Am I just stupid?

Wanted to share my experience with WaniKani so far and see if my situation is normal or the exception. I feel like at this point either:

A) all the people who do level 60 in one year already knew most of the stuff
B) I’m a dumb dumb

I have been on WK for many years at this point. Most of my Japanese learning is outside of WK, but I still struggle to progress even though I log on every day and clear my review stack. I have been on the same level for over 160 days and my daily reviews are still over 50 daily. Most of my incorrect answers for reading are because I didn’t extend an accent or missed an exception dakuten. For both reading and meaning, I can usually get it right the second time without looking at the back because I was stuck between two similar kanji and through process of elimination realized what the right answer was, or for reading, realized that I needed to extend a vowel that I didn’t. I do have a script that lets me undo an incorrect answer, but I only do that if I say something like “judgement” when the correct answer is “judge”, ect. It’s as if the SRS is too strict for me, I’m just treading water, and at this point the stuff that I burned a long time ago is probably stuff that I would answer incorrectly if quizzed on now. It makes me want to just stop using WK, I feel like with immersion I can learn more things just well enough, rather than knowing exactly how long the u sound is in a kanji that I understand the meaning of already. Some of my more recent examples of leaches that I can get correct more than half the time but always get wrong eventually, thus dropping multiple SRS stages at once, are 解決, 理解, 正解, and 解説. I know what each kanji means, but each vocab meaning is different yet would seem to be a reasonable meaning for each of those Kanji combinations. If I came across them while reading one of my stories on Satori, I would have no problem with the reading and understanding the meaning with help from the context

Are most people cruising through stuff and a lot is just review? Or are many people undoing reviews/using Anki type plug ins to be less strict? Or am I just a dumbass who can’t think hard enough to get through the system as most people seem to?

I know that getting stuff right is super important, and every % drop in accuracy adds many thousands of extra reviews when calculating total reviews till burned through 60. I really do try to internalize new cards when I add them, and make sure to see the correct meaning/reading when I get stuff wrong instead of getting things wrong twice in a row from frustration. It’s like when I go from the mnemonic stage to the memorization stage, something is lost. What do y’all think is going on here???


Your overall accuracy seems fine. How often do you do reviews? You say you log in every day but is that only once a day or multiple times?


Seem to be doing better than me so far



The one thing you didn’t mention is lessons. You can’t level up if you don’t do lessons. So I want to know, have you been on the same level for over 160 days because you keep getting at least four kanji wrong so much that they never reach Guru? Or is it because you’ve stopped doing lessons for some reason?


There’re going to be a lot of people who disagree with me on this, but that’s fine. I’m just throwing this out there for you:

Which one is more important to you, having the spelling 100% correct or understanding the meaning and basic sense of the reading? If it’s just a slight typo you might want to consider giving yourself the pass on those words where you missed a long vowel sound, similarly to how you would give yourself on the example you gave.

I would recommend you review more outside of WK with some sort of flashcard system. I would also recommend reading native content (manga in particular that will have furigana for most kanji) in order to give yourself some context to help remember better. Just time in WK isn’t going to be enough to really nail down everything, you’ll need additional outside time.

Also, you are not dumb. Learning another language is hard work with lots of ups and downs. Remember to be kind to yourself even when it’s frustrating and you feel like you are going backwards.


As you figured, I’m going to have to disagree with this. If you don’t know when to use short vs long vowels, you won’t be able to type the word either, so it would make communication via a computer more difficult. And it would also make spoken conversation more difficult since people are less likely to understand you if you don’t use short and long vowels properly.


Not stupid. The speed runners are the exception. I’m at 90 days on level 21. At this point I look at it as solidifying the roughly 3000 kanji, vocabulary, radicals that I’ve learned. That, in and of itself, is huge.

Said it before, say it again, “The right pace is your pace.”


True, and I don’t disagree. My assumption is this will improve with exposure to native content etc. and to not freak out about it in WK. Some words on here are bound to be forgotten as they won’t be encountered as much so may not be worth the overall stress.

If the word has an audio clip it would be worth listening to (multiple times, not just once) in order to help with the pronunciation and thereby the spelling.


That’s a good tip for sure. There’s even a WaniKani setting for it to auto-play, in case OP is interested in that.


You have lifetime WK, so why are you worried? Do you need to learn japanese for work or something else of major relevance? If the answer is no, then there’s no good reason for stressing over it, IMO. I might be wrong, but I think that most people that do WK in 1 year have japanese as a priority in their life.

Personally, I hope to achieve a good level in japanese in 5 years or so. It’s all about learning a little everyday, having patience and consistency.


I don’t think it’s about intelligence. More about access to free time and willingness to do lots of reviews. (which aren’t character flaws or virtues)
It’s totally natural to get a handful of things wrong frequently and have things cycle up and down through the SRS stages over time - so the review levels take a long time to go down. I think I’ve been level 60 for longer than it took me to get there at this point and I would still have a couple of reviews every few days even without new content being added. Which is just to say they peter out slowly even when not adding new ones to the pile.

