I've been studying Japanese since about January using the Genki second edition workbook and textbook. I try to get in an hour session each day but I have been a little on and off with it; I think its a bit difficult in general to stay motivated when self studying. I've finished 3 or 4 chapters by now and have began learning kanji.
My issue is, I feel like I'm not retaining as much as I should be after each lesson. I think its mostly the raw vocab, as I can usually remember the grammar principles and sentence building pretty well as well as the base kanji to some extent. I find that I just can't seem to pull a certain word/phrase from my head once I hit around the half-way point of a chapter, especially for "list/series" type of vocab such as months, numbers etc.
For reference, let me give a quick overview of how I learn a chapter. The first couple days I write the vocab on note cards and try to learn/retain as much of it as I can. Usually there are a few terms per card with the kana on one side and the English definition on the other. I usually learn around 10 or so at a time by trying to recall them and writing them down. Then I move through the rest of the chapter questions. After that, I go to the reading section and learn the kanji in a similar way to the vocab, completing the exercises to drill it. Finally, I do the workbook section, trying to use the new kanji as much as I can to reinforce it. As far as immersion, I listen to Japanese music quite regularly and watch subbed anime movies from time to time. I don't think I'll be able to make consistent contact with a native speaker anytime soon, but I'm open to other ideas if anyone has them.
I do feel in general that I am enjoying learning the language and somewhat making progress. I can even sometimes form very basic conversations in my head and recognize a few words here in there from anime, packaging, etc. I am approaching chapter five of Genki I now and I just feel like at this point I should be feeling a little more complicated. Maybe it is just a consistency issue, as I often find myself missing a few days of study here in there. Is this normal when first starting out, or could there be something wrong with my learning process? Or is it just a matter of being more consistent? Has anyone had a similar experience and gotten out of it?
EDIT: So after a few days of on and of study, I feel like I've better pinpointed this issue. Its really the fact, I think, that either I am learning very slowly or creating an illusion in my head that I'm studying way less than I actually am (telling my self that I'm studying more often and being more focused than I actually am). I think maybe it really is a consistency issue, but the issue is, I feel like because I feel like I'm learning so little, its hard to stay motivated to study often. I'm guessing my study methods are fine based on these answers, but I feel like once I've gotten to the next section I've forgotten the others. I've gotten through chapters, yes, but come to think of it, it has taken me over a month to complete each. I really want to continue studying Japanese, and I love the feeling I get when I actually have a productive session. Maybe, if I try really hard to study EVERY DAY for 2 or 3 weeks I'll see results. Or, is there still a problem with my methods or mindset? Please indicate if I need to add more info.
While both the answers to this question were great I'm hoping to get some updated answers based on the recent edit.
Thanks in advance.