Tower of Babbling Japanese - Level 2

Learn Japanese 1 day at a time - Level 2
Tower of Babbling Japanese - Level 2

Welcome to Level 2 of the "Tower of Babbling: Japanese"!

Here we'll continue your step by step climb to Japanese mastery one day at a time.

If you're looking to start Japanese from scratch, hit the button to check out Level 1.

Let's dive right in!

Day 1 - Pimsleur - Level 1 - Lesson 8

Getting bored with Pimsleur?

I'll admit, listening to it is the equivalent of eating a bundle of kale and chasing it with a glass of water. But both of those things are good for you, so you should continue to do it.

In Level 1, we took things slow. One thing a day, little by little, just to get you to (hopefully) build a daily Japanese habit, however small.

But we're revving things up at this stage.

Remember the 3 levels of Japanese I mentioned in the first level?

If not, here's a quick reminder:

  • Level 1 - Travel and Business Japanese
  • Level 2 - Japan media file (Anime, light novels, video game, and Japanese culture fanatics)
  • Level 3 - Road to Japanese mastery

You might be wondering, what happened to those?

They're still here and in this level you'll see more separation between recommended activities.

But the basics are the basics. Things like Hiragana and getting an ear for the language are mandatory, before you can ever hope to enjoy a whole anime sans subs or dubs or confidently interview for a job in Japanese.

With that said, if you're aiming for proficiency at Levels 2 or 3, get ready to spend more time with the language than in the first level.

Day 2 - Learn Katakana

In Level 1 you learned (or began learning) Hiragana. Now it's time to tackle the second Japanese writing system, Katakana.

I visited Japan for the first time in 2007. By the time I returned for my third extended stay in 2021, there was a noticeable difference in the amount of Katakana I saw around.

This writing system is used for non-Japanese words. You'll see many words borrowed an Japanified from English, but they adapt from other languages as well.

Katakana is also used to write unique Japanese オノマトペ (onomatopoeia). These are words that often (simultaneously) represent sounds, concepts, or feelings in Japanese.

You might have run into a few common ones if you're a fan of anime or manga.

Here are some well known ones:

ペラペラ - fluent

ドキドキ - nervous, excited (heart pounding sound)

バタバタ - flapping

These also have multiple meanings depending on the context.


It's normal. Onomatopoetic words are just one of the many aspects of Japanese that stump foreigners. It took me months to grasp the concept. Even longer to be able to comfortably recognize and use them.

But don't worry about that for now.

Just focus on learning the Katakana characters as well as you can. With enough exposure, everything else will come on it's own time.

Day 3 - Pimsleur - Level 1 - Lesson 8 (REPEAT)

Listen to the Pimsleur lesson (don't forget to speak aloud!)

Katakana practice

Did you finish the entire katakana lesson yesterday?

If not, now's a good time to complete it.

When you've gone through the entire page at least once, practice writing out the characters.

Type them out and handwrite them on a sheet of paper. It's okay to refer to the page as a reference for now. But eventually you'll want to have all these memorized just like Hiragana.

Keep going!


Take a break to stretch those Japanese muscles.

But don't forget to have some fun contact with the language!

Day 5 - Challenges!

It's time for your first challenge of level 2.

Select the appropriate one or (do all of them)!

Level 1 - Write a brief introduction email in Hiragana and Katakana

Put your knowledge of these writing systems to the test by writing a short introduction email.

Here's what to include:

  • Name
  • Where you live
  • Something about a hobby you like

Here's an example:





My name is Keith Hayden.
I live in Okinawa, Japan.
I like to learn languages.

Don't worry about the grammar. The focus is on practicing Hiragana and Katakana.


Read your introduction to someone!

Level 2 - Watch an anime episode with Japanese subtitles or read manga/light novel for 30 minutes

The anime challenge is meant to test your ability to recognize Hiragana and Katakana in real time.

As an additional challenge, write every Hiragana and Katakana character you recognize as you watch. (Try not to pause the video)

Ignore the Kanji for now.


For manga and light novel the challenge is similar.

Get out your preferred reading material then write down any Hiragana and Katakana characters you encounter. Read aloud as you go for at least 15 minutes.

For an added challenge, record yourself for at least five minutes as you do this.

When you're done, watch your recording.

Where did you get tripped up? Which characters do you need more practice with?

