can usually tell you when you’re wrong, and tell you how to make it right, but they can almost never explain why. Just notice the type of mistakes that they point out and look out for the correct version in your immersion.

Output Troubleshooting

 
Partially Available Language
Incomplete: a portion of the idea pops into your head, but you can’t recall enough to express the entire idea.
Uncertain: you are able to express an idea but are not confident in the delivery. Something feels off. 
Conflicting Ideas: multiple ideas pop into your head and you aren’t sure which is the correct one. 
 
In all three cases you will want to look out for this phrase during your immersion and make note of how that idea is expressed when you come across it. 
 
You can also look for confirmation from Google or a native speaker. 
 
Native Language Conflicts
You word something in a way that is technically correct, but native speakers wouldn’t say it in that way. This generally happens when translating thoughts. 
Focus instead on changing your mindset and viewing the world from the viewpoint of a native speaker in your TL. 
What type of thoughts/ideas do native speakers tend to have?
What would a native speaker typically say in this situation?
How do they verbalize these thoughts?
Often the same idea can be said with different phrasing. 
 
Comprehensible Output Hypothesis
You won’t always notice the specific grammar form being utilized during your immersion because it is not necessary for comprehension. Struggle occurs when you repeatedly try to output a specific grammar form (even though you can understand it during your immersion). 
Look out for this particular grammar form during immersion (extensive reading in particular) in order to see how it is used naturally. 
A temporary solution is to utilize a conscious monitor until you can fully acquire the pattern. Study how to specifically form that pattern and make sure that you are using it correctly. 

Speaking Basics

 
Competence: one’s unconscious model of how the language works. 
Consciously, we use intuition to determine what sounds correct or not. 
Increasing your competence in the language increases your potential for a high performance level. You won’t be able to speak naturally if you are continually having to guess what sounds correct or not. 
 
Performance: one’s ability to convert their competence into correct and coherent output. 
Performance will always be worse than one’s competence.
 
Practicing output helps you to activate your language and turn your latent potential into actual ability. 
 
Speaking consists of four components:
Understanding the person you are conversing with in real time.
Converting your thoughts into words.
Moving your mouth to produce the correct sounds. 
Embodying natural mannerisms and styles of speech.
 
Competence mistakes are when a gap exists between your acquired and activated language. 
These are usually subconscious mistakes; use native feedback to become aware of them.
Having awareness of this mistake will help you to utilize your attention to look for the correction during your immersion.
 
Performance mistakes 
These are generally much easier to notice: slip of the tongue, fumbling with words, stuttering, freezing, etc. 
Record your speaking and listen back to it in order to identify areas to improve. 
 
Practice Ideas
Have a conversation with a native speaker
Monologue on a random topic (a good exercise for overcoming output anxiety)
Use a random topic generator
Book/Movie review
Summarize an article in your own words
Imitate how your language parent would speak

Shadowing

 
Why not to shadow as a beginner 
Can’t yet perceive the differences in the sounds of the language
Your output ability can not surpass your own level of listening perception
You might not be able to tell when you sound wrong.
 
How to shadow
Earbuds plugged into Blue Yeti to hear voice back in real time
Noise cancelling headphones hooked up to a computer with shadowing content.
Record voice while practicing and listen back to it later
 
Types of Shadowing
Continuous
Listening to your parent and repeating everything back in real time. 
Once you are able to keep up, focus on how closely your pronunciation resembles your parent.
Perfect Sentence
Shadowing one sentence at a time and trying to mimic it as close as possible.
 
Recording yourself allows you to listen back to the clip and notice any discrepancies that you can self-correct, or have a native correct you. Try to reduce these discrepancies as you continue the exercise.

Improving your Speaking Ability

 
Now that comprehension of your immersion is no longer an issue, you have enough mental bandwidth available to start paying attention to the more subtle aspects of native speech.
 
