Anyone else facing burnout?

I’ve reached that point a few times - where you look at half of the stuff in your reviews and just groan. What has helped me is to back out a bit and pull out what’s causing the struggle (for WK that would be resetting down a level or two), catch back up with the older reviews I’m more comfortable with, and then continue progressing from there. I’ve generally found burnout starts happening when you are trying to learn too much new material at once and your brain can’t keep up.

If you feel unmotivated to use the study material in general, then maybe you need to drop it for something else. I have dropped quite a few materials that weren’t working for me. Genki is often considered the golden standard, but I’ve made much more progress when I dropped it in favor of Tae Kim’s guide + Bunpro.

I’ve also had to drop study materials because I had too many to keep up with. I’ve dropped Anki because it was redundant and added too many extra reviews I didn’t need.

I keep up with WaniKani, KaniWani, and Bunpro, but I usually only do lessons in 1 at a time. I’ve been on level 21 in WK for 80 days now because I’m focusing my efforts on new grammar.

It may not get me to 60 in a year, but steady progress is the way to avoid burnout and still get to the end.

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Every single WK user has reached this point at some point. I, being someone who always wants to one-up everyone else, made it a point to get up to 2,600+ reviews (I didn’t actually do this on purpose, rather got distracted with life and didn’t pick it up for a few months). 1 week later and I’m at 1,400 reviews. The point in this paragraph is to say that this happens, and not to worry. Even 20-30 reviews a day and that will whittle down in no time.

This is strictly preference. I personally purchased both Genki I & II and did not start reading through Genki I until I was around level 5-6. I read maybe 40% through and then started hitting kanji harder. In short, I learned that there should be a balance between the grammar you learn and the kanji you learn.

In my opinion, the more kanji you know, the better it will be for your grammar progress, and here’s why: if you’re trying to learn Japanese grammar, without a solid knowledge of kanji, you’ll be spending so much time looking up kanji that it’s going to seriously impede your grammar progress anyway, even if that’s your main focus.

For example, let’s say you read up on some grammar notes, and you understand the grammar point right away. Great! Awesome! Okay, so you come to an example sentence that reads: この中国の留学生は入試験を合格したから米国で高等学校に行くことが出来るよ! … you may have just learned what から means and how it works grammatically in a sentence, but you will still look at that sentence and have no idea what it actually says. To me, it would be much more beneficial to understand what those kanji mean, and then plugging them into a sentence with grammar I’m unsure of – I’d be able to understand “okay, it has something to do with a Chinese foreign exchange student, an exam, and being able to go to high school”, and it’s just those little grammar points that will tie it all together.

Idk if anything I just said made sense, but in my head that’s how I looked at it. To put it into perspective, I only read 80% of Genki I and was only level 6 when I passed the JLPT N5. But because I kept it “balanced” between grammar and kanji I was able to comfortably pass that exam.

:man_shrugging: but what do I know?

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I didn’t read all the replies, but first few had some good advice to give.

I just wanted to share what I do. I go full speed, but at level 7 I started to feel a burnout coming. Once I hit lvl 8 I only did the vocabulary lessons, not the radicals or kanji of that level. Then I only did reviews for a month, the more you do them the further back you push them, so even ended up having days with zero reviews. I felt so much better, and the workload got so much smaller since I’d pushed so much to master/enlightened that wouldn’t come back in a long time!

Then I continued full speed again until I hit the early twenties, felt a burnout coming again so I stopped at lvl 23, for a full month again. Kept doing reviews, but no lessons. Worked my reviews down to basically zero (even with old items coming in I still had some days with zero reviews coming in!)

I will probably do another two breaks or so along the way. Breaks without putting in vacation mode, cause I want the reviews to come in so I can push them along and make the upcoming reviews much much smaller.

I haven’t done enough about grammar though. I’ve completed Japanese From Zero 1 and 2, plan on finishing the rest. Also have Genki 1 and 2, but not started them yet. I like to use Bunpro to test my understanding and usage of it though. I started reading without having enough grammar under my belt, but the exposure helps me pick up the grammar more easily when learning it. I read a lot that is way above my level, then pick up something a bit easier and get amazed how much I understand =P (I read some of the manga Aria in fall, thought it was too hard. Read Girl Who Leaps Through Time (book), now I feel Aria is easy, and that I understand so much more! I haven’t done any grammar practice in a long time, so was just more exposure and a bit higher WK level)

I guess the best tip I can give is do something you love. I love to read, so even if I find it is much to hard, I enjoy the process so it is still worth it. I have fun while doing it and enjoy the learning.
Same with WaniKani, I enjoy learning new items, so it is fun =)

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Disclaimer: WK isn’t my only activity for learning Japanese and I consider Kanji as a foundation for other aspects.
In the meantime I settled on a nice weekly routine.

