Hey everybody! Now that I hit Level 60, I figured it was time for the traditional Level 60 forum post. They’ve always been one of my favorite things to read about on WK.
My WaniKani Story
I’ve always loved learning languages (I actually have a Bachelor’s in Spanish) and had planned to study Japanese at some point. I started my WK subscription in Fall 2016 and hit Level 60 in October 2020, about four years total.
Simply put, I started WK because I was looking for a sense of progress and accomplishment. At the end of 2015, I remember thinking that not a single thing in my life had moved forward. My life was in a really slow, frustrating place and I was looking for something rewarding to do with that time. I had recently finished grad school and the job search was taking much longer than I had expected. Plus I had a lot of general growing pains about what I wanted to do with my life.
I really liked the idea of taking that hard time in my life and pulling something positive out of it. That way, even if nothing in my life improved for another year, I’d be able to look back and see that I had learned something new. My life would be different than the year before and it would be a positive change. Kind of like I’d be doing WK in the background and one fine day when things were better, I’d have almost tricked myself into learning Japanese. It seemed like a really fun gift to give myself. Things still aren’t perfect, but I’ve made progress over the years, got into freelancing, and I’m a lot more hopeful and in a better place than when I started.
Studying kanji has felt like being a classical ballet dancer. The Crabigator was my ruthless dance master, whacking my shins with a cane as I learned the foundations of my craft. I love having the kanji knowledge in place as I turn my focus to other areas of Japanese, like tinkering with the nuances of higher level grammar and getting more confident with my speaking skills.
I think it’ll make everything flow much easier than if I was trying to put together sentences while simultaneously trying to learn how to read them.
If I can take a moment to pat myself on the back, I’m really amazed that I was able to accomplish this. With each level of WK, it felt like there was no way my brain could fit any more kanji inside it. So sticking with it over four years and actually finishing the dang thing feels pretty cool.
Pro Tips & Resources
Scripts I Wish I Had Installed Sooner
- Wanikani Override: Being able to hit esc and not have one of my many typos count an answer wrong has been a lifesaver.
- WaniKani LevelUP Celebrator: Whenever I leveled up, I was greeted with a gif of Donna Meagel and Tom Haverford reminding me to treat myself.
WaniKani Keisei Phonetic-Semantic Composition: This was a fun add-on that helped me see the similarities among kanji parts and how they can often clue you in on the reading.
Wanikani Niai Similar Kanji: This was insanely helpful for distinguishing between visually similar kanji. Being able to hit the F button after confusing 傲, 徹, 徴, and 微 was deeply appreciated.
General Reading & Listening Practice
Video Game Let’s Plays and Livestreams.
On YouTube, I like to look up my favorite games on Wikipedia, choose the Japanese language page, copy/paste the Japanese title of the game into the YouTube search bar, add 実況プレイ or 実況 to the end, and bingo! Tons of people playing games I love with Japanese commentary, voiceovers, and often subtitles on all the dialogue.
On Twitch, it’s great reading practice to try to keep up with Japanese comments scrolling past in the chat. Although I’m much more of a lurker than a chatter in Japanese since internet slang is a whole different thing to learn. Still, it’s very fun!
Phone / Computer Games in Japanese
I’m currently working my way through “How to Take off Your Mask” in Japanese. It’s a fluffy, cute visual novel type of game that I’m able to follow somewhat easily. Lots of text to read, which is great. I usually play with Jisho open so I can look up words and kanji I don’t know. At my current level, I’m happy to see that I can follow the story, even if I don’t know every single word.
There’s also plenty of otome games on Apple/Android that are a nice, approachable reading level with plenty of new words/kanji to learn along the way. If I see one in English, often the developer has also posted the Japanese version of the app.
A Note on Grammar Resources
I could list more grammar resources than I can count. Some solid places to begin are the perennial favorites: Genki, Tae Kim, etc. Honestly, I’ve got analysis paralysis when it comes to Japanese grammar resources because there are so many to choose from. I think my best advice is to simply pick a book/website and just get started. My grammar knowledge has steadily increased over the years through a very cobbled-together series of sources. Even if the method’s a bit scattered, I’ve definitely improved. Basically, I’m saying that it’s okay if your grammar journey isn’t perfectly linear.
Finally, A Few Words of Encouragement from MintyKanji先輩
You do not have to be perfect to finish WaniKani. My reviews usually score in the low 80%'s for accuracy; when I rush it’s more the upper 70%'s.
You can also take your time. I’m always so impressed by the people who finish WK in just over a year. For me, balancing WK with the rest of my life meant it took four years.
Maybe I’m talking to past-me in this post, but you can do this without being perfect or fast.
And with that, I’m outta here!!
(jk, I’ll be back to review every once and a while)