What ideas do natives express?
In order to sound natural you need to express ideas that are common to your target language while avoiding those that aren’t. 
Standard behaviors and reactions in a specific social context.
Body language
 
How do they phrase those ideas?
Similar ideas may exist in your TL and your NL but are expressed differently; pay attention to the specific way that ideas are expressed in your NL.
What register of formality is being used?
What filler words are being used?
How do native speakers tend to connect ideas together?
AKA learn how to go off on tangents. 
Linking your speech to what has previously been said. 
Backchanneling
 
How do they verbalize those phrases? (Native level pronunciation)
Phonemes: what vowels and consonants exist within the language?
Word level
Assimilation: 2 sounds blend together (contract) to form a new one
Elision: sounds get removed
Intrusion: sound gets inserted between two words
Accent: where the emphasis is placed within a word.
Stress Accent: Hard vs Soft
Pitch Accent: High vs Low
Some languages are also Tonal
Sentence level
Having the correct prosody is a mix of rhythm, intonation, and the correct stress/pitch accent. 
 
Stage 4
Refining to Mastery
 
Stage 1 Resources
 

Netflix

 
You will want to change your account’s language in Netflix to your target language in order to access more content and subtitle files.
 
 
Using Audio description (Matt vs Japan)
Increases density of input
Describes action scenes where there would otherwise be no dialogue.
This generally makes the show more comprehensible as the narrator is describing actions that can be seen on screen. 
 
Language Learning with Netflix download
Settings
Vocabulary highlighting: disable
Force original tracks: off
Show transliterations: no transliterations
Translation language: Japanese
Show human translation: off 
Hide subtitles: Hide translations
Playback speed: normal
Highlight saved words: off
On mouse hover/left click/right click: do nothing
Show subtitles list view: on
Show subtitles below video: on or off (depends on preference)
Override arrow keys: on
Auto Pause: off 
 
Other streaming services
Animelon (free)
 

Youtube

 
Creating a Target Language YouTube (Matt vs Japan)
Create seperate account for TL videos only
Change location and language to TL to access more/trending content
Gets rid of temptation to click on English videos as they won’t show up
 
牛沢 (Let’s Plays)
キヨ (various games w/ friends)
花江夏樹 (Voice actor plays games with friends)
スーツ背広チャンネル
スーツ旅行
ひろゆき (male podcast)
メンタリストDaiGo
のがラジオ (female podcast)
FMななももこ (female podcast)
 4989 Utaco (female podcast)
  Blog w/ transcripts
たかしの部屋 (vlog)
中田敦彦のYouTube大学 (energetic lectures on various topics)
大愚和尚の一問一答 (Buddhism and Life Outlook)
フェルミ研究所 (Original manga with voice acting)
全力回避フラグちゃん! (Original manga with voice acting)
たっくーTV 
アバタロー (audiobook excerpts)
Naokiman Show (horror stories & mysteries)
グレープカンパニーチャンネル (comedy)
兄者弟者 (Let’s Plays)
心霊バスターズ (Let’s Plays)
ザクレイ (Super Smash Bros)
トライイット (classroom instruction)
エスポワール・トライブ
セゴリータ三世 (Technology reviews)
FNN ニュース (News)
DHC テレビ (News)
24 Hour News Livestream
Japan in Motion

Audiobooks

 
Audiobook.jp
 
One Drive Folder of Audiobooks
 
Google Drive of Audiobooks
 

Creating a Passive Immersion Playlist

 
Ideally you will have a dedicated Mp3 player for passive immersion.
Having it on a separate device from your phone will keep you free from distractions.
It is easiest just to keep this playing 24/7 and to have your headphones connected to it.
All you should have to do is put in an earbud in order to listen to Japanese at any time.
If you make it easy to do then you are more likely to do it. 
 
Creating a Passive Immersion Playlist
Extracting audio (Matt vs Japan)
Condensing audio (Matt vs Japan)
Two Tips for Condensing Immersion Audio (Matt vs Japan)
 
Youtube Premium
Allows you to download videos you have watched on your phone and then play them in the background. 
No ads. 
Has a student discount available

Passive Immersion Resources

 
Condensed Audio Files for Passive Immersion 
 
Condensed Audio Catalog
 
Condensed Audio Mega Folder

Kana

 
Hiragana (Tofugu)
Used for grammar (particles, conjugations), and furigana
Stroke order 
Focus on recognition first, and writing later
 
Katakana (Tofugu)
Used for loan words from foreign languages, and emphasis/italics
Stroke order 
 
Practice 
You could use just this site to learn all of the kana by going one row at a time.
I recommend using all of the various fonts as some characters can look quite different.
 
