How do you deal with burnout/frustration?

I’m currently level 12 and already feel a bit stuck. I’m constantly forgetting kanji I’ve gone over many times, which leaves me frustrated. I’ve asked myself “why am I even doing this?” for the first time during my reviews. It’s gotten to a point where I feel discouraged before I even begin my reviews.

Has anyone felt this way, and if so how did you get through this mental barrier? I don’t want to give up, but I do feel like I’m making terrible progress at this point.


Frustration??? What’s that? :rofl::rofl::rofl:

I for example (like some other people in here), have been trying japanese for almost 20 years! :scream:

There’s nothing to be ashamed for :+1:

After many, many attempts to learn Kanji: Using dictionaries, reading books with furigana, apps like memrise, trying to read some manga writing its kanji in a notebook, I even buyed the complete Kanken set of books (used by children in japan)…

All that allow me to say: Let the SRS do its thing, period.

WK works. Maybe not for “everyone” but for the vast majority of people the system will slowly but surely introduce those symbols in your brain.

Don’t worry about mistakes, have some confidence, maybe slow your pace a little bit. Just don’t stop :wink:


I’m not far past you, just 14. I get it - I’m also trying to find a job, studying japanese grammar, working on my passion projects, trying to be a good partner. I also forget things I’ve seen a dozen times. I don’t know if it’s healthy but what pushes me through the mind-numbing burnout is knowing that I’m getting older and I’d be so much happier right now if I’d have just done all this stuff I wanted to do ten years ago, and one day today will be the ten years ago where I should’ve done the stuff. So I make some tea, brace myself for frustration, and start up reviews, and every time I feel like chucking my laptop or beating myself up I just think about how cool it’s going to be when I can confidently read this stuff, I spend a few seconds in my imagination on the beach or in a library or in my future home in Japan, and then I keep pushing. As for trying to improve your recall, if you have time and energy it really helped me to not rush through my reviews and lessons - every time I get a new item I slowly re-read it three times while staring at the kanji. If I have a leech I picture myself drawing it in the sand with a stick deep in a cave with ghost mentors howling in pride as they watch me struggle through it. I know it’s weird but it keeps me moving. It’s okay to be weird if it keeps you moving. Easier than being frustrated and angry and scared.


You’re making more progress than you think. Failing is a part of the SRS, let it do it’s thing. You are supposed to forget crap. If I didn’t have problem recalling things once in a while I would get really suspicious and probably be cheating.

I don’t deal with frustration all that much, not burnout or motivation either, I have no choice in the matter, the routine is all that matters.

Continue failing so you can succeed eventually.


I’m sorry I don’t have any tips, I just wanted to thank DeonDefense for posting this. I just got done trying to do my second batch of Kanji on level 6 and for some reason they wouldn’t stick in my mind at all. I feel so frustrated and discouraged. The timing of seeing this post at the bottom of my WaniKani dashboard was pretty perfect! I’ve started, stopped, and started trying to learn Japanese several times in the past few years. Especially at such a low level, it sucks having such a large learning curve before even being able to utilize/practice very much of it! And learning on my own is hard too (I’m in my 30s and work full time).

DeonDefense, you’re twice as far as me, and even though you’ve hit a wall, you are so impressive!! Have you tried using the extra study features at all? For me, doing the “Recent Lessons” and “Recent Mistakes” a few times during the day in between WK reviews has made a big difference. Sometimes I’ll ask my partner too (he’s also studying WK and farther along than I am) for how he remembers kanji I struggle with, and he has some good tips that have helped me. If you have any specific bad leeches, maybe we can help? :slight_smile:

Some things I feel that have helped me are being gentle with myself, getting support from someone else when needed, and coming back to things again and again. Even if my accuracy rate isn’t in the 90s, even if I feel spacey or like I’m doing poorly, coming back to it again and again keeps progress going.

YOU CAN DO THIS DEONDEFENSE!!! I am sending you all the cheerleading PomPoms!!!

(also pls forgive me this is my first post…my GIF might not post right)


I got frustrated about 5 months ago. I’ve just been doing reviews because I’m also tired of getting things wrong tule after time. Even now I keep getting things wrong and I still can’t clear my apprentice. It goes from 50 to 30 and back up to 50. It’s been like this for more than a month now.

Keep getting stuff back to guru as well. I’ll just keep going until I burn everything. I won’t do lessons until it is all cleared.


In addition to what others have said about “let SRS do its thing” I would add that if you are getting really frustrated to STOP doing new lessons for a bit, or use a script like “lesson filter” to only do lessons for vocab (if you think that would help you).

