Am I too slow at Wanikani?

I looked a wanikani around 4 years ago, and it was so slow that i never made it past the first level. About 500 days later, I gave it another chance.

But, when I eventually got to level 12, i became terribly slow and some not so fun things happened in life, and I basically gave up on kanji for a while. After 187 days, I finally got caught up, and got to level 13. From this point, I was really serious about studying kanji. I moved through the levels faster than I ever had before. Until I got to level 25 or 26. The characters started to look so similar, and there were so many reviews… I completely crashed and burned. I couldn’t keep up and the days passed, but as soon as I learned kanji, I forgot them. Months passed, and I made very little progress. I reset to level 24, and I have finally got a grasp on almost everything up to level 26, but even that took a long time. I have finally completed every lesson and review. I should reach level 27 tomorrow.

But there are people who can do the complete program in just over 1 year.

Even if I do nothing but reviews, and give up all of my free time, I can’t seem to move at anywhere near that speed. Am I approaching wanikani in the wrong way? Is there something I am missing? I thought it was really fun for a while. But as the hours pass, it always seems that I can learn about 75-80% of the new kanji or words pretty quickly, but the last 20-25% can hold me back for weeks, and I begin to dread using this program. Am I too slow? Do you have any advice? Thank you for your help!

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I’m pretty much this slow, too.

Do you use anything for learning Japanese outside of WaniKani? Do you have a goal to be able to read a book or watch an anime without subtitles or something? You might just need somewhere to use the kanji you’re learning.

I enjoy translating simple text on manga panels and figuring out what some of the news articles on NHK Web Easy are about.

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Think this is a great tip, translating text that you encounter “in the wild” helps you keep your kanji kowledge alive and you don’t burn out by just staring at WK.

The absolute beginner bookclub just started, maybe consider joining?

I would also not worry about speed really, you are at level 26, you’re doing good, take your time and make sure it sticks rather than your level going up.

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You are not too slow, everyone is doing it at their own pace.

For example, myself, so far, I’ve been one of those people doing a level a week, but that’s because I previously learnt most of these kanji before: in courses, on Duolingo, while learning at home - so so far, it’s been material I know, I was just systematizing it. I’m hitting the barrier of what I know right about now, so I fully expect to slow down.

It all depends, mostly on how much contact with the entirety of Japanese you have. If not much and you’re essentially learning kanji in the abstract, of course, it’s going to get harder. Try Duolingo at least.

One thing I would recommend is that, although WK doesn’t teach it, to try and learn the stroke order. Then you’re engaging another part of the brain to help you (the motor cortex as opposed to just the visual one). Saying the words and the kanji readings aloud should have a similar effect (because the auditory cortex is engaged). My first sensei, who was a PhD is pedagogics, said that some people even need physical exercise (walking around) to help them memorise stuff, so sitting in front of the screen would be for them suboptimal. So maybe try to find/adjust your learning style?

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There’s no shame in that. Learning a language is a journey, not a destination. Don’t pressure yourself to learn all of the 2136 main Kanji characters in one year like some hardcore Japanese learners I’ve seen who went all out with RTK and KanjiDamage if you don’t particularly have the time. Being up to level 26 means that you can basically read about 2/5ths of all the 2136 常用漢字, which puts you comfortably above the level of 80-90% of Japanese learners.

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One thing I’ve realised is that consistency is really the key for me. I would say there is no such thing as too slow, but if you are burning out and having long gaps then this will make it even more overwhelming to come back to later, especially if you have 1,000s of reviews.

Try to find a pace that feels sustainable for you. If this is a lot slower than other people it doesn’t matter, just so long as you can be consistent with it. I do 15 new lessons a day, which gets me a level every ten days, so if you want to go at this pace or slower then you can try limiting your new lessons accordingly.

