How to pace yourself

We have quite a number of posts from Wanikardians who enjoy going as fast as possible from 0 to 60 in a year or under. The first time I started Wanikani I tried to emulate them, but I actually burned out when I reached level 12 or so. I took a year off and started again, this time on my own terms.

I totally understand the motivation of those who want to go through Wanikani in as short a time as possible. However I do not share any of them. For example, Japanese is not a part of my studies or professional life. I despise flying, so the likelihood of me ever travelling to Japan is slim to none. My partner is not Japanese and I don’t need that language to communicate with my in-laws. I don’t have anything to prove to myself or others. And the list goes on.

That does not mean that I have no motivation in learning Japanese. I already speak seven (human) languages and I like the mental gymnastics of learning a more difficult one. I had a Japanese nanny up to the age of 10 and I acquired a certain appreciation for Japanese manners since an early age (from a certain point of view there are many similarities with some English etiquette and mannerism). I like calligraphy and Japanese offers a treasure trove of possibilities. I collect comics and mangas opened a new world of graphic novels to me. I have a religious affinity for Zen Buddhism and Shintoism, some aspects of which were introduced to me when I was still a child. In short, I don’t want for motivation.

I finally decided to take the scenic route and enjoy the journey.

I would like to share the guidelines I’m using to pace myself this time round.

  1. I established a target length of time of 5 years to reach level 60.

  2. I assumed that my average correct rate is going to be 90%.

  3. I estimated that I should do about 50 to 55 reviews per day to hit my 5-year target.

  4. I installed Reviews Timeline to know how many reviews are coming up.

  5. If the Reviews Timeline shows that today I have less than 50 reviews then I do 5 or 10 new lessons. If it shows that I have more than 50 reviews then I do not do any new lessons.

  6. A consequence of (5) is that I do not do all new lessons as soon as they are available. Sometimes I do not do all available reviews either.

I keep a daily log. You don’t have to. However if you’re interested here’s a view.


And this is a graph for the last couple of months since I reset my level to 1.


You can see that the number of items in apprentice, guru and master is roughly constant. The same will be true for enlightened, while burned items will grow over time That’s what’s going to keep your number of reviews per day under check.

I hope that some of you will find this useful. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race and sometimes winning the race just doesn’t matter! :slight_smile:


You speak seven languages!? That’s quite impressive.

Since WaniKani simply teaches you how to read kanji, I wonder what your other plans are for learning the other bits of the language. As a slow learner myself, I don’t mind taking my time with my studies. Right now, I’ve started to buckle down on grammar and am doing a bit of light reading. Writing is the least of my priority and speaking (to superiors formally) is well, a fear I have yet to overcome.


i also try to keep is slower…
good luck in your studies.

yes, how do you work grammar or do you read something complementary?
(question to @Yalmar)


This is about my pace. I need to balance my interests and goals and employment and other responsibilities in life. Wanikani keeps me engaged with learning Japanese. There is no end point.

In five or six years I will know lots of kanji, know lots of words, and will know much more about Japan and the Japanese language than I do now.


Thank you @gojarappe . However much of it is circumstantial. For instance I was brought up bilingual, I have lived in 6 countries, and the country were I live now has 3 official languages. Incidentally I count Dutch and Flemish as one language (Nederlands) - I know some people will shout at me for that, but there you go :slightly_smiling_face:

@gojarappe @HotWeather
Grammar was the first thing I studied because grammar comes easy to me. I also studied phonetics, but I’m not that good at it. Sometimes I know pronunciation and intonation, but what comes out of my mouth does not resemble either!

Not spending all my time with reviews (like the first time round) leaves me some time to do some easy reading and listening. I’ve recently subscribed to Netflix and even if I don’t understand much yet, I let the sounds of the language wash over me. I’ve also started to use Voracious to analyse small fragments of what I watch.


I’m using WaniKani to regain forgotten Japanese, and find the paced repetition very effective. I wish I’d had it the first time around. As for speaking, going for it every chance you get is the best way to get over the fear of speaking–and my experience has been that Japanese people are pretty kind to foreigners learning to speak Japanese.

One thing that can trip up a native English speaker is getting used to using a title/role instead of “you” in a sentence. Japanese bosses really don’t like their subordinates referring to them as “anata.” Other than that, my Japanese bosses have been understanding about slow progress… but they do want to see progress.

Gambatte kudasai!


The first time around I was trying to just go through this as fast as possible, and that’s not effective for me to pick it up as well, and I feel this pressure to get things right and never let it be WRONG so (uhh, scripts here, don’t do this, clearly).

So, the second time I started I have a goal of 2 levels a month. So, in a year about 24 levels, or wanikani in about three years ish.

I think its a good pace for me, I don’t stress about getting things wrong or whatever. I’m learning a ton and its useful. This also correlates well with taking a JLPT every year- N4 in 2019, N3 in 2020.

I also try not to add new kanji items on the weekends, my review schedule is less consistent I’m less likely to hit the 4 hour review. I’m better with holding the actual vocab in my head, so I will add those on the weekends if that is how the review schedule falls for the week.


I’m attempting to do it within a year and a bit, my degree at university is Japanese language so I’m using Wanikani as a way for remembering the Kanji so doubt I’ll burn out because of it being beneficial towards my degree. I’m expected to know all Joyo Kanji by the end of my year abroad in Japan from next September till august next year. Which WaniKani would help me do thankfully.

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the only real reason for not rushing in WK is : it’s not a race or a video game
It’s a way of learning kanjis
learning takes time
learning means remembering and being able to use the stuff you’ve learned
Going fast just to reach level 60 is pointless
everyone has his own pace for learning , so there is no need to compare how the others are doing
it’s self study , everyone does it their own way , but at the end , its better to be able to read kanjis !


The stats that you keep are great. It’s a nice way to see the learning progression.

I’ll probably try out your record keeping method. As a spreadsheet junkie, this is right up my alley. It’ll also help to put my learning in context too as I sometimes feel like my time just gets swallowed into a black hole filled with unrecognisable kanji. :tired_face:


It’s good to hear about others pacing themselves. I was rushing in the beginning when it was more of a review and I had more time. Now as I’m getting more and more new kanji and new words and my life is a bit busier I’ve started falling back on the SRS method. When I don’t have time I don’t study in between sessions and if I get things wrong that’s okay. I don’t review everything as soon as it becomes available anymore.It feels a bit like I’m not living up to my potential, but I have to remind myself that it’s better to slow it down so that I can really learn it rather than risk burning out or not remembering everything long term.


Similar scenario here. I burned out at level 13 as well and had to come back after a year this time properly pacing myself. Although I plan to get this done in a less than two years I am aiming to do it in a manner that doesn’t put too much stress on me. By doing radicals and kanji first and splitting the rest of the vocabs over the week I ensure that I don’t get overwhelmed.


Keeping WK stats is addictive, isn’t it? I have an auto-logger that pulls input from the API, and I get to do a lot of really nifty things with the data it pulls. This is probably my favourite so far:


Just so you’re aware, I would say that the knowledge you get from getting to level 60 is about a third of all the knowledge you will need to get to a good level of fluency (my opinion of a good level). Maybe less. I’m not sure if you were gonna do stuff in parallel with WK, but if not thats something to keep in mind.


Monthly update on the slow-and-steady method.


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