Concerned to forget words until I can start to read some books

Hey there

First, I’m not a native english speaker so I’m not very good at it, but I hope you will understand my question anyway.

I started with WaniKani in December last year, so I`m a complete beginner.
Learning japans is very important to me and that’s the reason I want to do it carefully which means that I make sure to bring all vocabulary words to the guru level bevor I start with the next level.

My problem is that want to start reading some beginner books as soon as possible so that the kanji and vocabulary can stick in my long term memory and I can improve. I also started to learn some grammar.
In another guide in this forum, I read that it’s highly recommended to start with the reading at level 11.

With the pace I have, it will probably take some months until I reach this level. I’m concerned that I will forget a lot of kanji and vocabulary until I reach this level.

Do you have any tips on what I should do?
Or is my concern unjustified?


You should start reading anyway, the lvl 11 recommendation says that it is much easier to focus on grammar for example when you don’t have to look up every second word. If you have no problem with learning kanji+vocab+grammar sentence-by-sentence when they come up while reading, no reason to wait.

Also, it sounds like you wait an additional week while doing vocab only … The SRS will make sure you see words you have problems with more often, so you could go faster through WK (at least not months until level 11).


I don’t think you will forget most kanji by level 11, and even if you do, you’ll relearn them with Wanikani’s SRS, and you can also just look them up while reading, no shame in that.
Though it’s true reading practice can also be helpful early on. You could just try reading a bit of Yotsuba, there will be enough volumes for you to read throughout your learning journey.


Go faster. Read graded readers. You are just holding yourself back by trying to be perfectionist and taking it slow. Language learning is quantity over quality. SRS system will work itself out.


Thank you guys for your answers.
I will try to implement your tips and to rely on the SRS system. I think I will try to read some easy books after I reach lv 3.

Just be aware that reading will be painfully slow in the beginning, and it can be frustrating, because you have to look up so many things. But that will slowly get better, and you’ll learn a lot by regularly practicing. And when you have enough, you can just go back to Wanikani or grammar study (=


My personal advice is as ive already seen stated here:
Dont worry too much about forgetting things. Taking everything to guru before progressing is a bit extreme and you will honestly stunt your own progress that way.
You wont learn japanese by being a perfectionist. Learning any language that way is simply inefficient, as children we learn through exposure and trial and error, as an adult language learner, thats really not much different.
My own strategy to learn japanese is simply to read a ton (often out loud) of stuff while i supplement with Bunpro(grammar) and wanikani on the side, the further i go the more i understand and then its simply a matter of time until everything sticks.
Im currently reading childrens novels and easy visual novels but its true that its quite slow in the beginning. Again not stressing about understanding everything is important, otherwise any person would burn themselves out pretty fast.
You take what you can get and then move on.

With all that said its still a good idea to have a strategy for wk.
Fx. you can set a limit for how many apprentice items you allow yourself to have before taking more lessons. Im currently hovering around 150 as my own limit, and ive imposed some other requirements aswell.
The fact is, there will ALWAYS be leeches that just wont stick, and thats perfectly alright. after enough exposure from reading or speaking its gonna stick on its own without you doing anything, the brain is just that amazing.
A simple strategy that you can stick with is the best strategy.


NHK News easy is one of very useful resources.


Hm well, I kind of expected it, I guess it will be a lot of struggle until I will understand what I’m reading. Luckily I have experience with the frustrating part because I was in a similar situation when I picked up my first books in English. But thank you very much for your advice^^

Thank you for your advice.I will try and get rid of my perfectionism when it comes to learning Japanese or at least to limit it.
I like the idea of having a strategy, I guess I will sit down later and make some learning schedule.

Thank you for the link, I will try it out for sure.


