Getting burnt out

Anyone got any tips for getting burnt out? Like it’s just frustrating to the point I can’t remember anything on level 7. None of it is clicking. Grammar on Bunpro is kicking my ass as well. I don’t want to walk away from it because I’m scared I’ll forget it. It’s just annoying at this point that nothing is sticking like it was for the first year I’ve been studying (I go at an extremely slow pace). I feel like I should be excelling, but clearly I’m not. Please and thanks.

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Probably part of your problem is your pace. When do you do your reviews? The point of an SRS system is that you do it at the times the reviews are available, if you catch the reviews at the available times, you’ll have an easier time remembering the item. That’s just how WaniKani works, you paid for a structured service, to a certain extent you have to follow their structure otherwise, it’s to your detriment.

If you want to keep your slow pace, then you just have to not do any new lessons, but make sure you’re doing the reviews you do have.

There’s the potential that BunPro isn’t for you, personally I’m learning it on YouTube, through Cure Dolly, look around see what suits you.

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Are you practicing the language with means other than SRS ?
I have never touched Bunpro because unlike kanjis, grammar and actual practice with a language have to come from more natural material than just items from a list that you are “fed”.

To each their own but if you’re burning out, it’s probably because you have two SRS systems at the same time, and most likely you would better learn grammar through actual textbooks or other materials that are better to delve into the language, start practicing reading, start with easy listening, etc.

Then there’s the fact that beyond anything, learning a language as special and different as Japanese has to be done with enjoyment. If you don’t enjoy it, it won’t stick and will feel super bad. Then again, two SRS’s at once might very well not be enjoyable, so you’d have to get other materials to … well, have fun, really.

I don’t know if it will help you, but here is how I do it. Disclaimer : I’m only level 20 on WK, and barely starting JLPT N4 material.

  • Kanji on WK, I never go above 100 apprentice and many times I’m actually waaay below that when I feel like the pile of reviews coming in the next few weeks will be too much. Sometimes I also allow myself to just not do any lesson even when the reviews are calming down, to focus on other stuff.

  • Grammar through Genki, and another series of books called 日本語能力試験問題集 (link to an example, there’s stuff for all levels with vocab, grammar, reading, and listening) as well as websites like Imabi and Tae Kim’s guide, and obviously Tofugu’s grammar section is amazing after you understood the basics, to make sure you really covered all the most important points and uses of key grammar principles.

  • The series of books I just mentioned also helps me to practice reading and make sure I get all the vocab needed (WK does NOT help you to get all the vocab needed)

  • For listening, Genki as well as this channel .
    Also, there’s this amazing website/app called FluentU, which takes many actual japanese videos and adds subtitles with explanations for each word, + exercises. I don’t currently use it because it’s very expensive, but once I get a bit better I’ll definetely get it because many videos are pretty fun. (like this one :slight_smile: )

Then there’s the matter of the output… hem… I’m not there yet. By far the most complicated thing to practice, I’ll get to it (beyond doing the Genki workbook exercice I mean) once I have around a N3 level to actually be able to form sentences.


I’ve been there! Here is my level up graph. I got a bit burnt out at level 15, and again at 59/60 right before I was able to finish up.

If you’re anything like me, things are fine until you have a small lapse…maybe you get pretty ill, or perhaps you go on vacation for a week…that sort of thing. When you try to come back, you’re faced with a daunting pile of reviews, and your accuracy slips. This is demotivating and keeps the review spiral going, and it can cause you to hit that burnout threshold and just abandon it all.

There are a number of things that have helped me to avoid this pitfall.

  • Study regularly. Everything is great when I stick to a routine, and when that breaks, I risk it all going to hell.

  • Take your time to really learn things well the first time. I’ve found that when I focus hard on my lessons (including trying to recall them from memory throughout the first 24 hrs or so), accuracy improves. This reduces my future workload and keeps things more fun (failing reviews is not fun, progress is).

