Halfway point! 🏁 Reaching lvl 30 (+ thoughts on WK)

Hi guys,

It might be a small one, but it still is a milestone! :sparkles:
After ~300 days, I reached L30! (kinda like where you’d find a checkpoint in your favorite videogame)

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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… :point_right: :point_left: Feel free to skip!


WaniKani

:saxophone: Careless Whisper softly playing in the background :saxophone:

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. :star_struck: 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:

  • Radicals
    At a certain point, they completely lost their purpose (in my opinion). :frowning:
    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… (ページ (page) made up from 頁 “geoduck” :melting_face:) 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?

  • Readings
    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. :slight_smile:

  • 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. :rofl: 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!) :crabigator: + 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).

Vocabulary: KameSame :shark: :turtle:
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.

Grammar: Genki :books:
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 :relieved:

¿peekie?


For the future...

In a few weeks, I will be moving to Canada temporarily for an internship! :canada: 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! :muscle: 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. :hugs: Feel free to share any thoughts.
またねぇ!

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congrats!

As soon as I hit after 30 I started bunpro and it is helping me a lot to read and translate better news articles and twitter.

Books are not for me, I get bored and bunpro removes that from the situation and keep me on my toes for my mistakes and confusion grammar points, you should try it.

I havent tried manga yet because I stil lconfuse a lot of kanji and sometimes I read them completely wrong, I dont know why, when I get better at them I will try reading manga.

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Thank you!

I did a free trial of Bunpro a long time ago. Truth be told, I just did not get around to doing it, and soon the trial period was over lol.
It was (and right now it would still be) a little hard for me to implement yet another SRS system into my schedule. I guess I am lucky that I have a rather good time learning through books, though. :slight_smile:
Maybe for the future I will reconsider that option!!

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how is your schedule for WK?

I do all reviews daily (around 180) and do new lessons if I have apprentice below 90.

bunpro I have 45 reviews a day and if my % there is above 85%, I do two new grammar points, otherwise, I dont do anything new.

So far doing this for almost 4 months and it is fine. Not overwhelmed.

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I am surprised you think you need any sort of foundation to read manga or novels. You can just set up Yomichan and look up the definitions of words with one button. I started learning Japanese under one month ago and have already read one visual novel and am working through a second one daily. This is because I can just look up the definitions of words in one button and google any grammar point I find unfamiliar. I suggest you do that if you really care about reading.

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I would say mine is pretty similar to yours, but personally, I feel it’s at the limit for me lol. Besides, as I mentioned somewhere in that mess of a post up there, soon I predict to have less time for any learning altogether, so then I think I will reduce my time on WK too.

To be fair, I first bought Genki 1 and 2 and KKLC when decided to learn Japanese, and only after a few months I found out about WK, Bunpro, and all these other resources. I felt that since I had already bought Genki, I might as well use them for starting on grammar. Fortunately they’ve been working well for me so far. When I’m into more advance grammar, I’ll see what are other options. I appreciate the suggestion!

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I know that is the solution many people find (I’ve heard of Yomichan a lot over here). Do you know if there’s a mobile version/alternative to it? Because I would mainly (and have tried to) read on my phone, so the process was a bit too frustrating for me with the constant need to look things up.

I did read some short stories and a few pages of different manga, but it was tricky. I do feel the progress, though, going back to reading some stuff from time to time. That encouraged me to keep doing what I had been doing, but the immensity of things I needed to look up was still a tiny bit overwhelming, especially when far from a computer.

Thank you for the reply and suggestion! I do try to read from time to time, but I haven’t really felt super ready yet. I hope I can do it more soon! :slight_smile:

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I’m unsure if a mobile version of Yomichan exists. I recommend just reading on a PC and looking up every word you don’t know. Actually consuming native materials is the only way to truly acquire a language after all.