Downloading a Japanese IME for your computer
Google IME
I suggest using the Google IME, I think it’s better than the Windows IME.
Guide for installing Windows IME 
Typing Hiragana (Tofugu)
Typing Katakana (Tofugu)
IME shortcuts
 
Ensure that your computer is using a Japanese font (sometimes it will default to a Chinese one).
You can change your System locale and Region to Japanese.
You can still have your Windows display language in English.

Basic Pronunciation

 
Basic Japanese pronunciation guide (Tofugu)
 
Japanese phonology (Wikipedia)
 
It will be helpful to at least become aware of the basics of pitch accent
See the relevant section within Stage 3 Resources and learn about the 4 pitch patterns.

Learning Kanji?

 
Origin of Kanji 
What they never told you about Kanji (Matt vs Japan)
Why Japanese Kanji suck (Matt vs Japan)
 
Two Approaches
Just learn vocabulary
This is what I recommend for the majority of people.
If you learn how to read (words), then you will ultimately end up learning all of the kanji that you need.
Individual Kanji study
If you find that you are struggling with the first approach then you may want to learn to recognize the most frequent Kanji. 
Do not worry about learning to write kanji from memory at the beginning.
I guarantee that it is not necessary for you.
Definitely do not try to memorize a bunch of “readings” of kanji.
“Readings” are only ever used in the sense of “this is how a word is pronounced”. Just learn vocabulary.
 
If you are struggling with just learning vocabulary in the beginning then I recommend using Recognition RTK for doing Individual Kanji study.
 
RTK introduction summary
Break kanji into primitive elements (similar to the official radical list)
Difficulty reduced in remembering stroke order by focusing on writing primitives
Learn kanji in order of increasing complexity
Only focus on rough meaning and writing in the beginning.
Don’t learn kanji readings in isolation: learn to read words (vocabulary)
Mnemonics can help aid retention in the beginning
The purpose is to create a “mental dictionary entry” for each kanji
You won’t be able to read after finishing, but you will have built a foundation that will make learning vocabulary easier.
Kanji will look familiar even if you don’t remember the keyword (you will forget the keywords very quickly after finishing).
 
Recognition RTK 450
The most frequent 450 kanji in RTK order.
This is the deck I recommend using instead of the version with the most frequent 1000 kanji- you don’t need the extra couple hundred anki cards to get familiar with basic characters to help you if you are struggling with vocabulary.
After going through this deck you should find learning vocabulary easier if you were struggling before; I don’t recommend going through any more isolated Kanji study than this as the entire point of this is to get comfortable with differentiating similar characters from each other.
 If you are still struggling with learning vocabulary then read more (go to Beginner Reading Material).
 
Kanji frequency data
450 Kanji is anywhere from 65-75% coverage of kanji that appear in vocabulary.
 
List of Kanji in RTK (includes search by keyword function)

Vocabulary

 
~2000 words presented with example sentences, native audio, and furigana. 
 
Tango decks 
Tango N5 Deck
Tango N4 Deck
 Sometimes the grammar is not 1T: just look up whatever you need to understand the sentence and put it on the back of the card; you should be reading/mining a basic grammar guide while going through these decks anyway.
 
Visual Novel Core 2.3K Deck
This is an alternative deck to Tango N5/N4 that is also commonly used.
 
I recommend doing anywhere from 10-30 new cards a day when going through these decks.
Since they are premade you can generally do more cards per day since you don’t have to make your own.
Doing 10 cards a day will take you about 7 months
Doing 30 cards a day will take you about 2 months
Try to keep Anki in the 30-60 minute range each day; if you are going over this then I recommend doing more immersion.
 
You can start sentence mining from native materials at any time.
 

Grammar 

 
Just pick one of the following and make sentence cards for the example sentences.
 
Tae Kim’s grammar guide/Tae Kim DJT
Only read the grammar guide (not the complete guide)
I suggest the DJT version as it has links to the DoJG (and dark mode)
 
Imabi/Imabi DJT
More in depth than Tae Kim, but contains a lot of linguistic terminology and is often overly technical.
 
Sakubi DJT
A quick and dirty alternative; can be a good primer for Tae Kim if you are a noob.
 
