I have been studying Japanese for a while now and I find it really hard to balance learning kanji, correct grammar structure and vocabulary all at the same time. As I currently live in England and as there are not many (by that i mean none in my local area) native Japanese speakers I am finding it really hard to get past basic past and present tense sentences.
At the moment I am trying:
To revise kanji everyday using the Kanji Study app. (I on average manage 15 minuets every day)
Speak to Japanese language partners (approximately once or twice a week) accompanied by the occasional tutored Japanese speaking session.
I am reading Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese (I am through the first section of the book)
Watching some Japanese programs but usually resorting to subtitles.
If anyone could suggest maybe a combination of exercises they use or any other methods that are effective, I would be entirely grateful!
I have just been recommended the app Human Japanese I am still going to try it.
ありがとう ございます！ 私は がんばれます
I think there's a popular song nowadays, something about Work, work, work ..? Not sure how the lyrics go, but the idea is > if you want to progress with Japanese, then you have to work, work, work for it, at a constant pace. Work with a textbook that also has a student's book to practice the grammar - it will also help you remember the words. Don't take long breaks between learning sessions or you'll have to relearn everything all over again. I recommend working with a teacher from the beginning, he/she will help you understand and learn the grammar correctly.
Don't be discouraged, you're progressing with every lesson you've completed, even if you don't realise it. But with Japanese you need to be constant both with learning new vocabulary and grammar and exercising the kana or adding new kanji to your written skills.
In conclusion: good textbook with a separate book for exercises, a kanji book, videos, anime, dorama, Japanese movies and music. These are all easy to find nowadays, either in libraries or on the internet. がんばってください！
Here is an amazing 4 step exercise I use to get back to fluency whenever I spend a few months without speaking Japanese:
1) Choose any random anime.
2) Watch the anime without subtitles and write down every word you don't know that you here.
3) Play the episode again, while you look up the translation for those words and create flashcards.
4) Play the episode a third time while you go through all flashcards from previous episodes.
This is going to shock your brain. If you try doing this intense 1 hour session for even just a week, your mind will be blown. Believe me.
I have a lot more tips to learn Japanese on my youtube channel
Ialso started japanese as self-study. I just found a good study guide (in my case in russian) and followed it until I was around N5 (Nouryoku Shiken). The book was well balanced, it had a portion of words and kanji in each chapter, grammar, and exercise to use both. So this could be a difficult task to find a book that suits you.
At the beginning it is important to learn grammar and words and get comfortable with them. You will learn words with time, but without grammar you won't be able to express yourself.
Also on any stage it was very helpful when I was reading a lot, especially texts that are slightly above my level. Don't choose something too simple. I started with fairytales and simple dialogs. I tried to spend at least 1hr for various study every day.
As for Kanji apps, I've found them most useless. Whenever I stopped reviewing cards, I would forget them completely. When using apps my brain used to remember a high-level picture of the kanji, which was ok, until I ran into a similarly looking one (and there are plenty of those!) and I couldn’t tell if this is the kanji I learned or not. Best way for me was to write kanji as much as possible paying attention to details and read texts (without furigana). That way, even if I forget exact stroke order one day, I am still able to read and understand them.
When I got to N5 I started to study with a teacher, and we used a number or workbooks, texts, audio, speaking and writing practice. On that level, knowing about 300 kanji I was able to speak 'survival' japanese and could try to study with a native speaker.
I'm a native Japanese speaker
I study English I want to help you and I want you to help