Graduating from Wanikani, feeling grateful (Level 60)

Intro

Level 60 came earlier than I expected. And I wasn’t in the mood for writing a lvl 60 post until now… so I waited to guru lvl 60 kanji :wink:

It took me 1 year and 10 months to get to this point. Pretty much how I planned. I didn’t use any scripts, except for a few dashboard ones.

Quick stats



Acknowledgements

Thanks @rfindley for the amazingly useful Ultimate Timeline (and WK stats of course). Planning my reviews was so much more difficult without the timeline script. I still use after the native review forecast arrived because I want to know when my current level items are arriving and I seeing item type breakdown helps estimate the workload.

Also, thanks to @kumirei for the beautiful Heatmap!

Special thanks to @jprspereira for his WK user guide. It really works and I can prove it. round lvl 14 I started visiting the forum more often and started getting into the community. I discovered that some users are leveling up quite fast and that my 2 weeks per level is hugely inefficient. I read The Ultimate Guide for WK and finally understood the SRS timings and how to build a schedule. I finished lvl 14 in ~15 days. For the next level I built a regular lessons/reviews schedule and finished it in under 9 days. Then I optimized my schedule even more and completed the level after that in just 7 days 13 hours. My normal level up speed varies between 7 and 9 days depending on how busy I am but even in the busiest periods 9 days is totally realistic. If it took me more than that it was due to laziness and procrastination.

When you know how to use WK and take time to optimize your learning it becomes much faster. And @jprspereira did a good job at explaining how the system works.

Of course, thanks to other members of the WK community too! WK forum is such a nice place. Here you can get a detailed answer to your language question from @Leebo or get a snarky one liner from him in response to your silly post. Here you can participate in different book clubs (which I’m yet to do). And you can see the descent of @Naphthalene into consuming trashy light novels through reading her detailed feedback about each volume of 乙女ゲーム… And be inspired to read more yourself!!! :triumph: Anyway, lots of interesting stuff going on on WK forums. I heard there are also POLLs but I don’t dare go there… The size of the threads always scares me away. I do visit the anime thread which is surprisingly quiet for a forum full of people interested in Japanese :thinking:

I am also quite happy about all the interactions with WK staff. I had a chance to talk to @RachelG and @JenK over email and here on the forums. Thanks for quick and helpful replies! I am a little sad that Koichi lost interest in being internet famous and stopped participating in the forum, and I had no chance to converse with him :cry: But I’m even more sad he abandoned the Tofugu podcast just as I started getting into it! It’s a great podcast btw and even though it seem to be past its prime, many will like the latest episode (not saying more :wink: )

WK as a complete kanji course

I am glad WK exists and that I gave it a try. I started with no kanji knowledge and 2 years later I am able to pick up a Japanese book without furigana and read it. Of course I’d need to look up words from time to time but at least in many cases I can infer the meaning of some new vocab based on the kanji meaning. I’ve been reading コンビニ人間 and got too lazy to use a dictionary at one point. I was just highlighting unknown vocab to look up later. It was probably ~30 new words on 10 pages. Interestingly, after I looked up all the words I realized I didn’t miss much! I understood what happened and even most of the nuance without knowing all the vocab.

Oh, but I really need to spend more time on reading. Sadly, my reading is still so slow that I often don’t even pick up a book fearing that I won’t have enough time to progress enough to even start.

Another proof that WK works is my JLPT results. I took JLPT N3 in December 2019, being lvl 30 on WK, and passed with flying colors. My total score was 169/180 with Language knowledge (kanji and vocab) being 60/60! I did not study vocab outside of WK. I just did Grammar and Reading practice using Shin Kanzen Master N4 and N3 books.

Using WK allowed me to save time on creating my own course. I just had to do my lessons in the morning and review kanji at lunch and before going to bed. At most it took up to 2 hours per day but the more I knew the easier it became. Up until lvl 50+. I really hope WK team gives some love to lvl 50+ and adds some missing vocab, adds extra meanings and improves the radicals/mnemonics. Higher level mnemonics just don’t work… I had to rely on rote memorization especially for readings.

Another struggle with WK that becomes more obvious on higher levels is visually similar kanji. I wish WK would provide some tools to help with those. Perhaps if I confuse meaning of a certain kanji with a similar one show them side by side so that I can clearly see the difference right during the review session?

But overall, I recommend WK to anyone trying to learn kanji. Usual arguments against WK (no writing practice, made up radicals, missing readings) just miss the point: you can go from 0 to reading complex texts in 2 years. Afterwards you can use other sources to learn writing, all readings etc. But if you aren’t trying to do Kanken you may not even need it!

