Frustrated in 20s and slowing down Wanikani to focus on reading

In the 3 or 5 years (depending on who you ask) that I have been studying Japanese, I found these times are best to just slow down but don’t stop.

When burnout sets in, I usually just make sure my reviews are done and only do the number of lessons I want to or can. I think people put too much pressure on finishing WaniKani than actually doing things in Japanese. Now (Level 24) is a great time to start reading the stuff you want to! So just enjoy the process but stick with the process at the speed you need.

My own little insert:
Right now I’m having learners block with Quartet 1 at the moment and struggling to get through the workbook for Ch 6. I can do other things for studying that I don’t mind though, so I just do those instead.


I also hit a wall around the same level. I put WK on vacation mode for 3-4 months and just read Japanese fiction and manga the entire time. Didn’t do any other SRS, just extensively read. Not sure how to quantify how much I’d progressed in my overall learning, but it did give me a fresher perspective and felt less burnt out when I did return to WK. Exclusively and extensively reading for that much of a time also made me comfortable about reading in general, on being content with not looking up every single word and rather just focus on getting the gist or the story.

Feel free to take a break and switch to other aspects of the language (I also did some stint of listening only, and though I didn’t find it as enjoyable as reading, it was still “something different”), especially if you’re starting to dread doing your reviews.

I did lessen my WK workload after I hit 28 to 30-ish levels because I wanted to spend more time with reading. I focus now on just speed-learning the kanjis so I could unlock and learn them asap, and just pick out available vocabulary to learn, keeping my overall Apprentice limit of 60.

Good luck!


General agreement with the above, plus a few more cents…

I started reading manga more seriously in the 20s, and I found that when I looked up vocab on jisho, it very often was just a few levels ahead of where I was. It provided good motivation to keep going!

I can’t count the number of things I got could not keep straight until I had a memorable concrete real life example. Maybe it was from a song, or a line in a show, or from some manga, but I bet you’ll find in some ways diversifying your attention may make WK go faster (if you held time spent at a constant)

This is probably rehashing what was said before, but progress on WK is (usually) not a goal in itself. It’s only useful to the extent that is helps you get to your real goals faster. So use it however works best for you!


Thank you for this thread! I’ve been feeling a strong sense of dread lately, mostly because I’ve been rushing like a speed demon and haven’t burned anything yet…

Now that I’ve committed to study for a career change, I’ll be very happy to slow down. Initially I was aiming to get the most of my yearly subscription so I could be done with it ASAP, but now I feel I’ll be more at peace buying a lifetime subscription at the end of the year.


it takes almost 6 months between when you learn an item and when it gets burned (if you never make any mistakes). depending on just how fast you’re going, you could reach level 27 before you get your first burns (it was 24 for me).


I hit the wall ages ago. The mnemonics don’t work with me and I find the unlearning of Japanese I already know difficult.
And, I’ll be honest, I just lost interest in Japanese and to a great extent Japan.

Don’t worry about the wall. If you have the motivation, you’ll get over it. If not, then stick around for the conversations.

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Curious what you mean by the unlearning of Japanese you already know. Radicals?

Cause otherwise, I can’t think of something you need to unlearn.


Yeah, the radicals and the meanings they’re given in Wanikani when it’s different from the Japanese.

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hey there, short question regarding satori reader :slight_smile:
i never knew whether i should use the built in vocab system or not. using wanikani, bunpro reading stories on satori reader plus having to do reviews there seems a bit overwhelming, so i’m not sure whether i should commit to it or not. any tipps? do you personally use the review system? thanks!


I don’t use their SRS system at all. I tried for a bit back when I first made an account, but I found it overwhelming, and it didn’t really suit my needs anyway. Wanikani and Bunpro are enough SRS for me atm. So I just use Satori for reading practice and the grammar/vocab explanations.

Sometimes I’ll click the “add to your studylist” button if I want to remember how a word was used in context, but then I forget about it and never look at it again…

Luckily I’ve noticed the same words come up again and again throughout their stories. So instead of adding it to their review system, I have the mentality that if I see it again, I’ll either remember it or I can quickly check the vocab right there. And if I don’t see it again, there was no need to SRS it anyway. びっくり specifically comes to mind; that word gave me so much trouble at first, but now I understand it immediately because it showed up so often.


Yeah that sounds reasonable. I actually noticed too that words reappear a lot which is great. I can definitely relate to the “I’ll look at it later” part btw :sweat_smile: Thanks!


Gosh, no wonder you’re frustrated!

I’m also an older self studier: age 32, took Japanese 1 in high school, japanese 1 and 2 in college, studied abroad for 4 months in Tokyo + took intensive language courses, then switched to self studying when I graduated and have dipped in and out ever since.

But I really don’t believe in ‘the grind’, and have firmly set myself against it now. Hear me out:

My biggest epiphany came from this speech:

I really think it’s worth watching if you’re not already familiar with Krashen, Kaufman, the comprehensible input theory, and LingQ.

Watching that speech, so many things clicked for me all at once. The biggest of which was that I felt like I knew SO LITTLE usable Japanese after bashing myself against that wall for years! Come to find out, that we’ve done the research to find out that in order to learn effectively, you have to be calm, engaged, and having a good time. Duh! I pick up slang constantly, figure out words in context, make up my own puns and portmanteaus all the time in English! This idea hit me like a rock.