You can use tangoristo, it’s free it’s on android and ios…the application embed nhk easy amongst other source, each news is sorted in difficulty n5 and so on.
You can lookup the words by clicking on them and you can export them in anki apkg deck file.
At my level im starting to loose word too, i decided to stop my progression if im above 100 guru, the more you fail the bigger the review are.
I’ve seen one post on reddit and i think it pretty right, somebody said you should split your japanese usage this way 20% of learning 80% of using it.
You keep the word by using them in context, you can know a lot of vocabulary and not beeing able to make sentence, and the other way around dont know a lot a vocabulary but beeing able to talk.
Which one is better do you think ?
The challenge by learning japanese (or any language) it’s to progress in every aspect, vocab , writing , reading , speaking and vocal comprehension.
It’s seem you figured out quickly than i did.
Too bad lingq or fluentu are too expensive, those arent bad , but there free alternative around that very close to them.
For comprehension you can use , satori reader , i use iknow too which a srs that use real sentence with vocal ( that what is missing with wanikani) some guy even compiled each wanikani level on


thanks for the mention, somehow i didn’t know that yet, looks good!

I disagree with that somewhat. Sure, only learning a kanji on WK doesn’t mean it goes into your active vocabulary. But i still think it’s the best kind of method to learn many kanji and words efficiently.

My strategy is to go fast on WK (grammar/Bunpro too) and get that out of the way, then when i’m done i’ll have a much easier time reading and even listening, and solidifying my learnings. And i do read and listen more and more on the side. Already at level 24, in an average text i can read a lot of Kanji because of WK (covering about 80% of kanji in a tweet or Wikipedia page, according to this).

But it’s definitely a good idea to not just study 100% of your time, and it’s good to consume lots of native material.

Just want to point out that I 100% agree with this!

I’d say language learning is one place where a “fake it til you make it” attitude will actually be helpful in getting you there faster!


This may well be true, but it strikes me as unreasonable in practice for many people (myself included). I can binge youtube videos, read books, do anki or whatever all evenings but I don’t think I could resonably spend 80% of that time actually using the language…


Thank you for your answer.
I will definitely check the sites you recommended out. But for the splitting in 20 and 80%, I think this would be too much for me to do at my level. I guess I will start with 50 and 50% or either with 60 and 40% learning and using.
The idea of setting a boundary when you reach a certain number of guru and stop with the progress is a great idea and I think it will help me a lot. So thanks for this good idea.

Depends how they define ‘using the language’. I would count reading a book using the language rather than a ‘learning activity’.


I guess I thought more in terms of production. But yeah in that case sure, I’m doing it already! :smiley:

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it’s exactly that when i said using , reading, watching video with cc or not , watching n5 content and so on. It’s related with the immersion in japanese.

Related to immersion there’s a story of how i learned english mostly.

I was trying to watch movies but couldnt get 70% of what they were saying, but i kept watching and because of the immersion ( not only watching movie) at one point i could switch from french cc to english cc and no cc.
I’ve lived in uk for few month and had a electronic translator on me , i noted and translated every word i didn’t knew during conversation, i started from barely speaking to a way better understanding at the end.

For japanese immersion , it’s better to find content that you like i think more than content that you can understand, im starting to figure out that too, and it sometime easier with youtube because even if you dont get what they are saying you can add image to it , it’s help a lot at least to cheat your brain to not think you’ve lost your time :wink:


I get your feelings. I had similiar doubts myself and couldn’t decide whether or not should I start learning grammar and reading at the early levels or wait for the ~10 level. I decided to wait and start doing BunPro and Genki after level 10 WK. So far I can’t complain about forgetting the vocabulary. The SRS does its work and I strongly recommend using Kamesame as well. Even though I can’t understand the sentences as a whole yet, I don’t mind it for now. Let`s hope that once I start learning more, the higher number of known kanji/voc will speed the process up :slight_smile:

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Starting grammar after level 10 WK is fine, though most people recommend starting yesterday :wink:

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I really like Watanoc. Although they stopped updating, it’s still a nice archive of fun, blissfully short articles. And you can scan over the words you don’t know for the definition…

TangoRitso looks similar. Kudos to youdig.

As for grammar…I learn all of my grammer through Youtube, babey. Miku Real Japanese and Japanese Ammo with Misa! :hearts: :cherry_blossom: