Coddiwomple-ing through WaniKani - A study log

Hi there! I’m Coddiwomple (she/her). I do hope this is the right place for a diary and reflections? To coddiwomple is to travel purposefully in a vague direction. This summarises much of my life.

My number one learning motivation is a desire to know what it is like to think in another language. What is that mindset like? Will I see the world differently? The sheer curiosity is irresistible!

Japanese has been really fun to learn. Alongside my self study (thus far rather scattered and experimental) I am taking classes locally. It is rather slow (leaving lots of time for me to explore on my own!), just 1.5 hours a week working through the Marugoto workbook. I quite like it.

WaniKani has been very engaging (I have a reminder on my phone for when my next review is available… so perhaps I should instead say addictive :wink:) and I have enjoyed reading through the forum. はじめまして!

Level One

  • Waiting is awful and fun!
  • Being forced to stop, running out of lessons while interest is high, really embeds that association of WaniKani and ‘I want more!’

Level Two

  • Found the 0/0 challenge, and took a screenshot of my 0/0 lessons and reviews. I am not sure if this is supposed to be taken at a specific point in the lever however, as with this much time and so few items my dashboard is often at 0/0
  • I have been introduced to the importance of scripts, hurray! However, a noob FAQ for scripts might not go astray. I have a couple of questions along the line of ‘how many scripts can my computer use at once?’ ‘how do I tell if this script is abandoned/out of date/some other issue?’ (reading more threads I suppose) ‘why does WK now want to store 1.2gb of data on my computer?’ Note to self: organise thoughts and post a thread.
    Edit: Or, post the questions at New People Questions! ~~~<3 [Lost?! Confused?! We're here to help!]

PACING
Oh my this is a varied topic. If a reasonable goal for a faster pace is two years, then I shall try for lvl 30 by May next year.
So now I have set the goal posts, what does that look like on a granular level?

  • Sign in every day
  • Do your reviews as they come due
    *However if there is a huge pile, do them in bite sized chunks. Prioritise those that are most overdue (there is a script for that) and remember the primacy and recency rule for memory. ‘We best remember that which was first in the list, and that which was most recent’. A small amount every hour/half hour is better than three sessions of 100 items.
  • If you are getting overwhelmed, immediately stop your lessons.

Other advice for not getting overwhelmed:

  • If you know there is a period of time coming up where you don’t have the time to log in thrice daily, prepare by stopping lessons ~4 days in advance. This means less in the apprentice level, which means your reviews are all on the weekly/monthly level. Much easier to handle if I am only on once a day/ every other day.
  • One wrong answer now is two more reviews in the future. Making mistakes is a part of learning! It is a good thing! IF you take the time to LEARN from those mistakes. If you answer wrong, PAUSE your review mindset. Expand the item info. Work out how you are going to get it right the next time. Does the mnemonic need improvement? (SAber does NOT make me think of SEI, swap it for something. I made two sentences involving SEvering and I/Eagle). Did you just forget that word existed? (Not sure how to fix this one. Make an Anki card? Accept that this might become a leach for a while and just let the SRS deal with it? Write it on my ceiling?)
  • Read ahead! Find yourself with no reviews or lessons for a morning? Go read the details of the items you expect to unlock in a few days. Spread that learning out.

Experiments:

  1. Pacing.
  • This morning I tried breaking my lesson pile into chunks taken one hour apart, so they would come due more frequently. Yesterday I was often sad looking at that 0/0. The gamification is intense!
  • Review: Well, they are coming in EVERY hour considering some I get wrong, and so far it has been less satisfying than yesterday. Not bad, just… frequently requiring my attention for merely one or two items. Tomorrow I will try bulk reviews and lessons.
  • Conclusion: I prefer having a few bite sized chunks in my review pile. At the moment that feels like 10-20, five or more times a day. If I want to review with no items available, READ AHEAD ON VOCAB.
  1. Vocabulary
    Vocabulary unlocks when you guru your kanji. So does your next level. Result? A glut of lessons that beckons to be powered through.
  • On reaching level three, I used lesson filter to take an equal number of radicals, kanji, and vocabulary each batch of lessons. Over the course of the morning I did every lesson available. This morning feels a little messy in retrospect, but what might I change?
    a) Do lessons in default order. Delay taking on level three for a day. (I really don’t want to do this though, the next level is so shiny!)
    b) Default order, ALL the lessons in one morning! Bam!
    c) Focus on radicals and kanji in the first two hours. Then take on vocabulary in chunks while I am waiting for the rest of the level to unlock. I think this is pretty popular? This should lead to the vocabulary from the previous level reaching guru just as the first set of kanji do, unlocking more vocabulary.
    Plan:
    Take a different approach each level. Review in a few weeks time.
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Is this a study log? If so, you might want to add it to the Master List. Always nice to see a new user! :smile:

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I second that! Nice to see this @Coddiwomple, hope you’ll add it to the list!

