Back from a 2 month break: What I learned

Hey everyone, hope this finds you well (How to sound like an 80 year old dad online). So as the title states I had basically gotten burned out on WaniKani exactly on the 1 year anniversary I started. I had been doing reviews every day for a year non-stop and basically made WK the only japanese resource I was using at the time. I thought “Oh it’s enough because now I can read words.” I live in japan and while yes, WK had allowed me to read words, I had no command of the language, and couldn’t read anything outside of single words. I had begun getting ready for the JLPT N4 and realized I killed it in Kanji readings but reading comprehension, grammar, listening, were all garbage. I then decided I should focus solely on JLPT study materials and see how I would progress. One month later, I had noticed my reviews were piling up and I didn’t care about WK anymore because I didn’t know even the most basic vocab.

I thought WK must not be working for me. So I put it on vacation mode, and proceeded to only study for the JLPT N4. While I had improved greatly for the JLPT, I was still falling short in reading regular every day things. I had then found the Mass Immersion approach and took away that my problem was not I wasn’t studying enough, but that I wasn’t even touching the language outside of hard study. With WaniKani no longer being the center of my life, I had a lack of Kanji study in my routine. So I got the RRTK deck for anki and tried that for a while. That alongside reading and listening to native content my progress was night and day. However the anki deck had worn on me because many of the cards I had done already through wanikani and I wasn’t remembering the readings anymore.

Fast foward a month and a half later, I reached a point I didn’t need flash cards any more, I didn’t need to get vocab list, I just needed to read grammar rules, add some vocab here and there, but most of all read, watch, listen, and talk more. Please keep in mind before getting ready for the N4 I had finished Genki I and II, so this is not so much a guide for beginners, but people who don’t feel like they’re stuck in beginner level material. Some advice, keep using WK, but please remember this is a supplement, not a source for your journey. If you are annoyed you aren’t remembering words out of context, it’s because you aren’t using the knowledge you acquired here in the real world, and the best time to start is now. I love that this community has book clubs, but I never saw them as anything more than a “eventually I’ll be able to join one of those!”

My advice. Learn the words, kanji, readings, meanings, everything ahead of time if you can. WaniKani introduces kanji by Jouyo/JLPT level, and when kids learn kanji they most likely already know the words. You don’t need to over do it, but for the best results, try to either attain the knowledge before hand or try to use what you learned in real world examples like manga, news, anime, etc. That’s how those weird words stick and come out in conversation when you least expect it. I’ll never forget the only reason I remember 集中 is because I heard it in Demon Slayer, and 働く from Polar Bear Cafe. You retain these words through exposure. The reason your kanji burn in 6 months is because if you don’t see these kanji in less than a year, you’re never going to see them at the rate you’re engaging with the language.

Anyways, thank you for listening to my story. Hope this helps some of you who were like me stuck at the upper beginner level. If you have any questions on what I do for hard study or some other methods I use to help improve, just ask, because I have a lot more to share after 3 years of successes and failures.


All of this, yes! How did you do on the N4?

While studying Japanese for about the past two years, I have definitely found that there is no single source that can teach you the entire language with nothing else supplementing it. WK is great for what it does and by the far has been the best way for me to learn kanji but I think the textbooks that teach grammar and the native material (books, TV shows, etc) are also essential to really mastering.

Learning Japanese is an amazing rewarding and also difficult journey! Good luck to you!

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unfortunately the N4 was cancelled this year because of Corona. So I’m just using this time to prep for the N3 now. N4 is too low a level to prep an entire year for (imo). Especially with the progress I made with this discovery lol. WK is great for getting some vocab practice, but that’s it. you’re gonna be useless in Japanese otherwise. Glad you found that as well. I just started Tobira a few weeks ago and been loving it because it throws the content at you THEN teaches you the parts you may have not have understood. Kind of forcing you to guess based on context. Which is really powerful.

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