Forgetting Vocabs

Hi guys,

Recently I just leveled up to level 21. However, I realized that I started to miss WK vocabs especially the one that I mastered or Guru II. I feel daunted as the vocabs begin to pile up my review and become apprentices once again.

I tried to keep the apprentice items below 100 to prevent myself from burning out, but now it seems that the vocabs keeping me from learning new items (instead of apprenticing new initiates, old vocab leveled down to apprentice again :sob::sob::sob:).

I already registered for N3 this December and I’ll feel safe if I manage to reach level 26~30 by then. But now I’m worried that I don’t have enough time for that (I also read that level 21 is the hardest level). Anyway, level 26 should be enough for N3 right? (of course I also learning grammar and vocabs from other sources too)

I just need some motivation to keep going :persevere:. Should I ignore WK vocabs for the time being?

This pretty normal. 21 was pretty tough. You will forget and relearn. I am in this situation. Yesterday I sent like 20 gurus back to apprentice which is kind rough when I am doing 50 max apprentice.

The days you don’t add new lessons you can study the leeches or some other topic. I wouldn’t skip the vocab or worry about your wk level. I personally would not power level wk for the jlpt.

I dont know where your are in your jlpt studies but there are many other parts like listening, reading and many vocabs not on wk. Have you learned lots of extra vocabs from the 1 to 21 kanji? You will find those when you read.

Anyways good luck from a fellow learner in leech hell!


Yup, I’d say so myself, pretty normal, specially if one is not using what they memorized within an SRS. The actual value comes not from becoming pro in WK but rather becoming pro in reading. As an example, I have vocabularies that I always remeber when doing reviews in WK and, at the same time, I always forget when reading and vice versa. The more I read, the more I realize the higher value this one activity has over spending countless hours in any SRS.

My tip is: read! read a lot! You’ll encounter words within context and then start to realize some nuances that no SRS can teach you. And the reading itself will become a natural SRS until the words are part of your vocabulary.


This is perfectly normal. You’re likely starting to experience interference from previously learnt items, making it easier to confuse kanji, meaning, vocab etc as they pile up with the new lessons. And just forget stuff, for sure.

You might wanna slow down a notch with lessons, and find a new balance for your routine, one that is aware of that you will have a steady trail of items that are moving the other direction here, back to Apprentice. :eyes:

You just need some more repetitions, to get them back to Guru and beyond. :slight_smile:

You can do it! Ganbatte!


While this is very true and reading is really how you lock in the things you’ve learned in WK, I found as I powered through to 60 in a year and 9 months or however fast it was, I often only (barely!) had enough time for my hundreds of reviews every day. The prospect of picking up a book in Japanese after spending sometimes hours on my reviews was just too much some days!

So I was a lot like the OP - I put so much of my Japanese time into just WK, and I would often miss a lot of guru or higher reviews and add them right back to the pile. I had easily 250 apprentice items sometimes, lol. I don’t know if I really have a “moral” to the story here, I just wanted to say that if you’re super focused on WK and don’t read a whole lot, expect to miss plenty of guru and higher reviews, and that’s okay. You’ll still eventually finish, and now reading is SO much easier for me than it was even at level 30-40!


My experience is that eventually readings become more memorable with enough effort, but meanings are just difficult without comprehensible input. So, indeed, not only amount, but also grammar and comprehension are needed.

Readings might be helped by listening with running along text, like JP sub or visual novel style. Furigana may work too.

Meanings need grammar, in preparation for rarer vocabulary-in-sentence input.


WK is not the way to get ready for the JLPT. just get some JLPT focused material, Anki decks, books, etc and just those. WK can be nice supplement but don’t sacrifice your score for WK.

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I am at the moment level 12 and I know very well what you mean. I have the exact same problem.
There are mnemonics for memorizing words and their pronunciation, every time I make a mistake I read the mnemonic to the vocab. It is improtant to revise mnemonics, I also use extra study.
I wanted to stop at level 10 so I memorise every word in WK, it costs time and is not that effective.
I wish you good luck :pray:

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I am curious what else you are doing to study Japanese?

WK is built for one purpose - and really only one purpose - help with recognition of kanji. It is great for this! It will not teach you Japanese, though.

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Honestly, I’d cut your WaniKani time down if you wanna prepare for the JLPT. I’d maybe go apprentice 75 or apprentice 50. Focus on other N3 materials, and they will likely be using kanji constantly that you need to review anyway and introduce you to new kanji via exposure. I think I took and passed the N3 when I was around level 25 (back in 2019, wow.) The biggest things that helped me pass were vocab reviews (not kanji via wanikani, but external) and working (rather last minute) through the shinkanzen N3 grammar book.


Yes, kanji wise, no doubt wk really helps me. When I found new vocab with kanji on wk, i can search for the meaning through reading that i learned. The only problem is wk vocabs lol. Since some of thems rarely can be encountered especially for n4-n3 materials.

Got your point! Do you have any reading materials that you could suggest?

TBH, i do use other materials to study japanese too.

For grammar from n5-n4, i use Minna no Nihongo. Of course i memorize vocabs from there too. Now for n3, i am using Quartet 1.

For listening, i usually watch japanese vlog from youtube. For speaking, i occasionally join voiceroom in hellotalk. Reading, i just use todai news app. Reading materials in Quartet are fun too.

However, I am not really consistent for each of those. If you have any other tips/material that you could recommend for me, i am more than grateful!

I am sorry if my reply sounded harsh. I realized it might have and I did not mean for that. To learn a language, you need to be able speak, read and write. The foundation building blocks for all of this are grammar and vocabulary. If you have managed to get to the N3 level, you must have found something that works for you. I would say that at the N5/N4 level - the main focus should be on the building blocks of grammar and vocabulary. People here might disagree with me but Japanese is my 4th language - and with my 2nd (Russian) and 3rd (Spanish), I found that until there was a good foundation, it was really challenging to do much toward the speaking/reading/writing except at a very basic level. Now I am an advanced speaker of both, and I have a very different learning plan for those languages than for Japanese. I can “consume native content” in those languages and at this point am mostly just reviewing grammar as needed and continuing to build my vocabulary (a lifelong process! which is true in my first language too!). It looks like you are at that transition phase where you are ready to start with speaking/reading/writing. Japanese has it’s own layer of challenge - which is kanji.

I set goals for my self - both long term (this year, this quarter) and short term (this month, this week, today). You are ahead of me. I am not quite ready to read yet (apart from graded readers - which I am doing). I am working through Genki which I really like because it covers those core areas well (except for speaking). I set a pace and do specific tasks most days. I also have kanji (WaniKani), vocabulary (KitSun) and grammar (BunPro) SRS programs for flashcards. I am taking an online class from a university in Tokyo - and they have their own textbook, but this helps keep me motivated and on pace.

As for advice - it looks like you have identified a good set of materials to use. It sounds like you just need to work on setting a schedule for using thing, just like you were taking a real class. For Quartet, check out Tokini Andy - he has a lot of content to guide you through both Genki and Quartet. I have found there is actually an overwhelming amount of options out there and unless you focus on something, it can be counterproductive.

Tokini Andy

Good luck with your studies! がんばって!