Dictionary of Japanese grammar series
DoJG reference (the entire series available digitally)
DoJG search engine

Anki Add-Ons

 
Migaku Japanese download
Furigana, Pitch Accent, Audio for words
Sometimes you need to use Forvo to get audio for words
Use ShareX if you want audio for the sentence
I like having the colored hover setting on the front, and the colored kanji reading on the back. 
 
Migaku Dictionary download
Easily look up words in bilingual or monolingual dictionaries
Can send definitions and images to the back of your cards with one button. 
 

Yomichan

 
Yomichan download
Allows you to easily look up words by hovering over them while in Chrome.
 
Searching Unknown Words within Definitions
Go to the Yomichan settings/options.
Select “Allow scanning search page content” and “Allow scanning popup content”
Set the max number of child popups to 2 or 3. 
I find that if I’m having to do more than 2 or 3 recursive lookups in order to understand the original definition then the word just wasn’t meant to be learned- just move on. 
 
Yomichan Custom CSS 
particular fixes that I found useful to make Yomichan look nicer

Dictionaries for Migaku Dictionary and Yomichan

 
Putting Dictionaries into Migaku Dictionary
Go to the following file directory:
C:Users[User]AppDataRoamingAnki2addons211655992655user_filesdictionaries
Create a folder titled “Japanese”
Download any dictionaries you want, extract the .json files and place them into their own folder (you have to create a separate one for each dictionary zip file) and then placing that folder within the “Japanese” folder.
Open Anki to load all the dictionaries (this might take a couple minutes).
 
Bilingual Dictionaries 
Download JMDict_English, conjugations.json, frequency.json, header.csv 
 
Installing a Frequency List for Migaku Dictionary
You can only have 1 frequency list at a time for the Migaku Dictionary.
While the default frequency list is fine, you may want to use a different one based upon where you are focusing your learning from. 
Novels Frequency List (this is what I personally use)
Anime/Drama Frequency List
Rename the frequency list you want to use as “frequency.json”.
Take out all the dictionary folders from the file directory (just put them on your desktop) and load Anki so that they all get removed.
Take out the old frequency list from the Japanese folder and put in the new one. 
Re-add the dictionary files (put them back in the folder) and reload Anki to reinstall all of the dictionaries; the new frequency list will then be applied to these dictionaries.
 
Installing Dictionaries/Frequency Lists for Yomichan
Download the contents as a .zip file
I put all of the dictionary zip files into one folder: “Yomichan Dictionaries”
Open Chrome and click on the icon for Yomichan Settings.
 Select “Configure installed and Enabled Dictionaries”. 
Click Import and select the dictionary files that you want to import.
 
10+ Dictionaries for Yomichan (Media fire link)
Original video
 
明鏡国語辞典
Good beginner monolingual dictionary. 
 
NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 & 新明解国語辞典 
 
Kanjium Pitch Accent Graph
 
Innocent Corpus Frequency List
This is based on 5000+ novels.
The number is the amount of times that the word appears in the list
higher = more frequent (opposite of most frequency lists)
 
I use the following dictionaries for Yomichan & Migaku Dictionary:
JMDict (English)
スーパー大辞林 
新明解国語辞典
明鏡国語辞典
広辞苑
大辞泉
NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典
Kanjium Pitch Accent Graph (Yomichan only)
 
Stage 2 Resources

Beginner Reading Material

NHK easy news
Includes furigana and audio tracks (both can be toggled on/off)
Has links at the bottom of the page to the real news article if you want to challenge yourself (this is a good option when transitioning to reading regular news articles)
 
Bilingual manga 
 
福娘童話集
Thousands of various folk tales and ghost stories
 
Using TL subtitles while watching shows
Animelon, Language Learning w/ Netflix

News and Websites

 
NHK News Web
Visit the 特集 or スペシャルコンテンツ section if you want to see more unique articles.
 
FNN プライムオンライン 
Provides videos with transcripts so you can read the article first and then listen
These articles tend to be much shorter than NHK and the text usually matches the video’s speech closely. 
 
ログミーTech (Tech articles)
 
ウィキペディア
 
日本史辞典 (Japanese history sorted by time period)
 
仏教ウェブ入門講座 (Buddhism articles)
 
トライイット (Classroom instruction on various schools subjects)
 

Novels

 
Itazuraneko library (contains literally everything)
 
Boroboro (thousands of e-books)
 
Aozora Bunko website (older novels & classics)
 
小説家になろう (Books/Light Novels from upcoming authors)
 
小説を読もう (Similar to the above link)
 
Buying Physical and Digital Books
Amazing guide on how to buy novels, manga, light novels, etc. and get stuff shipped from Japan to your house.
 

