Big Decrease in Accuracy and Motivation

Warning: This post is just me ranting and complaining about WaniKani being difficult.

I have recently experienced a huge dip in my review accuracy and therefore also my motivation. Currently, I am in level 46, and have been on WaniKani since August 2019 (1 year + 4 months). I noticed that about 2-3 months ago things started to get substantially more difficult. My hypothesis is that items that has failed to get burned begins to come back at this time (a little more than 1 year since start), and then some serious leeches start to happen. I checked myself for leeches (items that you reoccurring get wrong) in levels 25-30 and did not really have any. Now I got lots. I learn them, only to get new leeches, and then forget the leeches I already thought I had relearnt and so on. I currently got about 200-250 reviews each day and have slowed down the pace, so I spend about 12 days at each level. On top of this I also started to notice that I have forgotten some items that I have burned, which is pretty demotivating. I do my reviews and lessons every single morning and have not had a day off since I started, but it is starting to get exhausting to spend hours each day on WaniKani while having the feel of chaos and failing a lot of reviews. Up to the mid 30-levels, I usually got 90-95% right, but now its more often 70-85%. I also fail to burn almost half of my enlightenments.

I hope that I can have a more serious look at my leeches after my exams and hope that might help a bit. There has been many complaining about the same dip in accuracy about a year in to WaniKani, so I wonder if any of you have any tips on learning or motivation. I also wonder if there is a script that can go over my burned items to see which ones I still really know, since I am very uncertain how many of them I still remember.

Cheers and thank you.


For this you can use[Userscript] Self-Study Quiz.

How have you been doing on grammar and reading? Coming across the kanji in other resources, and native materials will help solidify the knowledge you gain from WK, and put the words and kanji into context. That would surely help with retention.


I know this is a rant, so you probably don’t want too much commentary, but a few things jumped out while reading this.

  1. 12 days per level is not slow. At my fastest, I did 5 or 6 levels at 12-14 days per level and it was really intense (something like 15 new lessons a day).

  2. 85% retention is perfectly reasonable with an SRS. Forgetting is part of learning. If you get 95% retention, the spaces of the repetition are probably calibrated to be too close together. That’s a pretty unrealistic goal.

  3. This is even moreso if you only review in the morning. Everyone should do whatever schedule works best for them, but if you’re not at least doing early Apprentice items a second time on the same day, then you’re artificially increasing the length of the early spaces leading to worse recall.

  4. Read! Read, read, read! Nothing is going to improve enlightenment and burn recall more than reading. Long term retention is not going to come from WaniKani. You are at a level where you should be able to comfortably read light novels.


Thank you. I have just started taking Japanese classes at my university, doing my first Japanese exam on Friday. I have also been on BunPro for a while, having finished all the N5 grammar and 1/3rd into the N4. I probably should do more reading, as others also have suggested. I am planning to look into and join the beginner book club, do you have any other reading suggestions?


Thank you very much. 85% is the high end at this point, it is often down to 70%. I usually do reviews in the evening as well, but do most of the work in the morning.
I will do more reading. Do you have any suggestions on where to start?

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I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but do you have any LNs in mind when you say this? I’m sure that your remark makes sense from the ‘kanji knowledge’ point of view, but there’s a lot more to being able to comfortably read light novels than just knowing enough kanji. I’m a Chinese speaker, so a lack of kanji knowledge is rarely a problem even when attempting to read newspapers or (some) light novels, but right after finishing a course that should have given me roughly N3 or even low N2 grammatical knowledge, I still found it difficult to get through more than a few pages of the Konosuba light novel with a high level of comprehension. (I knew the story from the anime, had seen translations, and Konosuba frankly uses relatively simple language in general. The main difficulties were a lack of familiarity with Japanese sentence structure, which made parsing difficult, and a lack of knowledge of colloquial language.) I’m just concerned that you might be raising OP’s expectations a little too much.

Given the grammar you’re currently familiar with, I think that the beginner book club is a great idea. Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便) is fairly popular on these forums (or so I believe), and it’s a good way to be exposed to lots of descriptive words without running into too many grammatical difficulties. It might not be suited for ‘kanji reading’ practice though, because a lot of the words are written in hiragana even when a kanji form that is often used in everyday writing exists. You could always look words up yourself and put their kanji form in a notebook so you can test yourself though. should be helpful. I used to use a mobile equivalent called ‘TangoRisto’ back when it was active. (RIP TangoRisto, which was taken down by the developer a while ago.) There are other similar apps out there though, like ManabiReader (I don’t know if it’s on Android though), which should allow you to get some reading done on the go.

For further reading practice, you can probably try NHK News Web Easy. You can try regular NHK articles as well, but they might be a little too difficult for you at this point because of grammar. Check them out if you’re curious: I might be wrong, after all, and not all articles are equally difficult. The only problem is that the topics covered by NHK articles might not interest you, especially in the News Web Easy category.

A final possibility (I can’t think of anything else right now): if you have any Japanese songs you like, you could try studying the lyrics. They’re often a good way to encounter new words and grammatical structures while doing something you enjoy. Studying anime dialogues with transcriptions/reaction blogs is another approach, but I have no idea if you enjoy anime, so I’ll just leave it at that.


I’m still a really low level, but I have found that reading the news, (or more correctly puzzling my way through it at this point) and seeing the kanji and vocab I know show up, and picking out the grammar I know, helps me to put it in real world context and helps me remember the definition. This site has the option for ふりがな if you need it, too. (NHKニュース 速報・最新情報)

I hope it helps. がんばって!


I’ve level 54 and my mind still melts instantly whenever I attempt to read a Wikipedia article, even if I technically know all the kanji used. Kanji knowledge definitely isn’t everything.


I’ve noticed I do very bad on Wanikani when I feel overwhelmed by school.


