From 落第(Zero) To 英雄(Hero) - The WaniKani Level 60 Journey eBook

落第: Failure/Falling Short Of The Standard(The answer to this is below)
英雄: Hero/Great Person

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 20.55.35

このデュエル金色のバッジはもらった!(This duel gold badge is mine!)

Table Of Contents

Introduction
Graph Explanation
Hall Of Fame
Scripts
Advice For Beginners
My Current Japanese Routine
A Small Gift For Anki Users
A Letter To Koichi
Road To Fluency
Conclusion
Download Link
Speaking Audio Samples
Extra

Introduction

Reading this is a must. It might change your life…no kidding. You won’t like everything I am going to say but if you read the whole thing seriously I am sure you will benefit from it more than you think. I am not here to create any drama, I am just here to share MY OWN WAY of doing things. I set VERY HIGH standards in everything that I do. You won’t agree with me on everything and that’s fine. Just know that I am a person that ALWAYS speaks from experience. I don’t care about studies or anything like that. If I don’t see it with my own eyes, I don’t believe it. It’s that simple. Take what works for you and forget about everything else I’ve said, end of the story. There is no ABSOLUTE method.

A quick disclaimer here. If you don’t like hearing things you don’t agree with, I highly recommend you stop reading here. This is a celebration post where I don’t want to waste my time debating with others. That being said, I won’t fake myself just to please everyone. No need for bloodshed here. If you want to discuss no problem, but if you want to fight, send me an email and let’s do it elsewhere. I want new WaniKani users to use this as a reference, guide, or whatever you want to call it, not as a place to talk about which Japanese method is the best one. Please keep that in mind.

Now, order your kid to go to sleep, tell your neighbor to stop the noise, ask your wife to travel for a while, and close that Facebook tab you have on the side. This is the post you have been waiting for(who am I kidding, I am the only one excited about this…). 阿呆ですね・・・(I am stupid…).

In other words, this is gonna be VERY long so if you don’t have popcorn at home you might have to gather all the courage that you have left to face Mr. Coronavirus and get the almighty corn. If you are still alive, I think it’s time we start. 始めようぜ, 藍染(Let’s start, Aizen). Oh shit, wrong place…

Special Message: You can download the whole post(link down below) and read it like an ebook if you want. I also added audio files of me repeating anime lines(to justify what I said about the importance of input). This post will also make you practice some Japanese. I hope your Kanji game is on point!

Graph Explanation

Before I say anything, I need to share the magical screenshot so there you go:


So it took me around 22 months to reach level 60. It’s also the period that represents how long I’ve been studying Japanese. I didn’t go at full speed because I didn’t want to…or so I thought. I am the kind of person who prioritizes consistency over intensity. That being said, I don’t like to use that as an excuse to half-ass things. When I start something, I usually finish it.

My goal was to use WaniKani once a day and level up every 14 days but I quickly realized that it’ll take me forever to get the basic 2000 Kanji so I enabled the スーパーサイヤ人(super saiyan) mode and I started to get faster and faster every “few” levels.

You can see how smooth the speed increase was on the graph. When I didn’t feel like using WaniKani, I just didn’t do it…to avoid burning out. That’s why you can see some random spikes here and there. I am sure many people went too fast then realized that they either burned out and gave up or piled up the reviews like crazy and couldn’t deal with them. Learning more about how your brain works will make achieving any goal a piece of cake.

In the slow 10 levels period(level 8-18) I slowed down a lot because I started writing a personal development book which was my major focus back then. I think that’s also when I started re-playing ポケットモンスター(Pokemon) games in Japanese. On a side note, I started learning grammar when I was level 30 so I think you can guess how much fun I had while playing these games…

I will never forget how I was stuck for like 3 hours in the first village. I wanted to understand all the dialogues but the only thing that I understood was that I was garbage and that I needed to step up my game. After finishing all the Pokemon games in Japanese, I am proud to say that now I can read the dialogues fast enough so that I can get at least 1 or 2 badges during those 3 hours. Now, every time I see a sentence I am like 一瞬で、終わらせてやる(I will end it in a moment). I know, Pokemon games are easy so it’s not a real achievement. I am currently playing Yu-Gi-Oh on Switch and I can feel the difference(I have to thank the Furigana God though).

You might be wondering about that level 1. 267 days? What? Yes. Yes. I know, yes. In that period I just checked WaniKani and my mindset was just awful. If you want to know more about my story, you can go to the post below:

https://community.wanikani.com/t/a-small-gift-to-wanikani-thank-you/42334

Hall Of Fame

I can’t make my final post without mentioning all the special posts that I have on WaniKani. If you don’t know who I am…お前はもう死んでいる(you are already dead). I meant, you still have a chance to redeem yourself. Here is the hall of fame.

The Longest Post On WaniKani(65K characters) And My Biggest Japanese Project So Far(Pokemon):

Another Translation Project(Yu-Gi-Oh):

My Favorite Anime Moment(Yu-Gi-Oh):

And The Last One(Dragon Quest):

The Post That Performed The Best(836 Votes):

BONUS

Motivational Post:

https://community.wanikani.com/t/the-coronavirus-is-the-best-chance-you-ever-had/42599

Duolingo Sucks, Yes I Used It:

Fun Fact For Olympians

If You Are Looking For Koichi, He Is Here:

https://community.wanikani.com/t/i-found-the-real-koichi/32245

I Told People That I Would Rule The World But No One Believed Me:

https://community.wanikani.com/t/i-am-level-2game-over/31965

My First Post As A Big Noob:

Do we even learn japanese with Wanikani?

