Do you do anything special to remember new words?

Hi everyone! I have just begun my descent into the painful levels, but even the last couple of the “pleasant” ones were starting to give me more trouble than usual. I keep messing up new words in small ways (used big tsu instead of little, b instead of p, etc.) but it happens again and again. I already felt behind the curve because most percentages I see shared are people with like 98% accuracy and mine was barely holding low 90s, and now I can’t even remember the last time I saw a 90% on a set of reviews, so my overall accuracy has tanked. Do you guys do something besides just the lessons WaniKani gives when the word is new and try to sear it into your brain instantly? Like, do you write them down or study or anything? I don’t want to mess up the SRS but I feel like I am on a distinct downward trend and I don’t know if I am doing something wrong or what. I miss when first review of a word was in less than 8 hours - it was much easier to hold on to for that time! I am starting to worry I am just too old to learn this stuff. Too many marbles in the hose!


I always do 20 lessons every morning at 5am, pretty much right after getting up, so I sort of know that feeling. Keeping things in your head when you’re still half asleep is hard.

What I do is that instead of staring at the lesson screen, clicking through items, desperately trying to remember things, I go through my lessons rather quickly and then use [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz for a few minutes afterwards to quiz myself on the newly learned items.
Since I dont have problems remembering the meaning, I only quiz myself on the readings. Doesnt even take a minute to get through all newly learned items once.
I go through them a few times until I feel comfortable with all of them, then go and make breakfast/ take a shower /… and come back 15 minutes later, doing them once or twice again.

Doesn’t take much longer, but increases my retention alot.


That’s really helpful! It’s like having an earlier first review, which is just what I was wishing for! I also tend to do reviews and lessons just before bed and first thing when I wake (weirdly, I am better at those times - fewer distractions from people and stuff around me, I guess!) Thanks for the tip!


I just wanted to add that the people who share their 90%s only do so because they are so high. I average 75% and I’m sure that a LOT of people are the same or even worse than me but just don’t share because they are embarrased.
I’ve been posting mine in the How did your review session go? thread specifically for this purpose to show that not everyone has that perfect review session.


A couple of recommendations:

  • Look up sentences that use your target word.
    The context sentences provide a start, but you can also use sites like Tatoeba and Weblio to find more.

  • Look for longer words that contain your target word.
    I don’t know if this works for everybody, but I often find that longer words are easier to remember than common two-kanji words. For example, I recently heard the word 一生懸命, and now both 一生 and 懸命 are burned into my mind.
    I think there’s something about the melody that appeals to me; it’s as if I remember the melody first and the phonemes come later. It may also be in part because two-kanji words tend to have a lot of homophones or near-homophones


I started using the Chrome extension Wanikanify, and I love it, because you study your vocab without even thinking about it.

I also made mistakes between reviews. I ended up resetting back to nearly the beginning of the course because I was feeling overwhelmed and wanted to take the time to learn how to write as well. I was unhappy because the course teaches you recognition when you see the kanji paired with the hiragana, but to remember them without prompting is a whole different story. The self-quiz userscript is really helpful also because you learn the words without prompting.


Thanks for the encouragement!

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Nice! I didn’t know about those sites, so I will give them a try. I don’t know a lot of long words, but you’re right - somehow I do tend to remember those better, too. Thanks!


That script is awesome! Usually I remember meanings but can’t remember how something is said. It should definitely help me get practice, though! Thanks!


I’ve no idea how old you are, but you’re never too old to learn (that’s what I keep telling myself and I’ve spent more than 4 decades on this rock).

Don’t worry about the percentages - I’ve had the same thing. When I get toward the end of a level, I average about 85% on reviews, but as soon as I’m in the beginning of a new level, I average about 63%.

All that’s happening is that with all the kanji you’ve taken in so far, you’re probably filling your brain with more information than it’s used to for a new subject; but that’s ok, because the SRS “stretches” your capacity. Also, some of your older kanji is going to start coming back to haunt you for burns, but again, that’s ok too because if you burn one then great, you learned it, but if you didn’t, then you’re not ready yet.

It’s ok. No need to beat yourself up about it.

My advice would be to find something to aim for that keeps your interest in kanji going; find something to read that’s just slightly above the level you’re at now. You’ll try and read it and it will be too hard. Then try again in a few weeks after you level up - the feeling is incredible.


Its easy to get discouraged when you see those accuracy posts, but you really shouldn’t worry about your accuracy unless its bellow 60-70 all the time or something, 90 is really good. I’m guessing that those that have 98+ either know more from before, are spending extra time on studying those words or are just cheating a bit.
I have a few vocabs that I kept messing up and thanks to that I can now recall their readings faster than some on whom I got 100%, so its not always bad to mess up.
I think that the best thing that you can do to help you memorize words better is just by creating your own stories for them and giving some context to the troublesome vocabs by looking up some example sentences can help as well.
Either way, best is just to experiment a bit and see what works best for you. As long as you are making progress, that’s all that matters, leveling up a few hours faster per level won’t make for much of a difference in the long run.


