Embarrassed Because of Slow Progress

Took me 6 years and a half to go from level 1 to 60 (I joined back in August 2012). You’re doing ok.
(Still, I hope others’ advice will help you find a balance and make the process more enjoyable)


Don’t compare to others because, first of all, you don’t know them :smiley:
For example, I’ve studied Japanese five years on university so this site is more like a review for me. It’s hard to compete with that sort of guy, don’t you think? That’s why you should do it in your own pace. If this pace is not satisfying you then please improve it! But I don’t think that you should be looking on other people :slight_smile: (well, maybe you should but only if it has merit :D)




I kind of ignored lessons on level 4 after I had unlocked all the kanji. That was a mistake, a big mistake. When I hit level 5, level 4 vocabulary kicked my ass. I’ve spent the last 5 days just trying to keep my apprentice numbers manageable as my review items cycle between guru and apprentice. I think wanikani kind of sets unreasonable expectations in their initial marketing literature and then people think if they aren’t on pace to get to 60 in 12 to 18 months there must be something wrong with themselves.

I’ve now taken the approach of a max of 75 apprentice items. And no more than 10 lessons a day, and only when I’m below that 75 threshold. But no deferring of lessons in attempts to level faster.

And most importantly, I give myself permission to have those 50% correct review sessions. It’s gonna happen. And I try to pay less attention to overall percentages on wkstats.

People talk in the forums all the time about how they level up in 7 to 12 days. This sets, IMHO, unreasonable expectations. It would be useful to mine the data to see what the average level up time over all accounts is. I’m pretty sure that you’d find you are right there struggling along with the rest of us. Keep at it. As others have said, it’s a journey, not a race. Enjoy the scenery.


About those 800 reviews, for 2 weeks I’ve been on 400 myself, I’m around 130 now

My advice is, if you don’t reset, to do a batch of 30 each time. Try one in the morning, one in the evening. Then increase, the goal is to try 100 reviews per day

In weeks you can make it to 0!


Hey, you’re doing great, keep at it.

I started (properly) in Jan 2018 and I’m 36% through lvl 20 right now. If I level up in under 21 days that’s a big win for me.

It took me a while to get in my stride, but the key things that have helped me get this far are:

Set a schedule - I do 9 lessons every morning then my reviews. I then do my reviews again at night. I have set recurring reminders on my phone for 7am and 7pm every day so I don’t forget.
Consider changing your lesson batch sizes - 5 at a time was too many for my brain to process; I changed it to 3 and I have a lot better retention rate now.
Vacation mode is your friend - if I know that I cannot do lessons or reviews because I’m travelling, or I know I have a client deadline, just hit Vacay Mode for 24 hours and it helps stop the reviews form piling up.
Keep going - I went through a bad patch last year and it took me 80 DAYS to get through level 12, but I kept going
Keep checking your progress - find something fairly simple you want to read and check in every month or two and see how much you understand; you’ll surprise yourself.

Sure, you’ll forget some kanji (I missed the opportunity to burn 百 the other day!!) but don’t dwell on those - think of all the other progress you are making.

Like I said, you’re doing great, keep at it!


Honestly, going fast is a big commitment. I started at a pace of 1 level in two weeks up to about lvl. 15. And by then I was comfortable with the app and srs intervals so I was able to restructure my lessons and reviews to reduce the level-up time to just below 9 days. But keep in mind:

  • I enjoy doing reviews in general;
  • Even when I don’t feel like doing reviews I still stick to my review schedule;
  • My work hours are reasonably flexible and there’s no overtime;
  • I set myself a reasonable goal of reaching lvl. 30 by the end of summer.

I can tell you that even if I’m a few levels off from the goal by the end of the period I will still be proud of myself because I absolutely did my best.

@Tsumio I recommend spending some time on thinking why you’re learing kanji. Figure this out and be honest with yourself. If your reason isn’t really strongly connected to your goals in life then you might as well find a different hobby. Learning Japanese requires a huge time investment. If you just think it’s cool if you spoke Japanese but you don’t plan to use it much… you could find a better use for your time.

If you feel that your learning reason is strong then think why you have no motivation. Do you want to be able to read Japanese? Start reading stuff. Feel the pain of only recognizing a few kanji on a page. Come back after leveling up a few times. See how you can understand much more! This is what motivates me the most. I feel the real progress. Just remember to study grammar and vocab outside of WK :wink:

But even if you find the motivation other stuff going on in your life might prevent you from doing WK on a best schedule possible. If that’s the case, just try to make the best out of the situation.

So, when comparing yourself to others keep in mind that there’s so much you don’t know about their life. It’s best to compare your current results to your ideal results. Can you realistically do better? Yes? Then go for it!


Yep. And once the big review back log is cleared, all new reviews become enjoyable and not a burden.
A week ago I was at 800 or so but I have been clearing them. I was stuck on level 7 for two years but it’s because I didn’t use the site regularly, hopefully I can get progress going again.



I’ve been here for 5+ years. I think I played through the first three free levels, and stopped using this site for a while because it wasn’t really very useful for me then and I was busy with life (working a million jobs, going to college full-time, moving several times, etc. etc.)

My friends always suggested to buy the lifetime, so I could just log on whenever I wanted and continue studying kanji but I just never wanted to spend the money on it, because I knew I didn’t have the time.

Fast forward to last Christmas when I finally decided I wanted to try again and start working hard to use as many kanji. As I am living in Japan now, it is really useful for me to continue my studies, wanikani being one of the most lovely communities I have joined for learning Japanese.

