How to recover after long periods of vacation

In the past few years my study rate fell dramatically with me entering college. But last semester was the worst, as I spent almost all of it on vacation mode. Today I finally came back to the site, and while I did remember most of the burned items, I’m having a much harder time than I was with the reviews, as expected. What would be the best course of action here? Spend some time on the burned items to refresh my memory?


Yeah I would keep it on vacation mode and spend a couple of weeks just going through all your open items one by one (not the burned ones, the ones you have in some SRS stage). Essentially re-doing them as “lessons” at your own pace, then “reviewing them” a few times, also at your own pace. Then when you re-start the real SRS, you’ll have some chance of knowing the answers. Then I would do reviews in big, but not too big, batches, like 300 to 500 per day. Much more than that and the return waves are too disruptive and bury you again days/weeks/months later. Spread that out a bit.

You COULD do a reset, but I think that takes too much control out of your own hands and is only really necessary if you just can’t do it on your own. It’s kind of a “baby with the bathwater” situation, where you have to re-do even the ones you DO know again, which is very annoying and time-consuming to re-level to where you were.

(a handy way to get a clickable list of your open items is

I choose to reset :sweat_smile:
From Level 49, that is…
And I’m pretty happy with the results so far
Old known items now seems like words from my mother language, and I can recall way better the new ones.


Some people like to reset, but I wanted to finish my journey personally before doing it all over again. Remember, it’s much more tempting once you go on vacation, and you could likely do it again! Take it from me, who did it multiple times (although it may not happen to everyone).

There were two methods I used. First, I would write everything down, whether on paper or in a memo, of what I got wrong during the reviews. For example, if I mess up 野蛮, I would write Kanji down and write its English meaning and the kanji it’s made up of and try to remember the mnemonic. The second method was just to put it in an Anki deck, so I could review it more than once a day.

This happened to me and will probably happen again. What I do is: nothing in particular. No vacation mode or reordering scripts or anything.

When I come back from 6m~1y of dropping out, to 1000+ reviews, I crash through them best I can (no new lessons, of course) over the course of 2-3 weeks, and usually find out I retained at least 75%, with a higher failure rate on the newer items. No quotas per session or anything. I just put on some nondistracting background music and go until I get tired. I will manually unburn something only if I meet it in the wild and totally blank out.

What I am experimenting with this time, though, is trying to keep my overall active items (all the apprentice/guru/master/enlightened stuff) under 1000, in prevision of my next dropping out :stuck_out_tongue:

Makes interesting summaries, too

… ᶦ ᵇᵒᵘᵍʰᵗ ˡᶦᶠᵉᵗᶦᵐᵉ ᶦⁿ ²⁰¹⁶ ᵗʰᶦˢ ᵃᵈᵛᶦᶜᵉ ᶦˢ ᵖʳᵒᵇᵃᵇˡʸ ʰᵒʳʳᶦᵇˡᵉ


It took really long for me to get this far, but I am quite considering a reset now to be honest. Too many words I couldn’t burn that just kept piling up, which made learning new levels harder and harder, a fresh start might just be what I need. One question though, how long did it take you to reach level 36 after the reset?

Remember kids: “Vacation mode: Not Even Once”

Assuming that you go full-speed it’ll take you 9 months.

I don’t know if it makes sense to reset from level 1 in your situation though, maybe have a look at something like wkstats and browse through the levels until you feel like you reach a point where you don’t remember a lot of kanji and start from there?

You could also reset incrementally, like back to level 20 and then, if it’s still too difficult, 15 etc…


besides wanikani did you do other studies in grammar like in bunpro?

revising grammar is also a good way to remember vocab if they really stuck with you after this time. I would recommend doing N5 on bunpro, you can finish in one month doing the free period.

My problem isn’t just the 6 months break or so I took from the site. This was the biggest obstacle so far, but I’ve been struggling for a long while now.

When I started out I would very frequently start new lessons even if I still had many items I was struggling with. This was initially fine, but the higher the levels got the worse it went, and eventually this snowballed into me having lessons that were much bigger than I could deal with, with a higher and higher percentage of items I couldn’t get right no matter what. So reviews of 50-100 items with maybe 5-10 difficult ones eventually turned into reviews of 300-600 items with 75-200 difficult ones… I still have hundreds of items on aprentice that I should’ve burned years ago.

At this point, reseting everything is not only tempting, it might be the only feasible course of action. If I reset and speedrun my way to maybe level 20-25, burning all the easy ones, and taking my time to actually learn the hard ones instead of accumulating them, then it might make things much easier for me in the long run.

1 Like

Yeah that’s why personally when I feel like I’m getting overwhelmed because I don’t have enough time to study properly I stop doing lessons but I always strive to do my reviews. If you don’t do any new lessons the review load drops pretty fast normally, after a couple of weeks it should be a fraction of what it used to be.

It’ll work for sure, but if you managed to get to level 36 once it also means that you had (at some point at least) the kanji knowledge to engage with “real” Japanese. I’d recommend doing some light reading on the side as you go through WaniKani to solidify your existing knowledge and avoid the same pitfalls.

In fact an other possibility would be to use that to guide your studies: try reading some simple Japanese (say, a manga or something) and every time you encounter a kanji you forgot, you unburn it.

That being said it may be a bit annoying to work with, WaniKani is way too limiting in the way it lets you mess with the SRS. It would be a lot easier to implement with Anki.

250 days at max speed… (7 day per level)
Not suitable for everyone, but rest assured, your second time will feel really easy :wink:

I took a ~4 year break from formally studying Japanese. I still use it daily since I live in Japan. I had ~6000 Anki flashcards waiting for review and my WaniKani was also totally backed up. I chose to reset as it was too overwhelming. I have my Anki cards tagged by level, so I’ve been move them by level into a custom study session so that it actually feels like I’m chipping away. Currently sitting at 2500 reviews left, so over halfway now.

Anyways, I’d say reset and stick to it this time.

I took a 9 month break after getting to level 21!

This is exactly what I did! Reset to 16, but after a few days, I still felt uncomfortable. Then reset to 11 and still felt uncomfortable, and then finally settled down to level 7. I’m now level 12 and I’m not regretting the reset at all!

Nowadays I do 10-15 lessons a day depending on the number of apprentice items I have using the advanced lessons feature. For me, what was most important was keeping my apprentice items at a reasonable level so that I don’t get overwhelmed. That range for me is between 50 - 70 items and with this pace I level up every 12 - 16 days. Not exactly speedrunning as you planned but it worked for me! Been consistent for 3 months now!

I also agree that you should read as much as possible. Would be best to try to put it in your daily routine even just 10 minutes of reading per day.

1 Like