♪Do you have the time to listen to me whine ?♫

Hi, so hum…

I’ve been on Wanikani for a bit more than a year (December 2018) and I’m currently on level 17, and I haven’t taken a new lesson for a month. I’ve got 150-200 reviews per day and I decided to not take a new lesson anymore until the number goes down, as I sometimes do, but it doesn’t seem to happen. I started wanikani with a bit of japanese knowledge (hiragana and katakana, as well as basic grammar). I take my reviews once or twice per day and it takes me like 1h-1h30 every day. I also use bunpro for grammar and do a little bit of busuu when I’m on a subway or something to get a bit of useful vocabulary. I also read Makoto magazine from thejapanesepage and sometimes (like once a wekk) a story from their japanase reader collection. All counted japanese takes me like 1h30-2h every day and I cannot spend more time on it.
I do like 60-70% on my review sessions, which is pretty bad, and I feel like I’m on a loop with always new stuff coming from two months ago that I do not remember and that falls back to my apprentice level. I’m taking a trip to japan in two months which I’m very excited about, but back when I planned it I figured by the time I would have a way better level in japanese that I have, which I do not have and it’s quite frustrating.
I don’t feel like I’m making progress and it’s been long enough that I expected to understand a lot more than I do now. I don’t get what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been taking it quite slow, I can see that even at a “not to fast” pace people which have been here for as long as me are like at level 30. Everybody seems to be better at this than me and I don’t get it. I don’t mean to brag, but I know for a fact that I have a better-than-average memory. I cruised through school and university with barely an effort, and even in the languages area, I learned English very easily (which admittedly is a lot closer to my birth language, French, than japanese, but still).
Point is, I generally do not have learning issues. I spend quite some time studying japanese every day. Why do I suck at this ? Do people generally spend even more time on it than me ?
Do I go about it the wrong way ? What I used to do at the beginning was taking all lessons when available, then I switched to 10 lessons a day when available with breaks for lesson when I felt like I started slipping, and now I just do my reviews to try and keep the numbers down. My queue currently looks like this

So, what can I do to be better at learning ? How can I improve my japanse routine ?

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Are you using the mnemonics very much? If you’re used to just rote memorizing things, it might just be that you’ve reached the point where you need another technique to keep advancing. I think the amount of time you are spending a day is pretty normal.

Also, you’re at a level now where you can start reading things! And reading things in the real world helps so much.

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I started encountering pacing problems similar to yours at almost exactly the same level. There were too many reviews, too little time, and I was getting overwhelmed: my accuracy was dropping, I was seeing leeches constantly, and the experience was just becoming frustrating.

You’re on the right track with the lesson-limiting, but there’s an easier way to look at it. The solution is to limit the number of Apprentice items you have. For me, I won’t do any lessons if I have more than 100 Apprentice items. That keeps my reviews at 100-150 a day (excepting the occasional burn review day, where it surges up to 200, but a 200-review day once a week or so is hardly unmanageable). If that’s still too many, just lower your acceptable number of Apprentice items until you reach a point you feel comfortable with.

I was also like you in that I only did reviews once or twice a day until very recently. If at all possible, I highly recommend trying to find a way to do WaniKani throughout the day. A chunk of 150 reviews at the end of the day can seem daunting, but if you’re doing sessions of 20 reviews every couple of hours, those 150 reviews don’t seem like very much at all. There are apps available on both iOS and Android (I couldn’t recommend Tsurukame more for iPhone users); even just doing 10 or 20 reviews on the subway can really help combat the feeling of being overwhelmed at the end of the day. Ever since I started spacing my reviews throughout the day, I’ve been far more comfortable with my review level, and even began increasing my speed a little.

It may take a week or two to stabilize after you begin doing these things, but once it does, things will start to feel a lot more manageable.


IMO 70% is pretty good. It is about what I get on the majority of my reviews especially when my old reviews come up that I have completely forgotten . I know it can be very frustrating but I think it is completely normal. As for learning other languages English and Fresh have one alphabet which is quite simple compared to Japanese’s three including the grammar and vocab you are learning at the same time. I also have a lot of reviews daily although it is around 100 less daily. My advice is to pull up WaniKani every once in a while on your phone and do a few reviews throughout your day outside of your normal study time.


@raephe : Yes I do use the mnemonics a lot at the beginning and for the first few times I’m like “what’s the mnemonic again ?” to try and remember it. After that I try to associate a kanji with the words I’ve seen it in. I try to read a bit but appart from the content from thejapanesepage that I mentionned, which has a breakdown of every vocabulary word, I don’t feel like I can read stuff just yet : I feel like I just lack the vocabulary, when I try to read an easy thing I end up looking up most of the words and having only a rough sense of what I just read.

@Pygmalion Nice to see someone had the same difficulties, I’ll aim to lower my Apprentice items, but for now I don’t take lessons and the number doesn’t seem to get down at all. Did you reach such a point as well ? Also, if I try spacing my reviews, I have like only 5-10 items to review when I want to, and I still have the same big daily chunk in the morning and evening. But I’ll try not tackling the huge chunks I get all at once, maybe it will space more during the day.

@IgorTheGreat Yeah I get that English and Japanese are very different languages, my meaning was I’m usually better than average at learning stuff and here I feel like I’m way worse at this than I’m supposed to. But the “”“competition”“” here is other motivated learners so yeah I guess it doesn’t really make sense to compare


1- you need better reading memorization techniques. It takes time to discover better mnemonics or techniques.
2- consider resetting to a less crowded level to open up space.

I don’t take lessons and the number doesn’t seem to get down at all.

It was the same with me when I first decided to try limiting my Apprentice items. Inevitably you’re going to have some – maybe a lot – of leeches floating around in the Apprentice levels. But I’m sure that of those 132 items, there are at least some that you’re learning, and those will eventually move up to Guru. Eventually the leeches will stop being leeches and you’ll learn those, too. The number will decrease.

Of course, sometimes the opposite will happen – a Guru item will demote – but progress doesn’t always happen quickly, and if you persevere, you will eventually get to a point you feel comfortable with. Note also that large groups of Apprentice items often level up at the same time; it’s common for me to hover at ~105 Apprentice items, then have a session one day after which I’ve gone down to ~70.

Also, if I try spacing my reviews, I have like only 5-10 items to review when I want to, and I still have the same big daily chunk in the morning and evening.

It takes time for the SRS system to reacclimatize. If you’ve only been doing reviews in the evening, reviews will naturally pile up around that time. But if you start doing reviews at different times in the day, after a few weeks, the schedule will be more spread out. The general rule of thumb is to do reviews when you want to get reviews. If you want reviews while you’re on the subway, do reviews while you’re on the subway, etc. (Of course there will always be outliers, but it is possible to “train” the SRS to concentrate around certain convenient times.)

The bottom line is that change isn’t going to happen overnight. Short of resetting to a lower level – which I don’t recommend unless things are truly dire – progress will be incremental. (Learning is like exercise: you don’t see results the first day you go to the gym!) You’re going to have to keep struggling with the current situation for a couple more weeks, but it will get a tiny bit better day after day.


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