When I was leveling up in WaniKani, I was working at a job that had a lot of unavoidable downtime I had to fill somehow. That kind of thing isn’t visible in the little number badges on the forum, but it can sure go a long way.
On the flipside, I haven’t done any italki sessions yet, and doing that regularly would be drastically more intimidating to me, so it really is a process that’s different for different people!
assuming one has enough time on hand to do reviews, it’s the number of lessons one does which determine one’s speed.
at 10 lessons per day, it’ll take some 850 days (more or less, i forget exactly how many items WK teaches). if you do 5 lessons a day, it’ll be twice as long. if you do 20, half. for people going fast (i.e. around 20 lessons per day, or more) it can become handy to mess with lesson ordering, but that’s another can of worms.
what’s been working for me is reviews and lessons after i get up, a review session 4 or 5 hours after the lessons, and another review session 8 or 9 hours after that. and i do about 20 lessons per day, that’s about what my brain can handle.
but as you said yourself, it’s not a race, and we all have a speed which is optimal for us. those 1-1 lessons are probably much more helpful than WK, if i had that option i’d invest my time in that first ^^
I do all lessons as soon as they are available, make sure to get my 4 hour review in later during the day, my 8 hour review first thing in the morning, and then just do all reviews around the same time in the morning, except for when I need to do the 4 hour reviews. I’m still fairly early after resetting, so it’s still relatively easy, but I used a similar pacing when I made it to the late 30s. I also don’t check how long each level takes and don’t worry if I miss a day or delay my lessons a bit. I’ll get there whenever.
I’ve had success with keeping a steady pace after I downloaded a third party WaniKani app. There’s a couple on the App store if you just type in WaniKani. I may not have access to a computer at all times, but I always know my phone is on me, which encourages me to do my reviews more often throughout the day. The app also let’s you reorder your lessons and reviews, so I tend to tackle radical and kanji lessons the minute they become available, and pace out the vocab lessons to about 15-20 a day. My level up pace is between 7-11 days now.
I guess this depends on how much time you spend on it, how accurate you are with reviews, and how much you try to optimize “speed running” WK by prioritizing kanji and radicals over vocabulary, as the former two block level up progress while the latter does not.
Most of the really fast ones either focus entirely on WK, spend A LOT of time studying it or already know a lot of the words and/or Kanji. Not to say that there aren’t any geniuses here though, but you should go at the speed that you find comfortable, no use in comparing yourself to anyone. (And if you need someone to compare to, just compare yourself to me, hard to go slower )
Even if you can’t completely clean out your review stack every day, you can be sure that you’re doing your current level reviews daily, or when they come up, or at least more often. A phone app like Tsurukame can reorder reviews so you get current level reviews first (so you can Guru your radicals and kanji earlier).
It’s good to know which items will set you back the longer you wait on them, and which you can kind of let slide (not indefinitely of course, ideally it’s best to have 0 reviews at least once a day in my experience). I usually did my current level reviews as soon as they popped up by reordering on my phone, then did the rest of my reviews in random order on the computer (better for retention overall). Just to avoid those more important reviews from sitting in the queue for too long.
Also, you can’t level up until you’ve done all your kanji lessons, and it’ll be about 4 days give or take after you finish your last set, so prioritize those for the first day or so in a level.
(For reference I got about 8 days per level for most of WK and finished in about a year and a half)
Japanese kids in school already know the words, they’re just learning to write them, more like a spelling test in English. Don’t discount the hard work you’ve put in and your successes, but it’s comparing apples to oranges. Learning kanji and Japanese is actually more work for us, so go at your own pace and enjoy the process.
Whenever I feel like I’m going too slow I try to step it up. It’s not like you’re risking your health like you do in a gym if you’re biting off more than you can chew. My favourite part about learning languages, besides getting access to content of course. Worst case scenario with doing it wrong is failing to learn a block of knowledge like grammar or vocab and losing a bit of your motivation. In that case it’s still not wasted time because it makes you a more experienced and a better language learner. Being able to make adjustments is a big deal you know.
Eventually kanji will start making more sense allowing you to take on more lessons at any given time. I kind of had an epiphany to combine the traditional radical system with the existing mnemonics and it was a gamechanger.
Your speed seems to about the same as mine. And to level up faster I would have to spend more time per day on this - and that’s not something I want to do. This is fun (ok sometimes it’s insanely frustrating…) and I’ve learnt a lot but for me it’s important to focus on other aspects of learning Japanese as well.