Sorry for the post paucity - I have translating coming out of my ears. Here is something to keep you going in the meantime - All Japanese All The Time - the blog of a fellow styling himself Khatzumoto, whose learning approach focuses on three basic techniques:
1. Learn how to write the 2000 or so basic use kanji (yep - Heisig time)
2. Learn to read by learning words/kanji in context, ie in SENTENCES, using spaced repetition
3. Do EVERYTHING in Japanese ALL THE TIME.
I think Khatzumoto's approach to maximising and repeating input is spot on, and when I think of my halcyon days as a JET, with no cable, no Amazon Japan, no Google, and no other gaijin, I was fortunate enough to have, and make use of, the "all Japanese all the time" environment. Although I picked up speaking and listening to a decent level, I definitely didn't apply myself as well as Khatzumoto, whose approach is not only characterised by sheer dedication but also by wit and refreshing honesty. Reading AJAAT will not only give you some great tools for learning Japanese, it will give you a gentle kick in the arse and make you WANT to learn:
No one is saying you’re going to be amazing at it on your first day, or even your first month or even your first year. But you know what? The surest way to fail is to quit doing it. If you can’t skate, or program, or speak a language, it’s not because a supernatural white ball of gas in outer space doesn’t want you to. It’s not because of your parents — leave them out of it. And it’s not because of the task itself — don’t be a wusspot. It’s because you haven’t done it enough.
A lot of times we say someone is “good” at something. I think this is inaccurate. It would be more correct to say she is “accustomed” to it. We don’t get good at something so much as we get used to it. So, I’m not “good” at Japanese, I’m just accustomed to it. I’ve seen those kanji before, I’ve heard those words arranged in that sequence before, I’ve seen that sentence pattern a zillion times. When you’re “bad” at something, it’s not so much that you’re bad at it as it is that you aren’t used to it. And the way to get used to it — to get good at it — is simply to do more of it.