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I will learn to do that right now! I just edit the first post as a wiki, right?

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Yep! Nice one! Welcome to the world of study logs!

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Things I learned today:

  • there are two different websites for WK stats, one needs your version 1 API number (if that is what it is called) and one uses the more recent version 2 number. The newer website is still having all the functions added however.
  • The temptation of starting a lesson (or 17) at 7pm is real! I am still in a fast level, right? I can do the review at 9pm, and then remember allllll the vocabulary by 7 am tomorrow, right? Right. Time to make some mistakes and learn from them!
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You will need lots of severed eagles, I’m afraid. Saber does work for pronunciation though, kind of? Anyhow, good luck with your studies, you seem very organised!

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Thanks for the heads up! I shall start collecting some for other situations… Severus is Evil? Sempai I notice you?
I may seem organised, but it is more that I move purposefully even when I have no idea what I am doing! :v:

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That’s what is known as organized. :smile:

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Post sleep review:
16/17 vocabulary correct. This is sufficient. How

  • When I took the lessons last night, I was very slow and thorough.
  • When I took the review, in the morning, my review summary from last night was on the summary screen. I looked at the two vocabulary words that I got wrong last session. When they came up in review, I knew to wait and try and think past my first answer.
  • And then a third vocab item tripped me up.
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Things I have learned on the 27th May

  • The lesson balance script is abandoned, and blurs my screen. I have replaced this with the lesson filter script. I am in the process of reading threads about it to make sure I don’t miss-use it. My intention is to get some of that Vocab started early so it does not swamp the next level!
  • Look ahead at the level’s vocabulary while waiting for reviews/lessons
  • While doing my homework for class today, I found it far easier to just use kanji for the numbers. Yay! However, it did let me slack on remembering precise spelling and pronunciation. Boo :cry:
  • To do: Find a script that turns reviews into bite sized chunks.
    Edit: it is a basic function! New People Questions! ~~~<3 [Lost?! Confused?! We're here to help!]
  • Community forums are addictive. Browse with care!
  • Okay so my lessons and reviews are lagging A LOT. I have to keep something else at hand to look at while I wait for the pages to unfreeze. I have an awful suspicion it is because of the scripts :cry:

Brainstorming fixes:

  1. Use fewer scripts.
  2. Try different browsers
  3. ???
  4. Go ahead and add more scripts anyway! :sweat_smile:

The past week I have done so much reading about how to learn Japanese, how to learn a language, even how to learn in general. (My bookmarks have gone out of control!) However, in my Japanese class tonight I did not feel as prepared for what we were doing. I had to check the book for the vocabulary we were using, and I think I made some mistakes in my homework too. Next week, I won’t let my performance drop!

  • I didn’t meet my classmates (online, there is a pandemic on yo) this week. See if we can arrange a study session this week, that does help.
  • Anki deck: I have one, so keep working on it
  • Add useful notes from the lessons to a new Anki deck. Bonus vocabulary that comes up, little explanations of grammar, culture, etc
  • I would like to have a nice set of notes written up on the textbook. But I need to find a purpose to it beyond going over my notes if I want to find my motivation.
  • I would also very much like to take a nice set of notes from each lesson that has been recorded. This I am more likely to do, because I have the goal of making those Anki cards, and finding those non-textbook extras that I have not pinned down.
    remembers that the coming four days are a little busy
    Okay, for this week just aim to do enough to pick my performance up at least a tiny bit!
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Japanese Calligraphy Post

This will be a long term, dabble-like thing. But.

Materials:

  • A calligraphy brush set from my local art store. Is it Japanese? Chinese? I don’t know, I can’t read anything. But it is a brush set all the same
  • A book on Japanese calligraphy. Found at my local library discard store!
  • A book in Japanese with calligraphy in it, found at the same place. Is it a poetry book? A collection of proverbs in calligraphy? I don’t know, I can’t read it. But the mystery intrigues me, and one day I shall be able to identify it myself.
  • Paper made for western calligraphy. It won’t be quite right, but it should be better than printer paper all the same. It will do for now. NOTE: it doesn’t like the water heavy ink, but it is adequate for personal use.
  • EDIT: 30th May. I found an 80 page packet of calligraphy paper in the $2.50 section of my local Japanese grocer. Will this paper be any good?