Scripts

What? What script? I don’t understand…you mean Javascript? Or the script version of Java?

Joke aside, I am actually the opposite of everyone else when it comes to scripts. I only used 3 of them at different stages.

  • Ignore Script: I think I discovered this one when I was around level 20. I can’t thank the guy who made this enough. If you are here give me your number and I will send nudes. Don’t ask why, just take them.
  • Ultimate Timeline: I started to use this when I was level 30-40 I think and it’s a game changer. Instead of trying to guess when I will get the next reviews I can see exactly when I will have them. That way, I can adapt my daily schedule to WaniKani and make sure that I can level up at a decent pace.
  • Re-order Script: I used this in the last levels because enough is enough. I got tired of all the useless vocabulary that I didn’t care about(I am looking at you “inner moat” 内堀). I wish WaniKani implemented a feature that allows you to ignore/archive the words you don’t care about like Torii. I feel like the real problem with WaniKani is that it’s not adapted to intermediate people. I get the beginner phase where it’s like “Shut up, you suck. Trust the process and you’ll get results” but when you reach an intermediate level where you can configure things for your own needs it starts to be counterproductive. Even if you know the words, you have to review them. In other words, once you start WaniKani, you have to go until the end even if you don’t like it. Going from level 1 to level 30 was great. However, the second part was pure hell(especially 40-60). Sometimes, I think that I should have switched to Anki at that point.

Okay here is what I hate with WaniKani: The fact that they don’t implement any of the scripts, not even the basic ones. I mean, the reason why someone would pick WaniKani over Anki is the customization. Anki is more optimal if configured properly but not everyone wants to spend all that time on it. In my opinion, WaniKani’s biggest strength is the fact that it does all the hard work for you. All you have to do is to show up. However, as a new user, you still have to look for all the scripts and do a lot of work. I don’t really care because I am already 60 but imagine the new guy who is low level and who gets angry to drag the level up time because he makes some typo. It just gives a bad experience that doesn’t reflect the one that experienced people are having. At least, if they don’t want to add the scripts for X or Y reason, they should notify people of the existence of scripts.

I am not pulling this out of thin air. Like just a few days ago this happened with two level 4 users.

Me: There is a script to ignore wrong typo.
Him(word by word): What is this sorcery you talk about?! I am always getting things wrong because I misspell things!!!
Another person, commenting for the first time: Hey Noursaidana san, Can you please provide link to the script you have mentioned? Seems interesting.

So here is the “ignore script” that I used: https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/23696-wanikani-override

Apparently, it’s not maintained. You better check this one:

Advice For Beginners

Don’t make the JLPT your goal unless you plan to work in Japan. JLPT is just an exam so it doesn’t reflect your real level. I remember very well all those French people that got a higher score than me at the TOEIC but were nowhere near me in terms of speaking(English).

Do you want a paper or do you want fluency? Do what you want, this is just my advice. I never studied for JLPT so I have no idea about what I can do there. However, I did use some samples from the official website. Last time, I checked some N3 samples and I was able to do well. So, I would guess that I am around N2, maybe…actually I don’t really care.

Anyways, your main goal is to consume native material as soon as possible. That’s how you learn the language properly. I never used a textbook to learn English. However, the same can’t be said for Japanese because of how difficult the writing system is.

You have two things to do:

  • Learn As Many Kanji As You Can With An SRS(spaced-repetition-system): “Remembering The Kanji” with Anki is an option but if you are here it’s because you chose WaniKani. Level up to 30 as fast as possible and get around 1000 Kanji under your belt. After that, the world is yours and you can slowly learn the rest. Honestly, you don’t need 2000 Kanji before you start enjoying your favorite video game. The Kanji in high levels aren’t used as often so you won’t need them for a while. I will be the only one who says this here but if you don’t have a lot of time per day use everything on WaniKani. If you have a good Kanji base, learning grammar will be a breeze. Consuming native material will start to be possible as well. If you can’t even “parse” something like この人は学生ですけど、車を持っている(This person has a car even though he is a student) your grammar will be useless. If you have more than 1 hour per day for Japanese then use the extra time on something else. Otherwise, WaniKani, WaniKani and…WaniKani!!!

  • Learn Grammar: Once you have a respectable amount of Kanji under your belt, learn the basic/essential grammar. You can find that in Tae Kim’s guide. That’s really all you need to start diving into native material. The reason why I recommend this one is because of how straightforward it is. It’ll give you everything you need as fast as possible. You don’t need to master grammar, you just need to have an idea on how it works. Heck, I still make grammar mistakes in English, no one cares. If you feel like pushing even more, read the “special expressions” part but skip the “advanced topics” one because it’s completely useless for a beginner. Just to be clear, I am not against studying grammar, I am against studying advanced grammar(N2-N1) because it doesn’t have a good ROI(return on investment).

This means that it’ll take you a couple of months to start consuming your favorite manga. Unfortunately, I have no miracle solution for you. I think this is the fastest way to be fluent in Japanese: “Kanji” then “Grammar” then “Native Material”. The biggest problem with consuming native material will be vocabulary(not grammar) so you can create an Anki deck that contains the new words that you don’t know and grow it as you discover more and more things. Rinse and repeat until fluency. In case it’s still not clear for you, to get more vocabulary, you need more Kanji. If you want to study grammar, you also need Kanji. That’s why the better you are at reading Kanji the easier studying everything else becomes.

