Japanese from Day 1: Organic Game Plan Explained – The intelligent way to start learning Japanese

How do I actually go about learning Japanese? A lot of people ask me this question. Let’s look at the game plan.▼Links▼

Mother Deck (starter template): You can edit the cards by using Anki’s browser. Delete the notes (or replace them with your own notes).

The One-Deck Strategy:

Dynamic Cards and how to use them:

Basic vocabulary (kanji with romaji – you just need the romaji for now: just pick what you like for your Anki. It doesn’t really matter at this stage – you’re just getting a start on vocabulary. – obviously you can use any source you like.

Basic vocabulary Memrise (in hiragana). Look at the word-lists and choose what you want to put in your own Anki deck. Don’t use Memrise itself if you want to use the organic approach.

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Categories:   Language


  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    3 Boulders Urban

    I have Anki Mobile app installed on my phone. I downloaded your cards from your share drive but the set seems empty. No cards in the set. What am I doing wrong?
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Skwizzz B

    does your model have any copyright??
    you can do a ban hammer on yanderedev
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Sanseido's J-J web dictionary is discontinued as of yesterday. Thought you ought to know.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Out of context. Your model is really cute!
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Jay Lien

    I see early on that you had used sentence cards with Anki and found it useful. Evidently, you've moved away from that approach... so if you could go back to the beginning now, would you skip sentence cards and focus on pinning words instead? I can't determine if having context, on the front, is a facilitating element or like having training wheels.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Don't worry, I'll save you!!!
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Daiku Cat

    If you are being taken hostage by yandev, please blink twice
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Justin 12O16E26

    Yandere Dev stole this model we should get him
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Wall Paint

    Here from Rev Says Desu, anyone else?
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Hello Dolly-Sensei, great to have a plan of attack, but I have a small question for my situation.
    I'm not interested in anime that much and would like to just read visual novels.
    The problem is that I'm obviously a beginner and they are MUCH more wordier than manga or anime, an average VN has about 400k Japanese characters.
    If I were to go with the one-deck method, I would quickly build an 8k word deck in Anki.
    How should I go about it, and how many words do you recommend adding in Anki everyday?
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Yo, Cure Dolly. First off, thank you so much for putting so much time and effort into these videos and I'm so glad I was recommended this channel. Second, what are your opinions on the Core 2K/6K deck that is usually recommended? Is it kind of the same with the deck you linked in the description? I've been going at it for the past month to see if I can get a good base of kanji going before I really start digging into it and understand the language and it's structure.
    Again, really appreciative of your efforts! Hope your channel grows because you certainly deserve all the attention and love.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Gabriel Oliveira

    Hi Sensei!

    Do you recommend me learning Japanese through the usage of duolingo?

    I've been learning Japanese using this app, but after watching your video I got confused if the app is the best way for achieving my goal
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    When I started I did all that you just said, and it is really helping me at learning japanese. But I was needing a source for grammar, first I found tae-kim, second imabi, and then I found YOUUUUU, and I was really happy and laughing because with just three of your lessons I finally understood a lot of things. I love your channel, and I really appreciate what you do to teach us Japanese, keep going dolly sensei!! I'm definitely sharing your channel to everyone who wants to learn japanese because this is gold
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Gotta get on this mother-decking journey!! ありがとう!
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Extreme Kiwi

    This approach to language learning is really #1. Having the structure in mind while learning the language is very different from and a lot more interesting than the way we acquired our first language(s). With structure, acquisition, and ドリ-先生's explanations, there is a clearer understanding than with acquisition alone. キュアドリ- is giving us the keys to the Lamborghini.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Is there a pictographic/illistrated Anki? I feel it would be much easier to learn with image association than word translation.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Great video Dolly-sensei, I will save it, so when i learn a new languaje I could know to start . It would be wonderfull if you could create a complete guide. <3
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    I possibly have eidetic memory so learning hiragana and katakana was fairly straightforward and easy, and all it takes is a couple of glances for me to remember a kanji (the little details I can remember as well easy enough) I find then pay attention towards though learning the readings of the kanjis I've encountered can be a little bit more difficult for me.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Having been following your structure course and your recommendations for Anki usage (the "one deck" method) for roughly a month or so, I can attest that it's been extremely helpful in improving my skill at Japanese. Though I am 28 now, I actually started my attempt at learning this language at just 8, having learned Hiragana and Katakana, plus a little bit of vocabulary and grammar in an attempt to translate the Japanese Pokemon cards I was in possession of at the time. Admittedly, I learned just enough to be able to make sense of what cards were doing, primarily by doing some pattern matching with cards that had known translations. Over the years, I didn't end up keeping my focus on the language, and although I'd end up finding some untranslated manga or video games that I'd want to enjoy, I never felt I knew enough to tackle them. My vocabulary was always weak, and my knowledge of grammar was, well... influenced by a combination of college textbooks that my mother had gotten me when I was young, plus some dictionaries. And now that I'm working on a PhD in a completely unrelated subject, I've been wondering how I could ever find the time to devote to finishing the job I started two decades ago.

