[Course Forum] Let's Learn Japanese course series (formerly SGJL)

I notice you have 先 as meaning “before” but then I saw this post on reddit. Is it still fine to think of it as meaning “before”?


先 is one of those kanji that have multiple meanings or flavors depending on what word the kanji is used. In these cases, the keyword holds one of those meanings but is more important in eliciting the story that helps you recall the kanji. If it helps, when I see it in 先週 (せんしゅう), 先月 (せんげつ), 先生 (せんせい) or 先輩 (せんぱい) I think of the kanji as marking “Something that comes before others”.

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Thanks for the quick and understandable responses. I’m really liking this system, because after I read the stories for the kanji they get remembered quickly and most of them stick during reviews.

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That’s good to hear. Also, don’t hesitate to create your own Memnote with your own story that you think works better. Most of the stories I posted are actually just copy/pasted from the Reviewing the Kanji website’s top ranked stories. However most of them are almost 10 years old with some dated references, hence a lot of Batman Begins for my “person” based stories.

On topic, I’ve just pasted the last of the Basic 12 parts to Memrise. Now I need to start uploading audio to the grammar and vocabulary courses. After that I’ll copy/edit/format the Tae Kim lessons to the last three grammar parts like I did for part 1. Once Basic is fully done, I will move on to Intermediate. That’s currently Vocabulary only as there’s no open source grammar sentences, though seeing that Genki is uploaded in full on a number of courses, maybe I can do the same with Kanzen Master Level 2 and A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar.

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I noticed that you put はなよりだんご (thought I practice my kana typing ;)) as an “example”, how will the actual JDI courses be different?

Hopefully by the time I’m done your course I can practice typing with kanji too.

Best way to practice typing is just to type. What I did was take the transcript (linked in the lesson course introduction), and just type that out. Same could be done with the subtitles themselves, a page from a book or anything. You could also type out 2ch thread conversations or something from /r/newsokur on Reddit.

As for the actual JDI, since Memrise is limited it’ll be pretty much like 花より団子. It would be better if definitions of words and phrases could be included. Until then, Memnote is the only solution. However, the level of people trying the course will not be known as the idea is many of these courses will be collected for other students to choose from during their studies.

With Anki it was easier as you knew if you understood the line or forgot what it meant. Memrise I have to include the English translation so you have something to select. Best of a bad situation I guess.

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An update on the course progress:

  1. I changed the Core 2k/6k sentence lessons to be audio prompt and Japanese sentence as the answer. There’s been no complaints about this so I’ll keep it for now.

  2. Audio upload is not complete for ADoBJG pt 2. That finishes the first half of the basic course.

  3. I am in the process of uploading “Zettai Kareshi” under the “Japanese Drama Immersion” (JDI) course series. I think users should find it very functional as it’s Japanese Audio prompt for Japanese text much like the Core 2k/6k sentences behave. I also used cb4960’s Japanese Text Analysis Tool to create vocabulary sections much like Tae Kim courses have. What I’ve done is stripped any vocabulary that is covered by Tae Kim and Basic Core 2k/6k. This looks to have enough potential that I will use the same process to create vocabulary lists for each lesson section of the ADoBJG courses.

  4. After the drama upload, I will work to create Memnotes for RTK + 2k1KO kanji course pt 2. That takes anywhere from five to ten hours depending on how much editing I do to the stories.

  5. I do have plans in place for Intermediate and Advanced sections. The vocabulary is done. The grammar I still need to create an order that’s not just alphabetical. Even after all that there’s still the audio uploads which I’ll ask around to have contributor help with uploading.

  6. Japanese Drama Immersion current long term plan is six videos for Basic (all first episodes of six different shows), 12 videos for Intermediate (episodes 1-4 of three different shows) and 16 videos for Advanced. These should all be processed like Zettai Kareshi. Given the large number, again, I’ll likely ask for contributor help. If it proves really popular, I’ll ensure the steps I take are easy to copy for anyone to upload their own course and get added to the JDI list. Drama Immersion works best when it’s a drama you like and that means variety since we all have different tastes. Yes, anime can be included.

  7. I have created a Patreon account, but I won’t link it until I improve the page and have permission from the forum mods. I don’t actually need money to do this work, but there can be other benefits should people start donating.

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I changed the Core 2k/6k sentence lessons to be audio prompt and Japanese sentence as the answer. There’s been no complaints about this so I’ll keep it for now.

I actually didn’t like it and was setting all of them to ignore. The UI is very broken since it tests the reverse where it gives a sentence prompt and makes you pick the audio:

You can’t click on the choices since it interprets the click as selecting it as the answer so you have to tediously hover over each of them to play them.