The Beginner Trap

There are two phases where you will feel like giving up in Japanese. When you are a beginner and when you are intermediate…funny, right? The intermediate level sucks because you reach a point where you feel like you aren’t improving anymore and you have to brute force everything until someday you feel like you are getting better. That being said, you can consume some native material so it’s not that bad.

However, the beginner phase is the most difficult part, in my opinion. Even if you use my method, things won’t get better for a while. What I mean is that you won’t enjoy learning Japanese for a long time…at least for a couple of months. I really want to tell you to go and play a Pokemon game while knowing 50 Kanji but I can’t. Studying nothing but Kanji for a couple of months is boring. However, if you want to get results quickly this is your best bet. This is where you have to be creative and find enough motivation to keep going. You can start playing with some apps and feel like you are improving but trust me…you won’t. You will spend 1 or 2 years studying Japanese to realize that in the end all you can say is “私はアメリカ人です”(I am American)…looking at you Duolingo.

I used all the Japanese mobile apps that I could get when I was commuting to school/gym/work and I still got a slap in the face when I SKIMMED through Genki I & II. I finished(completely) a couple of apps like LingoDeer and Duolingo(check the bonus section of “hall of fame”) but they are nowhere near as good as textbooks. Most apps are only good for motivation.

Duolingo User: What do you mean? I have a 300 days streak, I am so good…
Me: yeah, yeah…

gives JLPT N5 samples

Duolingo User: “Nani kore? Yamete kudasai. Not Kawaii!”

The only one that was close to Tae Kim’s guide was Human Japanese(which I “kind of” recommend as an extra resource but it’s not free).

The problem with most Japanese learners is that they want to feel the progress. “Hey, I am leveling up”, “Hey, I finished this textbook!” but that’s not the most optimal way to improve. You will just feel better for a short period, check something in Japanese, get knocked out and go back to your resource crying. Above all, there is nothing fun about textbooks whereas if you watch an anime or play a game you like you will feel motivated even if you can understand one word “holy shit, he said てめえ(son of a …)”. Plus, you will be learning real Japanese instead of “textbook” Japanese.

Like, imagine you are with a friend and you see a sports car. Here is a basic example of what would happen.
Textbook guy: This car is magnificent!
Native Material guy: Damn…this car is awesome!

No need to be fancy to be fluent. You need to learn how people are supposed to say things instead of trying to say things in your own way. If you really struggle to find motivation, one thing you can do is to try to master one element of the language. For example, you try to play all the “Dragon Quest” games and understand as much as possible. Once you are familiar with them, you move to another franchise. The fact that you play similar games will make you improve quickly because of all the repetitive words(in a way it’s like you are using an SRS). In other words, you are completing games or animes instead of textbooks or apps. It might be more difficult but it’s also more fun. The reason why I always recommend Pokemon for this is that the games are quite easy so you can make progress even if you don’t understand everything.

There is nothing wrong with having Japanese classes but the pace is way too slow compared to someone who learns on his own. School is NEVER the best way to do things. People don’t become rich because they have a degree or fluent because they have a TOEIC or any other exam sheet. Truth bomb: If you rely on school to do the work for you, you are already starting with the wrong mindset. You have to do the work yourself instead of trying to find a magical solution that will do the work for you. It’s like those people that buy supplements for weight loss because they don’t want to eat healthier. Stop chasing motivation and start chasing results.

There are no fast results. However, there is a difference between 4 years and 10 years. Textbooks won’t make you fluent. The few people that became fluent while using textbooks spent like 10 years on the language and they probably live in Japan. You might not have the opportunity to be in Japan now and I doubt you want to spend 10 years to be fluent. If you use everything that I am telling you here, your level will improve like crazy even within one year whereas other students will still be waiting to finish Genki. I know a lot of people will get triggered by this but we are talking about efficiency here. You can spend 5 years to get JLPT N2 but you will still be extremely far from fluency. Your choice, at least you won’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Side note: If you decide to play Pokemon games, pick games from 3DS onward. The first games don’t have Kanji at all. You will be able to read everything but you won’t understand anything. You also don’t want to use all that time without Kanji.

How To Fix It

I learned this sentence(Yu-Gi-Oh, Accel Synchro) even when I didn’t understand what it means because of how special the moment was for me: 集いし夢の結晶が、新たな進化の扉を開く、光さす道となれ!(Clustering crystal dreams, open the door to a new evolution, become the path its light shines upon!). Another example I can give you is this leech 表(omote/front). I never managed to remember it properly but when I played Yu-Gi-Oh I saw it so many times that I couldn’t forget it anymore. 表側表示(おもて,がわ,ひょう,じ) means “Face-Up”. The same character has two readings in the same word. Crazy!

Don’t try to be a perfectionist during your studies. Everything will fall in place after enough exposure to the real language. In your main language, you probably don’t have complicated characters like Kanji. You have things like ‘a, d, w’ that are very easy. If you pick the word “rator”(doesn’t exist) you won’t care if you don’t understand it. This is different from Kanji. Because you are spending so much time studying them, every time you will consume something in Japanese you will try to translate absolutely everything. This will make you burn out very quickly. Put your ego aside and learn to give up. Being fluent in Japanese means that you understand like 80% of what you read, or at least, you remember all the necessary Kanji for daily conversations. NO ONE knows all the Kanji out there. Look up a Kanji once in a while and it’ll be enough(e.g. one Kanji per manga page or dialogue). If a Kanji REALLY matters you will see it over and over again. If you never see the Kanji again then you can be sure that it doesn’t really matter and you are saving time by ignoring it.