And if you’re really not feeling it, it’s okay to take a day off even from reviews, or use the “wrap-up” function or a script like “review queue sizer” to only do a smaller number of reviews at a time. I don’t like doing more than 40-50 items at a time for reviews, because it tires me out.

I get frustrated with SRS and my poor memory often. If I score less than 75% on a review session I feel like a loser. But I keep reminding myself that WK is just part of my Japanese learning journey, and that this is a marathon to fluency and not a race to memorize WK items.

Similar to @LuisTM, I discovered WK after many years of trying to learn kanji through other methods, and it is indeed working for me better than anything else I’ve tried. For me this has less to do with SRS (which I could get from Anki or other sources) and everything to do with the fact that WK reinforces kanji with vocabulary, so while I still mix up 失 and 矢 in isolation, I have no problem recognizing 失望 or 弓矢 and I do feel like I am really learning the kanji.

I got really behind and burnt out at level 19 and ended up taking a year off WaniKani and having to work my way through all those reviews (almost 1000) that piled up while I stopped, and so now I try to keep a closer eye on when I am getting really frustrated and to just break for a day or two or do reviews in “wrap-up” batches of 10 throughout the day instead of all at once.

Best of luck to you, and you can definitely get past this! Just remember it’s totally okay to slow down.


+1 to LuisTM

SRS works if you do the reviews. Everyone will have a different speed, and if reviews start to get out of control and your motivation is low, hold off on new lessons until you feel confident with the current material. For most, I guess burn items start to come around between levels 10 and 20, and that can increase the workload too.

Like LuisTM I’ve been trying to learn Japanese for nearly 15 years, and have been working in Japan for the last year! Wanikani and Bunpro are certainly helping, but it can be incredibly frustrating to be making such slow progress towards something that is so important for me…

We have to keep reminding ourselves that slow progress is still progress! Don’t give up!


Hey friend, I feel you.

A lot of others have said some great things, I just wanted to add personal experience because I have great advise for what NOT to do that I’m recovering from now.

Somewhere between 10-15 I got really frustrated too and I didn’t think I was learning fast enough. I had a plug-in that showed me first-time memory percentage and because I wanted to feel good about myself, I didn’t ever let it drop below 99%. Meaning I cheated: I looked up kanji and vocab I couldn’t remember rather than let the SRS do its job. I was definitely learning a lot at each level, but not everything. But the “numbers” said I was doing well, so who cared!

I should have! I’d keep looking things up through Enlightened. I wouldn’t let it Burn if I didn’t know it, but those started piling up and too many new things came through and I got crazy overwhelmed.

I took a break for Golden Week back in May, but even though I put a pause WK, when I came back, I felt like I barely knew anything, got extremely frustrated, and hadn’t opened the website until literally today, four months later.

I have 1500 reviews and started picking at them today. I took the plug-in off and I’m barely hitting 45%-50% because duh, but I’m letting it happen. I’m probably not going to start anything new for a month or more, and that’s okay, because the level doesn’t matter, just that I’ve learned the material.

So the actual advise for burnout, after doing exactly what I shouldn’t have done–is to take a break from new things when you need to. Use those Extra-study buttons as much as you want–letting the Mistake category do its job has been the best for feeling better about my progress.

The other thing I wish was focused on more in WK is that when you’re truly using Japanese, its in context, there will be words around the kanji to help you with meaning. I’m TERRIBLE at kun’yomi, so I started a notebook for writing down some of the practice sentences–then it’s not just rote memorization anymore, you spend more time thinking about the word than if you treat it like a flash card, and it gives you something to look at if you need to, something physical to show the work you’ve done.

I know it’s frustrating, believe me I was (and still am) there, and it sounds dumb to say, but the mindset change made all the difference. I still have a butt-ton of reviews to get through, it’s only Day 1 and I’ll probably get frustrated again within a week, but trust me, accepting that I’ll probably only get 40% of them right–but that’s still more than I knew before I started, and that’s pretty cool. I’ll get back to new things someday, but the new things have no importance until I get through the old things.

Sorry for the novel, but I hope it helps and good luck to us both :muscle: :+1:


Having a goal in mind helps. If you study for the sake of studying I think you’ll quickly become tired and unmotivated, so when you keep messing up reviews you won’t want to continue. My goal is to have more vocabulary to speak with my Japanese friends. It’s not study for the sake of saying I know kanji; it’s study to improve my friendships. It doesn’t mean you won’t still get tired of studying but I think having a real goal will increase your motivation.

Something else – very minor – that I’ve been doing is using a Pomodoro app since I get “rewarded” for studying. I kind of like management/farming games (think Stardew, Animal Crossing, not FarmVille although I’ve never actually played that), so I found some Pomodoro apps that having a farming mechanic, so that’s been very as far as using studying as a motivator to progress in the game. I think I also found some on mobile that are in Japanese, although that could backfire if you use the apps to encourage studying but then you can’t understand the app itself.