Anyways, sadly I didn’t use vacation mode or any scripts or the like, so my numbers are not even worth anything anymore, but I never was really about the race to begin with. Though I absolutely wish I could handle the pace and cramming it takes to get there quickly, I’d much rather go at my own pace, whenever I have time to spend on it. I watch TV, movies, and study in other ways, so I don’t always focus on here, but I don’t let it get too high.

If it does, I cut the piles down as much as I can before I start messing up a bunch, step away, then come back when I’ve had a reasonable break (eat/drink something, read something in English or listen to some music). Then I tackle the rest as far as I can go.

Do whatever you need to succeed, but try not to become discouraged!! Japanese is lovely, but it is also very challenging so you should feel comfortable at each step of the way. Hurdles are just that +1 to get you higher :slight_smile:

Keep up the good work and reach out to us anytime you need! <3 I look forward to seeing our levels grow together!!


Remember that some people who finish in a year may already have some/a lot of Japanese experience to help them progress faster. I studied Japanese in school for 3 years and that has helped me tremendously with progressing despite my less than perfect consistency!
When I wake up in the morning with 80 or 100 reviews to do I just decide that I’ll do at least 10 when I have a bit of free time. Before I know it all of the reviews are done!

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Keep your chin up. Most people’s journeys are different. That doesn’t mean some are more “correct” than others. My anniversary is next month and I’m still in the teens, but I’m still determined to keep going. You can make it—really most people can. One just has to stay on the road.


You’re doing fine, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others! The other thing to think about, I am certain you can recognize more kanji and vocab now than when you first started. That in itself is progress, and something to be proud of. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to you. You know this much today, and tomorrow you’ll know just a bit more, or can recall one more thing that much faster.

Even if you’re only learning a couple things a day, or can only review a couple kanji/vocab a day…it is progress! The only measure that matters is if you feel like you’re learning something.

You may want to consider resetting to a lower level, just so you can focus on (re)learning stuff without that big number staring you in the face. Then keep your reviews to bite size chunks.

If it takes you two weeks (or more or less) to level up, then that’s how long it takes, but at least when you do, you’ll feel more confident about what you’ve learned. Big numbers and fast progress might look good, and heck, might even feel nice, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t actually know and understand the material.

As others have said, consider why you’re learning all of this. If you don’t have a truly meaningful (to you) goal, this will become a chore, and feel like “work”. Learning a language shouldn’t feel like it’s a bother, you want to want to learn it. Otherwise, you’re fighting not only learning something new, unfamiliar, and challenging; you’re fighting yourself, and that’s just wasted energy.

I myself have had to come to terms with some of this in the past couple of weeks. I was breezing through a weekly level up, but am currently digging myself out of a 300+ lesson pile, and am struggling to keep my reviews at 0 (heck, keeping it under 100 has been painful). But I have my goal (wanting to talk to my friends next year when I head back to Japan) to keep me on the ball (and the amusing level up emails certainly don’t hurt either).

There’s more to language learning than blasting through here on WaniKani, as others have said, check other other aspects of the language (grammar, making sentences, practicing speaking and listening). Try reading NHK Easy News or some other easy materials, or listen to podcasts in Japanese. Even if you don’t fully understand it, you might be surprised what you can pluck out.

You’ll get there, and I am sure many folks here will be more than happy to help.

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Wanna share my story here too.

This is my progress from wkstats.com


Started WaniKani a few years ago. You can see a 2-year gap at LV2. That was when I decided to subscribe to WaniKani.

Then I diligently progress until LV11, then I didn’t continue for 2 years (burning that money). One day I decided to finish off the 2000 reviews but right after that I didn’t come back for almost a year (LV 12).

LV 13 was when I decided to buy WaniKani lifetime because I know it’s gonna take me years to reach LV 60. This was last year. I planned to reach LV 20 by the end of the year, but as you can see, I took a break for almost a year again at LV 16.

This year, my New Year Resolution is to relearn Japanese. One of the goals is to get from LV 17 (beginning of the year) to LV 20. It’s only 3 levels, so I know it’s totally achievable. Having an achievable goal is a big motivation to keep moving.

Then I became obsessed with leveling up and started cheating. I used the sorting extension to show the highest level kanji first, so I can quickly get the kanji to Guru and level up.

One day I took a one-week vacation and when I came back, there were 1000 reviews waiting for me. Having 1000 reviews seems like a big hurdle. It feels like it’ll never end. I procrastinated, and the reviews piled up to 2000 ._.

And I realized that although I’m LV 32, I totally forgot all the kanji from LV 27 onwards.

This is where the sorting extension became helpful. I decided to take things slower and to do it more properly (I’ve reached my New Year resolution anyway). I sort the the reviews so it will show the lowest levels first. After reviewing 50 words or so, I would stop. The next day, because it’s sorted by level, it will show me things I reviewed yesterday instead of showing me randomized new words.

I would do 50 reviews everyday before I go to bed and in the morning right after I wake up. Making this into a habit is important. Because of the one-week holiday, it was very hard to get back into the rhythm and in the end it took another 3 weeks to start the habit again.

I also realized that because WaniKani is using SRS system, the system will test you when you are about to forget. Hence, the best time to review is when the word is just ready to be reviewed. One or two days longer than that, you would forget about it and you would get it wrong (and it will demotivate you). Reviewing often is the key.

Having too many reviews may be daunting, but please persevere. Only after I reached LV 30, I get to recognize a lot of things when I watch a Japanese show or when I read a Japanese book. It finally feels worth it.


I hope you have not given up. I’ve had to reset my account twice to the beginning. I feel like I’m learning the first 20 levels really well! Go at your personal speed. We’re not doing this to win, but to learn. Let yourself enjoy the learning and let go of the rest.

Something I do: only unlock 10 a day, no matter how many unlocks I have. :smiley:


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