Don’t be scared of jumping into native material early on. It’ll be insanely hard to understand anything at the beginning but if you have a basic foundation and you persevere a little bit you will be surprised by how much progress you will make. Use some textbooks if you want but don’t spend forever on them thinking they will lead you to fluency. I think people tend to overrate grammar.

If it’s lunch break and I look at you and say “eat restaurant” you will connect the dots on your own and understand that I meant “I want to eat at a restaurant” or “We should go to a restaurant”. This means that if you know some words(Kanji) you might be able to understand what’s going on if you have the right context. However, if I say “I want to go to …” then you have no idea and grammar won’t be able to tell you anything. In other words, you shouldn’t be worried about your grammar, you should worry about your vocabulary.

I feel like a lot of people think that by studying for a long period, someday, they will open a book and somehow read everything easily or watch a drama and understand everything. That will never happen. No matter the method that you go with, if you don’t consume native material you will suck with native material, PERIOD. Sorry to break your myth but you need to watch your favorite anime without understanding it before you can understand it(yes, it seems counterproductive).

The biggest problem with native material is that you don’t feel the progress, at least not immediately. If I level up on WaniKani, Duolingo, LingoDeer or any other app I will get a sense of accomplishment very quickly. However, you won’t improve as much/fast as you think. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magical way to convince you that native material will allow you to improve faster. You just have to trust the process. That being said, you can try to “master” one show/game instead of the whole language, as I said previously.

After re-playing all the Pokemon games in Japanese, I don’t have to think at all to know what 伝説(legendary) means with all the legendary Pokemon. Same thing with 相手(opponent, in sports for example) that gets mentioned all the time. I can also use the example of Yu-Gi-Oh with counters. The counter “枚”(mai) for flat objects(e.g. paper) when they say “二枚カードを伏せる”(I put 2 cards face down)、”三枚カードを伏せる” (I put 3 cards face down) or the counter “体”(tai) for humanoid forms when they say “一体を破壊する”(to destroy one monster). Knowing that they say this so many times in every episode you can bet that I don’t even need to focus to understand it. Okay, I think it’s time I talk about speaking.

Speaking

I can’t stress this enough but make sure you do enough active listening(no subs) if you don’t want to have a 外人(foreigner) accent. A lot of people start practicing speaking very early before they even “establish” the different sounds of the language in their head. Therefore, they will use the sounds of their native language and try to adapt them to their target language which results in a thick or weird accent. Most people prioritize reading over listening so much then wonder why their accent feels so strange. In my opinion, you should have a 1:1 ratio between both or prioritize listening a little bit more. You can always google a Kanji you don’t know but when you watch a video or listen to someone speaking you only have your ears to work with(I am exaggerating a bit but you see what I mean). A better grammar won’t translate into a better accent!

Another thing that you need to keep in mind is “pitch accent”. This doesn’t exist in languages like English or French and can heavily influence the way you sound. Personally, I don’t think that studying it will make a huge difference. If you get enough exposure to the language you should be able to have the right pitch accent most of the time. Just know that it exists.

Don’t get me wrong, I AM NOT recommending that you take forever to start speaking. What I am saying is that you should wait a bit before doing it. You might ask “So, when should I start speaking?”. Once you reach a level where you can clearly distinguish the different sounds while watching a show, you are ready for speaking. I heard “sore wo kiku to kare no me kara kagayaki ga kieta but I don’t understand what it means” is what you want.

At this stage, you know that your vocabulary is still weak but you kind of reached a level where you can “replicate” the original sounds. You should have no problems with speaking. The reason why most people ruin their accent by speaking very early is because they don’t wait until they reach the phase that I just mentioned previously. Their reading time far exceeds their listening time. Please, don’t tell me “but…I watch shows…with subtitles”.

Even though passive listening can be useful, it’s nowhere near active listening. With active listening, you have to concentrate as much as possible and your brain will have to “exercise” way more. How many people have JLPT N2 and struggle with listening primarily? Now you know why. Even Japanese subtitles don’t solve the problem as you can’t focus on both reading and listening. Your brain will ALWAYS default to what’s comfortable(looking at subtitles), that’s why it’s so hard to get out of your comfort zone in general. Like imagine being a man and talking to a woman with big boobs and a cleavage. It’s so hard to not look down.

It’s the same problem as using apps where you feel like you are improving while you aren’t(or doing it at a snail’s pace). So keep in mind that using subtitles will make you practice reading more than listening. “But, I don’t understand anything if I don’t have subtitles”, that’s the whole point. Remember this, you gain muscles by pushing weights you were never able to lift before, not by lifting the same weights over and over again.

Also, if you start speaking very early, you will try to speak Japanese while thinking in English and that’s not how you should do it. Asian languages are very different from western ones so you need to adapt to that. Translating word by word is the worst habit you can develop. I don’t think this is as serious as the accent problem but it’s worth mentioning. To make it simple, take your time. If you have built a good foundation you will have no problem improving your speaking skills. Once you have the right sounds in your head, you won’t struggle to “generate” a decent accent because you know how the language is supposed to sound. Your pitch accent probably won’t be perfect but you won’t be far off.

