My Japanese learning journey: Just reached 10K words

I just want to share my thoughts in what has been a very frustrating journey learning japanese.
First of all I want to thank Steve, everybody in the team behind LingQ, including the very supportive community active in the forums.

I feel I have improved so much since I started using LingQ and using Steve videos as a motivation coach whenever I am running out of motivation fuel.

I started using Lingq since last december. I remember very clearly start using it seriously around xmas time (2020).
Now I just reached 10K known words, I can’t describe the sense of achievement I have, I am still far from my language goals but I can pick up a paper book / novel and get the gist of whats going on!, this is huge, back when I started I could not read further than a few words in a page.
I can watch a drama and know whats going on!
I feel now it is a very exciting point when I can tackle on more interesting content to keep improving.
Let me share my journey with you, because I feel it could be helpful to whoever is also learning japanese.

I am living in Japan, but I came to the country knowing ZERO of the language, I work in IT, I am usually busy and focusing on learning Japanese and only doing that is not possible for me.

At somepoint by mid 2019 I felt that my progress with Japanese has been very poor, I have been memorizing and using ANKI as suggested by many methods on the internet.
I was also studying grammar points etc. I could not see any progress, grinding cards was just too boring and I felt very frustrated.

I completely dropped studying Japanese, I focused on my career and decided to keep living in Japan almost being completely illiterate in Japanese.

A huge part of my frustration was the japanese learning community, which is full of toxic perfectionist who tell you that you have to dedicate 24/7 to Japanese. Not only they tell you that you that you need to fully change your life upside down to learn japanese,
but they tell you to complicate things further with things like pitch accent and intonation. If you speak Japanese but you dont do it 100% perfeclty, then “it is garbage”.

Japanese is already a very complicated language to pcik up (Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji, Grammar, Vocab) and they are throwing you into more complexity telling you all of these intonation rules. But Ok, Maybe some people want to be really perfect at what they do. So maybe thats ok, whats not OK is the way they look down on anybody who is not in that camp!

It is not uncommon to see japanese guru youtubers go out and destryo with criticism someone who is an L2 Japanese speaker.
They picked on things such as “this L2 speaker’s intonation is really bad”, completely discarding the fact that such speaker can convey ideas, and be understood by others.
Sparkle what I just wrote with the spirit of “you should not talk until you have a lot of input, ohterwise you will pick bad habits”.

So not only there are these people online suggesting that you should turn your life upside down, but that I living in the country should avoid talking Japanese until a late stage, because I would pick up bad habits, and I would speak in an ill manner.
My needs are very pragmatic i.e: going to the doctor, understanding a tax form.

Just consider for a minute, how many people I work with in IT are L2 English speakers, with different accents, and yet we do engineering together.

Around 2020, I decided I will give Japanese a shot again, even with my limited skills I have had great interactions with Japanese people, and I did not want to waste the beautiful experience of being here in this country, with this beautiful language!.
This time I found Steve on a video on youtube. I watched many of his videos and it struck me, he was unlike those other jerks. He was humble, he was not telling me to turn my life upside down, but rather, to read a bit everyday. There was Steve, speaking many languages and telling me , sometimes he struggled with Farsi! Just like I with Japanese.

I came to lingQ, and searched people learning Japanese in the forums.
I read their posts and I felt full of HOPE, I had this motivation to try again. That maybe I wont get the perfect intonation, and I wont need to quit my job to study japanese 24/7, but that
like steve I would be able to communicate and be understood.

Then around Xmas 2020 I got my lingq subscription, I started grinding the Japanese NHK easy news, after that I imported some books, and then I kept on going with some podcasts which people shared in the forum.

And the difference between Now September 2021 and December 2020, it is hugeeee!!. I just went to a book store, went near the “best seller corner” and picked up a few books, I read the back of the books and got the gist of whats the book about. This was unthinkable back in 2020!.
I know this is dumb, but I tried memorizing kanji in so many ways, repetitions, ANKI… etc.
And for me it is quite amazing that now thanks, I can pick a book, and understand whats written in Kanji, it is unbelievable.

