I personally feel like, at the earlier levels, your comprehension of the Japanese language is not really strong enough to reliably formulate an understanding of what it is you’re trying to understand ergo your memory for new vocab is going to be awful because your brain has no new context for the things it is learning.
I really wish there was a way to rectify this because WK has an issue with new user retention, but it seems more endemic to the learning process than to WK itself. But I guess the most important advice is to not be afraid to fail when learning something new, because you will!
Just a little perspective for my journey I started 2 years ago, a little bit of a shotgun approach started with JFZ textbook, really enjoyed it but burnt out trying to make my own Anki vocab cards. I tried consuming lots of native material in audio format whilst working, got a feel for the accent, didn’t really enjoy it or understand a lot. Took the textbook up a month later, sans Anki, got the kanji section and realized this guy sucked at teaching Kanji, and I wasn’t enjoying the 5+ pages of questions each chapter looked for a new resource, found Wanikani.
I dedicated all my time to WK for about 8+ months, found a nice community, but my grammar studies plummeted, so did my comprehension of what I was really trying to achieve. I decided to take up Bunpro, got stuck in and around the N5 levels for over half a year. Got to level 25 or so and realsied despite all that knowledge, my retention was horrible, nothing made sense and I grimaced everytime I saw a Japanese sentence. This wasn’t what I wanted after 1.5 years of studying
Reset and decided to focus on Bunpro as the main focus. Doing a few lessons a day my understanding of grammatical patterns and context began to increase. I took up Kitsun for vocab SRS and abandoned Anki, opting for premade decks over my own, and my WK reviews are near enough 99% correct most of the time. Now my retention for NEW vocab has also improved, and I am also constructing simple sentences with the grammar and vocab I do know. Even if I don’t use them, it can sometimes be cool just to go to a restaurant, and try to order in Japanese in your head, use google translate and check your work.
So looking back, a few things I’d probably like to have told myself
- It’s okay to make mistakes
- It’s okay to try different ways to learn
- It’s okay to take it slow. It’s a marathon not a race.
- Learning a language is not just a memory game. You need to build an understanding in context of what you are trying to achieve (think how you don’t really think how to speak in your native language, you need to build a ‘Japanese brain/mindset’ and nurture it.)
I’m glad to hear you’re not feeling discouraged! Take it slow, at your own pace, try new ways and listen to yourself when you feel you’re not understanding and need to go back and review/reset! And most importantly, learn, think and apply in context!