I visually memorized the dialogs -- it was the only way I could remember it well enough. Soon it became easier to remember the dialogs by focusing on the Japanese characters themselves -- not relying on English pronunciations like my classmates did. I was on a tear after that. Even today, when I hear an unfamiliar Japanese word, I visually break it down into the most likely Japanese character(s) and can remember the word by visual associations in my minds-eye. Without visualizing the word, I'll forget it almost instantaneously
Thats the same way I had to learn Hangul. I tried hanging around with native speakers - tried to learn the phonetics of the language, but it didn't work. I got lost in the spoken word, 'could never quite get which were pauses and which were the begining of the next word. So I had to change my method of study. I found that I was better at studying the written characters than listening to conversations. Once I picked that up, I started reading signs, newspapers, ads on the street - then matched that to conversations, directions and soon was actually be understood. I still was told that many of my sentences were framed at the level of a child. But at least I was rewarded by something better than being thought of as the dullard child the family kept locked in the basement.
Each of us has sense which absorbes learning better than the others - find yours and you found the key to unlock that subject.
The best teachers already know that - which is why ... when faced with a student not "getting it" the mix up techniques until they find the one you respond to. Thats the big problem with self-study, you have to figure this out on your own.
Unlike tube socks and baseball caps ... one size rarely fits all