Becoming discouraged in learning Japanese?

I been reading a lot of threads and reading a lot of stories from people. I been readings things like even when people who are at lv 60 still have such an incredibly hard time reading basic manga or a lot of media. Even with LV. 60 in Wanikani they still have to use dictionaries or do a lot research to even remotely understand certain media.

Of course, each person is different and it’s a case by case. But reading who reached lv 60. and still struggle is really discouraging to hear.

So a lot of negative thoughts and questions go into my head. like

“Will I ever become fluent In Japanese or at least become proficient enough in Japanese to have a fairly deep conversation?” " If I reach Lv. 60 will that mean I will barely be able to read or understand anything?" " Will my efforts actually pay off? is it pointless I keep learning Kanji or Japanese in general?"

I have a certain goal that is unique to my own and that is to be able to understand Japanese music without to much struggle. I also consider myself a Musician so I would also want to be able to write a song in understandable and beautiful Japanese.

But the long path and struggles I read from others are a bit discouraging. Does anybody have any input or words of wisdom to snap me out of my discouragement?

Just… in general I want to reach a level in Japanese where I can understand Japanese media in a fairly proficient level.


The point here is, WaniKani alone won’t make you fluent - just as reaching JLPT N1 doesn’t make you fluent. You’ll learn most of the important kanji and some more or less useful vocab here. But there’s still tons more vocab - and grammar - to study.

Imagine learning the English alphabet, some vocab and no grammar - then try to write songs. Probably not going to work out well.

About your questions:

Will I ever become fluent In Japanese or at least become proficient enough in Japanese to have a fairly deep conversation?

Yes, if you keep at it, you’ll get there - just like with learning any other thing.

If I reach Lv. 60 will that mean I will barely be able to read or understand anything?

Only if you’re using WK as the only source for your Japanese studies.

Will my efforts actually pay off?

If you stick to it, yes.

is it pointless I keep learning Kanji or Japanese in general?

That’s up to you really. You’re the one who has to decide if you’re willing to commit the time and effort necessary to achieve your goal. It’s definitely possible to get there though.


Kanji is just one part of Japanese. That’s why it’s possible to be level 60 and struggle, but if you properly study all aspects of Japanese, and not just kanji, you shouldn’t struggle.


WK alone won’t help you achieve your goals; especially given it sounds like you want to understand media (listening) and generate your own lyrics (writing).

However, WK + grammar practice + tons of Japanese media consumption + some degree of work ethic to keep at it, and you’ll be ok :slight_smile:

Also, don’t be too harsh on yourself in defining what “fairly proficient level” is. Can you really understand every word of every song in your native language? Even if you understand the words, do you actually understand what they’re trying to say 100% of the time? Do you understand all the references etc. mentioned in your native language’s media? I would reckon no; it’s important to remember that as you think about your Japanese comprehension level as well.


I agree. Furthermore good lyrics are often removed from ordinary language and spill into the world of poetry and poetic licence.

When I was a child, running in the night
Afraid of what might be
Hiding in the dark, hiding in the street
And of what was following me
Now hounds of love are hunting
I’ve always been a coward
And I don’t know what’s good for me


You can certainly become fluent.

What I think you’re suffering from is just the realization that you underestimated how much you had to learn. By my definition, it seems like the work you do on WK to get to 60 is about 1/3 what it takes to be fluent. As others have said, there is a lot of stuff to do outside of WK and thats just the reality of it. But heres the bright side: More work is really just more time essentially. And if you get to level 60, you prolly have good habits and are gonna be able to put in that extra time. You will get there one day, itll just take longer than what you expected at first.

I mean, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. Its a lot of work to get fluent. But, at the same time, the reason we’re all here is because its worth the effort, right? It’ll pay off in the end and you’ll get plenty use out of it before you’re fluent as well.


Truer words have not been spoken my child.

I’m fairely fluent in english, so I helped my niece who’s a brick, understand a song for school, well fuck I could understand individual words and phrases, but making actual sense of it and translating it, lmao it’s a no-no, too many figures of speech, subtle references to previous lyrics etc…


If you want a more positive perspective, I’m far from level 60 and don’t feel like I have too much trouble reading/listening to easier stuff (and slightly harder stuff if I put in some more effort).

Like everyone else said, just make sure wanikani isn’t the only thing you’re doing, because only knowing a bunch of Kanji and some vocab obviously isn’t enough to make you fluent (or to understand much of anything at all, really). So yeah, you do need to know a lot more than what’s on wanikani to be completely fluent, but on the other hand you don’t need to know everything that’s on wanikani to start being able to do stuff.


My advice is to use Wanikani only as a way to learn kanji, not vocab. Even if it “teaches” vocab, you (or atleast I) really need to learn it through some meaningful context. That is, via textbooks, by reading or by actually using Japanese. The vocab in Wanikani is useful to reinforce the readings of the individual kanji it uses.


Make friends with an electronic dictionary (app or website, or whatever), it will come in handy a lot even after reaching fluency. Native speakers use dictionaries too all the time. Now, I’m not 60 yet, but what’s helped me reach a decent level of fluency is constant exposure.

I’ve been reading manga daily for a couple years now (daily webcomics on twitter, thanks to @twi_yon), and I’ve been going though some light novels and Haruki Murakami novels on and off the last few months or so.