I know pretty well how you feel, and I feel the same at times. Plus, I’m a bit older and my brain does not work as well any more as it used to, which is utterly frustrating. :woman_shrugging:

There’s two things that I would like to point out. First of all, what is it that you are studying Japanese for? Do you want to read manga? Books? Play videogames? Watch anime? Something else? Or do you simply learn for the sake of learning Japanese, maybe because you are intrigued by kanji? All of them are very fair and good points (even the last one!). Have you done any of this yet? You can try out a very simple one first and see where you can get to already. And especially reading is extremely helpful for retaining kanji because it shows them to you frequently! At some point you will probably want to get off of WaniKani (or you simply burned everything) and then reading is the way to go to keep the kanji fresh in your mind.

The other thing is: Do you just do WaniKani, or do you also do other things regarding Japanese studies? If not, it would be about time to start studying grammar and to start studying words that are not in WaniKani (there are a lot of words that don’t even have kanji, and you need those too, plus the WaniKani vocabulary is mainly geared towards letting you practice different kanji readings, it is not aimed for you getting a well-rounded vocabulary base in Japanese. (Although it’s getting better and better.)

Now that might sound like I’m trying to overload you even more, while you’re already struggling. But I’m not saying you need to go full-speed with all of them at the same time. You can have a slow phase in WK, not doing any new lessons, and study some grammar on the side, and maybe some core vocabulary deck. Then once you made some progress, you can relax on grammar and rather make progress in WK. And don’t forget to add in some manga or whatever! Those are also excellent study tools, if you really try to figure out the words and grammar. That’s my mode of studying anyways, I’ve taken a lot of breaks from WK so far. As you can see, I’m not even level 60 yet, but I’ve read a bunch of books (that’s my passion with Japanese) - and I’m talking books geared towards Japanese adults.

So in short, getting to WK level 60 is not the goal - learning the language is the goal! Kanji and WK are only a small fraction of the fun.


I use bursts of energy to do hundreds of reviews at once, and not fretting if I can’t finish them all. Also, not necessary do lessons once they came out. (I also sorted to prioritize lower levels and vocabularies, but I can’t say I recommend that.)

Then, to add to motivation, that would be resilience. What if motivation drops? – Simply come back quickly. I won’t exactly say to do reviews everyday, but come back quickly, perhaps not missing more than a few days. Also, doing multiple sessions per day is fine.

There are also endurance tricks. Things like Pomedoro timer, but try out yourself to find out. I find it correlates with being self-conscious if I feel tired, but decide well to either keep at it or not. External factors may help, but use in moderation.

I don’t totally trust SRS. At least, priming for initial memorization can be done better than SRS. Perhaps simply blinding a series of questions every five minutes or so, until you can do initial recall, should do the trick. Otherwise, medium/long term forgetting is bound to happen – perhaps SRS is better for that.


I understand completely, you just have to keep going, for a long time I was inconsistent and just feeling tired and dreading doing my lessons, but after a while I eventually made up my mind because I didn’t like my progress, I’ve been continuing the consistent pace, even when I’m not home, you just have to do it.

I also forget the kanji from earlier levels, learning new kanji seems to be slightly more difficult but I trust that I’ll get them in the future, I just need to keep pushing through. The progress isn’t going to be that evident just from doing WK. When you branch out and read, you’ll notice kanji isn’t just random hieroglyphics anymore, even if you can’t read it. And when you can read it, that’s something you couldn’t do when you started, right?


Whenever I feel like I keep forgetting the same kanji, I skip doing new lessons for about 2-3 days and re-read the mnemonic for each kanji I am messing up. Someone said it before as well, if after this I still miss this kanji, I then work my brain to come up with something for myself. I think if you have access to do so maybe you need to start listening to some interesting Japanese podcasts or watching drama etc to remind yourself that Kanji knowledge is not the end all be all for Japanese (as important as it is).

Lastly, you can go on holiday mode for 2 weeks or so and see if you miss it enough to return.


It’s possible you are going too fast, or in other words ‘rushing’ yourself? I once tried to go fast but started to get burnt out and then hit a wall. I ended up resetting to a previous level (made a post After a long absence, I reset (to level 7), and I’m glad I did), and then decided to focus on enjoying learning Japanese, rather than playing the ‘fastest to level 60’ game. I found a thread with like-minded folks at :durtle_hello: Let’s Durtle the Scenic Route :turtle:, and now I focus more on making steady, enjoyable progress.