  • Level up on wednesday night. Guruing radicals and primary kanji batch with Overwrite.
  • Start secondary kanji batch on Sunday noon and guru them until Wednesday night.
  • Review lower level radicals and kanji without Overwrite.

If I have time I also do vocab from low to high level. BTW I will be at 18 in 2 hours :slight_smile:

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I’m going to be a little radical here and say that my recommendation would be to reset your WK and stop focusing on kanji unti you’ve learned some vocab and grammar. To me, kanji is practically useless without a fundamental understanding of Japanese, but that’s my opinion entirely and you’re free to disregard it.

I would say that knowing kanji makes vocab acquisition much easier and working with verbs/adjectives easier to conceptualize. It’s easy to see how 寒い becomes 寒かった or 寒くない or to see why 綺麗 or 有名 are na adjectives even though phonetically they end with an い.

Also, it can make vocab readable without ever seeing in the first place and makes memorization easier. 本屋 - “book” + “store” = bookstore or 医者 - “medicine” + “person” = doctor etc. It is much easier to remember doctor as two kanji instead of いしゃ as an arbitrary combination of sounds.

If you simply want to be conversational ASAP then maybe slack on kanji but otherwise I would say it should be a top priority.

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Just some quick hitters since you got a lot of replies already

-> Level 7 may just be a bit weird, having just finished it level 8 is a lot easier

-> If youve already unlocked your second set of Kanjis, doing everything when its available you will level up in about 3-4 days.
This guide will help you better understand how WK works and you can set your own leveling schedule.

https://community.wanikani.com/t/my-journey-of-368-days-the-ultimate-guide-for-wk/31318/2?u=sorar

-> Beginner book club means beginner Native material, its doesnt mean actual beginners of learning Japanese so no need to be discouraged. Graded readers, Satori reader or other curated material for adult learners may be a better guage of your grammar progress.

-> If your short term goal is Reading then grammar is your top priority because its much easier to look up vocabulary than trying to figure out grammar as you go.

While Genki is decently comprehensive (even better if you have the workbooks too for practice), imo its better suited for guided learning cause its dense on new information. Personally would recommend reading either TaeKim Guide (Basic Grammar and Essential Grammar) or Human Japanese (Beginner and Intermediate) then use Genki as more of a reinforcement/practice tool. Both of the above will be lighter reads than Genki.

  • Human Japanese is ordered like a conventional textbook but has a warmer tone to its presentation. Almost all the example sentences are voiced. (~$10-20 or there should be a Free Trial version in all formats)
  • Tae Kim is ordered a bit differently but if you go through the Basic and Essential sections you will have what you need to go through Genki more easily. (Free online)

For your situation, I would recommend HJ more than TK to start since its an easier read. Start Genki after HJ beginner, then read HJ intermediate, then do Genki II. HJ intermediate material covers part way through Genki II.

Genki study tools

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Some rules I use for myself to avoid burning out :

  • Never, under any circumstance, am I allowed to do lessons if my review count is not 0.

  • Don’t reorder vocab lessons. This one is more personal because almost all my kanji mnemonics are “which words use this kanji?”.

  • 100 Apprentice items : Only vocab and current level lessons allowed.

  • 150 Apprentice items : No lessons allowed.

  • 200 Apprentice items : Consider reseting a level. You’re struggling.

  • If possible, try to still do some lessons when you want to take a break, even just 5 a day. It’s fairly annoying to start doing lessons again after a long hiatus of only reviews because it’s no longer part of your daily routine. I recently switched from doing my lessons whenever I felt like it to 20/day to get a more constant daily workload.

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I’m just running on fumes at this point. But I’ll be “done” (by which I mean level 60) in a few days. So: delayed burnout. I’ll be so happy when I no longer have to keep up this (self-directed) punishing pace.

But that’s also kind of why I’ve gone fast; so that I could be done quickly enough not to burn out in the middle.