E-Readers

 
Online E-reader
Obtain an epub or html file of the book you want to read and insert it into this page.
Look on itazuraneko/boroboro- if it isn’t there then you probably need to buy it.
Text will appear vertically.
You can use Yomichan to easily look up words and create flashcards.
Track your progress through the book.
 
Putting Aozora Bunko files onto an Ipad (Matt vs Japan)
Need to buy Aozora Bunko reader on Ipad ($10)
 
Itazuraneko on Ipad (kinda ghetto but it works)
Use the apple’s built in dictionary or goo辞書
Save sentences by emailing them to yourself which you can then access on your computer.
 
Using a Kindle (Matt vs Japan)
Just watch the video honestly.
 

Visual Novels

Download Textractor
Click the “Textractor-4.14.1-Setup.exe”
Select English as native language and it will create a folder on your desktop that will contain 2 versions: x64 & x86.
Go into the x86 version and create a shortcut on your desktop to the textractor.exe file. 
Open up the textractor and click on Extensions and delete all of the extensions besides “Copy to Clipboard”
Depending on what hook you end up using you may need to enable some of the other extensions.
 
Using Textractor + Yomichan
Press Alt+Insert to open up the Yomichan search window in a new tab.
Click the “Clipboard Monitor” setting.
Once you have the textractor set up with the proper hook it will copy every line into this window and you can use Yomichan to look stuff up and make cards (See “Yomichan + Anki Integration” under “‘New School’ Sentence Mining”)
 
Download qBittorrent
This is so you can the download torrents of games
 
Downloading Various VNs
Can buy legally on Steam
Nostalgic visual novels online
Itazuraneko VN Library
東京図書館
Nyaa
Sukebei (has NSFW ads)

Sentence Mining

 
I recommend that you use the MIA Japanese Deluxe note type.
 
Example Sentence Sources
用例.jp (taken from books)
Neocities Sentence Search (includes audio)

“New School” Sentence Mining

 
Super slick mining technology: usually takes some time to set up and get used to, but automates the majority of the card creation process once you have it working. 
 
Learning Japanese with Netflix + Anki (Matt vs Japan)
ShareX (written instruction)
Card Exporter Hotkeys are listed on the front page of the Dictionary Add-On.
The Card exporter breaks often so I usually just use the Anki Card Creation menu instead. 
Copy and paste the sentence into a text file to remove netflix formatting- then copy and paste into the sentence field.
Use ShareX for sentence audio and image.
You can still send definitions and forvo audio to the card via the arrow button.
Make sure that the settings are “add” and then select the appropriate field to send it to.
 
Yomichan + Anki Integration
Automatically create cards with the click of a button.
This setup is primarily for mining written materials- it can be used for Netflix but it will cut off the sentence from the subtitle if there is a space between characters
Make sure to copy and paste this handlebars code (not the one linked on Animecards) onto the Anki Card Templates section. 
Anki Card Format Settings
 
When learning the cards you will need to press F2 on the sentence and meaning field to get furigana and pitch accent enabled with the Migaku Japanese add-on since Yomichan can’t do that.
The {glossary-brief} field will take the dictionary entry from the top priority dictionary you have (so change whatever dictionary you want to have the definition for to be the first one that appears- I would use 明鏡 or 新明解)
You can turn the card into a vocab card by entering text (“x”) into the “Vocab Card” field that the MIA JPN DX card type already comes with.
 