Haven’t had any issues with burnout since then! Even been able to handle a recent 3 week absence (and forgetting to turn on vacation mode), leaving me with 700-ish reviews. Just worked away at them bit by bit (and stopped doing new lessons until I got things back to normal), and since I’m not pressuring myself, it’s still actually fun.

Your case reminds me a lot of how I felt the second time I hit a wall and came back to a bunch of reviews (over 9000! 2000!). I ended up choosing to reset to a previous level (see link above for how I made that decision), and if you’re experiencing similar frustration, I highly recommend at least considering whether or not a reset to a previous level would help. Many people report positive experiences when resetting. Something to think about! :blush:


One thing that I’ve been doing recently in order to ‘give myself more successes’ is to actually un-burn (aka ‘resurrect’) previously burned items from lower levels that I feel a bit fuzzy on. I call it ‘visiting old friends’. See, since I’ve already burned them once, the second time around they are much more familiar, and I often get a better feel for the word/kanji/radical including better mnemonics and better ability to distinguish them from other items that are similar/confusing.

I’ve found that this makes working through large review backlogs more fun, because at least I know I’ll have some items that I mostly remember and that gives me some positive reward feedback to keep me motivated to work on the newer or more-difficult review items. It’s like adding some flavouring to bland food to make the whole meal more enjoyable. :yum:

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Oh that’s a big fat no for me Lol. Even if I unburn them and I happen to get most—if not all of them right— I would feel even more stressed out. I’m tired of doing reviews so the fact that I would get some right would not give me a boost.

I just want to get rid of all reviews and rest for a long time while I just immerse with videos, anime, and reading

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heh, I’ve been stuck on level 27 for 5 months now for many reasons (JLPT/MEXT, conferences, life drama and whatnot). 1.5 weeks ago I cleared my reviews, now I have 350 pending reviews, and I have not even done a lesson. This proves what others said: stopping using SRSs is the worst mistake you could do. Once you’re in you gotta go all the way down.
Try finding some enticing material to keep your morale up! With level 12 you should be able to read children stories or even play pokemon, and obviously get through genki if you haven’t.

(I should get back to work…)

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Fair enough. I know the feeling.

… however…
If you’ll allow me…, let me give you a very simple, easy, virtually no-risk challenge you could try, if you wanted to:

The first two levels, 1 and 2, have that ‘accelerated’ SRS timing, so that the Apprentice items go twice as fast: 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, and 1 day, to get all the way up to Guru. So, in the worst case scenario, this little experiment would only really risk a couple of days with a few (not many!) extra reviews.

So, the idea is simple. Just pick a few of your already-burned Level 1 or Level 2 items – say 5 or 10. You could pick them randomly (using the Levels menu on the homepage it’s easy to do) or you could pick ones you’re already familiar with (if you want to minimize challenge), or you could pick ones that are a bit less familiar than others (you’ve already burned them, but maybe they’re a bit fuzzy, or maybe you can’t quite recall off the top of your head, but when you look at the WK page they come back to you easy enough).

Then just resurrect some of these. Try five, maybe. Or even three, or two, or even just one. Come on, eh? Just one? You’d barely notice it! Just for an experiment.

And besides, you will easily re-burn it anyway, shuffled in with all the other items you’ll eventually burn. And it’ll be the easiest item to burn, since you’ve already burned it.

A grand total of 8 reviews of an item you’ve already burned once. It would take, what, like maximum 1 minute per review, and that’s a super-conservative estimate. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, you could probably do all 8 reviews in less than 60 seconds total! But let’s say 1 minute per. That’s still less than 10 minutes of your entire life just to try this little experiment.

The purpose of the experiment is to see for yourself: Does ‘re-visiting old friends’ like this (only occasionally, mind you) really create stress? Or…, perhaps, … might it actually be a little bit de-stressing, as I’ve personally found it? Or, maybe it’s just neutral, no stress, no de-stress, just no plus or minus either way? Ya never know till ya try! :thinking:

And hey, if it turns out to be a bit de-stressing – or heck, maybe even a bit fun and enjoyable as I find it – then you’ve found a new way to bring back some of the enjoyment of WK/learning-Japanese once again. Could be a handy tool to help ward off frustration and burnout. Just a thought. Worth a shot, IMHO, even if it’s just to experiment with a single item, or maybe a handful of them. Got virtually nothing to lose (but maybe maximum 10 minutes), potentially useful technique to gain… :thinking:

I get you, I am currently at level 16. I get so frustrated when I seem to can’t remember a word that I know I have used. It’s been really frustrating for me the last few levels.

Half of me wants to take it easy. Stop rushing the levels and just do some reviews for a week or two without lessons then continue, but the other half is scared that I won’t be able to pick it up again by then.

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