Experience with online tutors (italki)

In addition to WK I also do regular online classes. Those helped me with grammar, conversation skills, and simply kept me motivated.

After doing Wanikani for a few months I wanted to start taking lessons in Japanese. Initially I wanted to go to a language school but Japanese isn’t very popular over here, so I had very little options. I searched online and eventually found italki. I hesitated to start taking online classes because of potential lag or slow connection but this almost never was an issue over the last 2 years. And now I wouldn’t even have this concern, since Corona forced everyone to move online anyway.

For those who don’t know, italki it’s a web platform where you can find language tutors for pretty much any language. There are professional (they have credentials from recognized institutions) and community tutors (pretty much anyone can become one). Initially I dismissed community tutors thinking I need to first take lessons from someone who knows how to teach professionally. That might have been a mistake. Now I see that professional tutors are always significantly more expensive but their credentials don’t automatically make the better teachers.

For example, I’ve been taking lessons from the same tutor (community tutor) for almost a year now and she prepares really well each time. She’s creating docs explaining and illustrating grammar points and also writes homework assignments. Recently I’ve been practicing essay writing and she asked me to send it in advance, because she wanted to review and correct it before the class. And of course she’s great at explaining things and easy to hold a conversation with.

Before her I had a different long-term tutor, a professional tutor. She did nothing to prepare for the class and was late quite a few times… because she overslept after having a night out… Yeah, very professional. And I didn’t mention she took twice as much as my current tutor. But it’s not like she was all that bad. Her main advantage was fluency in English, which seems rare among the Japanese tutors. Back when I started taking classes with her I was around JLPT N5. I always want to understand things in depth and my skill just wasn’t enough to understand grammar explanations in Japanese. She helped me quite a lot with grammar and vocab usage. I was taking her classes until passing JLPT N3. Afterwards I switched to Japanese-only classes with a new tutor.

My advice to those who want to try online tutors is to take some time to do a ton of classes with different tutors. You’ll see how they conduct their classes and you’ll understand your needs more. And of course you’ll be able to compare all of them and pick the best.

The best tutor for you may not always be the one who teaches the best unfortunately. Many of the tutors are in Japan, so finding a suitable time for a class also an issue. I had to reject a few great teachers only because I couldn’t find a time that worked.

I think taking online classes in Japanese is quite effective, especially for those of us who aren’t surrounded by natives. It’s a good way to practice speaking and also a kick in the butt to force myself to study. After almost two years of bi-weekly classes I can talk fine on a variety of topics. Of course, I will still stumble from time to time but it won’t break the conversation.

I remember back when I was starting my first class was a disaster. I could not say anything. I was absolutely not used to speaking in Japanese and even when I understood what I should say I couldn’t not find the words to say it! It was so embarrassing that I couldn’t wait until our time ran out. And I never took classes from the same tutor again. Luckily that’s in the past for me now.

You might be curious to know how much it might cost to take regular classes on italki. So, I looked at my payment history from March 2019 to Aug 2020. In these 18 months of studies I was taking at least two 1 hour-long classes per week. The total cost of it was $2,761 USD, which is roughly $150 per month. This is actually comparable to classroom-based classes over here in Scandinavia. Given our price level, it’s good value for individual tutoring. And overall looking at the progress I made it’s money well spent in my opinion.

Future plans

I am going to spend at least a few more months on WK until I get all my leech kanji to Master or higher. I also want to try using the self study script to review some burned items. I want to spend some time organizing visually similar kanji and finally learning them. For now I have to guess most of the time.

As for online classes, I plan to continue my biweekly classes. I will probably be getting more cheaper conversation practice classes next year, since I know most of the grammar by now and just need to practice speaking more.

JLPT: if it’s not getting canceled I am going to take JLPT N2 this December. I think I should get a passing score without issue but I want to practice a bit to get as high of a score as I can. Next year I want to try N1. Could be stretch but depending on motivation I can spend quite a bit of time studying next year.

I will definitely read more. Have a few books waiting and I’m keeping an eye on the book clubs!

Final word

I wanted to write more about things like my trips to Japan, why I even started learning Japanese, practicing listening using anime, and other things but this post is getting too long. Hopefully reading this post wasn’t a total waste of time if you made it this far :smiley:

P.S. I’m not sure Koichi will be happy about it but I want you to know the truth:
level 60 cake actually \textcolor{white} {\small \colorbox{black} { R E D A C T E D }}!

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Congratulations

I wish you well for your future plans. I enjoyed your report on iTalki. Very informative. I am sad to learn that the level 60 cake is redacted.