There is a lot of controversy around early output that I wish to resolve in a very simple way. It’s true that you won’t die if you start speaking early but you won’t die if you don’t speak early either. You CAN NOT get good at speaking without speaking…logic. However, waiting until you have the right sounds in your head will generate way better results. If you don’t care about having a “near perfect” accent, this doesn’t concern/apply to you.

It’s extremely hard to fix a bad/thick accent. Some people can do it and some people can’t. So avoid doing it just to be safe. I don’t think you want to sound funny to natives after practicing the language for more than 5 years. If you REALLY can’t wait to speak then I recommend you watch at least 1 or 2 shows completely without subtitles to get an idea about how the language sounds. Fair enough? Okay, let’s move on.

Bonus(About WaniKani)

Don’t expect WaniKani to do everything perfectly for you. If you want to get great results, you need to make sure that the information clicks with you. So if you aren’t satisfied with the default entries, get into the habit of making your own ones.

  • Mnemonics: I didn’t use them. I just power through with repetition and that’s it. Looking back, I kind of regret it. I think it’s really important that you create your own mnemonics to make the Kanji stick. WaniKani doesn’t always have the best mnemonics so don’t be afraid to create your own ones(meaning/reading notes).
  • Synonyms: I started using this after level 30 I think. I was really worshiping “vanilla” WaniKani. However, I struggled with some meanings because English isn’t my first language. I noticed that it was hard to remember something that I don’t even know in English(e.g 菅 sedge). Also, you don’t want to fail your reviews and extend your level up time because you typed “imitation” instead of “imitate”. God bless the guy who made the “ignore script”, once again.
  • Example Sentences: In my opinion, the examples are too difficult for beginners and they are full of unknown Kanji. I doubt WaniKani fixed this but you basically have two options. Either you forget about them or you make your own ones with something like Weblio. For example, for 車(car) you can find something like 車で行く(go by car) which is comprehensible.

My Current Japanese Routine

We can split the language into 5 categories:

  • Reading: Reading a bit of a manga/video game text. I am not a fan of light novels but I might force myself to read a couple of ones someday. I have no problems with watching stuff but I am not too excited about reading(in general, not because it’s Japanese) so video games are a good compromise. Manga are cool though.
  • Grammar: I don’t need to study grammar anymore after finishing Tae Kim’s grammar guide. If there is something that I really don’t understand, I just use my friend Google. You will eventually be able to get an idea about how the grammar is constructed. If you see something like ”いいですわ?” you can guess that it’s a sentence-ending particle so you can type “わ sentence-ending particle” and find what you are looking for. Or if you see できず you can notice that できない can work as well so you can type “negative form ず”. Again, the thing that will hold you back is vocabulary, not grammar.
  • Vocabulary: I use Anki to add new words that I encounter through reading. When I find a new word, I make a card for it(once in a while or I burn out) and add it with its whole sentence. I then translate the specific word in a J-J dictionary like goo and paste one of its definitions(one that I can “kind of” understand) on the second part of the card. So every card is 100% Japanese. 現在、私の単語のレベルは本当に下手くそ!(My current vocabulary level really sucks). When you start, you want to be able to recognize individual Kanji so that your brain can “parse” everything it sees in a sentence. That being said, your final goal is to learn words. You can show me a lot of basic Kanji that I won’t remember 100% but that I will read instantly in a sentence. The thing is having the right context helps a lot to identify the Kanji. For example, 牛 vs 午(difference: the “thorn” at the top). Individually, you can confuse them. However, if the context is related to eating lunch, then it’s the second choice that will probably go with 午後(afternoon, pm). I need to add that the language has a ridiculous amount of exceptions so at some point you just need to learn them. I mean here is a very basic one 美味しい(delicious, tasty). Try to read it with what you learned. You think you know Kanji? Nice try, maybe next time. In a nutshell, start with Kanji then move to vocabulary.
  • Listening: Watch at least one episode of anime/drama without subtitles(I re-watch my favorite shows so that I can understand a little bit more than usual). The goal isn’t to kill all the enjoyment you get during a show but to decrease it. In other words, it’s better to understand 40-50% of what’s going on without subtitles instead of 80%-90% with subtitles. That 40% will eventually move to 70% whereas using subtitles will barely change anything. How many people watched anime for 10 years and the only thing they can understand is something like 馬鹿!(idiot!)?
  • Speaking: Kind of shadowing for the moment/Reading out loud to work on my pronunciation. However, I will start using italki soon at least once a week…maybe.

Monolingual Phase(Bonus): I am starting to change things to Japanese, slowly but surely. My phone and my YouTube app are in Japanese now.

This is how I improved my English(speaking) dramatically. Even though I live in France, I did absolutely everything in English for the last 2 years. The only time I used French was when I went to a store to buy something. I remember one day someone asked me at the gym “Je peux prendre ça?(can I take this?)” and I answered “yes, go ahead”. Hopefully, I can replicate that with Japanese. I also practiced speaking(on my own) for 1 hour every day because I am interested in public speaking. “Oh, so output matters?”, of course! Just do it at the right time as I mentioned before.

A Small Gift For Anki Users

Since I mentioned Anki before I would like to add something here. You know that SRS works since you use WaniKani. And you know that vocabulary is the thing that will hold you back from reaching fluency. This means that using SRS with vocabulary will enhance your Japanese level very quickly. Let’s say that you want to be a software engineer in Japan, you need to know a lot of technical words.

