Embarrassed Because of Slow Progress

I feel currently so discouraged and even embarrassed. I know that Wanikani is not a race but my progress has been painfully slow. Well, because of my own laziness or the lack of motivation. I have had this account for a couple of years already. But… I’m still on level 18.
It makes me feel like a loser because some rare individuals are so amazing that they are able to complete Wanikani in one year. Yet here I am…

I know that this is my own fault because I have not been consistent. But now it feels so hard to continue. I have 800 reviews and I have forgotten kanjis…which makes the reviewing even more painful because I get 50% wrong or more.
I shouldn’t compare myself to others but I can’t help it. I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of kanjis and vocabulary and have no strength to even try to continue.

Has anyone else felt this way? Did you overcome anything similar and if yes, how?
I would really appreciate some encouraging words or… anything really.
Thank you for reading this.

edit: I almost want to cry because your replies are so nice and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many kind replies online, thank you so much everyone ;-;


Have you considered resetting a few levels? You’d be relearning some levels, which not only would help with memorization of the content but also with a confident boost (level up speed would go up, accuracy would go up).

How’s your routine around Wanikani? Do you do reviews every day? Do you make sure to leave them at 0 every night? Do you do lessons every day? :slight_smile:


Set a short term goal for yourself to get back in action:

Get apprentice < 50 in a week.
Get to the next level in 10 days.

Don’t do any lessons until you achieve your goal. You need to catch up in a way that doesn’t exhaust you while things are still moving (set yourself up for success) and then set some regular daily goals going forward (6pm you always do WK reviews, or twice a day maybe, whatever works for you).

EDIT: A lot of people do lessons, but limit them based on their apprentice count. I think this is a great idea if you can’t do reviews more often than once a day. Don’t let your apprentice go higher than 100 or 150, just pick an arbitrary number, and it’ll keep your review counts more manageable.


You’re absolutely right, don’t compare yourself to other people - especially the 1-year L60 freaks! I’m finding WK very difficult, my memory is definitely worse than average and when even a couple of busy-with-life days result in 400 reviews at 60% I’m living in fear of what happens if I do have to stop for a while.

I tried resetting back a couple of levels and I’m not sure it helped much. I think if I get in trouble again what I’ll do is use a reordering script to do give me high-SRS items first, i.e. E->M->G->A. It would prioritise stuff I’m more likely to actually know rather than force me to do apprentice items over and over again until the rest of the queue is manageable. Then I could make a real dent in the reviews over 2-3 days.

You haven’t given up! Based on the stats I’ve seen that makes you better than average, even though it doesn’t feel like it… This is super difficult, and you’re doing well. Will I ever make L18? Who knows!


I can definitely relate to this! Don’t feel discouraged because you can get back on track for sure! I have had my account since 2014 and still haven’t completed WaniKani. The main reason is once I reached my current level life just got super busy, my Japanese was pretty good so I didn’t feel as pressured to study, and the reviews piled up. I actually just last week made up my mind to come back after being away for years and follow through with making it to the end! The new inspiration came from a desire to be better at Japanese, desire to pass the JLPT N2 (as that is typically min accepted requirement to work in Japan), and because after taking such a long break I started to miss studying/the community/etc.

This last week was rough because I had over 1,000 reviews and was missing so many of the kanji similar to your experience. But after pushing through with some music I finally got reviews down to 0 and am back on track with a normal amount of reviews. At first it’s hard to keep messing up kanji, but after a while you’ll probably get it since you used to know it! That happened for me, and then actually made the reviews fun because once I remembered them I was getting 90% or more right rather than 50%.

I highly recommend just going for it! It’s a challenge, but it can be fun! And once you’re through the initial 800 it makes the rest easier to do. Most importantly, it’s 100% possible to do! Best of luck in your studies, and hopefully both of us can get back on track to successfully completing WaniKani!!

Edit: I don’t recommend catching up on your lessons until you’re at a manageable review pace.


i agree with the other answers.
also, I’ve done 10 levels in 14 months :laughing:


It’s okay!! I feel the same way, I’ve had Wanikani for 2-3 years and still only on level 21. In the past 2 months I’ve only gone up 2 levels. At this point in my life I feel constantly too tired at the end of the day to review kanji and it ends up piling up on me… my only option is to review at work, which isn’t the greatest either.

That and the fact that people are able to level every ~10 days or so, makes my ~21+ day interval seem like a joke xD But learning isn’t a race unless you want it to be, and the only one who understands how we learn best is us. I’m okay with limiting my lessons and reviews to very low numbers if it means I can do a little everyday. No zero days!! 5 lessons, as many reviews as you feel like a day.

Great things have humble beginnings! Let’s do our best. :blush:


First things first, recognize that shame is a feeling we put on ourselves, and usually runs deeper than just the problem we’re facing in the moment (ie kanji learning). Honestly, try talking to friends/family/a counselor/therapist irl about these feelings. There is nothing wrong with being on the “unbelievably slow” train to level 60, and I feel confident saying this with a 2+ year old account at the halfway mark. However, if you explore these feelings a little and find that your see yourself as inadequate as a learner or as a person, struggling to finish WaniKani is a symptom, not the problem itself.


fwiw, if you were only learning kanji from Genki in a Japanese class rather than taking the initiative to learn kanji on your own, and it took ~2 years to complete Genki I+II in college courses, you’d only know 317 kanji.

So you’re doing way better than you think? :>


I’m one of those freaks, or I will be, since I will only finish in mid-September. But yes, I’m going full speed with a steady rhythm. The key is finding your rhythm, not necessarily full speed, but constant, and never slack off, not even for a day.