And I am not sure why you would want to test this. Even if you can’t read some kanji in the sentence there is usually enough kana for you to guess the correct answer.

I do think the core 2k/6k course is missing something to test kanji vocab readings. But testing audio<->sentences is a very roundabout (and IMO wrong) way to do it.

By the way, thank you for all your hard work!


That should only be required for the tedious learning portion that does reverse choices, after that it stops and reviews are audio prompt to sentence selection. It’s less tedious on mobile as you just tap on the button to play it. Memrise should make the desktop emulate that since it does it anyway if I had activated the “audio testing” in settings. You can submit a bug report if that’ll help since I agree it is annoying (more so when it offers up to 8 audio selections).

I’m hesitant to add audio -> Japanese vocab since kanji actually gives away a lot when you get enough under your belt. You’ll know how to pronounce it but not really know its meaning. What you can do is do self testing bias where in you guess the kanji word and its pronunciation when given the English prompt. If you don’t know the audio for sure, just select “show answer” even if you know the kanji part of the answer. On mobile you purposely select the wrong answer. This is similar advice I offer to those that want writing input testing. Instead of making the test hard for everyone, the individual makes it hard for themselves. I still have audio testing activated, but based on my personal experience I might remove it later.

The sentence part ultimately is training the student for the upcoming immersion courses which are more so audio to Japanese sentence (I figured a way to add new vocabulary so that’ll also be added). While tedious, it’s good to test your ability to understand spoken sentences and select the correct text.

Fair warning, after level 10 there are no more English -> Japanese sentences. If there’s a big call for it, I can duplicate the levels and change those to be English -> Japanese, but I do ask you at least give it a shot. In the long run, you want to be able to hear Japanese and find the correct Japanese sentence instead of forcing translation every test.

EDIT: Ok, I notice it’s fairly easy to “suspend” parts of the course. As such, it is possible to duplicate both Sentences and Vocabulary. One will test English -> Japanese. Second would test Audio -> Japanese vocabulary. That’ll allow those that like to keep it “Japanese Only” a good option and those that prefer to translate the other. A third group would do both.

I’ll experiment with adding those lessons and give a note that people can suspend the levels they don’t want.

I also want “writing input testing” by the way. Even if you add audio<->vocab, noobs still won’t learn how to spell things exactly if you don’t test for it. For a random example, one word I recently got wrong was 出発, where I remembered the sound as shuupatsu instead of shuppatsu since they sound identical to me. If I had to trust myself to check whether I actually knew how to pronounce this word I probably won’t even notice a problem. There are countless other examples like this where I might forget a little tsu, mix up shu/su/zu/tsu, etc and don’t realize I had memorized something slightly incorrect until the right kanji doesn’t show up in the IME.

It’s incredibly useful to have a typing test check you.

You should look at how JLPT N5 does things. It has plenty of flaws (which is why I want to switch to over) but the test formats are okay.

@fta2012, sorry, but I think you have to get used with being tested on audio/audio review first. You hoover the mouse and click the right answer. I find the UI behaviour your described just “normal”


I decided on the course concentrating on literacy and fluency with respect to reading and listening. I cannot force a student to vocally repeat each word, but that’s exactly what a student should do to force themselves. When you see 出発 do you think “departure” or at picture the concept? When you hear しゅっぱつ do you think of “出発” or picture the concept?

Now, I’m actually going through the SGJL 05 course now as I finished SGJL’s 01-04 (including the ADoBJG SGJL 04). After I fix problems with possible duplicate answers I’ll test activating the typing tests. Part of me is worried about making vocabulary take too long. However, grammar and kanji and even immersion will take additional time with learning so perhaps it’ll balance out. As it seems a tad silly to add typing to the Audio -> Japanese Vocab portion, I’ll likely just have it on the English -> Japanese Vocab. I also notice in settings users can disable typing and touch tapping all together much like they can disable audio tests temporarily. Be warned it’ll make things much more difficult (in your case) and slow things down (in my case).

By the way, can you cover some of the flaws of the JLPT N5 course? Also, have you done the grammar courses?


Ok, you convinced me after I had a chance to review a bit. With the typing test one does have to have the pronunciation down pat in order to input the correct word. That in turn makes the audio -> Japanese Vocab pretty pointless. In addition, by activating typing test it activates it on audio -> Japanese.