Instead of consuming a bunch of articles about technology and hoping that things will work out, you can track your progress by doing your own deck. Again, it’s all about having fun. Which one is more interesting, learning from sentences related to your favorite character or learning from sentences related to the news? You can always get a pre-made deck but nothing beats making your own deck. You want to get good at Japanese? You need to invest time in it.

You know that SRS is one of the best ways for the brain to retain information so you shouldn’t prevent yourself from using Anki. It might feel like extra work but it’ll save you a lot of time in the long run. You can think of it as an extension of WaniKani. It’s cool that you know 2000 Kanji(at level 60) but you will need way more to consume your favorite media. Once you are above level 30, you are at a level where you can start to customize your studies about Kanji.

So, in case you use Anki as a complement to WaniKani, you might find my code useful. This is how my Anki looks with basic cards.

Side Note: This is also an example of my vocabulary deck. I add the readings on the back card just in case. It’s important that you make cards that are 100% Japanese to make your brain used to thinking in Japanese. Also, using a J-J dictionary is extra time you spend on Japanese.


These aren’t the colors that I usually use but I tried to use WaniKani’s colors for those who want something similar. You can change the colors very easily by changing the hexadecimal codes “#XXXXXX”. You can google the code for the color that you want then replace the current one.

Here is the CSS code that I made for that: http://www.mediafire.com/file/iq2g5u5ac1y307h/anki_css.txt/file

A Letter To Koichi

Man, I hope you will see this someday but so far I am disappointed and I want a refund. I expected someone to knock on my door as soon as I level up 60 and say: “Delivery!”. I understand that things are getting slower due to the coronavirus but I don’t think I can hold on for too long. I am craving some cake but I can’t find anything in supermarkets…everything is empty.

I worked really hard to satisfy my sweet tooth but this makes me think that I should have used Anki instead. By the way, I will be 27 on the 24th of May so you have two weeks left to send me the cake.

Sincerely yours,
A Lifetime WaniKani Member

Road To Fluency

I can’t believe we are already here but that’s it. I officially stopped using Wanikani. I don’t care about burning anything as I got what I wanted from the app already. Now I have enough experience to do everything else on my own. This might be the last post that I create here.これが最後の、月牙天衝(getsuga tenshou)語りだ!(this is the final talk). I don’t know if I will still check the forum but I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the forum members that contributed to my posts. Although WaniKani has a lot of flaws that we can discuss about, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great app with an amazing community. Honestly, the membership is worth it just for the community.

At my current pace, I probably need 1-2 years before I can say I am fluent so I still have a long way to go. I was aiming for fluency within 3 years overall but we all know how difficult this goddamn language is. To all the people that just started, once you reach a decent level you won’t see Japanese media in the same way anymore. It’s sad to see that so many things are lost during translations but that shows how unique the language is. As a quick example, you learn that “行こう” means “let’s go” then you watch a drama and you hear “行くぞ” and you are like “Hmm…in Japanese please?”.

Before I forget, WaniKani isn’t the end goal, it’s just the start. It’s fine if you want a slower pace but don’t spend 5 years to reach the maximum level. Japanese is a language that requires a lot of sacrifices, you can’t just do 1 hour a day and expect to be fluent. You will have to slowly increase the time you spend on it. I started with 5 mins, playing with apps on my phone whenever I took the subway. Then I started doing 1 hour but quickly realized that I can’t do anything besides WaniKani with that so I increased my time to 2 hours.

You can increase your Japanese exposure in many ways without affecting your daily schedule. Going to a supermarket? Plug-in your earphones and listen to a YouTube video. Taking the bus? Don’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram, use any Japanese app you like. You can change some of your interests as well(this is difficult for most people). I didn’t watch an English show/series for 2 years. Hollywood? What is that? 食べ物(food)?

All these changes will allow you to consume Japanese for hours without impacting your other activities. You don’t have to do what I mentioned religiously(I don’t) but the point is to always strive for more and more Japanese stuff. You won’t like this but please do not use your kids as a way to justify your laziness. If I can do it with my tight schedule I think that everyone here can make it as well. During my WaniKani journey, my schedule was something like:

  • Working on my coaching business(entrepreneur, no limited hours).
  • Going To School(First 1.5 year)/Going To Work(End-of-studies Internship In Malaysia for my software engineering degree).
  • Going to the gym(before the coronavirus period).
  • Reading non-fiction books/Watching Educational videos on YouTube.
  • Writing my own journey/personal development book(Kind of like what I am doing here, but that book is 260 pages).
  • Making YouTube videos.
  • Taking care of my sick mother who had a stroke in 2017(she can’t do anything on her own and she will never be able to work again).
  • Learning Japanese. 明らかな事実(an obvious fact).

This is besides all the small things in between. Most people don’t know how to manage their time properly and think they don’t have time for anything. Sorry to break your bubble but unless you are a CEO of a big company you ALWAYS have the time. Spend some time thinking about your daily schedule and you will see how much time you can squeeze from your day. If your daily schedule is completely random, it’s normal that you don’t have time for anything.

If you genuinely want to learn Japanese you have to pay the price…unless you want to spend 10 years to be fluent. The beginner stage feels like hell because you can’t consume anything interesting without hating yourself but once you reach the intermediate stage(let’s say N3-N2 if you want to use JLPT as a reference) things will be way more manageable and spending more time on Japanese won’t feel like a chore anymore. It’s all about how badly you want it.