That’s what I managed to do so far, and unless some major life changing event happens in the next couple of months, I will be finished with less than one year since I started.

To the OP. Just try to find your pace and stick to it. If you really need to take a few days off because it’s getting overwhelming, it’s best to activate the vacation mode, which prevents reviews from piling up.


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I’ve had setbacks where life just takes over and you end up taking 120 days to finish just one level, it happens. Best I did to get back on track was stop lessons, focus on reviews until it reaches 0, and set a minimum goal every day (something attainable so you can’t excuse yourself out of not doing it).

Honestly, learning Japanese is a personal objective. I feel like I’ve said that a million times now, but it’s not a race or a competition, even if it’s really tempting to get into that mindset.


But you’re still here and still trying! You’ve not packed up and gone home, that’s what counts.

Others will be able to advise better than I on the WK front but, don’t undersell or brush over the fact that as difficult as you’re finding it, you’re still here, that alone is an achievement. :slight_smile:


The way I think of it:

Native speakers spend 10 years learning Kanji, studying every day, in an immersive environment. It’s really okay to need more than a year to learn 2000 characters.


i am wanikani elder at this point, if i remember correctly, i was almost from the very beginning.
I even had beta test code.

In the course of these years, i dropped out from wanikani for various reasons several times.

What i felt during these events? To be honest, i don’t remember, i am just here at 53 level. 53 level for awhile, actually, just trying clear out long overdue guru items down to 100 or something before level up.

Unfortunaly never had experience of managing 800 reviews a day. I had maybe 300 a day maybe even 500 at worst, but i don’t think i ever had 800 if only one or two time during my wanikani career.

Can’t speak about it from standpoint of reseting levels or wanikani various mods(which maybe can offer optimal solution, i think). Never did that.

in any case, if reset level and mods didn’t exists…

I guess good strategy would be slowly making these reviews, rereading mnemonics and comeback on the track.
Not necessarily 800 a day, but maybe 300 or something.

Obviously lesson better be ignored for awhile.


If it is any comfort I made this account a little longer than a year ago and I am only level 11.


Perseverance is the key, not speed. And you have the perseverance to do this! Maybe you take a day off, a week off, a whole year off due to laziness or whatever, but if you keep coming back and keep trying then you’ve got this.

There’s always gonna be someone better, faster, smarter than you, but then, there’s always someone better, faster and smarter than the great, fast and smart people, and of those people too, and at some point in this cycle you’ll be better, faster and smarter than the people who are better, faster and smarter than you, it’s all a big circle (Okay that’s kinda convoluted but I’m not very good at being motivational :smile:).

BUT just go at your pace, your pace is the best pace for you, it’s only a failure if you completely give up and never try again. Even then, if you do, it’s not a failure because you’ve reached level 18, many people haven’t.

And besides, if you get to level 60 in a year, what are you going to do after that? It’ll just be a blank void of not being able to serve the Crabigator anymore. The longer the journey the more you’ll have to look back on and see how far you’ve come.

So you know, keep going, you’ve got this! :+1:


Don’t feel down. I think I saw statistics that showed most people that started WK dropped out well before the end. You are still here after two years and level 18 isn’t too shabby (that was three levels higher than I managed before going to Japan last year and even at level 15 I could understand something).

As others have said, stop lessons and just focus on reviews.

My approach is to get up really early and get my reviews out of the way first thing. I try to clear any new reviews as they come in during the day but it is the thirty to forty minutes in the morning that clears most of my reviews.


Like many have already said, there is no need to be embarrassed. :slightly_smiling_face: I’ve had my account since 2013 and here I am at level 42. Actually, I’ve been here for over a year, since I noticed that focusing only on WaniKani is counterproductive. I knew some ridiculously specific vocabulary but struggled with making and understanding simple sentences.

So last year I decided to put WK on hold until I finish iKnow. Until that point I had done both WK and iKnow simultaneously, but it was becoming obvious that iKnow was much more useful at my level. So now I am finishing the 5K deck and starting 6K pretty soon and finishing it sometimes next year most likely.

I want to emphasize that I have been on the same level in WaniKani for over a year. My Japanese has not been on the same level, instead it has sky-rocketed. I feel I have pretty good chances at taking N2 this December. Last year could I’ve passed N3? Maybe, maybe not. (Another resource I want to credit for this is Bunpro. It has suited my style of learning grammar very well.)

What has surprised me is that the better my Japanese has become, the less time I spend learning kanji. I think Leebo said it very well in a different topic (emphasis mine):

I’ve noticed that learning the word first and its kanji then is better than the other way around. My copy of コンビニ人間 came a short while ago, but I’m actually thinking of listening the audiobook first and reading the paperback after that.

So my point is that you can be very busy with learning Japanese even without leveling up in WaniKani and that, actually, if you focused only on leveling up, you’d be doing yourself a disfavor. I recommend using also resources with longer sentences (iKnow) and grammar (Bunpro), as well as textbooks (the Genki books and Tobira are mighty fine in my opinion) and listening material (almost 300 long and excellent podcast episodes here).

So take it easy and remember that there is no correct rhythm except your rhythm. You can do this. :+1:


Just wanted to say I’m slow to and you’re not alone!


Two years, 43,961 reviews, and I’m on level 10.
I had to re-set from level 14 to level 6 a while back as I was in the same boat as you.
But it’s not a race. So long as you study everyday, you’ll be fine.
How old are you? Whatever your age, you have the rest of your life to learn this stuff, and even then, you don’t have to be 100% perfect!
So there’s no hurry, and no need for perfection!