Are you satisfied with the learning speed?

When I started with Wanikani, couple years ago, the beginning was really slow, but this is quite normal especially of you have had earlier knowledge about basic kanji.

When I progressed a little bit further, I got really overloaded with the amount of reviews and I didn’t really focus on mnemonics (my worst mistake), I was just trying to bash everything in by force. My phase got slower and slower and eventually I had lingered in the same level for more than a month and quit for the time being (I was having a very hectic life at that time anyway).

Just a while ago I picked up Wanikani with new energy, I also researched a bit (the millenial way, from youtube) how to better my memory, because I always felt like my memory was really bad and completing Wanikani would be utterly impossible, because I would have so many kanji and vocab on endless loop between apprentice and guru.

But now with the knowledge I have acquired, I have been focused more on the methods to learn every item “in a better way”. I’m making my own mnemonics up, because I feel like this makes me remember everything quite easily and I noticed I was able to remember even how to write the kanji by just remembering the radicals for recognition. If I just can’t think of any mnemonic for the kanji only then I check out the Wanikani mnemonic, but this really is less effective.

Anyway, I really feel like I have hit something good here, and everything sinks in so fast and well, I feel like I’m always waiting for more. Even 500 review stacks don’t really scare me, but I don’t really wait that long for then to pile up so 100 reviews in one go is pretty normal for me. After leveling up I got 70 new lessons (which is pretty nice for the day), but after that I have nothing new at least for couple days untill I Guru them, and next level up is at least a week away everytime.

With this phase (near max speed), I would reach level 30 around late summer, which would be the half way, but its quite a long time if you consider that you can learn 2K kanji with RTK in 3 months. Sure, the Wanikani way we learn pronunciations and a lot of vocab, which I really like, but still it feels quite slow to me and I feel like I’m always wwaiting and not putting as much effort as I can.

What do you guys think? I don’t wanna sound inpatient or smoggy (I have really failed the learning a language thing untill this point), but maybe you guys have some pointers how to help my progress even further?

Thanks :smiley_cat:


Going max speed and I’m not really satisfied, but there is not much I can do about it so I don’t focus on it.

I do all the lessons as they pop up and do reviews 10 times a day.



I think the big question is, are you doing anything else alongside this in Japanese? There’s a lot of grammar and vocab learning outside Wanikani that would be beneficial for starting to be able to really use the language, and all the time you’re saving by not mainlining every kanji would be very well spent there. Especially considering the prevalence of furigana in easier reading material. I’m going at close to max speed (8 days per level) and my accuracy is fine enough, but thing is, at this point spending around an hour a day (between reviews and lessons) on Wanikani is an hour I can’t use to read or listen, and I think I’m still content with WK’s returns, but it’s something I’m always monitoring. You shouldn’t have to be doing any waiting if you balance your studies.


No, but I’ve also been around the block long enough to learn that the trick to being successful with SRS is to create a pace that you can maintain even on bad days. Because consistency is the most important factor.

I could speed up, but then if I get sick, or I need to do a lot of overtime at work, or I just have a bad day, then I can’t be confident that I’d be consistent with it.

Yeah, if I think, “At this pace I won’t be done with WaniKani until at least late 2023!” then I feel really put out. Especially since I’ve been living in Japan since 2013–I really want to get this done and over with! Kanji is really holding me back! But realistically, if I want to complete it, and if I want it to stick, then I really need to take things slow.



I think my grammar is in pretty good shape, especially because I’m focusing on input only. I did go through Genki I and Genki II in Japanese classes, but I was really struggling with listening, kanji and vocab back then.

My strategy with grammar now on is pretty much to check out things once I face grammar points that I’m unfamiliar with, but of course I’m not limiting myself from reading more about them for fun.

I’m curious of what other sources should be used to learn vocab?

Basically on top of Wanikani I’m currently “only” practicing kanji writing out of memory, and listening to podcasts, watching youtube videos and drama. Really trying to go for the Mass Immersion strategy, and I really do see it enforcing things I learn as I see the vocab and kanji quite often that I have just learned. I’m also trying to read a light novel, but I’m missing a lot really in my current level, all though it’s not unbearable and still helps. I’m just not understanding the story that much all of the time.

I really wanna focus on sinking in the kanji asap, because this makes the learning from immersion so much faster and effortless, kanji is not really an obstacle but a great benefit for this, even if you just know the meaning of the kanji.

I understand that maybe you prefer the reading and listening part, you are also so much further with the kanji, right? I feel like I still lack too much kanji and vocab to get really alot out of the immersion, kind of like riding a bike with the lightest gear so the progress is slow no matter how I peddle, and I see I get to switch the gear a bit heavier everytime I get more lessons on Wanikani. Hope that makes any sense, lol.


My max level was level 23, but the further along I went, the worse my scores got, eventually hitting 40% and I was doing 300 reviews a day trying to rush. I have a really bad memory, but didn’t realize it until later.

I’ve tried restarting a few times before, but now I think I’ve settled on a speed that fits me and my life, and I think that’s important.

This is my setup:
I do 5 new cards a day on the weekdays only (25 max a week, off on weekends).
If I skip a day, I don’t double up the next day. I just do 5. Doubling up results in problems that creep up later with review counts.

Roughly, this comes out to be about 1 level per month or ~10 levels a year.
If for some reason I need to take a break, I only do reviews for a week and no new cards. The estimated time of completion is ~6yrs, but I’ve already spent 6+ years trying to rush and it just didn’t work for me.

It seems slow, but there are a few things I noticed doing this:

  1. My reviews are usually no more than 100 per day. The largest is on Monday.
  2. My review scores are almost always 94% or higher. This means less studying I have to do and less reviews.
  3. Because I know the cards pretty well, I do the reviews more quickly.
  4. I can focus on making sure I have good mnemonics that fit me. I can spend time with each Kanji like a friend, getting to know it. I take it out to dinner and chat with it over a cup of coffee. What are it’s hopes and dreams? Life goals, etc.
  5. I can focus on leeches and things I forget with more effort because there are less of them at a time.

The point is, the speed at which you learn depends on the person and how much you can remember. Everyone is different. Personally, going too fast caused me to waste time in the long run, but that’s just me.

Also, I supplement my studies with other things such as: iKnow, JALUP, KLC & KLC Graded Readers, KanjiStudy,, and KaniWani.


I get you, I have been studying Japanese since 2010 which most of the time I have just been lost (and lazy) how to actually do it past the basics, so I also have the feeling that I wanna get this finally done, which is really pushing me forward. For a long long time I felt like it’s completely impossible for me to reach fluency, but lately I have seen that I can actually do it (me, the guy with the most horrible memory in the human history) which is really motivating.

It’s a good point about the consistency, we all can have bad days and I have no idea what would happen then in my case. Language learning is really about the routine…

1 Like

Ahh, if you’ve got the basics from Genki, what you’re doing now sounds pretty good.

That goes for vocab learning as well. I thought you might be earlier in those stages. Personally after I finished both Genkis, I moved to mining new words from the things I read as my source of new words.

I know what you mean, there is a bit of a threshold you have to hit if what you want to do involves a lot of kanji. It started feeling much better for me in the 20s, but even now, it does continue to get better as I’ve transitioned to visual novels and books without furigana (but as always, with loads of lookups). Do you have any interest in reading manga? There’s a whole lot out there with furigana that should serve as a nicer onramp to reading and finding more new words, and these forums in fact have a lot of really helpful bookclubs where people make vocab lists and are really patient with answering questions.

Of course, it seems like overall you’re making a good effort at this, so this isn’t to exclude the possibility that maybe WK just isn’t the system for you, if you’d really feel better getting kanji out of the way as fast as possible. Personally I’d still advocate for trying to do mostly immersion learning by aiming lower than a light novel as needed, and just applying your knowledge of splitting apart kanji into radicals there (tbh you could even search the kanji on WK as you come across it and learn them out of order without the WK SRS, whether in anki or sans SRS or whatever).