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Almost there @Sezme !! Keep it up !
WK final levels were also very tough on me, my state was like in a disaster movie : a nuclear reactor about to melt down, WARNING OVERHEATING displayed everywhere and blinking red light left and right.

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Hey there, I’m sorry…but I didn’t read everyone else’s comments…but I used the Genki textbooks in college and my Japanese teacher had a sort of reverse classroom system, where she would create lecture videos about the grammar and we would have to watch the videos and complete homework based from those lessons and then we would just practice speaking and take quizzes during the actual class. I’m not sure if she has done every lesson and I am going to go back through it to refresh my own memory soon when I skim the Genki books again, but I wanted to provide a link to her Youtube…she hasn’t uploaded any videos since the time I was in college, but I hope they can help you while you are going through the Genki books at least. <3

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjRZpOiz3vjXNqAyjcIGwEw/videos?disable_polymer=1

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Definitely don’t reset to level 1. Remember that you can reset to any level. If you are facing a large review queue, you can try resetting back one or two levels and see what that does to your queue.

You did mention fluency in your original post… if that is a primary goal, then I’d back off Kanji and go slower. I wouldn’t back off entirely since it is useful to a degree to learn Kanji in parallel. WK has a way of cropping in and taking all available time if you are not exceptionally careful about managing your workload.

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Wanikani seems lacking on really teaching you Japanese, which is expected because it’s main focus is to teach kanji. Pace your lessons and make sure you do not overwhelm yourself with reviews. I also suggest using other resources like bunpro and kamsame to help with vocab and grammar.
I am trying out japanesepod 101 which is not free but seems to be useful so far, they have step by step lessons teaching Japanese with video/audio. There are tons of resources and everyone seems to learn in different ways.

One opinion I have that I learned after burning out is your wanikani level doesn’t mean crap. Does not matter if you reached level 40 if you never learned any the verb conjurations and grammar that go with it. As it is now for me when I reached level 10 I knew lots of kanji but had no clue what the て verb form was. The kanji and related vocab I knew was useless because my knowledge in grammar was so weak.

So, what I am trying now myself is to take my time on wanikani but focus on practical Japanese with learning the grammar. Also really pushing recall, tools like kaniwani and kamesame help with that.

This was more of rant then anything but do take your time and at least with the start focus more on grammar. I am trying to get a good N5 level in grammar before I push more into wanikani.
Because seriously idk what I am supposed to do with some this vocab/adjectives/verbs I am learning here.

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WK actually recommends to start studying grammar when you get to level 10 if youre new to Japanese so you have some base Kanji and vocabulary. This way you can focus on the grammar rather than what each word means.

If you previously tried to read something like TK, you would notice a significant difference now.

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I didn’t read all the replies (It’s amazing the number of post / answers on this forum ^^) so this is just another one that you may or may not have already heard.

I’ve faced burnout multiple times on the past 6 months and the worst part was when I quit smoking 4 months or so ago. It was really super hard to get rid of the thing that (I thought) helped me to relieve stress.

What I’ve found out in quitting the cigaret habit made me think of my “burnout” facing. When I got cigaret hanger like super strong ones which just makes me want to jump in the car and go straight to buy a new pack… just focusing on my body, being conscious of myself, and repeating in my head “you’re worth better than that”, after just 5 minutes boom the craving is gone.
That’s only because of that, that I realised I was doing exactly the same for my japanese study but way more subtly. The moments when I needed to start studying or switch from a task to another or repeat a set of cards etc etc and all my brain was saying was just “ok why don’t we just lie down and take a nap”, “why don’t we turn on the switch and do one little run of Dead Cells”.
In those moments I was also unconsciously telling myself “you’re worth better than that” except that for studying it’s more of a shameful feeling of “so you are not capable of learning that stuff, you’re too dumb maybe you should just quit and do something easier”. The cigaret was the opposite it wasn’t shame it was something like pity for my own health.

I hope you follow me ^^

So all I want to say is yeah you are worth better than the burnout ! What you are doing IS MEANINGFUL you’re not doing a sad sad job, working for a big company or an as****le. You’re gaining meaningful knowledge. Is it hard ? Let’s be honest it isn’t hard like having a PhD in quantum physics. All we have to do is to focus and put stuff in our brain again and again and again.
We learned our mother tongue we can learn a new one !

(And don’t think kids have it easier because they are sponges or whatever, adults are in fact way better at learning a new language thank kids you can check on google very serious studies have been done on the subject !).

Now from my own perspective if you ask me, then if it’s meaningful and all, why, why this bad feeling when I need to get on my work ???!
What I think is we, as humans, are animals of rewards. That’s why we love video games, to watch movies and tv shows to take naps, to procrastinate. It gives instant small doses of quick and easy good feelings.
Learning japanese takes so much time, so much energy that after weeks / months our brain try to trigger us like : “HEY DUDE WTF ?! I’m doing this with you for the past 15 weeks and the time spent / rewards (like the first time you read a sentence in full japanese… god that feeling) has not been awesome, maybe we could do something else”
But it’s just in your brain, in your guts, the only thing you need to do is to say NO, sit down start studying again… and 5 minutes later you get back in the zone. Today you’ve learned things you go to bed knowing you did every thing you could AND THAT’S the point !
At the end of the day, the opinion you have of yourself when you spent 4/5/6/7 hours studying by opposition with the one when you spent your day binge watching a stupid tv show saying to yourself: “tomorrow I work !” …
I think you already know the difference :wink:

What you do is Meaningful.
You’re going to speak Japanese like you speak English soon.
Never stop.
Every day matter.
Your brain is not the boss of you.
Your guts are not the boss of you.
You’re going to speak Japanese like you speak English soon.
Go to bed bed before midnight.
Wake up before 8am.
Eat well / sleep well / drink water / do some kind of physical exercise every day.
You’re going to speak Japanese like you speak English soon.
At the end of the day there is no excuse you could find that will give you a better feeling than a good day of study.
You are smart and every day of studying proves it to yourself.
You’re awesome.
You’re going to speak Japanese like you speak English soon.

Good luck :slight_smile:

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You could pause the kanji study for a bit and work on some basic grammar. Wanikani is specifically for kanji reading. Get some simple knowledge of making simple sentences first. Read Hiragana and Katakana only texts first. Then add the kanji a bit after because, as you said, it’s a pretty overwhelming language to learn with the multiple writing systems and all.

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i feel like i worked on grammar too little in the beginning (did tofugu and read tae kims guide, but never really practiced anything more) so when I finished WK I thought I was ready to read anything, but i soon realized how useless kanjis/vocabs are without knowing what the heck their purpose in the sentence is. Grammar is not as easy as vocab to just “look it up”

So, study more grammar and do WK on the side. Practice and practice until you can make sentences on your own. any new vocab/kanji would be learned as it comes.

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I feel you.

Last year I started with Genki and was doing WaniKani plus two flashcard decks (Genki + Core 10K). I burned myself out after 4 months. I finished Genki, was at level 8 in WaniKani, and felt like I should take a week or two to study up on conjugations I was weak on. This lead to me wanting to just put studying on hold for a little bit so I could relax, but every day flash cards were due and it was like every hour WaniKani was giving me 10 or 40 reviews and I just couldn’t sit down for a few hours without having to do something and I hated it, so I put everything on hold for 8 months and ended up forgetting just about everything.

I’m now in the early parts of Genki 2 (after re-starting from Genki 1), level 15 in WaniKani, finished the Genki flash cards and am 2K+ in to the Core 10K. I still feel like reading よつばと! is beyond my level because I just lack the vocab (if I really wanted to I could force my way through, but I’d spend too much time translating everything. There’s also some really odd quirks in some character’s speech that Japanese Ammo covers in her review of the manga). You can also find vocab decks for よつばと!and some other manga on Memrise I believe, but you’re gonna have trouble with the grammar most likely (I’ve heard that よつばと!is around N4 level). As others have said, “beginner” here is a bit deceiving.

FWIW, here’s a comparison of what I was doing wrong before and how I’ve fixed it now. I have no idea if it will be relevant at all for you though.

Before:

  • Studied EVERY day
  • Was so desperate for more vocab I would double up the # of new cards per day (not realizing how this would lead to even more card reviews later)
  • Never took rest days
  • Did not space out WaniKani and didn’t have a system that worked for me; I just did the reviews as they came in unless I was sleeping

Now:

  • Study Mon-Thurs and take Fri - Sun off
  • Stick strictly to the number of new cards per day I know I can handle
  • Do WaniKani in the morning and evening and not worry about it in the afternoon unless it’s just 1 review or something. I also found a method that works for me and my goals. That I don’t feel the strong urge that I absolutely have to do everything immediately is very nice.
  • Spend collectively about 30 mins a night re-reviewing all the flash cards I got wrong (+new cards). I’ll just look them over a few times until I feel like I know them, come back in an hour, do it again, etc. I end up spending very little time on the reviews (5 to 10 minutes?) and each successive review is a breeze (to the point where I don’t feel like it’s eating away at a huge chunk of my time).
  • Don’t bother learning English loan words that are so easy to remember that even if I had to look them up while reading, I’d remember what they were after seeing it a second time. This helps me squeeze in more Japanese words.

If you have to prioritize one thing, personally I’d suggest to make WaniKani the priority for two reasons:

  1. It is time consuming. It’s not as time consuming as grammar, but it’s something that you have to do in addition to everything else. Finishing WaniKani gives you more time for other things.
  2. Knowing the kanji helps a great deal with memorizing vocab. Even if you don’t know the meaning of a word, you will have a general idea based on the kanji and this really helps make things much easier.

If you’re not already using tools like the override script or reorder, you should be. I found this guide to be incredibly helpful and the advice has saved me a good amount of time and frustration. I’m still figuring things out as well, and learning how to better tweak the method that is already working for me. But I’m getting my reviews done and I’ve surpassed where I was at last year (by almost double) without feeling burned out.

If you’ve got the cash, I suggest buying the graded readers (CD Japan has them the cheapest. There is an app available now as well, but I know nothing about it). Some of the Level 0 books have grammar that is taught closer to the end of Genki 1, but it’s still a good way to read at your level (and you’ll pick up some new vocab from each book). I bought the entire set and I’m thankful I did since my vocab isn’t completely up to a high enough level for regular manga.

It also goes without saying but you should designate a specific amount of time to studying grammar. I have a lot of free time right now, so I spend the bulk of the day doing that (because that free time won’t last forever). You can even set a goal of 1 chapter per month or 1 chapter every 2 weeks. This will help keep you on track and moving forward.

With your build up of reviews, personally I’d suggest to either take care of all of them first (use the reorder script and do one level a day if you need to go at a slower pace or don’t have much time). You could also just start from level 1 again; there’s nothing wrong with that (I had to do it once myself).

Good luck!!

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You have a lot of responses, but just reconfirmation what’s been said and adding a bit. You have to go at a pace that works for you. If you don’t have the time or the ability to learn so much at a time then you need to slow it down to a pace that works for you. If your goal is reading, then balancing WK and grammar is important (if you want to be able to listen and speak you will need to balance that in there too). With Genki you will also need to learn additional vocabulary that you aren’t learning with WK. Creating a plan to study each of the areas is important.

As for reading…everyone is different. You don’t really know what they actually know, how much they really understand and how hard they worked. For me I’m about halfway through Minna No Nihongo 2 and still feel too much of a struggle reading simple manga or Easy NHK. I’m the type of person that wants to fully understand content, rather than just get the gist of it. In my case I can’t justify reading these sources yet. Graded Readers and other easier sources have been a little more encouraging and useful for me.

In a typical non-Japanese University you basically learn a JLPT level a year. It takes a year to go through Genki 1 and learn around 100 Kanji (which is only a couple of levels of WK). In a Japanese language school in Japan as a full-time student you learn about two JLPT levels a year (maybe a little less depending on the school). You could learn even faster than this if you have the time, drive, ability or some kind of advantage. Some people go even slower than this. I think everyone wants to be fluent in Japanese tomorrow, but the reality is that it takes time. You have to set up your expectations to be realistic and understand that it will take time. With WK (and the internet) it can make it seem you need to hurry and lead you into burning out.

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I hate that it’s only on mobile but LingoDeer does a really good job of introducing you to grammar. In the review section it will take everything you have been shown so far and reorder it into random sentences. You will be surprised at how fast your brain will work out a sentence you’ve never heard before with no visual que and read by a native speaker.

I really hope they bring it to desktop.

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I just wanted to respond directly to your concerns about looking up a ton of vocab. Unfortunately this will be the case for a very, very long time. At some point (maybe after finishing or nearly finishing Genki 2) I’d recommend you try reading something. You’ll likely still have to look up a ton, but it’s better than waiting and doing flashcards forever.

If you’re worried about the slang in Yotsubato, you could always try another manga like Aria the Masterpiece, which has characters with generally more normal speech. Or perhaps you’ll want to join one of the beginner book clubs at some point so that there’s a vocab sheet and people to help if you have trouble.

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