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That is true, and it is the goal we (or most of us) are aiming at, after all (consuming native material). I remember when learning English and French… I tried my luck on reading novels and larger works, but it took me a long time until I felt I was truly ready. To me, the constant look-up took the fun completely away. Fortunately, today I’m at a stage I feel at ease with those two.
It’s not easy to draw the line, and it depends on what type of learner you are. I’ll keep on trying to read new things whenever I find the opportunity. (=

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Fun fact!
My PC took it personally and was quite offended. Today it officially passed away and refuses to turn on. It’ll have a burial ceremony in the upcoming days.
RIP soldier. :face_holding_back_tears:

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Some of us find if we read the map before we go out, we get lost slightly less often.

I’ve also found learning some kanji beforehand helped immensely with not feeling completely lost when starting to read native text.

Grammar too, although that does need practice to make it stick so it’s not an effort to read every sentence.

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I agree on that personally. I can’t imagine myself starting to read native content when I was still in the early levels (unless I had previous knowledge of kanji, which I didn’t), because I simply wouldn’t understand/recognize 90% of the characters and that would deeply discourage me. Heck I consider that I still am in the early levels :joy:

Having gotten a nice amount of characters into my brain at this stage, though, I feel a bit more comfortable. But still ways to go!

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First off, congratulations! It’s no small milestone, getting through all that is definitely reason to celebrate!

Second, i do recommend grabbing some
Manga when you have a chance. Take a series that you know and love from the anime or translated manga and pick up volume 1. For one, you might recognize more than you’d expect. For another, seeing vocab in a familiar context will reinforce the meaning, especially subtle usage points. And third (maybe most importantly) when you go back and read it again N months later, you’ll be able to feel how you’ve improved from the last time.

Best in all your studies and endeavors!

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Maybe someday @Jonapedia will make his Twitter Japanese Grammar Series in French, but no promises yet. If he does someday, it will be a cool tool for you to practice English, French, and Japanese in a leisurely way.

By the way, I just wanted to chime in to wish you CONGRATULATIONS on reaching the halfway point and that I envy your pretty handwriting, lol! The last picture on the vending machine touched my heart very much too. Thank you for sharing this and all the best in your learning and life’s journey.

P/S: And thanks for the Careless Whisper earworm :rofl: I have mixed-feelings about clicking on the link to kill the earworm but I don’t think that’s how it works, lol. I’ll settle to getting some Japanese listening practice instead and hopefully that will help.

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I intend to do it at some point, yeah. In all honesty, it shouldn’t be that hard, because I typically translate pretty quickly between English and French, but there are going to be quite a few technical terms I only know in English, so I’ll have to look those up. That aside, I may – depending on their contents – change certain explanations so they draw on analogies with French instead of English.

I’ll have to figure out how to organise myself first. I might eventually end/reduce the posting rate in order to translate or to make videos that will explain things with more examples and in more detail. We’ll see!

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Thanks for the reply!

Yes, I have tried doing that a few times in the past. By then, I still felt I wasn’t really able to follow along at a healthy pace: it was more “translating/looking up the majority of the text” rather than “reading in Japanese” :confused: I know it will take a huge amount of time, regardless, until I can read comfortably, though.

Two major works I am a huge fan of, and want to eventually read the manga in Japanese, are Neon Genesis Evangelion and One Piece. The former kinda gives me the vibes of being a tad bit too advanced yet, but I might retry some chapters of the latter in the near future!!

Thank you for the encouragement @HermesHoshiyama ! I hope I can overcome this barrier soon and start enjoying native content more actively. :pray:

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Thank you!!

I do follow @Jonapedia 's great Twitter series already! (I’m not super active there but I happen to see some of the posts every now and then.)

I feel privileged and lucky to have had the opportunity to learn both English and French up to a level that I can comfortably enjoy a lot of content in these two languages. :slight_smile: Japanese is an entire different beast, but hopefully one day it will also flourish more in my brain lol

And thank you for your kind words! You should see my kana/kanji handwriting when I had just started trying it out :joy: 200% random scribbles lol

I wish you lots of success in your journey as well!

(P/S: Careless Whisper earworm is never too bad :wink: )

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Oh, happy days :confused:

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A clue that from here on it all goes sadder? :broken_heart:

It’s WaniKani Forever buddy! The longer you go the harder it will be to turn away from the monstrosity known as the crabigator. In the end, you may be stuck here like many of us.

And you may… just end up with a condition known as Pera Pera.

banging-head-frustrated

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