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:crabigator: :cake: :confetti_ball: :firecracker:

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:boom: :sweat_drops: :anger: :right_anger_bubble: :brain: :skier: :gorilla: :unicorn: :chicken: :shamrock: :cherries: :fried_egg: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer:

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Big congrats on reaching level 60! Love seeing all the details of how you got to this point and congratulations on passing JLPT N3 :tada: Thanks for sharing this! Hope it motivates others who are just at the beginning of Wanikani :crabigator:

(Also our Podcast is still alive…!)

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Congrats!

Another struggle with WK that becomes more obvious on higher levels is visually similar kanji. I wish WK would provide some tools to help with those. Perhaps if I confuse meaning of a certain kanji with a similar one show them side by side so that I can clearly see the difference right during the review session?

A bit late for you (and I know you said you didn’t use scripts) but I’ve found the ConfusionGuesser script by @Sinyaven to be really helpful for this. I agree some type of first-party support for attacking the visually-similar problem would be welcome though - if they took it on I trust Tofugu would come up with a quality approach.

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Thanks!

It’s not like I am against using scripts I just use WK on many different machines and mobile, so I got used not to rely on scripts.

Now that I’m mostly done I may just do reviews once a day at home and use some scripts to improve the experience.

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Congratulations!!! :partying_face: :fire: :fireworks: :confetti_ball: :tada: :hearts:

I’ll hope your JLPT won’t be cancelled, I’m sure you’ll do fantastic on the N2 test! Best of luck in your future studies!!!

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Super awesome man! I always enjoy reading these level 60 posts, because it certainly gives me motivation! :smiley:

I hope you do well in your future endeavors and good luck on the JLPT!

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:cake: :partying_face: Congratulations!
Amazing post, really motivating! I haven’t passed N3 yet but you’ve inspired me. :star_struck: …especially to keep going with italki I’ve just recently started on it and I really suck at talking. :sweat_smile:
I hope you can manage N2 this year! Sounds like you’ll rock it!:smiley: :+1:

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

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bow haikyu
Congratulations d-hermit-先輩!

Thanks to a wonderful read of a level 60 celebratory post. The portion you wrote about italki definitely resonated as I just discussed that same matter with another 先輩 here in WK. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights regarding it.

All the best on your JLPT, like the others above I hope it does not get cancelled for your sake. By the way, I would not have minded if your post was longer so if ever you will have the chance to edit it and add your trips to JPN, as well as the other things you would have wanted to add, please do so and I will be one of those who will partake of what you shall write.

All the best in the future 先輩! Hope to get to 60 like you too!
:nerd_face::steam_locomotive:
let’s keep chugging along with our reviews and lessons!

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Shameless advert… are you deliberately finding 60 posts just to mention the podcast?

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Hi! Can you recommend which Italki tutor you are using? Thanks!

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By the way, here’s a 60 cake for you. Lie or not, here you go:

Your next cakeday is on 29 October 2020*

*The two-day difference is because this is your forum cakeday, the one that’s celebrated here.

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Hearty congratulations @d-hermit :tada::birthday: Thanks for sharing your journey :slightly_smiling_face: Your efforts are incredible and you are awesome :clap: Here’s to the wonderful Nihongo journey yet to come :clinking_glasses:

image

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I’m 90% sure you are joking, but just in case, it’s not an advert, it’s a reply to OP’s comment

Now that sounds like an ad, though :stuck_out_tongue:


Since I’m replying in this thread, congrats @d-hermit! (Although I have seen you at 60 for a while indeed :sweat_smile: To be fair, I also waited ~1 month to make my own lvl 60 thread).

It’s hilarious in a sad way :joy: Past me shaking their head while present me is like “if you have time to do that, go grab more books”.

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Thanks for your congratulations everyone! :partying_face:
And good luck to everyone on their own Japanese journey!

I guess the italki part was helpful. I actually have much more to tell about using italki effectively. Maybe I’ll write another post with more tips on how to pick tutors, create your schedule and study plan etc.

Good! More people should listen to the podcast :wink: And if they do, perhaps the podcast will become a more regular thing.

What?! I intentionally didn’t logout to preserve my 59 avatar badge!

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I would absolutely love this, have been thinking about getting my feet wet with iTalki, but haven’t yet taken the plunge, even though self study can only get you so far. This would help me tremendously as what’s mainly holding me back is the fear of wasting too much money on doing it “wrong” :stuck_out_tongue:

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Congrats!! I’ve been looking forward to see you with that shiny golden badge :grin:

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