Example Sentence Card from Yomichan Integration
 
Example Vocab Card from Yomichan Integration
 
Placeholder
Mining Anime w/ Yomichan + mpv
 
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Subs2SRS download 
Creating a deck from scratch (OhTalkWho Dave)
Download the show
Acquire subtitle files
Re-time subtitle files (Matt vs Japan)
Aegisub download
 
Using Subs2SRS decks in Anki (Brit vs Japan)
Reread the entire show by going through every subtitle file
Delete cards that you already understand
Suspend cards that contain new words
Unsuspend cards once you’ve read through everything
Note: You can also use morphman to select the 1T sentences for you 
Step by step guide for creating sentence banks (Brit vs Japan)
 
Subs2SRS Decks
Website of pre-made decks
Media Fire link of Subs2SRS decks
 
Sentence mining while reading with a Kindle
Highlight sentences that contain unknown words
Plug the Kindle back into the computer. Go to Kindle documents file “My clippings.txt”. 
Clippings.io (Import clippings from the file)

Monolingual Transition

 
How to use monolingual dictionaries (Matt vs Japan)
A comparison of various J-J dictionaries and how to utilize them
Useful to learn what all of the symbols/abbreviations mean.
Use Migaku Dictionary/Yomichan and not Qolibri.
 
Stage 3 Resources

Language parents

 
Potential Male Parents
Potential Female Parents

Pitch Accent

 
Benefits of a good accent
Makes you more pleasant to listen to by decreasing conversational friction. 
Increases comprehension for the listener
Some words have the same pronunciation in terms of syllables, but have different pitch accents (minimal pairs). 
Listeners can distinguish the meaning from the pitch accent of the word (as well as the context). 
 
Can pitch accent be acquired naturally? (Matt vs Japan)
No (very rarely). 
Active study is necessary to become aware of the various patterns from which you can then focus on phonetic awareness: trying to hear the pitch accent during immersion. Using conscious knowledge can help you to focus your attention on accurately perceiving the pitch accent during your immersion which can help speed up the acquisition process.
Producing the correct sounds is a physical skill; input only allows you to correctly perceive the sounds. 
 
Introduction to Pitch Accent
Heiban & Odaka
尾高: Start low, go high. Particle attaches low.
平板: Start low, go high.  Particle attaches high
Atamadaka & Nakadaka
頭高: Start high, go low. Particle attaches low.
中高: Start low, go high, downstep occurs in the middle. Particle attaches low.
Where the drop is can be ambiguous if the word has multiple mora.
Word level pitch accent (Matt vs Japan)
Helpful to think of Verbs and Adjectives as either having or not having a downstep as pitch accent changes only follow two conjugation groups.
Sentence level pitch accent (Matt vs Japan)
Learning the pitch accent for every word you know is harder than learning the various pitch accent rules.
 
Learning the system of Pitch Accent Rules
NHK日本語発音アクセント新辞典
NHK PDF Scan
新明解日本語アクセント辞典第2版
新明解 PDF Scan
日本語標準アクセントの概要
助詞・助動詞のアクセントについての覚え書き
日本語教育用アクセント辞典
Dogen pitch accent playlist 
 
Online japanese accent dictionary (OJAD)
OJAD 鈴木くん
This is not 100% accurate for longer sentences but it is great for checking the accent of shorter phrases, conjugations, etc. 
NHK OJAD Anki deck
 
Forvo (Hear native pronunciation of individual words)
This is a great resource to grab word audio (using ShareX) for your Anki cards if the Migaku Dictionary does not have the audio file.
 
Testing your pitch accent ability
You need to create a self correcting feedback loop in order to train your ears to perceive pitch accent. 
Start memorizing the pitch accent of words in Anki (using numbers/color coding).
Eventually you should know the pitch for every word on your card(s).
Maintain “Phonetic Awareness” during your audio immersion.
Compare your perception of what you think the pitch sounds like (based on the theory) with how it actually sounds. 
Test yourself by trying to hear the pitch of words during your immersion and then looking up what the accent is in the dictionary to see if you were correct or not.
Eventually you should have the pitch accent of most words memorized and should just be able to tell if you are correctly perceiving the pitch or not.  
Listen to the audio of the word in Yomichan and try to hear what the pitch of the word is before looking at what the dictionaries say the pitch is supposed to be. 
Pitch focused reading can be very beneficial 
Record your voice during these sessions so that you can listen back to it and get self correcting or native feedback. 
 
Accounting for Pitch Accent when grading cards (Matt vs Japan)
 
Stage 4 Resources
 

Writing from Memory

 
Learning to write Kanji from memory is much easier when you are already fluent in Japanese. 
You will already know many words that use that particular Kanji. 
They will already feel familiar and have a “mental entry” since you can read words containing those Kanji. 
 
Kanken  Deck
 

Dialects

 
関西弁
itazuraneko guide
 

文法

 
If you want to study how Japanese people learn grammar or if you need to study for the JLPT then these resources should be useful for you.
 