Like, not just why but what kind of difference does it make in your life? As an example, everyone wants to be rich. However, only few people manage to do it. Your “I want to buy a fancy car” isn’t enough. It needs to be something like “I am tired of working extra hours to make ends meet”, “I don’t see myself in the same situation in 10 years” or “I want to explore more of what’s available on this planet”. Most people are like “Anime without subtitles would be cool” then wonder why they gave up after 3 months of studying. Try to imagine how difficult fluency is. It’s way more difficult than what you just thought. If you don’t have solid reasons to learn it, let me save you some time and tell you that you will never make it. Go back to English and forget about learning this language completely.

Also, no one cares about your accuracy percentages. Whether you get 85% of the reviews right or 90%, it’s all the same. WaniKani isn’t made to make you learn the 2000 Kanji 100%. What you want is to make your brain so used to Kanji that they stop being a problem for you. You will forget a lot of Kanji that you know, you will have leeches, and you will have to learn new readings as well. However, Kanji won’t scare you anymore and you will be able to learn new ones on your own. You see something new? “Oh, it has that radical, I see, let me use Jisho for a second…found it!”. The other day I heard 海外(overseas) and I was like: “what is that? Let me google it”. マジで恥ずかしい・・・(it’s really embarrassing…). Being intermediate doesn’t mean that you know all the basic things perfectly. It just means that you can consume Japanese media along with your best friend, Google. 中級ってのは、そういう意味だ(that’s what “intermediate” means).

The thing is Japanese has no limit. No matter how much you study, it never feels enough. Just go on a Japanese website and you will have at least 30 Kanji you don’t know. You need to accept that and move on. As long as you aren’t completely lost, you are doing well. Be careful, Japanese can make your OCD kick in and result in you burning out and hating the language. You will never know all the Kanji. Deal with it, accept it and embrace it.

This is especially true for “personal” names. Heck, even Japanese people themselves struggle with them. I honestly gave up on names. It’s just a pure headache. It’s like I say 日流” is “Nuuru(Nour)” . Why? Because I want it like that. For real, the more I try to understand names the more I lose brain cells.

I am an extrovert so I wouldn’t have problems talking to people but I have some good news for introverts: You don’t have to practice the language with anyone. I am tired of seeing “Oh, you are so lucky to have a friend you can practice with. The only person I can talk to is my cat but he doesn’t understand me”. You can speak on your own, imagine yourself in a specific setting and roll with it(I am dead serious). If you desperately need someone use italki. Stop going to McDonald’s every day and invest some money on Japanese.

I really don’t think it’s a good idea to practice with your friends anyway. They will get tired of fixing your mistakes and they won’t be harsh on you even if you suck. You will get the typical “日本語上手” and think you are a big shot. It’s like those girls that post on social media and everyone is like “so beautiful” when they are average at best. You don’t need anyone to boost your ego. If you are willing to put in the work, you can do it on your own. That’s why having the right sounds in your head is so important, as I mentioned many times before. You will be able to judge yourself without anyone’s help. You might not be accurate but you will be able to get the job done. You can even record yourself then compare how you talk to what you hear from native material. Stop thinking that you need X method or Y friend to improve. Fluency isn’t complicated, you just need to be willing to put in the work.

Conclusion

Honestly, practicing Japanese feels like playing with a puzzle. You use different sources to get all the pieces that you need so that your sentence makes sense. However, it doesn’t take forever now and I will even say that it’s becoming fun. でも、毎日沢山練習しないと(but I have to practice a lot everyday). Despite the fact that it’s my 4th language(after French, English and Arabic), it gives me a different vibe from other languages. The difficulty of Japanese is insanely high but that’s what makes it so satisfying to learn. Recognizing some Kanji is sometimes enough to make you say “this made my day”. This feeling of accomplishment is just unmatched. And let’s admit it, the language is beautiful. These “a,b,c” characters are cool but “あ,い,う” are really fancy. I mean look at how “Shooting Star Dragon” becomes “シューティング・スター・ドラゴン”. Sick!

The great thing about Japanese is how different it makes you from other people. How many people practice Japanese around you? Not many. How many fluent people do you know? Even less. How many fluent people do you know that work the same job as you? Even less and less. What I want to show is that the more specific you get the less Japanese learners you will find, especially those who actually managed to be fluent. This means that you can use Japanese as a “social weapon”(a way to stand out)…for example. Don’t you think HRs get tired of seeing the same profiles of engineers over and over again?

Before I end it, I would like to add something. The reason why most people hit a wall in Japanese is that they don’t do enough self-reflection. You need to “criticize” your method all the time. It’s not because you are improving that it is the most optimal way. Anything works when you spend 5 years on it. People would pick one method, swear by it, and keep going no matter what. It’s fine to admit that you fucked up. I didn’t start by knowing everything. I just tried/checked absolutely everything I can find on Google. WaniKani, Genki, Tae Kim, Remembering The Kanji, AJATT, Tobira, Anki, LingoDeer, Bunpro, Human Japanese, Duolingo, JALUP, Shin Kanzen Master, and whatever the thing that you want to name. I will just leave you with a quote that I always like saying: “Being bad isn’t a bad thing, being ALWAYS bad is a bad thing”.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask down below. I will try to answer as many people as I can. I hope you won’t forget the French entrepreneur who liked Pokemon and did some extreme posts. The only thing left to say is 鰐蟹は最高のアプリだったぜ!さらばだ、みんな。(WaniKani was the best app! Farewell, everyone)

Speaking Audio Samples

Everybody gangsta until they have to speak Japanese. As I said before, I always speak from experience. If I talk about the importance of input but I can’t prove it it’s meaningless. My accent is far from perfect, more like a work in progress but I hope you will notice the Japanese influence.

