Going slow is faster

Today I had my first burns. It motivated me to share a little strategy. After speeding through the first ten levels I hit the point that I was facing quite a pile of reviews and the kanjis in lessons started to be more demanding. Most of them I have never seen. The vocabulary was also more abstract which didn’t help. That turned out to be a start of performance downfall. Every review session was getting worse. One day I hit less than 50% of correct answers. Then I realised one thing. Failing to remember a kanji or word will result in it being forever apprentice-level item. And they will hunt me every day. If my performance would decline more the situation will go out of hand fast.

I took countermeasures. Which was:

  1. A 4-day break from learning -> focus only on reviews to clear the Apprentice level.
  2. Slow down with lessons. That results in better memorization. Fewer errors during reviews. Fewer items in the Apprentice level. All in all faster learning than actually going full-on with lessons.

Maybe that is a trivial thing but I learned it the hard way, so some of the newcomers won’t have to repeat the same mistakes.


Slow and steady wins the race


I think it just depends on how much time you can set aside each day to study (obviously including stuff outside wanikani). If you study a ton then you will come across more kanji, and be more familiar. If you only do wanikani/generally study less you are more prone to forget and have worse accuracy.


How does one really commit it to long term memory or “learn” the target kanji or compounds and vocabulary?It is only natural, but it seems that I have been forgetting more kanji than I learn for the so many new kanji/vocabulary I have encountered over the course of the last year using …but using and being able to use these newly learned kanji and vocabulary over the coming years is the true test!


This is precisely why I slowed down my grammar studies to increase my actual reading of native material. And I am reaping the benefits of wanikani by being able to read probably 95% of kanji in an advanced novel even at level 48…


As a member of team slow (more like team parabola, but I’ll talk about that more when I hit level 60), I really believe WaniKani is the key to the house of kanji. Finishing WaniKani doesn’t make us kanji masters - it gives us the tools and prerequisite reading to become kanji masters.


That might be true. At the moment it happens that I encouter new word but I already know the Kanjis that are part of it, and can even figure out the meaning which is nice. On the other hand, I know plenty of common words which uses Kanjis that where not yet targeted by Wanikani at my level. Timewise it around 50/50 Wanikani/Other studies (grammar, listening etc.).


I had quite a break, so now that I’ve come back a lot of things are coming up for burns and surprisingly I’ve gotten a lot of things right. I’m going SUPER slow this time around, because I get overwhelmed very, very quickly. Less is more, in my opinion. I have to know my own limits. So, I haven’t even touched my lessons for level 7 yet. I’m still slowly sifting through my reviews. I’ve gotten them down to under a hundred though! (today :sweat_smile:)


I’ve found the best thing for long term retention is to fully say/recall the mnemonic for a kanji on every review. I’ve been able to keep my accuracy at 98%+ with this strategy personally. It’s easy to forget the kanji, but the mnemonics/stories stick if you actively recall them on every review.


I feel you, even though I’m still on level 5…
When I reached this level I decided to tackle all of my 107 new lessons in one day.
I felt really good about it then, but now I get about 80% on my review sessions, down from 90% in previous levels. And I get a bunch of old, easy stuff wrong too, which is frustrating!

I’m thinking about limiting my lessons-per-day count to about 50. Maybe it won’t slow me down too much and it’ll definitely help with the frustrating review sessions.

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Ooof, 107 lessons in one day? I do them in chunks of 20 per day with the reorder script so I do radicals/kanji first, and even that is super fast and right on the edge of being overwhelming. A word of warning, the levels are about to get more difficult right where you’re at (not horribly so, just more), so pace yourself and don’t give up!

Also 80% is a great accuracy percentage, don’t stress about that haha


Dude… still waiting on my first burns :frowning:

it is better to go slow than rush it, but going slow can also lead you to stop doing stuff. e.g. me currently. at first i was like “Yeah I’m just gonna be doing daily reviews from today for the next 2 weeks to get some stuff higher level so i can manage the load better” so i did my daily reviews until suddenly.
150 reviews. “ah F* I’m just gonna do 50 today and the rest tomorrow” next day:
200 reviews. “really. just gonna do 10 reviews each day for the next few days until I’m down”
This went on for the last month. I got close to 300 reviews a few times and am now finally catching up on them.

tldr: take it easy, but don’t get lazy (like I did)

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yeah but 80 is fine! 70, 60 percent is fine too.
speed is not an issue, remembering is, if it takes time, so be it.
but maybe you have to be an old slow learning obachan to realise this.
for me, patience relieves stress…

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I just got to level 9… up until I got to level 7, I wasn’t even aware of the exact details of SRS, or how the system determines you have leveled up. Meaning, I had no idea that it was best to do the radicals for the new level right away to start the clock, etc. I was taking about 8-9 days per level because I would take a day to clear out all the vocabulary lessons before starting radicals.