Progress:

  • Some! 28th May during Crafternoon I cracked open my supplies and made an attempt. After a number of practice exercises and pages, I managed to produce this:

Spring through winter

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Level three! Hurray!

Goes to subscribe. Kouchi reminds her the rest of the level is still free. Goes back to doing lessons.
Realises that the subscription banner stuck to the top of the dashboard is interfering with the scripts. Quickly gets fed up with vanilla WK.
Subscribes
“Here is a list of some of the benefits of upgrading to Premium: […] … and last but not least, the removal of this upgrade message. The small things count, right?”
That is just evil Kouchi! shakes fist

It took a lot of troubleshooting to fix the scripts, but by evening I was successful.

Self-Study Quiz is FANTASTIC for squashing leaches. Run it once a day whenever there is a leach count.

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Yup, I went through the same thing back in March, haha

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Mapping time! Time to plot out what a week would look in more detail like with high accuracy, commitment to schedule, and the stamina to smash lessons on demand. Try this out for level four next week. See what it is like when it is not on paper.

Overly ambitious review cycle for levels 3-10

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Day 1
6am

  • Kanji 0 (last level’s) to Guru one, unlocking next level
  • Radicals from unlearned to A1
  • Kanji 1 (first half) from unlearned to A1
  • Vocabulary from last level unlocked, save for tomorrow.
    10am
  • Radicals from A1 to A2
  • Kanji 1 from A1 to A2
    (2pm any incorrect reviews come up here, hopefully reaching A2)
    6pm
  • Radicals from A2 to A3
  • Kanji 1 from A2 to A3
    (anything I got wrong twice in a row turns up here, reaching A2)
    (10pm any incorrect reviews hopefully reaching A3 before I go to bed!)

Day 2
6am

  • Vocabulary 0 time! Everything that unlocked from last levels second batch of Kanji, and those odd items that start the level unlocked. From unlearned to A1
  • Possibly some leaches hitting A3 here… probably not A2, right? Right.
    10am
  • Vocab 0 from A1 to A2
    2pm
  • Any incorrect items. 2pm and 10pm can now be assumed as reviewing any items that are critical, if I don’t feel like leaving them to random times when I log in.
    6pm
  • Radicals from A3 to A4
  • Kanji 1 from A3 to A4
  • Vocab 0 from A2 to A3.

Day 3

  • Squash leaches
  • Read ahead on the second batch of Kanji that are about to unlock.
    6pm
  • Vocab 0 from A3 to A4

Day 4

  • Squash leaches
  • Read ahead on the vocabulary that is about to unlock.
    6pm
  • Radicals from A4 to G1, unlock Kanji 2
  • Kanji 1 from A4 to G1, unlock Vocabulary 1
  • Kanji 2 from unlearned to A1
  • Vocab 1 from unlearned to A1 (as much as I feel like before 7pm)
    From 7-10pm
  • Take more of the Vocab 1 lessons, if there are any left over, from unlearned to A1. Call this Vocab 1.5
    10pm
  • Kanji 2 from A1 to A2
  • Vocab 1 from A1 to A2

Day 5
6am

  • Kanji 2 from A2 to A3
  • Vocab 1 from A2 to A3
  • Vocab 1.5 from A1 to A2
    2pm. Read ahead: Radicals + from upcoming level
  • Vocab 1.5 from A2 to A3
    6pm
  • Vocab 1 from A4 to G1

Day 6
6am

  • Kanji 2 from A3 to A4
  • Vocab 1 from A3 to A4
    2pm. Read ahead: Kanji + from upcoming level
  • Vocab 1.5 from A3 to A4

Day 7 - Read ahead: all the vocabulary from this level that is still locked. Vocabulary 2.
Nothing! Well, leach squashing probably.

Day 8 and Day 1 new cycle
6am

  • Guru Kanji 2. Unlock Vocab 2. Unlock next level and new cycle.
Rambling thoughts on cycles

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  • Leaving vocabulary a day after it unlocks keeps things balanced, at least on a macro scale.
  • Day 1, 2, 4/5 are days with a lot of learning.
  • Day 3 and 7 look much much lighter, with space to review, read ahead, and rest.
  • I chose 6am because 1) If I get anything wrong, which I will, keeping to a 6/10/6/10 schedule means my brain is still awake at 10pm for that last review. Leaving it to 11pm, while entirely possible, will tank my accuracy. 2) I have been waking up anyway, and my phone is right there…

WHY EIGHT DAYS IS BETTER.
Guru and beyond start showing up on a weekly schedule. Do I want all my guru’ed items to show up on Mondays? Probably not. Taking care to NOT maintain a 7 day cycle will help. And give me a day to do other study.
Also, my Japanese class is at 6pm so my 6/10 cycle will be thrown off at least one day a week. Although technically only by an hour…?