Just make sentence cards for the example sentences for each grammar point and have the explanation of the grammar in Japanese.
 
国語の文法
Modern Japanese grammar explained in Japanese at a middle school level.
 
中学校国語文法
A great wiki article on Japanese grammar to supplement the above website.
 
https://nihongonosensei.net/
A list of JLPT grammar points explained in Japanese
 
日本語文型辞典
Dictionary covering 3000 grammar points in Japanese
 
新完全マスター
I would only buy the 文法 or 読解 books.
These are the de-facto books to prepare for the JLPT N1/N2.

古文

 
歴史的仮名遣い・読み方の決まり
Kana spelling & pronunciation changes
 
Introduction to classical Japanese (Matt vs Japan)
Transition from classical verb classifications to modern day 
 
森山の必ずできる古典文法
The playlist is in reverse order: start from the last video
 
72古文 トライイット
 
Classical Japanese grammar by Haruo Shirane

漢字能力検定 

 
四字熟語の説明
四字熟語の意味や使い方、類義語・対義語、出典などを紹介しているウェブ辞典です。
現在3620四字熟語を紹介しています。
 
List of Kanji by 漢字検定レベル (also includes 20,000+ Kanji not included)
 
Official practice material??

敬語

 
https://honorific-language.com/
 
itazuraneko 敬語 guide 
 
Matt says you should just get a book meant to teach natives the proper usage of Keigo and SRS it since even natives have to study this topic. 
 
Other Language Learning Resources
Good artists copy, great artists steal
 

Other Guides on Language Learning

 
Refold 
 
All Japanese All The Time (Khatzumoto’s ramblings)
Great motivational pieces, quirky writing style. 
I recommend sticking to the Table of Contents.
Notes on AJATT
 
The Moe Way
 
Animecards Website
 
Antimoon (the original website that popularized immersion learning)
Notes on Antimoon
 
IC’s Comprehensive Guide to Japanese Acquisition
 
A year to learn Japanese (if you thought my google doc was long… this one is even longer)
 

Instructive Youtube channels

 
Matt vs Japan 
 
Dogen
 
Brit. vs Japan
 
Stevijs 3 (insane tracking of stats in order to measure progress)
 
OhTalkWho Dave
 
          
 

Interviews

 
Matt’s AJATT Journey (the greatest 3 year rant video ever created)
One Year Later
 
Matt interviewing Stephen Krashen 
 
Phantom Madman 3 Year AJATT Update
 
JLPT N1 and still not fluent
One year later
 
Matt vs Japan & Luca Lampariello
 
Matt vs Japan and Luca Lampariello II
 
Matt vs Japan and Luca Lampariello III
 
Matt vs Japan & Dogen
 
Matt vs Japan & Dogen II
 
Matt vs Japan & Dogen III

 
Miscellaneous
Trinkets, odds and ends, that sort of thing.
 

Other links of interest 

 
My personal progress with learning Japanese
Semi-regular monthly updates on me applying this method and the thoughts that I had along the way. 
Japanese Tracking Spreadsheet (my version of Stevi’s spreadsheet)
This is where I track my stats. 
Start: 01/16/2021
End: 04/20/2021 (I created an updated version)
Japanese Tracking Spreadsheet v2.0
I created this spreadsheet (based on what I did and didn’t like from Stevi’s spreadsheet).
I just use a stopwatch when immersing and keep a running total of my times in a text document until I add the stats at the end of the day.
New Spreadsheet Template
 
Stevijs3 resource spreadsheet 
 
Subtitles
Kitsunekko subtitles
Itazuraneko subtitles
 
 

Things to add

 
Anki
Load Balancer
 
Mining
 
Yomichan + Anki Integration
 
      Card template
Voracious
Migaku browser extension
 
http://marimoeo.seesaa.net/ (Podcast)
 
Reading 
Kanji Tomo OCR (See Itazura for instructions)
http://capture2text.sourceforge.net/
 
Kindle ?
Converting Aozora Bunko to into Mobi
Convert Mobi into AZW3
 
Downloading & Extracting Audio
From Netflix
From Youtube
Torrenting from Nyaa
https://ercanserteli.com/condenser/ (audio condenser)
Subs2cia
 

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