Here's me reading a page in chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Level 3 - Write a children's story then read it

Use ChatGPT to write a children's tale in Hiragana, then in Katakana and read them.

ChatGPT is the ultimate language learning tool.

Open it up then use the following prompt (fill in the details with whatever you want)

*I'm learning Hiragana and Katakana.

Write a children's story about a (BOY/GIRL) who wants to (CHARACTER GOAL - EXAMPLE: BUY A TOY) but has to deal with (OBSTACLE - A MEAN DOG).

Write the story completely in Hiragana.

Then write the story completely in Katakana.*

Create your story, then use my GPT to understand it.

ChatGPT - Japanese Grammar Sensei
A Japanese grammar tutor providing clear explanations and corrections.


Add images to your story and share it!

ChatGPT - Children’s Book Image Creator
Creates bright and diverse children’s book illustrations.

Enjoy today's challenges!

Day 6 - Pimsleur - Level 1 - Lesson 9

How were yesterday's challenges?

If you found them difficult that's fine, they're challenges after all. The point is to get you to engage with the language in a way that breaks up your routine (you'll make bigger gains that way.)

DAY 7 - Pimsleur - Level 1 - Lesson 9 (REPEAT)

Katakana Review

Review the Katakana article and practice writing your characters!

Same goes for Hiragana. These foundational writing systems are very important to understand before you move on to Kanji.


Don't forget to get some contact with the language!

Day 9 - Pimsleur - Level 1 - Lesson 10

Keep listening and repeating!


Here's a video for Level 1 learners.

If you only have time to watch once, try and repeat what you hear.

But if you have time for two views, listen and watch the first time. Then listen and repeat on the second.

Day 10 - Pimsleur - Level 1 - Lesson 10 (REPEAT)


This video has some pretty good tips for learning Japanese with anime. Plus she speaks with native speaker intonation (helpful for more ear training).

DAY 11 - Pimsleur - LEVEL 1: Lesson 11


I searched for this one on my Japanese YouTube. I originally was only looking for a helpful video for level 3 learners, but this is good for any level.

Review your Hiragana with this short video.


It's a rest day! Don't forget to get outside and drink water.

DAY 13 - Begin Learning Kanji

Today is the day you've been waiting for (or avoiding) - your first dive into Kanji.

Nervous? You're right to be. There are thousands of Kanji characters. And they represent a significant hurdle to comprehending real Japanese.

Worse yet, rote memorization of the characters will only get you so far. (Believe me I've tried.)

In the beginning, I tried everything to pound the characters into my head. Flashcards, apps, programs, several books - none stuck. There's only one system that finally got them into my head to stay.


As of this writing, I've been drilling WaniKani for a little over a year. In that time, I've learned hundreds of characters.

Why is it so effective?

The first reason is their clever use of mnemonic sentences. They relate each character to a mini story that helps to cement it into your brain.

Second is the order of the Kanji. While most Kanji learning systems start from some academic standard like the official Japanese government Kanji order or the JLPT recommended list, WaniKani flips the model.

Kanji are arranged such that they build off of the ones you already know. In the first few levels you'll get a sampling of several common characters. After that, you might encounter a more advanced one that uses them in a compound character.

This is a game changer. Kanji chains together more easily, ensuring that each new character reinforces old ones, leading to faster acquisition.

The third reason I recommend WaniKani are the example sentences and vocabulary.

Many Kanji resources I tried in the past teach the characters in isolation. These feel good in the moment, but I found myself forgetting the characters shortly after I stopped studying.

The reason why? Lack of context.

The fastest way to learn Kanji is to see it in the context of real writing, which means you need to be able to read. Yes, I know how unfair is that!

Now you see why knowing Hiragana and Katakana are so important. They help you parse Kanji quicker and read whole sentences.

WaniKani also provides thousands of vocabulary words and sentences that use the Kanji to help make them stick. Tremendously helpful.

One of the only drawbacks of WaniKani? It's not free.

I think it's $15 per month (or something like that).

In early 2024, I invested in the lifetime plan. That should signal how much I believe in it. This is not an affiliate link, but in over 20 years of learning Japanese, I haven't encountered a better Kanji learning system.

If you're serious about learning this language (Level 2 and 3) I highly recommend you at least try the first few levels. They're free when you sign up.

If you're a level 1 learner, you can try it, but consider it optional. Reading Kanji, might be the first thing you really don't need if all you want is survival Japanese during a short trip to Japan.