Did COVID-19 propel you to begin studying Japanese?

So, I think we can all agree that 2020 was a pretty terrible year for just about everyone, and with good reason. The entire world has been changed completely by the COVID-19 pandemic and these days we all spend most of our time pretty isolated from each other.

I have to say that I feel grateful for all of things that I have. I have no major health problems. To date, I have avoided contracting the virus and I have not lost any family members. Not everyone can say that, so I consider myself lucky and I remind myself every day how lucky I actually am to be in my position.

2020 has taken a toll on my mental health. I have a persistent eyelid twitch which I can only assume is due to anxiety and stress, I haven’t been able to properly work since March, and I haven’t given my parents a proper hug in nearly a year, but as I said before, if that’s all that I am struggling with, I am a lucky guy.

I started studying Japanese in September and I don’t think that would have ever crossed my mind if I wasn’t afforded the time in my previously busy life to reflect on my own personal goals. As soon as I began my study on DuoLingo (Yikes, I know. I do have to say that it was good for learning Hiragana and Katakana though) I was hooked on the complexity of the grammar and the fact that it was so different from English. It has been about three months since I started studying, and a little over two months since I began using WaniKani and I can honestly say that studying Japanese has helped me cope with the intense anxiety brought on by the times we are currently living in.

I am curious to know if studying has helped you during this time or if the pandemic helped you take the plunge into language learning that you were putting off for so long. I am interested to hear from the WaniKani community. :slight_smile:


i started WK when lockdown started and work from home became the norm for office based staff at my work indeed.

i suddenly did not have that 2.5h a day commute so i finally decided to get an addictive way to learn Japanese after stopping after learning the kana 3 times years apart throughout my life!

4th time lucky i hope!

yeah i think it’s true for many of us. i used to be very sociable but i had some trouble i was just getting over and this happened and made it the perfect opportunity to “re-clam up”…

am so glad i started WK: the learning is great but the community really is something else and i’m grateful to be a small part of it everyday.


If anything, COVID slowed me down. Hard to get motivated to do lessons. My progress has dramatically slowed down. I started learning more Japanese after losing my job back in May…[it was not a bad thing since I hated it anyway… ;-)]


For me, personally, I think it’s been the opposite; the constant anxiety, in combination with an operation I had towards the end of 2019, has made it difficult for me to focus on much of anything; I feel physically exhausted after even fairly small amounts of studying. There’s also the fact that I always used to enjoy doing WaniKani and reading in cafés, which hasn’t been an option.

Canceling my travel plans also meant that I’ve had less motivation; my latest trip to Japan was the happiest and most social experience I’ve had in years, and now, thinking about it makes me a bit bummed out.

I am hoping to be admitted to a remote Japanese learning class for the coming semester. I took a remote class in Japanese culture reflected in anime and manga during the fall, and I found that it was helpful for my mental health; it helped give me something to look forward to each week, and provided some well-needed social interaction.


Hey, I’m glad to hear of your good health and situation :slight_smile: I just started learning Japenese a few weeks ago, but in my case it was more because of my school schedule. I’m usually really busy with studying (even more so during the pandemic) and as my semester started to come to an end I found time to learn Japanese.

I’ve always wanted to learn, but school takes a toll on my mental health and I lose interest in everything during the school year. The epidemic really had no effect on my life as everything promptly switched to a virtual setting. If anything, this epidemic made my life even more busy.

Thankfully, I got a start on my Japanese studies, and contrary to my first beliefs I find it really fun and entertaining! Now that I have this start, I’ll be able to continue throughout the year.


It’s a yes from me, though my diet is still rather unbalanced. Like I’m trying to do reading comprehension with NHK Easy articles for the most part, but I’m not at the point where I can easily discern where one word ends and another starts.


@saibaneko Good news!! Also, a 2.5 hour commute. Yikes! That is tough, but now you are afforded more time to study. Woohoo!!

@KJYYZ Yes, I can see how it can have the opposite effect. There are days when I don’t even think it’s worth doing the dishes, hopefully we can push through those days as best we can.

@Kutsushokunin I can tell that this has been a difficult time for you, but your last paragraph shows a glimmer of hope moving forward, I am sure you will find the same joy in the upcoming class.

@Snoobro Yes!! you’re going to love WaniKani. It works so well. I am sure it isn’t for everyone, but more often than not, it will be such an effective tool.

@PDotAlex The jumble will make way to clarity if you keep going. I have already noticed a huge improvement in my own comprehension since I began WaniKani and Genki two months ago. I hope to start tackling NHK in a few months. Slow and steady!!


yes, you had better believe it did.

i know for a fact that i wouldn’t have started japanese if it weren’t for this quarantine. it’s one of the few good things i got from this whole pandemic. i’ve always told myself i’d do it, but i never had the motivation to, but i decided hey, since i’m stuck inside doing nothing all day, now might be a better time than ever to start. also, my love for anime and jpop/rock had increased like, tenfold this past year, so it was bound to happen eventually.