    In my spare time, the time I use for enjoyment, I've been playing some old Gameboy games, and reading manga and doujins that have no translations at all. And yet instead of being scared away from enjoying these in their native language from not understanding it, whenever I come to a word I don't know yet, I'll throw it into my Anki with yomi-chan, with Kanji on the front, and drill it the next day. Most words take several days before I can know both the pronunciation and meaning of some couple of Kanji when I see it, but as I continue to study them, I find they pop up in some media that is completely different from where I first encountered them, and I'm able to use them to translate further. It's all so liberating.

  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    First off, I really love your content! Your explanations are great! I have been using Anki for about 6 months now alongside Genki and RTK. I have been following a pre-made Genki deck and have been making my own RTK deck. I'm thinking of sticking with the RTK deck as my memory is not very good and it really helps me identify Kanji at the very least. But I've been thinking of making a new deck, a mother deck as you call it, because the Genki deck has a lot of words that I don't really care to learn right away and I don't think I will use very often. Sorry for the long-winded comment but, I'm wondering if I should drop my Genki deck entirely or stop adding new cards to that one and do all 3 decks every day?
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Chris Rowe

    I can thoroughly recommend Dr Moku's Hiragana and Katakana apps. You can easily get the kana under your belt in a couple of hours each with those.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    I've been trying to learn it on my own but recently ive been thinking of putting together an actual plan step by step. This video really came in clutch. Hands down the best japanese language learning channel I've ever came across.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    I totally agree with the one-deck approach. Over the first months of my learning, I accumulated 5 different srs. Obviously it became quickly unmanageable.
    Then I transferred everything on Anki, it cost me quite some time. Don't do the same mistake, stick to Anki!
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    J E

    I wish I had you when I started learning Japanese. I started with English translated subtitles and memorizing words and phrases as I watched through. I picked up a lot up subconsciously. Then I got a JE-EJ dictionary, learned a few more words, and one day, a year or two later, decided I absolutely needed to memorize the kana.

    Funny story: When I was about 15, from the hiragana/katakana chart the dictionary I had provided, I start with あいうえお, writing it in whatever stroke order felt right at the time, all while watching the paper test part of the chuunin exam from Naruto. Three episodes on loop as I wrote and spoke out loud each kana repeatedly for several hours each day for like a week.

    That's how I learned hiragana and katakana. Silly, yes, but it got the job done.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    I like your videos a lot, especially the kanji lessons! Been learning Japanese for over a year now, but somehow I still want to improve my reading speed and not get into the habit of using furigana because I usually only read manga and Japanese games with furigana in my videos.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    I legit learned Hiragana and Katakana in 1 day using mnemonics from the JapanesePod101 youtube channel.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Cure Dolly, Thank you for explaining Japanese in an easy to understand way. It helps me fill in the blanks when my grammar books are unclear.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    At the moment I try to perfrom a transition from my former learning method (what was basically translating the sentences in the Tango N5 book) more to your method. The really "bad" thing about the Tango books is that all sentences are written in formal speech and I slowly realised through your video series that this is a bad way to start learning japanese.

    Now I try to undo the "demage" that got done by my wrong asumptions about the structure of japanese.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Jonathan Cousins

    I’m looking forward to the immersion plan of attack. I tend to get lost in “just watch anime and you’ll learn” thinking as it’s too open ended and I just watch the shows and feel like I learn very little.
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11


    Thanks for the great content on this channel. Is there a chance that you could make a video on the difference between て-form and ます-stem for the purposes of connecting clauses?
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    House of Ram

    No more excuses! Time to learn Japanese! Thank you Dolly sensei!
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Joe Reidy

    Thank you! I've just discovered your channel, saving me from GENKI heck. You really should have more subs. One question: Should I repurpose my old Genki vocab deck as my mother deck, or start a new one? (I just did the first three chapters)

    Thank you for your work!
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Michael Hoffmann

    I think what would be tremendously helpful would be a step by step tutorial starting with a chosen video, a fully setup Yomichan in a browser, a totally empty mother deck. I say this, because while I have watched the videos that deal with each of these steps piecemeal, I find that some thing just don't work as expected! This is very likely my fault as I run extremely locked down browsers (for professional reasons) which may interfere - and that's fine, but if I knew the exact "what to expect" at each stage I could diagnose causes and issues much more easily. In addition a good example of getting audio extracted and onto a device - are there better ways than the youtube-dl method I use? (then there's the whole legality issue that I'll just leave aside for now). Also, where are the fundamentals coming from, if pre-assembled decks are a no-no? They won't come from watching anime - those aren't fundamentals. The link you gave in the video description is also just a big list - without the advantage of being ankified. IIRC, your mother deck is just an empty schema, right?
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    The Bookish Marauder

    Thank you so much Dolly Sensei!! Love from a fellow Japanese learner in India :-)
  • Posted: October 16, 2020 11:11

    Sudipa Bhattacharya

    Konnichiwa Dolly Sensei! First of all, I want to thank you for teaching Japanese the way you do and revolutionizing the way Japanese is taught. You are truly one of the biggest inspirations in my Japanese learning journey, Sensei, as you have made Japanese easy for a self- learner like me and given not just me but many others as well the confidence that they can indeed learn Japanese and become proficient in it. Your website is one of the most amazing resources for learning Japanese out there and currently I'm doing all of your beginner lessons on a regular basis from Youtube. I look forward to your uploads enthusiastically and have been waiting to thank you for a while. You are absolutely right Sensei, dolls can do what doctorates can't!

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