I’ve reached Level 60. Odd, as I always looked at Level 60 folks as sages of great wisdom. I’m sure most are, but somehow a plodder like me has managed to join the ranks. Of course, the journey continues/begins now.
To give back to the community, I thought I’d share some stats and observations. Coming from someone who wasn’t traditionally a languages person, and came to Japanese a bit later in life, you absolutely CAN get to a decent level. It does take lots of patience and discipline, though.
Thanks for all your contributions and helping to make WaniKani a thing!
- For level up, I excluded periods where I wasn’t actively using WK.
- I originally signed up for WK in 2016 (should really have continued!) but I took the opportunity of the first Covid lockdown to attack it in earnest.
- Late 20s - early 40s were the doldrums. A real struggle at times and felt like I was treading water or even regressing. Luckily, I’m stubborn and just kept smashing through day after day, with the end goal always in mind.
- Level 44 was a big turning point. I found it relatively easy (I happened to know many of the kanji already) and passed N2 around the same time. This gave me a huge boost in motivation and velocity.
- Summer '21 my WK progress fell apart due to life and work. Lost time, but it happens to everyone. I still continued with some other Japanese stuff.
- Apparently, I spent 489 hours getting here. I think it’s quite a bit more overall.
Tips & observations
- If you want to do something, now is the time. Not tomorrow, not next week, or next year. It’s amazing how quickly time goes. Over 3 years just to finish WK. I dearly wish that I’d continued with WK in 2016, and that I’d picked up Japanese at a younger age.
- Discipline, consistency, and patience are hugely underrated skills. As Tanjiro Kamado said, “hard work is the sum of daily efforts”.
- I found setting micro-goals to be hugely helpful in getting through WK. Whether it’s keeping your eye on the next level milestone (tens and fives seem to be psychologically satisfying) or just the next batch of reviews. I’d often break big review sessions into chunks, like “just get the next five done”, “just get to halfway”, “just get to the next multiple of ten”. Before I knew it, I’d be through all my reviews.
- Keep going even when you’re tired, frustrated, making mistakes, etc. This is invaluable learning, building and strengthening neural pathways that will pay off long term. We can’t just be fair-weather learners.
- Embrace vocab! I used to see vocab as troublesome, slowing me down and overwhelming me at times (especially with all those exceptions, rendaku, etc.) But I eventually appreciated that vocab is the whole point of this. Also, your reward for guru-ing radicals and kanji is just to unlock more items… With vocab, that’s it. You reached the top of the tree!
- I try to attack Japanese from many angles. WK has been a major component, but on a daily basis I do things like listen to podcasts, the news, learn songs, play video games, watch shows and films, read articles, read books, use other apps, study grammar, etc. I previously attended evening classes, and even attended a summer school in Japan.
- I doff my hat to people who reach Level 60 in 1-2 years. That is an insane achievement and you should all receive medals.
What I've been able to do thanks to WK
- Read much more smoothly and with less effort. This started to happen within a few weeks, and was very noticeable after about Level 10.
- Gain a deeper appreciation of meanings and etymologies, as well as kanji phonetics.
- Complete several video games that I would never have dreamt of doing before.
- Write more freely, and easily identify correct words in keyboard auto-suggest.
- Finishing all lessons and doing reviews for another month or so.
- Aiming to take N1 in December.
- More proper reading.
- Continuing with all other Japanese materials (and enjoying them ever more): podcasts, articles, shows, etc.
- I’ve foolishly started playing Yakuza, so that’ll probably just replace all the WK time! Great substitute for actually going to Japan