Short answer: Yes, it did :smiley:


Thanks for posting!

This strange world we live in since COVID first appeared has certainly helped my Japanese studies. I had started out in April of 2019, learning hiragana and dabbling in grammar and even attempted to start learning kanji using anki and following Heisig’s first book. I was studying regularly, mostly relying on Duolingo as well, but it was still pretty casual.

Then COVID struck and I was left with lots of free time and nowhere to go. That’s when I joined WK and left Duolingo behind. My life circumstances have left me in a small town with little to do, my partner far away in grad school and travel difficult, and few friends near me. So making Wanikani, and also various methods of Japanese immersion like listening incessantly to Teppei, and watching episodes of Shirokuma Cafe again and again, and messing around with making flashcards and such, a part of my daily routine has not only become a possibility, but has also been a way of keeping me somewhat sane. I honestly have no idea what I would have done without intensive study of Japanese as part of my life. Plus I had no idea how long a road to a reasonable amount of fluency in Japanese would take, not that I am anywhere near that yet. Other languages I have studied have been easy compared to this, so in a way I am glad I am stuck where I am with so much time to devote to 日本語. Be well and hang in there!


It makes me genuinely happy that some people turned to Japanese as an outlet during this terrible time. I began learning years ago so it had no real impact on my learning (aside from the cancellation of the JLPT being a real blow to my motivation) but now that I have nothing to do, I’m getting back into studying in earnest and enjoying it. Good luck to all of you in your studies!


For sure. Before the lock down I knew Hiragana and I was really interested in learning the language, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until this summer. Studying Japanese has given me something to work towards every day, and I really needed that in this bleak time. I’m starting my first Japanese course at university next semester and I’m really looking forward to it!


Yes, I’m in a similar situation as you it sounds like - with losing work + Japanese learning timeline. I wish I had started as soon as the lock down began - now that I am getting so into it - but I decided to start learning Kana over the pandemic summer (Hiragana flash cards and then Duolingo). Next I found out about Pimsleur and started doing that, and at some point in the fall I found out about WaniKani and got hooked on this too. Deleted Duolingo and now just Pimsleur and WK. I’ve taken on other projects this year, but learning Japanese has been one of the most rewarding (even though I can still only say simple sentences and recognize some Kanji). It will be nice to walk out of 2020 having achieved something. Have never learned a second language and felt bad about that. The hardest thing for me is getting disciplined about practicing writing in Kana (and soon Kanji hopefully). If anyone has tips on how turn it into a fun activity like WK is, would love to hear. Happy new year.


I have both experiences you are talking about. I started studying y May due the extra time and went great, but lately it is taking me a mental toll and i have trouble to focus, so I can’t do more than 20 lessons in a row most of the time when, in August, i used to hit it down to 0 every time.

Still making advances, and trying to keep up while dedicating some time to myself as well!
Hope you are doing as good as possible guys!


No, I’ve been learning, if if not very consistently, for about a decade now, but it did help me restart Wanikani. I burned out due to getting a full-time office job in 2019. This year I managed to restart and it’s easier thanks to being in homeoffice, having no commutes and generally more time to myself.


This my friend exactly describes how I started Japanese this year. I kept on procastrinating on learning Japanese even though i wanted to learn it. Consumed japanese light novels and mangas in my college days for 4 years. And since online classes was an option i just joined the classes in this Year’s August. And boy am i glad.


I was already working on learning Japanese before the Covid “fun” hit, because we were supposed to go to Japan for three weeks in September on our honeymoon. When we had to cancel our travel plans in July, I decided to change my Japanese language learning plans as well. I’d been trying to learn travel Japanese; my new goal is to learn enough to read light novels and manga.


I have been learning Japanese (slowly and targeted at speaking and listening primarily) through group classes for around 18 months now - but started WK as a “lockdown project” in May.

I still work full time and had a short commute, so haven’t been overrun with free time - but not being allowed out of the flat and struggling to break up my work/home routine was the kick up the a** I needed to try a new Kanji method. So happy to have found WK - the routine and engaging setup make the Kanji stick way better than previous attempts with Heisig’s RTK and emails sending 3 Kanji a day…and the community is fabulous I agree!


Might be the odd one out but Covid has made studying Japanese a little more difficult for me. When I don’t have things to keep myself busy, I tend to slack on my self studying


Yes it did! Been meaning to get back into WaniKani for a couple years now but lockdown got me looking for something I could make progress in regularly and feel a sense of structure amidst all the chaos :stuck_out_tongue: