Welp. I did it.
Let me paint a different strategy from the stereotypical one frequently shared and referenced about with level 60 reflection posts.
What would you do if starting out you knew that you wouldn’t have a set schedule you could expect to always be able to learn, review, and level up (because of family life, career, etc.) AND you knew the longer it took for you to finish WaniKani the greater the chance would be that you would run into some kind of snafu and never finish?
That’s what I faced. I am a teacher, have three kids, and am heavily involved with my church. Additionally (as I’ve learned over the past year or so with my kids’ diagnoses) I probably am slightly dyslexic and possibly have some ADD tendencies.
As you can see from my chart, I wasn’t terribly consistent. But, I was diligent. What this doesn’t show, and what is very much looked down on since it goes against the system, is how much I relied on scripts as a crutch to get through all the material. I treated WaniKani as an introduction-and-whatever-more to the 8,000+ items. I did the WaniKani SRS method as best I was able, knowing myself and my situation. I tried to learn it all the right way, whenever it seemed prudent with time and accuracy. But, it was quickly obvious to me that if I did it the pure SRS method all the way then I would need 5+ years to get through the 60 levels. And I knew there was no chance I’d be able to stick with taking up all my free time for that long. So, I had to judge on a review-by-review basis how heavy I would rely on skipping a wrong answer. Then, after I had progressed out of Apprentice I would allow myself to fail in Guru, etc., so that I kept progressing and ideally kept mastering the items.
Maybe I was ignorant to do it, but I figured it would be better to learn 2000 kanji and 6000 vocab at all varying levels of familiarity rather than learn 500 kanji really well, but run out of time to ever do more. Also, with my memory, I knew that some mnemonics would just need an extra effort at a different time to stick, so should I hold back an entire level progressing because of one kanji not sticking as well as the rest? I didn’t think that was smart. So, I tried to see how best I could do it the right way and then I adapted as needed.
I’m sad I couldn’t have done it a better way, but I still think it was the smartest thing to do for myself. There were many kanji and vocab that came by continuing forward with the lessons, rather than being stuck on one until through sheer willpower I got it right and had to wait on all the others (potentially hindering my memory on some of the others in the meantime).
I started January of 2020 and for a lot of people COVID made things go smoother, but the opposite was true for me. My life got twice as busy and my schedule that was working so well for WK became twice as hap-hazard. Then 6 months ago I was asked to lead my local church congregation on the side, so that additionally stripped me of extra time. I think if I hadn’t given myself a good vision of what WK could be for me then I probably would have burnt out soon after COVID started. I just need to have progress to keep motivation and that would have killed my progress, and then if not the COVID change my other responsibilities that came that fall surely would have.
So that’s my story, in a nutshell. I minored in Japanese back in college ten years ago. And that was after spending 2 years in the Tohoku region as a missionary for my church. So the first 10-15 levels had lots of familiar vocab and many kanji I was already familiar with. But, I always struggled to learn Japanese, even when I lived there. I studied spanish and german in high school so I always thought Japanese would be easy. But, while I got a hang for it after a year, it was still always hard in my classes in college.
It’s actually really fun reading the explanations for the meanings and readings of the kanji, I don’t know how many were written by Koichi, but they are just so . . . Japanese in mentality. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone, so many of them are just the Japanese way of viewing the world, whether it’s concerning religion or life or whatever. But, I studied international relations in college and grad school so I maybe look into those kind of things more than others.
Anyway, thanks for coming to my TED talk. I haven’t partied, yet. But, I’m planning on making some yakisoba, melon pan, and going to the local Japanese bakery here and getting a proper Japanese cake in the near future. I’ll probably force all my in-laws in town to come, too. Probably not until I at least get through Level 60 so I can feel properly done with my lessons (forever) and so I can plan out when I have a good time on a weekend to let the sheer joy of it all sweep over me. I HAVE had moments of pure joy come, knowing that I got to the end, but I’m hoping to let that really come with my cake.
By the way, on that note, something I just noticed today is that I feel WAY more confident trying to read Japanese. Like, yeah, my reading skills have gone way up, but even up until level 59 I just never really felt like I had the ability to actually tackle Japanese fully. Even with my hobbling across the WK finish line in my unique way, I now definitely feel different about Japanese. That’s a really cool feeling after almost 15 years since I first started learning it. I’m really proud of myself and I’m really happy with the work I’ve put in. I look forward to all the growth ahead of me and going back someday with my wife.
Thanks WaniKani and thanks WaniKani Community!