Learning Japanese Language
Vocabulary & kanji: flash cards. Definitely works. Even when you get sick of (the words you have in) the flash cards, just keep repeating. With your eyes, with your hands, with your tongue.
There are different methods of remembering it, especially with radicals in the kanji. You can connect them to form the meaning and relate it to how it is read. Choose one that is most comfortable for you. Or what your course chose for you.
Yes, it’s harder than it looks. It was easy when you just started. From then the shapes and strokes become more difficult and ‘weird’. Then the more you learn and memorise, the combination seems endless. But don’t stress yourself by targeting to master it all. Even the Japanese people do not know all the kanji exist. Make it tangible: 5 to 10 (or 20 if you only learn the language at the time without taking degree classes).
Exercise. Read, read it aloud, write, listen. Practice what you learn with your tutor or friends. Use the language. Even if you live in Japan, you could develop slow when people around you are not using Japanese as the main communication language. This latter is me.
I am pretty much scared of speaking in Japanese. The grammar doesn’t come natural to my brain and tongue (pitch is not a problem, I was said to have childish voice :p ). The vocabulary many times disappear when I need them, and appeared a lot later when the conversation was ‘force closed’. Pretty frustrating.
However, I admit I do not practise the language much. This last semester I only chose grammar, reading and kanji classes (here, starting level J4 the class is modular). Because I also attended chemical ecology and scientific writing classes, finishing the research and wrote the report. (reasons, reasons… always there to find)
I do not have TV thus hardly watch news or movie, I rarely listen to music (I like quietness here) and opt for English movie when I happen to go to the cinema. My professors, friends, lab mates and colleagues all speak English. A relieve, actually, because scientific vocabulary is ‘impossible’ without special course.
So if you would like to master the language, do the opposite of the above. It is genuinely fun if you can speak the language, gain new friends and converse with them, navigate easily, enjoy and know Japan fully.
Here is a very fluent video describing many of our (foreign students) feeling. It is in Japanese, but her feeling was very well described through expression. I love her speech so much!