I've been making my way through the course and I intended to do everything and then do the writing lessons last. But am I missing any fundamental vocabulary by doing so? I would like to know so I do not derail my learning.
Do I Need the Writing Lessons
November 10, 2020
November 11, 2020
They do introduce some new vocab. There aren't really any tests, and you don't actually have to write anything, but they're working on introducing Draw It! features (especially for Kanji) where you practice how to actually physically write characters.
These lessons are actually pretty easy to complete because of there being no testing (you just mark the lesson as complete), but because they're designed to go with the modules they're part of… it might not be good to skip them until later. They went to a lot of trouble to create a structured course with a progression they expect learners to follow. It's still up to you of course, but I'd recommend going with the flow. ;)
November 26, 2020
Am I interpreting your question correctly by saying that you're learning with Romaji and don't at all know how to read or write Kana or Kanji? If so…
I began learning Japanese with this program back at the end of February of this year. I'd originally thought I'd learn in Romaji, which I did for a few months.
I'd definitely learned stuff, but one thing I'd noticed is that, as good as RJ is, it's not a be-all-end-all source. With that said, there were a lot of resources out there that I'd been using in bits and pieces to help me answer questions without having to go to the forum with everything; yet, there were many sources I couldn't use at all because Romaji wasn't used.
Then, in an answer related to some other forum question I had asked, someone recommended to me that I start learning to read and write. I took this to heart and began immediately, 3 to 5 Kana characters per day (I learned Hiragana, then Katakana). I'm profoundly grateful for that person's advice.
I still read it slowly, but it's so satisfying to me to be able to read along with the lesson material, to be able to read other resources, and to look at things of everyday life and read the Japanese on their tags/labels/etc. (Romaji is fine for speaking, but useless for anything fully in Japanese.)
That's my personal experience and opinion, FWIW. I agree with EarleyGrave's comment, too, to go with the flow. The timing of that person's comment was perfect for me; had I been told it the day I began learning Japanese, I don't know that I'd have listened.
And, again just an opinion, but I wouldn't say that taking the time to learn Kana (at the very least, considering that Kanji is a huge, long-term undertaking) in bits at a time would “derail” learning. I sort of thought that at the beginning, too. But I've found that choosing the path of early-learned literacy is worth the effort. Being able to read Kana (and a few Kanji) with each lesson seems to multiply how much I can learn at once.
I hope that helps.
November 26, 2020
Very good question, and some very good points made by JohnB232.
The short answer is no, you will not miss out on any fundamental vocabulary if you do the Writing lessons last. All of the main vocabulary you need is covered in the Language & Culture lessons; however, in saying that, there is some useful additional vocab (which is part of the N5 vocab list) in the writing lessons that I would definitely recommend learning.
Following the course layout is recommended; however, that doesn't necessarily mean you need to follow it. You can take the lessons in the order you like, so if you want to leave the writing lessons until last, by all means!
In saying that, I would HIGHLY recommend doing the writing lessons earlier. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they should be completed FIRST - at least the hiragana and katakana anyway!
Just like B232 says, by learning the two basic scripts (hiragana and katakana), you will be able to read all of the Japanese example words and sentences provided throughout our course. Not only that, but by learning these two scripts right off the bat, you will be able to practice your reading throughout every single lesson. And the more you see Japanese, the quicker your brain will come to recognize it. Kanji is a little trickier, so feel free to leave this until the end of the course if you feel it's a little too much!
Of course, you can also read all of the example words and sentences using only rōmaji; however, I would recommend only using this as a reading aid - after all, you won't see any rōmaji in Japan, only hiragana, katakana and kanji.
To add to what EarleyGrave said, we have recently added a Draw It! test (from module 5 onwards) to the desktop version, which will allow you to practice writing kanji. This should also be available on the app in the next couple of updates.
I hope this helped! Please let me know if you have any other questions!
勉強を頑張ってください！ (Benkyō o ganbatte kudasai!)