It might be a small one, but it still is a milestone!
After ~300 days, I reached L30! (kinda like where you’d find a checkpoint in your favorite videogame)
I decided to write this post to leave a record of my impressions and progress so far — so that my future self can look back and have some lil crumbs of pride for how far he’ll have come.
Warning: It’s a pretty long text, so excuse my venting. That’s me… Feel free to skip!
Careless Whisper softly playing in the background
Obviously, I’m very thankful for WK and I wish that learning all aspects of the Japanese language could be as fun and straightforward! Only if I had known about this site from Day 1 of my “I want to learn Japanese” dream.
I really do plan to keep going until the end, and I hope to see you guys around when my badge doubles its value. That being said, I think it is important to acknowledge that, although it is probably one of the best resources out there, WK is not 100% perfect for everyone. Me too, I have some issues with it (but, honestly, they are very minor, and the ups far outweigh the downs). Glad to share what they’ve been:
At a certain point, they completely lost their purpose (in my opinion).
Well, firstly, they are very weird (“What is it that you’re learning?” “Oh, I’m reviewing some kanji radicals, like you see how this is made from a wolverine in a death star shooting poop onto Mona Lisa’s trash?”).
This was useful when learning simpler kanji, but, after some levels, many of the new characters are made up of other characters as building blocks. Why not simply use the previously learned kanji to explain the new ones, instead of creating an entirely new set of radicals? Some of the radicals’ meanings even differ from their identical kanji’s… (頁 (page) made up from 頁 “geoduck” ) I know that I can add user synonyms to the radicals; it’s just mildly annoying.
In my humble opinion, radicals could be “burned” after reaching Master level, because once you’re actively learning their respective kanji (and the respective vocabulary of those), you’re good to go, right?
Throughout these 30 levels, I’ve noticed that quite a few kanji have readings I could surprisingly “guess”. Obviously, most of those were coincidences, but I realized that some were due to the character’s phonetic-semantic composition.
WK every now and then mentions how the radical 工 often indicates a 「こう」 on’yomi. I miss having this sort of explanation for other kanji (like 㑒 indicating 「けん」, which is never remarked afaik). I think that could be a highly valuable feature for the learning process. I just recently found out about the Keisei userscript, which I will be using for the remaining 30 levels.
Typos go brrrr
Not WK’s “fault”: just an issue I personally had. So far, I had not used it, but will start using the Double Check userscript from now on. My poor laptop suffers after its 5th anniversary, and my keyboard is pathetic. Lots of malfunctioning keys that result in missing or doubled letters all the time (writing this post has been a challenge).
It’s not my intention to bash on WK. I love the website and the community, and, like I said, the pros far outweigh the cons. Glad to have committed to lifetime, and on we go!
My learning so far
My main goal is to be able to read (manga, books, games). I have tried reading every now and then, but my lack of knowledge in kanji + vocabulary + grammar discouraged me. So I decided to focus on building a foundation, first, by tackling each of those issues.
Kanji: WaniKani (surprise!) + KKLC
(I use the latter as a complement for WK.) Except for a needed break of mine around last December, I managed to level up every 8-ish days, always prioritizing reviews over lessons. That being said, my pace will most likely decrease from now on (more below).
Learning new words by JLPT level, and currently 30%-ish through N3. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I felt like I needed to start somewhere, and gather some basic, raw vocabulary into my brain. I don’t follow a strict schedule, but rather learn new stuff according to how my workload is.
Again, I needed to start somewhere, and I really liked my journey through Genki. It took me a long time to finish the first volume, but to be fair, I filled the book with notes and did almost all the exercises in the text+workbook. (It would feel bad doing otherwise after having bought the material, after all!)
With the second volume, though, I changed my strategy, and decided to, first and foremost, go through all the grammar points for some 文法燃料 feeding the system, before going back and analyzing each lesson entirely. I am currently in Lesson 22 but have overlooked non-grammar sessions.
Going through Genki was kinda like a therapy session to me, where I took my time, de-stressed, and let my mind distract itself, copying the grammar points by hand. Yes, that’s right. Useless? Ineffective? Cringey? Couldn’t care less
For the future...
In a few weeks, I will be moving to Canada temporarily for an internship! I will be living with my SO and family, and I am super excited (but also partially sad to leave France after living here for almost 3 years #cry).
That’s all nice, but I’ll have to hold my horses regarding Japanese. I will be working 50h/week, adapting to a new country, being with family… I simply won’t want to spend all of my free time sitting on my butt and studying Japanese, because my “free time” will be reduced to a few hours at night, at most.
Obviously, I still love the language and don’t want to completely leave it aside! I will just slow down a lot.
I would like to reach Level 60 within the next year, and have at least an N3 understanding of grammar and vocabulary (although that might be tight). This journey has been tough and had lots of ups and downs, but I hope that having reached the halfway point of WK will serve as a booster and that soon I can celebrate the endpoint as well.
TLDR: I hope history will be repeated and that I see you at the finish line. Peace!
And thanks for reading, if you did. Feel free to share any thoughts.