Can't tell if I'm learning anymore

Recently, every time I go to do my WaniKani reviews, I feel like I’m guessing the entire time. I still manage to make it through with >90% accuracy, but it really doesn’t feel like I know anything. Anyone else experience this?

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If you were only guessing, you definitely wouldn’t be making it through with >90% accuracy!
Or really even 50%… So maybe take comfort in that!

What you might be describing is how SRS pretty much just targets your underlying recall. So I know I’ve experienced a lot of cases where I don’t feel like I “know” something and wing it and it turns out I remembered it anyway, just not consciously. Or times when I go with my first instinct and it’s right without my really knowing why.
Especially starting out when everything is completely new, that can be demoralizing, even when you’re remembering the information ok.

Studying in other formats should help reduce that feeling. SRS is a useful hack to recall stuff, but learning and reinforcing them in a more organic way with stuff like reading and grammar study is still required to really make the material sick.
As time goes on I bet you’ll find the weight of evidence that you do know stuff after all grow until it’s hard to deny!


That’s kind of the point? That you get to the point where you don’t think about it and you just… do it. Don’t worry though, there will be plenty of leeches and new-kanji-that-for-some-dang-reason-just-won’t-stick in your future, and then you’ll feel like you’re not learning for an entirely different reason. But you will be!


A way to see if you did learn is to see if you can hear/see the words/vocabulary in random situations without having to think about it too much (ie watching anime, reading news, listening).

A little additional non-WK immersion can work, since if you really don’t do anything outside of WK, it would seem you’re learning for nothing. Good luck!

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After a while it feels that way, however one way to put it to test is trying to read japanese stuff. In my case it would be yotsuba, I started “reading” it at around level 9 or 10. Even though it doesn’t feel like I’ve learned that much, it always impresses me how much more I understand from chapters I already read compared to 5 or 6 levels ago. Of course, with the help of some grammar learning on the side to go with the wanikani.

Maybe find a chapter or two from an easy manga, try to read it now, take note of what you understood, then wait a couple months and go back to it.

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I can look at them in manga and books without thinking too hard, but listening feels like a whole different ballgame. …Which may be my fault since I’ve been doing WaniKani in silence this whole time… :sweat_smile: :joy:


The problem is the words and characters I have this problem with are the ones that don’t come up commonly in the texts I can read or in the media I can listen to and understand.

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I feel you! Honestly it takes me some time to really know that I should already know some words they’re talking about when I watch anime.

I highly recommend turning on Autoplay audio in lessons/reviews since it’s really helpful in determining the correct pronunciations.

I also started silently but the silence is enough to take my attention away since I have very low attention span. Hahahaha


An example of one common issue I see in the forums and WK is the use of dictionary forms of the vocabulary. It’s mostly the conjugated forms that normally pop during conversations. A proof is also in the example sentences. They mostly use conjugated forms, which would sound somewhat different (aside from the first syllables or so) from the dictionary form.

Another is just like pleasing everyone, which is close to impossible. Similarly (and sadly), there will always be words that won’t be used in everyday conversations. I think that’s what burning the turtles are for. Even if you haven’t seen them in a long time (if ever), you’ll still know what they mean.

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Pretty much normal. Happened to me alot i see a vocabulary or kanji during review (no way in $&*× it is X) guess X correct. I actually realized that more often i get a kanji or vocabulary wrong when i think i know it then turned out i don’t.
My advice is to keep going. Maybe try studying grammar or vocabulary on the side (at your own base)

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Sometimes “fake it 'til you make it” really is the best advice.


happens to me all the time…

this. I came back to a manga I hadn’t read in about 6 months and it was amazing how much easier it was!

you really don’t notice how much you’ve improved outside of moments like that


A nice thing about learning written Japanese, from the perspective of a language that uses the latin alphabet, is if you can look at the characters and extract literally any information at all, chances are you’ve learned something.

I feel like half the time I’m still desperate for reassurance I’m not just following context clues somehow. You kind of instantly forget the period of time when your reaction to Japanese was just “I can’t read that; it’s in a different language” and not anything more than that.
But guessing at context clues requires learning to read that context, and is itself the process of learning a language, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

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I sometimes have a similar feeling when doing reviews without thinking about the word, just looking at the characters, pronouncing them aloud and producing a spelling or meaning in English.

I guess that means the word or character has been integrate into our memory already, no?

If you don’t feel like you know it, yet answer correctly, it means you’re above the level of having to think about the answers :slight_smile: . Or that you’ve conditioned yourself to the way WaniKani teaches words. In which case…

I think this is something special/magical about kanji - you can just look at words and understand them without having to actually read them like you would with a Latin alphabet.

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It takes significant effort and time to be able to read as well as you read in your native language. I’m not there yet. I realized that, while I’m still working towards that goal, listening is a great way to measure whether I’m actually learning or not. You start to recognize more and more often the words you saw in your lessons/reviews.

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I’m pretty comfortable with grammar, listening, and understanding. I’m not talking about conjugated forms, I recognize those just fine.

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The kanji themselves are almost latin in themselves. Whenever you see the insect kanji inside a compound kanji, you almost always knows it’s an insect. If you know the latin names of insects, you can make out the genus, family, etc. If you can make out the insect kanji in another kanji, you can make out that… well, it’s an insect :joy:

The more I study WK, the more often I gaze at something in Japanese, understand it, and then be perplexed as to how I even got here.

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Oh yeah, that’s so true regarding animal and plant names, like the 葉虫 I learned recently. It’s kind of like the self-explanatory common names for fauna and flora.

Like everybody else says, yes, that’s normal.

The time when you’re actually not learning will be obvious, because the same 9 vocab words will be stuck at A1 for weeks and you’ll see them every 4 hours and still not remember them.


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I envy you! Everything’s a mess for me right now and I only just started for grammar.