So for example, 50 reviews per day doesn’t sound like very much to me, because I always did Wanikani in free slots of time I had anyway while doing other things. So it was easy to bear with the many reviews and go pretty fast. (and I still do lots more anki reviews each morning). Because it wasn’t time I was losing, and to be honest I just kind of like staring at a screen pressing buttons repetitively…

I think it’s 100% fair and not intelligence-based to, due to circumstance or disposition, have a lower tolerance for large amounts of reviews, and I think that’s the biggest reason some people slow down and carefully manage their lesson counts to keep the review counts at a level they’re willing to do each day. You may be able to experiment with that to find stability at a level you’re happy with, and you may also be able to find activities where you can learn that click with you better than staring at a screen pressing buttons ad naseum.


shrug i’ve been a part of wani kani since 2013. good lord 9yrs going on now. health stuff got in the way and had me reset a few times as I got my footing back in life in general. there’s no reason to compare yourself to others, that is always a recipe for disaster. just keep pushing forward and it’ll eventually work itself out. add notes and synonyms where needed to help clarify things you are having trouble with.


Hello my friend! It sounds like you might be a little hard on yourself.

I’ve wondered about this myself. And I do get the impression sometimes the WK cards are a little too strict. Unfortunately, that’s just how WK is set up.

At the end of the day, isn’t this the ultimate goal? If you’re able to understand the word when its given in context then you’ve already learned the word no? At the end of the day, WK is a tool to help with understanding the word when its given. Its a means with an end.

Overall, it sounds like re-evaluating priorities might be in order. I don’t know what your goal is but at the end of the day, the point of learning new words is to understand them and use them at the right time, right? If WK says you don’t understand but you are able to easily pickup the words up in conversation and/or reading, then you clearly understand the word. I mean, what’s more important at the end of the day? Having a 60 by your username our actually consuming and conversing in Japanese?

This is an unpopular opinion but it sounds like you might fit an exception instead of a rule. For typing out the word, that is important but what if you were typing up a document in Japanese on a word processor? Wouldn’t it give you suggestions based on the context you have? If you’re close enough for a word processor to fix it, doesn’t that mean you know the language well enough to function? Functioning with Japanese is the goal, isn’t it?


I have auto play on, I wish you could auto play both male and female though : (


I am worried because I feel like I am treading water and forgetting burned items. I only have so much time on earth and I feel like I’ll never get there

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The reason is that I got through many units quickly until I hit that tipping point, and for the last almost half a year my weekly reviews are always over 1,000 while doing zero lessons. I am nearly at the point where I can start doing lessons again, but again, it feels like a snail’s pace and I am forgetting burned items. I also spent more time on grammar and immersion during that WK cooldown(detox?), I caught up with NativShark and am halfway through N4 in Bunpro. I also started Akiko’s Foreign Exchange which I am more than halfway through now, and started and finished Shirokuma Cafe with no subs for listening practice. I just feel like reading Akiko’s Foreign Exchange is more fun and helps reinforce and grow my Kanji more than WK did during my monotonous unit 16 to 23 bonanza you can see in the chart. It’s also just hard for me to do more than 150 reviews a day


I clear it all in the morning, and I see which hours I have a bunch of stuff coming up later on in the day and try to log on then. Though I never log on in the evening

I plateaued a few months ago at almost exactly the level you’re at now. I’d wake up in the morning, do 100+ reviews to start the day, but felt completely unmotivated to progress any further than that because the grind I’d just gone through made me literally sick to my stomach.

A trick that finally got me out of the rut was to make sure to not only clear all reviews every day, but also to make sure to make some progress on new lessons every day. I set myself a low target: 10 new lessons per day, and use a streak tracker to make sure that I do them every single day. I usually do about 10 to 20, with 10 the required minimum, which is doable even if I’m busy that day. You could take it even slower and make it 5 — just have some kind of steady number.

As others have mentioned here, you’ll need to make sure to do new lessons to make forward progress. Get yourself into a routine and you’ll notice that you’ll also start advancing levels on a regular cadence, and that’ll greatly improve your confidence in fulfilling the project. Speaking for myself — I’m finally back on track leveling again, and even though I never had a chance in hell at the 60-week speed run, I know I’m going to finish.

Another major thing I’d suggest if you’re not using it already is WaniKani double-check. It does two things: (1) lightning mode to make reviews WAY faster so you waste far less time doing them, and (2) ability to fix answers. If you make some stupid mistake on a reading that you actually knew, you can correct it, and save time as it doesn’t come back later on. IMO it is absolutely crazy that these functions aren’t built into WaniKani — once you start using them, barebones WK is completely unusable.


I feel like I needed to read this myself lol. One year now and All I have to show for it is that I am on level 16… But I like that people say it isn’t a race. And of course lots of exposure outside WK is key. I really need to get back into reading manga again… 3 whole issues of a series I am deeply invested in yet bringing myself to read it still feels like a chore :sweat_smile:
I also like the statement from the person above of setting the goal every day. I make it a goal to at least do all my reviews, 98% of the time I do 5 new lessons and if my review outlook isn’t so daunting I do 10, sometimes even 15 lessons in a day, every day.
It’s been really good for me to follow the 5 lessons a day thing as strictly as possible, because when I am chatting with friends on Facebook or reading posts, the 5 new lessons a day get me a bit close to understanding more without needing to look up words :smiley:

BTW how are you seeing your stats? I can’t find this feature…

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Please be nicer to yourself. People have different skill sets and different situations. You can’t compare yourself without knowing any of the variables needed to compare. Stop looking at what other people are doing and only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. You’re already at level 23 so you are certainly no “dumb dumb”. Keep going!