Coming back to WaniKani after a 1-year break

Just to make it clear, I’m not here to complain about the reviews at all, I’m just here to share a few thoughts and my experience.

Imagine this - summer rolls around and you remember that you wanted to get back to learning Japanese after taking a 1-year break. You type in the URL of the website you have fond memories of and remember how you went from absolute beginner to nearly JLPT N3 level just with a bit of diligence. The website loads, you notice it has a new layout, and you also notice the reviews indicate around 2.4k items. What now? Well, there’s only one thing left to do. click click. A two-kanji word pops up and the website asks you for its meaning. One of them you recognize within one frame, the other just looks like a familiar shape that you know you should remember. Wrong answer. It’s quite demoralizing because just how much you have forgotten is put into perspective. It’ll take a lot of work to rev up the engine again, metaphorically speaking. With that being said, all ends well because the next question the website gives you is the meaning of 月. Happiness restored.

This was me about a week ago, and I’m now down to around 1k reviews. It’s absolutely fascinating to see how my memory and language skills dealt with this massive break in learning, and how I’m getting back my knowledge. A few things I’ve noticed:

  • I completely forgot Apprentice/Guru items, but almost always recalled Master/Enlightened items. Even though 引き分け isn’t a word I usually use (such that I wouldn’t recognize it instantly), it got buried so deep in my memory that when it came up, I didn’t use any sort of mnemonic to remember it. I just had a gut feeling and got it right. It got burnt. This applied to individual kanji and radicals with weird names as well.

  • Visually similar kanji absolutely destroyed me. Gut instincts point you in the right direction but are imprecise. 意, 息 and 億. Or even worse, 職 and 識. At this point, I’m basically playing roulette. It’s even more tragic for similar kanji with different readings when I’m asked for their readings.

  • Low-SRS items come back and refill my reviews. Building on top of what I said regarding forgetting the majority of Apprentice/Guru items, turns out that most of them come back into my 4-digit review queue. This means that the closer I get to neutralizing the review queue, the more they’re gonna fight back.

  • I’ve lost the ability to properly focus. Around the time when I was still at 2k reviews I couldn’t even get through 40-50 items without getting easily distracted or just tired. I’m unsure if I’ve just become a less focused person in general since last year, or if this is specific to WK. Thankfully, I’ve been managing to get through 100-item sessions pretty well the past few days.

Now that I’ve written this post, I suppose I’ll go back and do another set of 100 reviews. Pain-peko.


Welcome back! :confetti_ball:
Keep on keeping on! Way to lean into the hard. :stuck_out_tongue:


Thanks. Can’t wait to learn more goofy radicals.


for me the fear of forgetting all this stuff is the main motivator for not stopping


You’re probably not gonna forget everything you’ve learned a while ago (your high SRS items). It’s just that you’ll forget everything you’re currently learning. Even so, don’t quit, 頑張って

Did you mean to type 職 and 識? :slight_smile: (or maybe even 織…)

For what it’s worth, if this somehow helps at all, apparently my mnemonics (based on old notes) for those was that putting SHOKUlade (schokolade, the German word for chocolate) in your ear is a great job if you can get it,
and meanwhile everything SHIKIlle (Shaquille) O’Neal says is extremely discerning.
But I haven’t thought about those in a looong time…

anyway, welcome back and good luck!

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Ah fu-

Fixed it. Isn’t it poetic how the mistake proves my point…
I don’t seem to have any issues remembering the reading for the meaning, so I’ll just need to make sure I associate ear with job (somehow) and I’ll be fine.

(I haven’t learned 織 yet)

Welcome back! Those apprentice/guru items returning definitely hit harder because you just don’t really remember them, compared to ones that you’d had for a while that were sticking. I had that a few months ago and it was interesting, but not fun.

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I’m nearly N3 also. 10 month break for me. Daily conversations are no problem for me but my reading & writing skills are poor. I have holes in my foundation of grammar & vocab. In Sept 2020 I got up to level 15, had to go into vacation mode because of work & a huge side project (restoring 700 family photos, scanning 340 rolls of film). Finished that big project & smaller ones, returned to WK. Maybe 600 reviews but I had forgotten so much. Looked @ my notebooks from WK lessons; I remembered some, forgot lots. Reset down a few levels; not enough. Down a few more, still not enough. That’s it, reset to 1, study old N5 & 4 texts as I wait for reviews & lessons. Reading all sentences in lessons for reading practice. Fill in the holes to make my foundation stronger. Staying on top of WK reviews & lessons, not letting them pile up. Approaching my studies like an ultramarathon training plan - put in the hours, stick with it & results come. JLPT registration opens Aug. 26. N3, here I come. N2 in 2022. Celebratory L60 post in the future. Goals, markers on the way to proficiency. がんばって xSpunky9!

I rename almost every WK radical to something that makes sense to me. If it is a kanji that is its name. I add its readings & meanings to my user synonyms. WK makes learning a game for me, reminds me to study daily or face a mountain of reviews. Some texts put me to sleep.


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