Yu-Gi-Oh Sentence(Accel Synchro):
http://www.mediafire.com/file/m5ppqasu0i7kgp7/yugioh_accel_synchro_nour_saidana.m4a/file

Transcript: 集いし夢の結晶が、新たな進化の扉を開く、光さす道となれ!(Clustering crystal dreams, open the door to a new evolution, become the path its light shines upon!)

Bleach Sentences(Final Getsuga Tenshou):
http://www.mediafire.com/file/c0d5vp29td1le0d/final_getsuga_tenshou_nour_saidana.m4a/file

Transcript: 最後の月牙天衝ってのは、俺自身が、月牙になる事だ。最後の月牙天衝・・・ この技を使えば、俺は死神の力のすべてを失う。「最後」ってのは、そういう意味だ。(The Final Getsuga Tenshou is…me…becoming Getsuga itself. The Final Getsuga Tenshou…If I use this technique, I will lose all of my Soul Reapers powers. That’s what “final” means)

Download Link

There is no copyright here. Use it however you want. まあ、ただの餞だ。だから、どうぞ。(I mean, it’s just a farewell gift so go ahead).

In case you want to read the post as a book, this is for you.

リンクからファイルをダウンロードする(Download Link):
http://www.mediafire.com/file/41aluqqz3r3973x/From_%E8%90%BD%E7%AC%AC%28Zero%29_To_%E8%8B%B1%E9%9B%84%28Hero%29_-_The_WaniKani_Level_60_Journey_eBook.pdf/file

Extra

My Favorite Anime Of All Time: Yu-Gi-Oh(Until 5D’s)
My Favorite Game Of All Time: Pokemon(Until White/Black 2)
My Favorite Drama Of All Time: Rich Man, Poor Woman
My Anime List: https://myanimelist.net/animelist/Noursaidana
My Drama List: https://mydramalist.com/dramalist/noursaidana

The title is inspired by one of my favorite anime: 落第騎士の英雄譚(Rakudai Kishi No Eiyuutan)

For anything in private: noursaidana@alphaornothing.com

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Congratulations :smiley: :crabigator:

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Congrats! :partying_face::confetti_ball::tada:

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Wow that was reeeeally long…but I read the whole thing! :slight_smile:

Congratulations on making it all the way to level 60!

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consider my life changed

congrats on 60 u writer man u

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I see what you mean but that’s not really the case. When you are a beginner, you always feel like you are improving. It’s kind of exciting even though you still can’t consume your favorite manga. However, when you become intermediate and you want to become advanced, you realize that 5 mins of Duolingo per day aren’t enough anymore.

It’s not about doing 10 hours per day but about making Japanese a part of your life. I really think that you can’t be fluent in it unless you make it a big part of your daily schedule like your main hobby or something. This is my opinion, you don’t have to agree with it.

I am actually surprised you are still doing it 10 years later even though you still find it a chore. Props to you. Most people would have given up already.

There is nothing wrong with taking a slower pace as long as you get there. Fluency is fluency, 2 years or 15 years later.

I don’t really get you here. Are you trying to tell me something? :stuck_out_tongue:

I only meant that Japanese makes you a bit more special because most people don’t stick to it long enough. In fact, people always get surprised when they hear that I am learning Japanese. Most of them were like: “Do you want to have a Japanese girlfriend?” :joy:

Thanks!

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Congrats :partying_face:! Even though I knew most of the things it was a fun read (I can’t remember the saying for reading something quickly and enthusiastically :slight_smile: ). Really well done post.

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I don’t know it either since English isn’t my first language :joy:

Lucky you. I wish I knew those things that early.

Thanks!

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I noticed that some people clicked on the links but didn’t download anything. Scared of viruses I guess? I usually use mediafire.com or mega.co.nz for downloads. Do people use something else here?

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Honestly, I read this expecting to disagree with a lot of it - like you said, some of your other posts have been… let’s say challenging. But there’s a lot of really useful, sensible information in this, and it’s given me lots to think about. So thanks very much! And grats on level 60!

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It must have taken you longer to write this than reach level 60

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Congratulations!! :confetti_ball: :tada: :partying_face:

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What I say here is subjective so I do expect some people to disagree with it which is fine.

Glad to see that it was useful, thanks!

@plantron True story :joy:

@Powerpuncher Thanks!!

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Congrats!

I feel the same about speaking only after enough listening input. We didnt speak our native languages right away. Once kids start to speak they already have a ton of listening practice and understand enough to start talking like a caveman but with their regional accent.

The only way to make a sound is to be able to hear it and the only way to to be able to hear it is to train our ears is through active listening.

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:joy:

:+1:

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Ahahahaha I relate to this soooo much right now!

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Unfortunately, this lasts for at least 6 months-1 year then you become intermediate and…that’s where the fun begins.

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Btw, does anyone know who takes care of the level 60 compilation list?

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It’s self-organized. Just add yourself.

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I see. Merci!

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