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Self-Study Syllabus for Beginner Japanese

 Learning Japanese on your own can be rewarding! Here's a suggested syllabus to get you started:

Phase 1: Foundation (Weeks 1-8)

  • Hiragana: Mastering Hiragana is crucial. It's one of the two phonetic alphabets used in Japanese. Focus on memorizing all characters and their pronunciations. Resources like flashcards, spaced repetition apps (Anki), and writing practice can help.
  • Basic Greetings and Phrases: Learn essential greetings like "Konnichiwa" (Hello) and "Arigatou gozaimashita" (Thank you very much). Practice basic introductions and farewells.
  • Numbers 1-10: Counting in Japanese is a good starting point.
  • Japanese Writing System: Understand the basics – Hiragana for Japanese words, Katakana for foreign words, and Kanji (Chinese characters) which have multiple readings and meanings.
  • Romaji (Optional): Romaji is the romanization of Japanese using the Latin alphabet. It can be a temporary aid in pronunciation, but aim to transition to reading Hiragana as soon as possible.


  • Apps: Duolingo, Memrise, Dr. Moku
  • Websites: Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese, Genki (textbook series with online resources)
  • YouTube Channels: Japanese Ammo with Misa, Watanuki Japanese

Phase 2: Building Blocks (Weeks 9-16):

  • Katakana: Learn Katakana, used for foreign words and names.
  • Basic Grammar: Start with sentence structure (Subject-Object-Verb) and essential particles like "wa" (topic marker) and "ga" (subject marker).
  • Basic Verbs: Learn basic verb conjugations in the present tense (polite and casual forms).
  • Basic Adjectives: Learn basic adjectives and their conjugation to describe things.
  • Simple Questions: Practice forming simple questions using "desu ka" (polite) or "da" (casual) for confirmation.


  • Continue using resources from Phase 1.
  • Textbooks like Genki or Minna no Nihongo (beginner level) offer structured explanations.

Phase 3: Expanding Horizons (Weeks 17-24):

  • More Grammar: Explore more grammar points like past tense, future tense, and negation.
  • Vocabulary Expansion: Focus on high-frequency words related to daily life, hobbies, and interests.
  • Basic Reading: Start with simple texts using Hiragana and Katakana, gradually introducing Kanji.
  • Listening Comprehension: Listen to basic conversations and audio lessons to improve listening skills.


  • Continue using resources from Phase 1 and 2.
  • Podcasts like Nihongo con Teppei or JapanesePod101
  • Graded readers (books with controlled vocabulary) designed for learners

Tips for Self-Study:

  • Set Realistic Goals: Start small and gradually increase the difficulty as you progress.
  • Practice Regularly: Consistency is key. Dedicate some time each day to studying.
  • Find a Learning Method that Suits You: Explore different resources and find what works best for you (apps, textbooks, videos).
  • Immerse Yourself in the Language: Listen to Japanese music and watch shows with subtitles.
  • Don't Be Afraid to Make Mistakes: Embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn.
  • Connect with Others: Find online communities or language exchange partners to practice speaking.

Remember: Learning a language takes time and dedication. Celebrate your progress and have fun with the process!

Additional Notes:

  • This is a suggested syllabus and can be adjusted based on your pace and learning style.
  • Consider incorporating Kanji learning gradually from the beginning, even if just a few characters at a time.
  • Explore cultural aspects alongside the language to gain a deeper understanding.

頑張ってください!(Ganbatte kudasai!) (Good luck!)


Thanks for reading Self-Study Syllabus for Beginner Japanese

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