Even the simplest manga will occasionally have vocabulary that I don’t recognize, so I still have to use the dictionary, however, it’s becoming increasingly rare, the longer I go at it. It used to be that I’d have to look up a word every other sentence when I started out, now it’s once every other page or so.

The important thing is to keep at it, and progress steadily. Whatever your pace, as long as you improve constantly, you’ll reach your goals sooner or later. Don’t be discouraged, instead try to feel excited about embarking on this wonderful journey :slight_smile:


Language learning is hard work. It took me years to become native-level in English, and more than a couple of years to become functional in English – and that was with constant input to the level I can’t get with Japanese.


Between ‘native-level’, ‘functionally fluent’, and ‘able to get by’ there’s a huge distance. You can’t get to ‘native-level’ without first reaching the other points. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes effort. But if you keep on practicing, and keep on pushing yourself slightly farther than your comfort zone every now and then, you can reach your goal. If you’re unhappy with where you are, you can do something about it, no matter how small. Small steps amount to huge distances.

Remind yourself why you’re learning the language, and remind yourself that it’s only natural that the more you know the language, the more you know how much you don’t know. Focus on what you feel you lack the most – is it kanji? Is it grammar? Vocabulary? Idioms? Listening?

If you give up now, you’ll never know Japanese, not even a little. If you keep on going, there’s a good chance that you will reach your goal. Much better chance than giving straight up, right?


Grammar!!! :slight_smile:


Plenty of gaijin have succeeded, so it’s doable.
If it’s your dream, you will do it.
If it’s just a thing you kinda sorta want to do, don’t bother.

It’s possible to be a fluent speaker without reaching level 60.


This seems to get brought up quite a bit but whenever it’s brought up I draw a blank to how many people are actually in this boat. There are a few that I know who are at either a high level or level 60 on WK and admit to being behind in grammar and/or are just starting to foray out into reading. As many have said earlier, however, this is not indicative of WK but how they have prioritized their language studies. Try looking at it this way: how many people reach level 60 and claim that they can’t decipher kanji. Unless they are self-proclaimed cheaters, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone in that boat.

Many times, people underestimate the amount of words they actually need to know for high-level proficiency. I experience this personally every day. On the surface, many people I know well just assume I know what they are saying. There are times when this is true and there are even more times when I don’t and come across new words/expressions. There are thousands of words you need to learn to have a high level of fluency, but it’s not impossible. With dedicated and focus study and with regular practice you’ll notice a difference in your skill over time.

Specifically, don’t waste your time creating worries based off of other’s experiences. If you’re not there yet and it’s not happening to you, don’t expend your energy on being discouraged over other people’s failures. Instead use what they’ve learned as fodder to make your learning journey more effective.


Wanikani is a tool used to specifically study kanji. It’s not a grammar resource. A lot of the kanji you learn on here are some of the most common kanji you’ll run into. However, that doesn’t mean it covers all kanji. I think it says somewhere on the website that it covers like 90% of the kanji you need to know to be able to read a Japanese newspaper, but within that last 10% is thousands of kanji.

Don’t worry about fluency now. Worry about if you are studying or not. As the expression goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t become fluent in Japanese within a year (if you did I would be pretty impressed). To put it in perspective, I’m nowhere near fluent. I was a bit foolish and didn’t study grammar while doing Wanikani. So right now, I have a vast amount of kanji knowledge with a N5 or lower comprehension. However, I’m still working towards fluency and haven’t given up yet. And neither should you. Keep at it, and you’ll make it one day.



As people have already said, the Kanji is one of the aspects of the language, one which many claim to be the hardest, but still it’s just one element of several that you’ll need to master to become profecient in the language.

Just know that whatever method you choose to learn japanese, and any language for that matter, it’s going to take years, not months or days to learn. There are methods to make the learning more efficient (WK!:heart_eyes:), but in the end it’s not magic, you gotta put in the hours and hard work.

But, if you do the work now, the time will pass, and you’ll learn. If you don’t do the work, the time will pass the same and you’ll have learned nothing. People have done this before, so it’s not impossible, just pretty hard!

As an bonus encouragement I like to read graded readers, they work with a clear progression, so you can somewhat feel that you’re evolving in the language. Look into the free samples on the tadoku website and give it a try! 頑張って!


I feel personally attacked


Don’t sweat, you’ve got one more level to figure it all out.


As a Japanese-learning beginner living in Tokyo, the biggest benefit to me from WaniKani is learning something here that I’ve already seen or heard in real world Japan.

Today I found out why doctor is “isha” because I learned the kanji vocab 医者; now that word will be easier to remember in conversation and I can actually read it.

As others have said, if you’re only going to use WaniKani then you’ll never be even close to fluent, because for one thing you won’t learn a stitch of grammar here, aside from a couple of conjugation notes. If, on the other hand, you view WaniKani as an enjoyable way to learn new vocab and to read/write more, it’ll help you a lot.

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The only way you will be able to have a conversation is…pratice having conversations! How do you get good at reading? Pratice reading. You have to bootstrap your way up to a high enough level to be able to understand basic things, but you have to make the jump to native material and conversations if you ever want to reach that level. There simply isn’t any other way to do it.

Between speaking, listening, reading, and writing, I consider these skills to be completely separate. That means you have to start from 0 as you get into each one.

Language learning is hard. Reaching across the English-Japanese barrier is extra hard. It’s going to take years. A marathon, not a sprint. You’ll get where you want to be if you stay focused in the long term.