  • Try to predict your progress. Some levels in WK just suck. The vocab isn’t all that useful, the mnemonics are weak, and/or the kanji just down correlate well to the meaning. When this happens, slow down. If you speed through those tough bits, you’ll have a whole pile of leeches-in-the-making ready to derail your progress later on. Similarly, try to predict when you need to ease up. If you have a bunch of IRL commitments coming up, slow down your reviews in preparation. You really want to prevent getting stuck with a huge backlog of reviews (with huge being a relative term…some people struggle with 50 reviews, others may be fine until there are 300 in the queue).

  • Don’t go all-in on SRS. I like SRS. It’s a nice, low-barrier way to get some learning in at any time. However, you won’t gain a lot of practical knowledge if that’s all you’re doing. At one point I was doing WK, Anki, and BunPro. There was no time for any other study, and I was setting myself up for failure.

It takes a while to get used to the SRS as a whole. If you did the same number of lessons and all of your reviews every day, it will take months to reach the equilibrium point where your workload is roughly the same every day. In some ways, that makes the earlier levels the hardest. If you stick with it, you’ll get better at doing SRS as the whole system just sort of clicks.


For me, the number 1 cause for burn-out isn’t actually overworking or losing motivation, it’s this: I forget to/couldn’t/didn’t want to do my reviews/lessons at the time I usually do them. There are a couple of reasons for why it makes me feel that way:

  1. The reviews have piled up, and now the task of clearing my reviews has become even bigger, requiring even more motivation to do them than before.
  2. After missing a review session, the intervals are no longer right. So I know I have forgotten more items, my accuracy is going to be worse, and I have less self-confidence going into these reviews, which again makes the reviews even more high-effort and time-consuming.

As a result, I feel even less inclined to do them, which makes the situation worse and worse the more I hold off.

Thankfully, I never had my review queue go higher than 300. I almost always finish my levels in under 10 days, usually 7-8, and still maintain a high accuracy. And I wish there was a secret I could tell you, but there’s nothing magical about it. Try to never let it get to that point. Decide 2-3 times in your day you’ll do your reviews and then always, always, absolutely ALWAYS do them. And if you still manage to miss a session or two, recall the two reasons I noted above for why you’re feeling burnt-out, get over it, sit down and get back on track. There’s no magic or life-hack to get you out of that one.

As terrible as it might sound, but this is an amazing mentality for success. If you can recall this every time you feel like you’re about to quit, you can make it through any burn-out. And it’s based on truth: Everything you’ve done so far is going to disappear into thin air if you don’t keep at it. You’ve put in a lot of work already, now go get the reward for it.

Language learning is supposed to be fun is what a lot of people preach. Sadly, that is not always going to be the case, and even in those not-so-fun times you have to persevere to reach your goal, or you’re never going to reach the fun times again. This is one of the times you just have to fight through it, because the fun times are yet to come.

Have you be fully utilizing the Extra Study feature. I have been going really slow as well and the Extra Study feature is extremely helpful in reviewing recent lessons, reviewing mistakes, and doing my burned items. I have over 600 burn items and do 50 a day.

If you are starting to feel burned out you can temporary stop doing new lessons and just do reviews only. Also not sure if you are into manga, but there is this manga called Crystal Hunters that teaches Japanese and it’s actually where I learn grammar from. Each volume has a good so you want to read the guide first then the book. There is Japanese and Natural Japanese version. The Japanese version is the easier version and it’s guide has a list of vocabulary and grammar explanations that is in the story. You’ll be able to read the whole manga after reading the guide which is very motivating. Their website has the first 1 you can read for free.

I loved it so much I got all 5 volumes on Amazon kindle and plan on getting volume 6 the moment it comes out. It really helps with learning grammar in context.

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This is some of the best overall advice I’ve come across - thanks! I’m currently in the 30s and have really hit a wall. I think your advice of learning things well the first time is great. I’m definitely suffering from too many leeches as a result of not locking things down when I first encountered them.

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