Sorry, maybe this post sounds very aggressive, but I just want to say thank you for the amazing tools, and for the videos. The videos kept me going whenever I felt frustrated. Most of you are avid language learners and maybe you are used to this kind of frustration, but It was a huge blocker for me.

10K words is just a milestone, but I feel I can achieve this goal of being able to communicate in Japanese, which is something I thought I could not achieve before.


Thanks for sharing your language learning experience. At the end of the day, it is YOU who is working hard and LINGQ is just there as a facilitator. I have been following Matt vs Japan’s method. It is working well, too because I have improved exponentially in my German. Just 17 months ago all I knew were a few handful of greetings. I knew an 85-year German old lady who gave up on me not learning German now she is so impressed by my transformation that as a challenge she told me that she is going to learn “Pashto”.
Her statement is verifying that Matt vs Japan’s method is legit, too.
Adopt whatever you think fits well in your particular situation and your language goals without criticizing any language camp. Best Wishes.


Great work Dav009! Keep at it!

Regarding pitch accent, I think there is some truth to what the Matt vs Japan / Dogen style youtubers say when they focus on pronounciation. Pronounciation rules are very different and the earlier you focus on it the easier it is to correct; but that being said, I think there’s a lot to say for not really focussing too much on it either.

As a side note, have you been reading any good books you would recommend? I’ve recently hit my stride by going through the Grimgar light novel series.

Anyway, thanks for sharing!


i am very happy for you!

I agree with you, people have different lives , time constraints and objectives .
I am so glad your German is also taking off. :muscle::muscle:

I have been following Matt vs Japan’s method.

Could you point out the overview of the method, please? If there is such a video on his channel of course.

Matt is the creator of refold… All the information is free. No commercial intent.


Thank you!

I’ve just read the overview of the “Unfold” stages and realized, that I’m already on track naturally. I started to learn English as the most of people still do - by ‘studying’, and all those things like grammar, all this present perfect kind of stuff have been annoying, and seemed to be difficult to retain and to understand why it is as it is.

Then once I’ve tried to soldier on through Irwin Shaw’s “Rich Man, Poor Man” and noticed that all the grammatical structures that seemed difficult, still was obscure, but became habbitual, I got used to them and it made all the difference. I recognize them, I know what they mean and I know how it works. And it’s perfectly enough for acquiring knowledge.

I even think now, that the idea of the logic providing one with possibility of acheiving results out of nowhere, without a sufficient amount of input, is ridiculous. Even in such field as math, for some extent at least. But there always will be some toxic local community that will be trying to undermine your confidence and fun of the journey, by claiming that you ain’t the ‘true mathafaka’.


Congratulations! :tada::clap::balloon:

I hear you about pitch accent and lifestyle! Yeh, having pitch accent lessons a couple of years ago was my “undoing”. Prior to that native speakers/tutors said I already spoke ‘beautiful’ Japanese and was on the fast track to fluency.

I had high school and university studies under my belt, and really loved the language and people. I was looking forward to using my Japanese to speak on shared interests, for example, with other Japanese parents of disabled children.

I decided to commit to ‘serious’ language study and made the mistake of taking pitch accent lessons. It left me gutted and second guessing myself; my confidence took a huge dive, and I stopped learning altogether. I’ve barely touched Japanese since.

The tutor made me dissect every single syllable, and sentence, just about. The irony was I’d naturally picked up a lot of correct pitch accent over the years from knowing intuitively what ‘sounded right’ - but now I couldn’t speak a syllable, not even simple sentences without calculating the rule or formula first for everything, as it were :roll_eyes:. I’d get lists of sentences with pitch rules to memorise, and I just could not remember.
I also did NOT want to go through that rigmarole; I just wanted to enjoy Japanese.