This won’t be easy but in the end it’ll be pretty important. The sentences will still be audio -> sentence which even if you don’t think is important or can be side stepped, I think will lead to the immersion courses. If one feels the need to “cheat” in a self study course, they can do that. Again, I recommend giving it a fair shot. While Grammar and Vocab have to have English in the mix, the vocab sentences and immersion sentences should just be Japanese.

Thanks for adding the typing tests! I think they are super important.

To answer your question on how I learn, since 出発 is still a fresh word I still remember it by a mem: “When a train starts its departure, it will ‘shoot past you’.” When I hear the word I can associate it with the concept of departure but if I had to type it out, I can’t really remember if it was shupatsu/shuupatsu/shuppatsu and of course the input editor is unforgiving of these typos.

For the JLPT N5 course, some of the things I personally didn’t like were:

  • They separated words into english<->kana then again with english<->kanji. I didn’t like this because you end up relearning the same word twice, just the next time you need to tab through to find the correct kanji when typing. And they will test you on the kanji version even if it’s obscured (for example 其れ instead of それ) and you don’t really know which one you should use in the real world. I would much prefer testing just the canonical form with an auxiliary note on rare kanji instead.
  • Confusing order. I learned the word for wednesday at the start of the course but didn’t know how to say the rest of the days of the week until near the end of the course much later. Ditto for numbers, colors, sono/kono/ano/dono, etc. This is the main reason why I want to switch to your course since it seems to have sane groupings for related words.
  • No example usages for the word. I mostly just want example sentences when learning word definitions like how http://jisho.org/ does it. Having audio for that sentence is just cherry on top.

It’s a very popular course with 108k users so they make up for these faults by having a lot of good mems. There are regular mems like “shoot past you” (like I mentioned before) and “nietzche gets callous suavely mocking kinsmen dogma” (nichi getsu ka sui moku kin do). And also lots of mems containing example sentences and grammatical/cultural/historical notes. But it’s very inconsistent and I would rather rely on good course design rather than mems.

Thank you for pushing to have the switch. I’ve gone through a few of the lessons and it’s working well. There’s a couple of hick-ups with deleted cards to remove uncertainty in answers, but hopefully that smooths out.

Reading your issues with the N5, I can understand your frustrations as I had similar issues with other course versions of Core 2k/6k. That’s a big reason I’ve sorted these in the manner I did. I also do not like the idea of going Japanese -> English cause there’s so many variants that could be correct. Plus, I like to put notes on the English prompt especially when there’s no one to one translation and also ambiguity.

Feel free to leave a little feedback after each course. If this system works, don’t forget to suggest it to others.

I just tried it out and it’s working out great (though I haven’t tried learning any new words yet. I was mostly just quickly watering words I already knew from other courses).

Do you prefer leaving a message here or creating a topic on the course forums for feedback/bugs? For example level 8 of core 2k/6k has wrong audio for both 海 and 海外.

Thanks again!

Posting here is best for now. I’ll create a Course Forum specifically for the Core 2k/6k Optimized courses so this doesn’t get as clogged up. Audio can be easily fixed, but it doesn’t update on mobile unless you delete all data from the app in the phone settings. Stupid but such is mobile app life.

I just did some time testing. Takes me about 8 to 10 minutes to finish a vocabulary lesson and 15 minutes to finish a sentence lesson. Given there’s 50 lessons, that’s about 10 hours for me to speed through this course. That’s not taking into account time spent fixing typos and errors. Both the grammar courses took about 15 hours together and the Kanji course took 20 hours (most of that was adding Memnotes for others). With the planned four Japanese Drama Immersion courses, that means it’ll take me about 200 hours to speed through these basic courses. Considering I basically did all of this already, that’s tracking with my estimate 400 hours for new users.

Starting the Intermediate section will be the real test as that’s the area that I stopped studying 6 years ago. That also means I depend heavily on feedback from others to know how well this course is set up for Basic. Yes, I’m doing the courses myself, but these are easy for my level (very hard when I first started).

In addition to wrong audio for 海 and 海外 in level 8, 本 in level 7 is also wrong.

Did an edit end goal of projected course. I spread out the ADoJG to be about 300 sentences per part (6 parts for Intermediate, 10 parts for Advanced) and added the Core 10k vocabulary/sentence list in 8 parts.

As stated, I have all this material. It’s a matter of editing it to be uploaded in a Memrise friendly manner in addition to adding audio. I expect few to follow all the way to the end, but I want the material ready for those that seek it.

It looks like the new forum layout has disabled the course-specific forum threads. Do you plan on creating course-specific threads for feedback, or is it more ideal to keep everything grouped up here?