I definitely didn’t mean to imply that full comprehension would be easy. That will take a lot of time and practice and reading. I only meant that TobyOne’s vocabulary knowledge should make reading the words comfortable (which is what will contribute to reviewing the words).

There are multiple ways to read. I usually do “intensive reading” in the morning where I try to understand exactly and look everything up. I’m nowhere near proficient at that, even with easy light novels.

At night, I usually do an “extensive reading” session where I don’t care about the details at all. Even at level 24-25, I find myself going multiple pages in a row without having to look up a single word. If you get good at being okay with ambiguity, you can get by with minimal grammar. Pictures still form in your head and you can roughly follow the story.

I’ve been reading through Kan Kumita’s stuff on my Kindle (mostly because I found them on Kindle Unlimited). 記憶の森の魔女 was good. I tend to just glance through Bookwalker and look at the first few pages sample to see if it is readable.

I agree about the colloquial language. I actually think some of the intermediate book club stuff is easier than the beginner just because of this (not to mention kanji makes it easier to parse). I thought 夜市 was very readable.


Yep. A busy week at work can drop my review percentage down to 70, and the post lesson/failure crams have no effect then either. I guess there’s only so much a person can do at one time without being overwhelmed or less effective.

I’ve never seen this suggested before, but it’s what I do. Go to Click on the 4th or 5th tab across the top (depending on if you want to try novels or light novels). Now look for something that seems interesting to you.

Click on it. Now click the picture of the cover again. As far as I’ve found, every single Bookwalker light novel has a ton of free sample pages. Test out how hard it is. If it’s too hard. Try again. Keep going until you find something both interesting and reasonable.

Then, when you find one, you can get the book however you like (you don’t need to use Bookwalker). I think there are other forum topics on the various methods people use.

This might come across as patronizing or sarcastic, but it’s not. Everyone always wants recommendations, but everyone is going to be different with interest and level. Even the same “easy” book will seem hard to another person and that person might find an “easy” book that is hard for the first person. Our brains are weird like that.

Getting something that interests you is the most important thing, though.


Beg to disagree :sweat_smile:. Even back as a fresh lvl 60 reading any LN was hardly comfortable. You need at least triple the amount of vocab WK teaches you to do that, from my experience. Of course you still have to look words up.

Not to say you shouldn’t be reading and looking things up as they come, but it’s gonna be quite slow.


Level 49 and よつばと kicks my butt. Severe lack of grammar and vocab.

I guess that’s true… I have similar experiences when I try to flash through a Japanese text without stopping to see if I can pronounce everything. I’m usually fine as long as I know the kanji, but I guess it’s a matter of preference and how comfortable each of us is with ambiguity. I feel like this sort of surface skimming is something I can already do, so I feel it’s more worthwhile to do what you call ‘intensive reading’. However, well, I guess ‘extensive reading’ can serve as recognition practice, and it’s definitely less time-consuming.

I totally feel this. Hahaha. And yes, because of the nature of most Japanese study materials, foreign learners of Japanese generally aren’t very good with colloquial stuff. I couldn’t get a hang of it before I read an explanation of common contractions in Tobira and really started to study anime. I would be stuck otherwise.

Yeah, actually… I’m thinking of stuff that contains kanji I know as part of unfamiliar words. I think I came across 押さえ付ける in my second attempt at LN reading after about a year of (not very intensive) Japanese. I know that 押 has to do with pushing and 付 has to do with attachment/contact, but when you know there’s also 押す, you can’t really tell which nuance of ‘push’ is involved. I’m sure there were other good examples, but I can’t think of them now… maybe 預ける? I almost never see it in regular use, to the point that I nearly forgot how to read it. It means ‘to entrust (something to someone)’, but if you’re a Chinese speaker, to you, 預 means ‘in advance’ most of the time, so it’s not clear what’s going on.

If you want to read about 新しい コロナウイルス… Although there was a hayabusa2 story today that showed me a new meaning of 星.

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Yeah thanks I am sure that is true, but it is definitely not motivating :stuck_out_tongue:

Exactly -.- There’s way too much of that recently (for obvious reasons though, so you can’t blame NHK).

Hm… such as? Planet, perhaps? (I’m just making a guess here, because I don’t know what you read.)

To be fair, Wikipedia uses quite a bit of technical vocabulary, and it’s a little difficult to parse because it’s written in formal written Japanese, which is a style you rarely see outside of academic articles. For instance, take a look at this article I was trying to get through earlier in order to see if I could explain the 転注 kanji-formation mechanism properly: 転注 - Wikipedia (Honestly though, it’s supposed to be a topic that even historical specialists in China have never really been able to explain clearly, including the writer of 説文解字, China’s very first dictionary.) You have sentences like this:


Vocabulary aside, you also need to be able to handle fairly long relative clauses like 六書について詳しく書かれた and figure out what they’re modifying. You need to know formal versions of 〜ている like 〜ておる, and you need to know how the masu-stem is used in place of the て-form in formal writing. (More accurately, you need to know the hierarchy of formal sentence structure that includes the て-form and the masu-stem: you use the masu-stem to end major clauses and sentence parts, and use the て-form to connect verbs that are directly next to each other with few complements – objects, locations, durations etc – in between.) That’s what makes it hard, since even newspapers do these things less often. It’s really a writing style that you’d find in studies published by universities. It’s not impossible to learn, but it takes time to structure everything in your head (and to gain experience so it becomes a fluid process).


I was wondering if that might be the case. Even attempting extensive reading is less like “look over it and let the meaning soak in without worrying about the details” and more like running headlong into a brick wall. It’s a shame, because the non-Japanese Wikipedias don’t suffer from this problem. I could read a French or German Wikipedia article for instance with little difficulty.