For now, it might be helpful to just stick with your reviews for a while, get your apprentice number down. Lots of people say 100 is the gold standard but this could still be too high. Again, don’t compare yourself to others, it’s about finding a number that won’t overwhelm you and suck the joy out of learning.

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there’s no such thing as too slow, you don’t have to do 20 reviews a day, personally I do 10-15 depending on how I feel that day, and take sunday off - i.e. no learning on a sunday just to give myself a schedule I want to follow. I’ve done around 15-20 reviews but it takes up too much time sometimes, just find a schedule you want to follow and go from there. Its fine if you start with 5 lessons per day and increase it if you feel like you can do more. I personally do 10 kanji lessons at most since its all new to me, but since vocab is easier I tend to increase those a bit.

Its fine if you take it slow, this isn’t a race, its a marathon. As long as you keep learning at the end you end up learning. Even if you spend 10-15 minutes a day at some point you will have the knowledge you know?

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There is no such a thing as being too slow as long as you make progress. And you do. Even going backwards (like resetting) to move forward again is progress.
I struggled with similar things and decided to just reset to level 1 to make it better this time.

The thing that helped me a lot was writing the Kanji. I picked one to three Kanji (that I had burned) for a day and would write them several times to get a feeling for them and then write them in a sentence.
It helped me a lot to differentiate Kanji that looked similar to me.

I suppose reading would also help a lot but I’m not that good at reading yet and many Kanji are relatively rare in beginner texts.

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I have seen a celebration post a while ago. Someone finished wanikani after 8 years. It doesn’t really matter when you finished what matter is enjoy what you do and being consistent.

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Someone here recommended a routine to achieve a reasonable but constant pace forward. I’ve been sticking to it for a few weeks now where I’m doing all my reviews (usually around 80-100) in the morning along with 5-10 new lessons. It doesn’t rocket me forward but I have a steady constant movement forward and my overall accuracy has gone up. Also keeps me from burning out.

Like some other people have said as well, writing out kanji is really fun, relaxing and super helpful in remembering them, highly recommend. Those Kanji Practice pads with the grided paper are pretty cheap and makes it easer/fun.

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I’m beyond the three year mark, and might finish this year if I am lucky !

Go as fast as you need to achieve your goals !

Also, consistency is key.

Good luck !

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The important question is, are you learning?

If you are learning, even a little bit, you are LEARNING and THAT is the point of WK; NOT getting to the end in a year!

Don’t get disheartened because it takes you a little extra time or even a lot more time. Learning Japanese is marathon not a sprint (for most people). It’s great that people have the dedication and ability to get a level up every 7 days! But there is nothing that says anyone HAS to go at that speed.

I’ve seen a few folks post about coming back after having left for 2 years. They will finish one day. You can too.

When it comes to too many reviews, the recommendation I received when I started and what I listened to after being dumb was, keep your Apprentice items at 100 or less. The problem you likely have is you have a lot of Apprentice items. You review many of these and the problem is, unless they are just before a level up, you get to do them again in a few hours or a day.

The next thing to do is stop doing new lessons completely. Catch up. Take your time. Bring the Apprentice items down. When you are comfortable you know level X, then work on lessons to get to X+1.

I’m 122 days in and just made Level 15. My average level up seems to be about 7-9 days. I plan on taking a break from new Kanji now and will focus on Level 14 Kanji vocab AND my open Apprentice items for about a week.

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Well… I started first trying to learn kanji back in '96 so I’d have to say that from where I’m sitting, you’re absolutely not too slow. The tips from the people here sound really helpful; I’m planning on giving NHK Web Easy a try myself going forward (thank you, @Kraits!!). I think mixing things up and trying some different options could prove really helpful. I also recently decided to try to just read 1 sentence a day from a book that I have, and try not to beat myself up if I miss a day, as long as I pick back up and try again.