You’re never too old. There are several of us over 60 here and at least one in the 70’s. Maybe you just need a slower pace or a break. Good luck to you. You can do it.


The veterans already have many tips floating around the boards, this is just what helps for me.

  1. I try to check my error page with thought and time
  2. I customized mnemonics to my liking
  3. I try not to review when I’m too tired or stressed
  4. Some say not to review any kanji/vocab between reviews to keep the ‘integrity’ of the SRS system with an honest memory assessment. I disagree as any reading/writing I practice outside of WK technically violates this concept (and who really does that anyways?). The fight is to master kanji (not WK) so whatever means you need to do to learn it, I’d say go for it. Check out the Flash card app written by @dslounge that’s a great resource for outside reviews I just saw. Check out your timeline for the coming week. I think the gap between G1 and G2 is the hardest keep an eye on this gap. As long as the integrity for Enlightenment/Burn reviews is honest or not abusing over rides.
  5. Keep Appreciate ~150 and watch out for high Guru piles before adding lessons. Eventually the repeating wrongs will become correct if you keep them in the pile even if you fail a lot.
  6. I noticed my reviews went from mid 90s suddenly mid 80s…I was going too fast and trying just to knock down piles (rather than putting in extra time for both lessons and reviews). So a focus on quality rather than quantity has turned this around.
  7. Enjoy the process rather than fixate on the goal
  8. Add synonyms to my liking

Since so many seem to point out lower %'s are fine, I’ll just jump in real quick and say they aren’t :stuck_out_tongue:
I don’t think you need to beat yourself up about them, I’d assume mine will drop quite a bit once I get into higher levels, but you shouldn’t get complacent either.
It’s a thing of efficiency. SRS Intervalls are supposed to be long enough to get you to 90~95%, so you’re just starting to forget things, but if they’re too long (80%) you’ll just keep re-learning the same material.

Pay attention to what you’re getting wrong alot (Kanji? Vocab? Irregular readings?) and make sure you do something to increase your retention on those, like investing a bit more time into lessons or even slowing down the amount of lessons you do.

I definitely feel that gap between G1 and G2 - that and the first review are definitely the hardest for me. I do spend some time on things like Duolingo learning grammar, so there is some loss of “integrity” of the SRS system as it is. Maybe some review wouldn’t be a bad idea. I do try to keep it contained already: my rule is to hold off lessons until my number of reviews for the next day is under 150 and Apprentice pile is under 100, and then I’ll do lessons until the Apprentice pile is at 100. Sometimes I get clobbered with a bunch of failed Gurus that clog up my Apprentice stack for a while, and it feels like I don’t get to touch lessons for way too long, but if I go ahead and do the lessons anyway, I’ll wake up with 200 words waiting for review, and there goes my morning. I wouldn’t have these problems if I’d stop messing up, and thus the source of all the anxiety! But you’re right - I should just relax and enjoy the process. Thanks for the advice!

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As long as you’re not looking up things within hours of your next review, it really doesnt matter much.
Especially reviewing things with something like the Self-Study-Quiz doesn’t matter at all.
I don’t think anyone would argue that learning a word for a full 12 hours would give you a less solid memory than learning a word, then reviewing it only once after 4 and 8 hours.
Ideal SRS intervals are simply the most efficient. More studying isn’t a bad thing.

Also, it’s rather unlikely you’d cheat a word through every SRS stage this way. If you don’t know it, it’ll drop eventually.

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I tried some of the self study quizzing today and it was REALLY difficult to figure out a lot of the words with just sound or just hiragana. It made me realize I didn’t know words as well as I thought I did - which is probably a good thing in the long run, because now I have another tool to help me with my weaknesses. So, thanks again for sharing that with me! It will definitely be a regular part of my studying toolkit from now on.


What I personally do is create a pronunciation reminder that binds together the pronunciation, the meaning and the radicals in the shortest and most absurd way possible. In almost all of them, I actually write them in my native language (that is not English) so I can actually have a direct binding in my head between the two languages. It is very powerful for me and it is working so far. When I don’t do it, the difference in performance is striking.

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Isn’t making mistakes the best way to learn?

Your % rate doesn’t really matter, just tracks what you already know but you should focus on the things you don’t.
Ask yourself why you make this little mistakes. For example for 太 you have “dai” pronunciation but since in the same level all the vocabulary you learn uses the “futo” reading once I encountered the kanji again for the second guru level I could not remember it at all. And since I didn’t have much problems with that until now I didn’t bother to have a mnemonic for it.

In the end it lowered my correct % but improved my knowledge since now I have one for it.

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I read the dictionary definition in Japanese and read lots of example sentences on weblio. Every time I get a word wrong, I repeat the process.

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