1 Like

Well, and don’t get me wrong, maybe you can keep consistent with the pace you’ve chosen. It might not be too much for you. I just know that I can’t, because I’ve been “studying Japanese” for nine years, and by “studying Japanese” I mean, “start a rigorous study routine, keep it up for 3 months, get overwhelmed, take a two year break, rinse and repeat.”

It’s only in the last year that I’ve learned the value of going slow and being consistent, and it has helped me not to fall into the “overwhelmed, take two years off” trap.

1 Like

I feel like if you’re going full speed on WaniKani, are spending and appropriate amount of time both listening and reading and are also doing some other SRS to work on your vocabulary, you should have your hands pretty full. But I get what you’re going through. I always have these phases where I get impatient with the progress I’m making in SRS and just want to go faster :running_man:

As for vocabulary, you could use sites like to learn words from the things you’re reading. Or you could set up Yomichan to mine them yourself, possibly even with monolingual definitions ! c:

1 Like

I feel like I might be in the minority of people who actually is satisfied with my pace, haha! I’m doing WK at half full speed, about two weeks a level. Absolutely no interest in going faster than that. Especially now that I know enough kanji that it isn’t really the thing holding me back.

I don’t really want to learn Japanese as a full-time job or as a full-time hobby. Mostly because I don’t want to give up anything else in my life in order to do it, and I also don’t want to burn myself out on it. I’ve pretty much reached N5 after a year of dedicated study, and expect to reach N4 after another year (around when I should be hitting level 60 on WK), and probably N3 a year after that. After that? Who knows!

I’m currently learning over 5,000 words (and 1,000 kanji) a year, and honestly I think this pace is absolutely fine, and I wouldn’t want to go much faster. If I keep this up and keep diligently plugging away at grammar, I should be able to read very proficiently in just a few more years.

My goal is to go the slow and steady route from the beginning so that I never risk burning out, and learning itself stays fun to me. It’s certainly possible to reach a high proficiency with the language fast, but the vast majority of people I know who are good at Japanese spent at least several years getting there, and I’m not presuming that I’ll be able to beat the odds.

I definitely agree with @MichaelCharles’s advice on creating a pace with SRS that you can maintain even on bad days. I think that’s super important, and that’s the main strategy to keep in mind if you want to avoid burnout. I’m glad you’ve gotten your enthusiasm back and learned how to remember things more effectively, but I would caution you a little bit to make sure that you’re not trying to do too much or go too fast.

From what I’ve seen, going full speed tends to do more harm than good for most people, unless you have very specific circumstances in your life (either you have a strong background in Japanese already, and/or you are able to essentially study the language as a full time job) and you need to have a really strong reason to need to learn the language ASAP.

For most people learning as a hobby, keeping up a schedule like this for as long as it takes for it to really bear fruit is incredibly grueling. It’s not just putting in many hours of work every day for months, but doing so for an entire year without taking any breaks. It’s easy to think you can do it when you’ve done it for a few weeks and are feeling super encouraged; much harder when something unexpected happens in your life and you fall ill or become depressed or go on vacation or fall in love and the last thing you want to do is your WK reviews.

I know there tends to be this pressure in Japanese language learning communities online to go as fast as possible, but I think it’s good to keep in mind that full speed on WK is actually going quite fast. The vast majority of people who reach fluency with Japanese take a good several years to get there, minimum, and they learn kanji at a rate much slower than WK teaches them, much less RTK. There are some folks who can reach a high level of language proficiency within just a year or two, but it is very, very difficult to do so, and for most people, it just isn’t feasible.


Is the 2k kanji in 3 months achievable or it’s just what they offer? For me it sounds almost too good to be true, but then again spending 1 year on WaniKani is fairly long.

I would personally say that what’s probably more important from a meta perspective is not how much time or effort one spends grinding kanji, but learning Japanese in general. If doing WK is the only learning method, at one point you may realize you know all these readings, but not what to do with them. A more balanced learning diet may not get you super far in terms of efficient kanji recognition, but will make you more capable in using the language. Also, compared to listening skills or vocab knowledge, studying kanji alone should be a lesser priority.

Which kind of highlights the second potential issue. The more you learn outside of WaniKani, the more you potentially derail your WK journey, because radicals are named differently, kanji have different glosses, vocab different synonyms, etc. It’s essentially one of the reasons I quit, because I was putting as much effort into adjusting WK as I was learning and Anki essentially gives the same benefits, but is way more flexible and once you have a flash card system going, adding new items is easy.

1 Like

Exactly my approach.


But then I’m really not in a hurry. As long as I am able to read manga some time in the next 10 years I’m satisfied.

I think that’s more or less the amount of time people do spend on RTK, but the thing about it is that it’s particularly shallow learning of the kanji. You basically just attach English meaning keywords, sort of like half of what WK teaches when first introducing a kanji, and then stop there. It still gives you some ability to intuit general meanings and to distinguish the kanji, but a person comes away from RTK not just not knowing how to read, but having learned literally zero words, nor how a single one of those kanji might be pronounced. That all comes later. It kinda has to be done at an accelerated pace to be worth it since you’re, in a sense, not learning Japanese while doing it.

The system is certainly not for me, but it seems to have its fans.


I read a few books on memory that really went into how to use methods for learning before entering WaniKani and I do feel like it’s really helped me. With that said, my first 20 levels were really fast and then slowed down to a halt as I entered higher education. The workload just got too big. I try to do all my reviews every day and 10 lessons every day though.

Strangely enough (Well, not really) I do feel like my memory really gets better the more I use it. When I keep up with WaniKani I also feel the benefits when studying Programming. (Programming and test-automation at the moment). It’s like you’re sharpening your memory knives. Ready to cut into the cake of kanji and code!

With that said, my speed has been quite slow lately, but I am enjoying myself. I just really wish there was a way to block review dumping during the night. (I do my reviews when I have the time mkay!). Remembering a lot in a short time is not necessarily good either to be fair. We tend to stare at the numbers sometimes. 2k kanji in 3 months sound amazing, but how good will the actual recall be unless you’re some kind of savant?

Also, don’t forget to read kanji in the wild, do grammar, conversation and most importantly, enjoy yourself, it’s going to take time. :slight_smile:


I started this (bad?) habit of looking ahead to see how many reviews will be piling up, and if I don’t want the pile yet, I put it on “vacation mode” to pause the advance until I clear out my reviews. I like to have a stack of 100. (I plan to start following people advice to do a regular number of lessons a day… But I’ve been saying that for 8 months)

1 Like

Well, I wish I was a genius with photografic memory, but I am not. So I am quite often dissappointed of my learning speed, but these thoughts are pretty silly.
I noticed that my learning speed and recall quality descrease drastically if I learn more than 30 new items per day, so I set it as a limit.
Depending on my workload, I do between 20-30 new kanji/vocab daily. That’s on Anki, on Wanikani right now I know most of the stuff. And in Wanikani looks like I have ~8 days per level, so I learn (hehe, I’d say revise) around 20 items.

1 Like

Well, that’s entirely dependent on when you do your lessons, so you can control it with a schedule to hit the first few intervals on time (which are the most important). If it’s some older reviews with longer intervals, doing them a few hours later really makes no difference. You’re ur not expected to do all the reviews as they come up, anyway.

You could go near full speed just doing WK three times a day.

1 Like

I’m annoyed that the last couple of Kanji on each level take a long time to reappear in the review stack. I think it would be helpful if Kanji reviews were a bit quicker and vocabulary reviews a bit slower.