I don’t fully blame the tutor; I think ‘pitch accent’ is a bad fit for my age (I’m turning 60 now), learning style and personality. I’m currently doing pronunciation lessons for Mandarin, a language I’d also studied previously. I was hesitant at first because of what happened with Japanese, but it’s going well and I’m also concentrating on Hanzi characters :heart:. One day I may return to my first love Japanese.

Speaking so well as to ‘be mistaken for a native speaker’ is overrated. Nothing compares to the high of befriending people and being able to communicate with them and to be understood; to reach out to strangers in their language and make them feel valued and welcome. As long as accent doesn’t impede communication, its okay. Some accents are downright sexy even! :wink:


That it amazing, congratulations!

1 Like

Thank you for these words.

I totally feel you, as a Spanish native speaker I love to hear the foreign accent of non natives. I find it to be part of their style, personality and background .

your experience taking intonation classes is very interesting, thanks for sharing .

1 Like

I’m almost at 1,000 in Romanian.
I hope to be as determined as you.

1 Like

Just keep granding, a little bit everyday :))

Thanks for sharing!

Your experience in the bookstore must have felt awesome!

I had a similar experience. I wanted to read the manga “よつばと” but I could hardly understand any of it. Then after about 6 months of watching Japanese YouTube videos for fun, I revisited the manga and to my surprise was able to read it quite easily! I pretty much did nothing else during that 6 month period. The experience definitely confirmed the power of input for me.

Reading your post has given me more hope for acquiring Japanese. I better go find something to read!


Massive congrats on your epic journey with Japanese…here’s to 20k known words!!! :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing and congratulations. I empathise with your post, but I did not really find any information how you used LingQ to study Japanese. What were your sources, books, podcasts, etc?

(Regarding language Youtubers: Take this as mostly entertainment and ignore the “language bums”, who do nothing but language learning (i.e. the equivalent of the 40 year old surfer dude, who is amazing at surfing but has nothing else going for them). On the other hand, Steve K., Luca L. they have “proper” lifes including career and/or family.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I remember early into my language learning journey looking into AJATT and thought about applying it to non-Japanese so I’m familiar with the toxic mind-set surrounding this.

(Disclaimer: the below is limited to the toxic learner mindset. it’s not in anyway a comment on people who are in general dedicated to their passion. It should go without saying that I’m not claiming you fit the below description if you spend a lot of time studying your target language or if you self-identify as an AJATT’er).

One only needs look at a the average AJATT success story (e.g. very high level speaking fluency in 2-years from studying at home) to see the concept of perfection and dedication is not being applied outside of language learning. I found a lot of the poster boys to be unemployed students failing their studies and could fairly be described as anti-social. I think the original AJATT community was a haven for people who were unfortunately rejected socially from their native culture.

And what’s the result of 2-years of arduous grinding on Anki and non-stop daily 18-hour input? You can speak perfect native-like Japanese only to find a new speaking population to be rejected by. The conclusion drawn by these AJATT’ers? Japanese people are xenophobic and that they (the learner) now regret studying Japanese, and you, for not working towards perfection, are beneath them.

I see this phenomena outside of language learning too: workaholics, “gym-rats” etc. People who don’t want to confront the problems making them miserable so they deep dive into something to distract them but end up bitter and resentful.

I think as far as language learning is concerned, we’ve worked out the big pieces: we know we need massive input, we know more about memory retention and have discredited traditional classroom based methods. In the long-run different reading/listening techniques probably don’t make much difference, so long as you are inputting. But toxicity is worth discussing.

I think the AJATT method is brilliant but I simply can’t average out that level of extreme input on a daily basis. Not unless I sacrifice my career/health and if you think I should anyway to strive for perfection (or speak like garbage) then you know you’ve got much more important things to work on.

I wish you luck to 20k :slight_smile:

1 Like