That was a good pace for me, and my accuracy was 99% for reading and meaning, probably because I had been exposed to a lot of the basics in the past so it was not fully new.

But I learned about the timing of leveling up, and I tackled levels 7 and 8 as fast as possible (7 days for me), and just now, on the first day of level 9, I’m finding that I don’t know as many answers from the last few levels’ reviews. I don’t think it’s because of doing the radicals fast, as those are still easy to learn, but I have vocab to clear out, vocab I rushed through keeps coming back to hurt me, etc.

So, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but as of right now I tend to agree!

T5chrono, what you’re doing sounds very good. My experience is similar. I started out going very fast, and even abused the override script, which allowed me to get a very high percentage of reviews correct. But after a while, I realized I wasn’t really learning things. Plus, the number of reviews was really going up. In the early levels I was taking about 9 days to level up. But things get way harder later. So now I do a level in about 18 days (sometimes a little less). I do only 10 lessons per day (which takes me close to half an hour), except at the start of a new level, when I do all the radicals and then maybe ten more lessons. I average around 200 reviews per day, 100 in the morning and 100 in the evening. Each time it takes me about an hour. My accuracy ranges between 62% and 82%. I’m now on level 27, have been doing Wanikani for about 10 months. I finally feel as if I’m eventually learning everything, and I’ve burned quite a few items. I’ve also been doing other things besides Wanikani, but there are only so many hours in a day! I console myself with the fact that it took me 5 solid years to become fluent in Spanish, learning totally on my own, so if Japanese keeps progressing, I’ll be extremely happy.

Yeah, doing a ton of lessons in one go is not helpful in any way. First, it’s bad for learning since the number of items at once overwhelms you and you won’t end up memorizing/internalizing as much.

Secondly, it won’t make a level go any faster since the level up is only based on the kanjis and indirectly the radicals to unlock the later kanji. Thus, even in a speedier strategy spacing out your lessons is key since the only items you need to do ASAP are the radicals at the start and then the second round of kanji after those. Everything else you should space out in 10-20 lesson chunks (or whichever size seems appropriate to you).

My strategy for lessons is to do 10-20 lessons in the morning and then other 10-20 lessons in the evening. I also use the re-order script to do new radicals and kanji first. This way you get optimal speed while benefitting from spacing out the learning process into more digestable chunks.

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My long term memorization strategy for kanji has been to draw the mnemonic out on a paper. This works both in making the mnemonic more concrete while also making it more personal as you can add your own twist to the characters etc. that show up in the mnemonics (what does your Kouichi look like?).

I also try to recall the mnemonic, or the core idea of it, each time I review an item. This will help in still remembering the mnemonic/meaning once the next review comes up which later on can mean in two weeks or in a month. Shortening a mnemonic to a single sentence is helpful for this.

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I read this thread upon first starting Wanikani and have been trying to internalize it for the future. Thank you! I know the amount of reviews/lessons can easily pile up if learning isn’t paced well.
After my review sessions, I like to follow up by checking out the Japanese-language only forums, studying my vocabulary for class (I take Japanese at my university), and then finally watching an episode of an anime with native subtitles.

I study language-learning (and currently work as an ESL teacher) so I’m really interested in how to translate acquired knowledge from studying into automatic language that can be used, and the first step is reinforcement in a natural (ish) context.

With that being said though, what happens if you just do reviews and not your lessons? I level up at a really reallllly slow pace even though I’m still in the beginner levels. I like to prioritize getting reviews done so they don’t accumulate rather than doing my lessons. Does anyone know what this does? It seems my lessons are now accumulating, but does anyone know if they cap at some point? Because I do it this way I got my first burn recently which seemed good at first, but now I am wondering if my priorities aren’t straight…