So I hope this doesn’t across as flippant (I definitely feel your pain, even though I’m nowhere near as advanced as you!), but my 2 cents is to celebrate the steps forward, don’t mind the stumbles, and eventually we’ll get there! :partying_face: :smiley_cat: :v:

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I’d recommend building it into your schedule so you make sure to stay up with reviews every day. Clearing them in the morning and evening will make sure that you’re dealing with any review pile you have and ensure that you don’t start missing reviews for your lowest-ranked items, with which you’re having the most trouble.

I’d also recommend really taking some time when you get an answer wrong to review the correct answer, the mnemonic, come up with an additional mnemonic of your own, say it out loud, draw the kanji, etc. Only you know your learning style and what works for you, but if it’s taking weeks to learn some kanji, then try to figure out what’s tripping you up and come up with a new strategy for getting past the hurdle.

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Yup, the exact same thing happened to me. I’ve documented it in this thread here:

My main takeaway was that you have to find a way to keep up with WK long term rather than grinding hard for a few months and then burning out.

Personally, I’ve done the following:

  • keep Apprentice items around 100
  • no more than 20 lessons in a given day
  • spread out WK over the course of a day; I do morning, noon, and evening
  • try to remember that feeling when I first started of looking forward to reviews rather than dreading them
  • think of WK like brushing my teeth in the morning: get it out of the way first, and no matter how lazy I’m feeling remember the long term benefits and just do it

Best of luck :smiley:

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I agree with what’s been said before: everyone learns at their own pace, there is no too slow or too fast. Study time outside WK (including reading and listening) aids with recall as you come across items you’ve learned here. And you can try some mentioned alternate study methods.

But I would add this also:
Some people have been speaking Japanese for a long time, but never got around to learning to read kanji. They blast through the vocab items because they already know most of the words. Everyone’s situation going into WK is different, and hence people move at different speeds.
If you’re going to compare - compare against yourself 6 months ago.

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Everyone here is saying really great stuff, so I hope you find their posts helpful! I just want to add my 2 cents as someone who has been using WaniKani since 2013.

I’m not even at level 20 yet, but I don’t feel like I’m too slow. It can be a little frustrating seeing people blaze through all 60 levels, but at the end of the day what’s important is your own progress, not comparing it to others. I liked what one poster asked “Are you learning?” Because at the end of the day the goal of WK is to help you learn the kanji. Don’t worry about how long it takes.

Other commenters have said this but: Consistency is key. The more days you miss, the more it snowballs and gets overwhelming. Try to do a little every day even if it’s only 5 or 10. And there’s nothing wrong with just doing reviews if you haven’t gotten those kanji down yet.

頑張って!

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I found that taking a break every 5 to 10 levels helped myself a lot. During these ‘breaks’ I would not do a single lesson. Once a a number of items were moved to enlightened or burned I would resume progress to avoid getting to overwhelmed with reviews later.

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I don’t care about my reviews. I’ve something around 2500 right now. At least I have something to review :slight_smile:

Just have fun with it as someone already told here. It’s a journey. It’s crucially important to read in the wilderness tho, learning alone won’t take you far. I found myself that I completely unrecognize some kanjis even though it’s from level 20 or so, even from level 4 sometimes. You should read, as much as possible.

And it’s fun to return to WaniKani and look up some words, that way you cement them, at least in my case.

Good luck, and have fun. You’ll get there, eventually :wink:

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I can’t really say how helpful this will be for you, but in my case when i try and remember the kanji or vocab that i’ve just learned, I usually go straight to youtube or a NHK web easy article and try to read what’s there. More often than not, it’s understanding youtube comments under japanese videos that make things stick in my head more, as it’s usually a topic I’m interested in.

As for reviews, I usually break up my daily reviews into morning, midday, and night so that I’m not constantly doing them throughout the day, yet still progressing quite well.

But at the end of the day, like others have said, it doesn’t really matter how fast you are at Wanikani, but rather just consistently doing some everyday so that things don’t pile up and are easier to digest.

Good luck with your future Japanese reading endeavours! :+1:

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