How do people climb so fast!?

I’ve got a lot of time confetti to fill and WaniKani fits perfectly when I may have only 5-15 minutes to do something at a time. I’m doing Bunpro/Genki and KaniWani on the side, so learning Japanese has become my primary hobby since December. I work as a stay-at-home Dad, so my schedule is pretty unique.

I’ve been averaging around 8 days a level, and probably devote around three hours a day on pure rote study, with more time devoted to looking at other language-related stuff. The more time in, the faster it goes, like any skill, but checking in every few hours seems to provide a real virtuous cycle. Confusion gets sorted out easier and new symbols get absorbed faster. It was around level 7/8 when the meta-learning kicked in, as in how to do this without getting too manic or frustrated.

All that being said, I’d be in trouble without the Self-Study Quiz script and to a lesser extent, KaniWani, both of which provide extra review and help me zero in on those readings or meanings that just aren’t sticking.

Also, as others have pointed out, it’s not a race. The fun part is not the destination but all the こうs we meet along the way!

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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!

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I’m pretty slow too, but I think I’ve finally found a efficient schedule, and this level might probably “only” 16-17 days.

I make the schedule based on 10 lessons/day, minus radicals days that are 10+ 5 vocab (I’m currently in radical-rich levels :rofl:), depending on the number of vocab that unlocks directly on level up I make a schedule so that I’ll always have at least 5 vocab lessons available, usually that means 3-4 days of doing vocab from the previous level, then radicals+vocab from the previous level and then radicals/Kanji+vocab from the current level. It is based on this approach (Daily Schedule For Consistency and Retention: Exactly 14 days per level and about 10 lessons per day - #22 by saidahgilbert)

I guess I could do some more lessons as my accuracy is pretty good but I prefer to go with a “comfortable” pace.

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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 actually only spend about an hour a day on WK, but I split it up into morning, noon, and night.

I stick to less than 100 Apprentice items and no more than 20 lessons per day and I’ve been able to do a comfortable 11 days per level.


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.

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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.

I get surprised that people can finish the levels in the least amount of time possible (6-7 days). :sweat_smile:

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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 :stuck_out_tongue: )


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)


Whenever I start to feel bad that I’m not progressing as fast as some people on here, I try to remember that I’m still probably learning kanji way faster than Japanese kids in school are.


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.


You can always join us in the slow lane :durtle_noice:

Let the journey be part of the process.

I subscribed in January myself.

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.

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Can you explain what you mean by this further, I’m not sure I understand…what do you mean by “traditional radical system” are they different than this radical system? (I’m new at this)

See WaniKani’s guide: Radical Names | WaniKani Knowledge.