Small batches or all at once, the eternal question…
Another option, do ~15-20 vocabulary a day, every day. In higher levels it averages 120 vocab a level, which would mean two batches of 60… it might be a bit much? So, perhaps divide total vocabulary by days spent on level… Right now I have 30 lessons. Kanji 2 will reach A3 tonight. That gives me three days before K2 is guru’d and the next level unlocks. If I learn five items at 6am/pm every day that would give a small and steady stream of reviews.

Reflections from the mid point of level four:

Being faced with 73 lessons at the level unlock was rather intimidating. The thought of smashing through them, possibly leading to poor review accuracy, is not enticing. Would it be faster? Yes, I think it would be. Would it be fun? Only in the right mood.
I currently have one radical I answered incorrectly twice. At first I was rather dismayed at it lagging behind by a day and a half (I did not abuse my re-answer script!) However, it only leaves one kanji locked, and actually won’t slow my level speed. It still sucks, but not as much.

This strict pattern will only happen if I spend a week in a high study mood, ready to learn ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE. It was useful to think through and plan out (I recommend everyone take some time to really think through the SRS and level cycle) but I am not interested in trying to stick to it.

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Today I found kanji workbooks for primary school kids ($2.50AUD at the grocer). It won’t be any good for learning the kanji, but I think they will form a novel way of review in a few levels! Perhaps level 5? 10? Who knows. They will be highly amusing all the same!

On more productive study completed, dearest study log, yesterday I reviewed topic three from Marugoto, and did half my homework. This morning I have listened to one Pimsleur lesson (and of course done all my reviews and lessons).

I am still looking for other resources that I enjoy as much as WK.

  • Anki
  • JLUP
  • Japanese Ammo
  • Tae Kim
  • IMABI
  • Step up nihongo!
  • I really want something that I can read now…
  • LingQ?
    Ahhh! So much to look through! This is only a fraction of my bookmarks!
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First, a bit of a warning. People often spend far too much time looking for more resources than actually studying. The important thing is to find something that can get you to where you need to be and stick with that.

All that being said, for grammar stuff, here is my current workflow which is working well for me:

  • Bunpro (to order lessons)
  • Dictionary of Japanese Grammar series (to get a deep understanding of the topics from)

Bunpro usually gives page references to the DoJG entries so its pretty easy to go through. I would say that the dictionary may not be super useful on its own until you get to N5ish grammar and can understand most of the nuance explanations. Bunpro can at least cover you for that through links to other resources. After doing that, I recommend reading up on the N5 topics you would already know in the dictionary as you will learn to understand it on a deeper level.

And even if you don’t follow the Bunpro and Dictionary of Japanese Grammar pairing that I do, I still recommend those books. Its amazing how their explanations are usually better than anything you can find online. I’ve noticed that I can even inform fluent speakers of rules they may know intuitively but not explicitly (ie: the distinction between ので, んだから, and から).

I also am going to give an anti-recommendation to Tae Kim. I think people recommend it because they used it like a decade ago where internet japanese resources were scarce, but there is much better stuff out there. Wasabi does the same thing as Tae Kim’s but much better. Tae Kim’s guide ranges from oversimplifying to outright misinformation. The が vs は article is one of its first and also one of its worst. If you use the guide, you effectively need to relearn all of the topics it covers, looking out for where it lied to you.

For vocab outside of WaniKani, I recommend Torii

For reverse WaniKani (giving the English and needing to give the kanji/vocab), I recommend KameSame

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Is there anything Torii offers that KameSame lacks at this point?

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  • Torii has a mode for things explicitly outside of Wanikani, ordered by kanji level, so that you can do it alongside WaniKani.
  • Torii has several example sentences for each word, with an audio recording of at least the main example sentence
  • Torii is an app, which is convenient to give reminders of when reviews are available, and generally makes it nicer to use on mobile (though slightly more of a pain on desktop)
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Thank you for your feedback, this is useful. I haven’t looked into bunpro yet, but I will. Your advice on Tae Kim’s guide seems very reasonable and I shall look elsewhere.
If you have a post where you do an overall review of the resources you have tried I would be very interested in reading it. :slight_smile:

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