So why am I here doing WK, you might ask? Well, after listening to a bunch of Kaufman’s videos and subscribing to LingQ over a year ago, I’m having a great time with it. I’m learning so much faster and more easily that it doesn’t feel like work. I import song lyrics and YouTube videos, I use Google translate to OCR magazine articles directly off the page and then import them as lessons, and I do the same with packaging for daily use items I’m buying.

But what LingQ doesn’t provide is an actual class. Grammar has to be learned separately (and I personally like cure dolly/unlocking Japanese for this, but there’s lots of great resources!), and Kanji is best learned hierarchically, starting with the easy radicals and then learning how the puzzle pieces fit together.

So as much as I’m enjoying and benefiting from my laissez-faire translating of random stuff I feel like reading and watching, I do want to learn the foundational fundamentals too, because it makes all that easier to comprehend! Learning kanji piecemeal and in random order has made it hard for me to memorize the actual kanji and tell them apart, so I decided that learning the meanings behind the pictographs would fill in that gap for me.

So I have no timelines or expectations for myself. I don’t have a deadline or a set goal for my learning except ‘I like anime, jfashion, makeup and kawaii culture and want to be fluent enough to participate in all of them’. But I’m still actively doing the work, by bouncing between learning grammatical structures that I’m still weak on, slowly making my way through WK, and creating and translating my LingQs. I do whatever I feel like doing at the time. It is all progress. It is all growth. And it is all moving me towards better comprehension and enjoyment! I can already see a huge difference in how much I’m able to read and comprehend of stuff without using my tools or looking things up. I’d say that in the past year or two I went from about a 25% comprehension rate to about 50-60% depending on the topic.

So this was an extremely long winded pitch to slow down. Enjoy the process. This should be fun! It’s something that you are doing for you. If SRS is getting to be a brick wall, ask yourself what you WANT to be doing. Stop speeding past individual flash cards because you’re getting frustrated and bored, then getting them wrong and getting even MORE frustrated.

It sounds like you’ve gotten far enough that you should be able to do any number of learning and practice activities with pretty good success.


The wall is real. I’ve not had much time to commit to WK either these days… More reviews to clear, lessons to go through, though I am also supplemeting with grammar, conversation and listening and occasional reading (I should definitely do it more).
It is very much a marathon. I think speeding to 60 is foolosh. WK is ‘just’ vocabulary and kanji, and it’s definitely better in tandem with other resources than stand alone. Now that I consider WK as just a simple piece of a more complex immersion pie, I feel much better about taking my times with it :slight_smile:
Also, what is that script that further splits the apprentice and guru into stages? I’d love to have it!


For context, I really am an older learner. I am 71 years old, have taken a job in Japan that has me working 6 days a week, have a full life, just like you. I’m on level 11, and yes, it’s a lot and I know it gets harder, and I am doing Bunpro as time allows. But I am committed to learning so I keep at it. And really, that’s all that it takes. Just the commitment and the delight in learning. Forget about the stats, just do what you can do. Be in it for the long haul, because you have a lot of years ahead of you if you are as lucky as me.


This was very well said, thank you! And good luck! How did you find yourself in Japan, if you don’t mind me asking?


I am a priest in The Episcopal Church. A few years ago, I was called to serve in an English speaking parish on Okinawa. We have Japanese speaking members as well, so I am striving to offer bi-lingual services. I understand conversational Japanese but I want to speak more fluently. It’s also a big pain not being able to read kanji, so I’m hoping to change that, one kanji at a time!


I allow myself 10-15 new items per day. This way I can afford to remember 90% or more items without failing during review.
How long I would take to get to the new level is not important for me, but I noticed with consistency, I got to the next level between 8 - 20 days max.


YES! I need a name for us people that do 10-15 a day… hmmm The 10-15ers!

@chocojosh2 how is the reading coming?


I am totally sympathetic with your position, but… I’m at level 25 and I still cannot read the most of the manga without a dictionary.
Yes you can guess some words and look at the pictures… but unfortunately the crazy WK order of kanji means that even with 900 kanji learned I still miss a lot of common words and verbs.
The other problem with WK is that the definitions are incomplete or misleading, so you should check many words or verbs with a real dictionary or a native speaker to understand the meaning and usage.

So I’m thinking to do the same but first to work till a level where I can read the kind of manga/fiction I like without using a dictionary.


Yeah I was only level 10-15 when I hit a wall. I realised I was going too fast and just using repetition instead of mnemonics. I since reset to level 3, started separating the kanji and vocab by doing full kanji, but only 10-20 vocab daily, and actually coming up with my own mnemonics for readings which were constantly getting mixed up between onyomi and kunyomi. If you have the time maybe just take the time to slow down, figure out which cards are leeches, and work on some of your own mnemonics so you can start remembering and clearing them. Sometimes slower is faster.

I also double check everything in a dictionary and add synonyms that are missing for the dictionary when they’re either a more common usage for the kanji, or something you know that kanji by (less helpful for vocab).

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