I did hit a wall in WaniKani around level 30 as well. My solution was to slow down by doing only 12 lessons a day (3 kanji, 9 vocab) using the Lesson Filter script. Fewer lessons = fewer reviews = better accuracy. It definitely won’t fix all issues, but it helped me a lot. I don’t know if that suggestion is relevant to you, and I don’t have any suggestions regarding reviews or general study approaches. Honestly, I never really fixed my leech issue in WaniKani and my review percentage got worse as I reached higher levels.
the good news is that the levels don’t get harder, every level is pretty much the same, so if you made it through 30 you can make it to the end. You might just be hitting a brain bump…are you stressed more than usual about something else? That can affect your memory. Just slow down for a bit, don’t do more lessons until you feel like you’re getting your mojo back. I think you got this.
I definitely had a couple of patches where it felt like I was making a bunch of mistakes. Changing my patterns a bit is what made the difference. Making sure I hit the first couple of reviews for any new lessons made a big difference in retention of new items.
For older items, well, that’s always going to be a bit more of a pain. What do your studies outside of WK look like? Are you reading and getting actual exposure to some words outside of here? I find that I most remember the kanji I’ve seen while reading, even if they are part of different vocabulary words and the like. If you haven’t branched out into reading, I would suggest trying to do so. Perhaps start with some graded readers, or something like Satori Reader, or just joining up with one of the book clubs on these forums (though this last part can be a bit more difficult)?
For particularly bad leeches, those are the ones I learned how to write (being sure to learn proper stroke order while doing so. Jisho includes stroke order for kanji on its site) by hand, and that has turned some of my worst leeches into the ones I remember the best now.
I also would agree that if there are some outside factors affecting your retention, extra stress, a busy work or school schedule, or just life being life, that there is absolutely no shame in stepping back and just taking it easy a little bit. I would recommend you continue to at least do reviews, every day, but a break from lessons is totally normal. I had several points where I had to take a break and just do reviews because life got in the way.
You just continue and you will push through the wall eventually. Use the new extra study alot. Problem solved. You don’t forget burned kanji by reading. WK should get you into reading. If you don’t read, you’ll forget it all eventually.
In addition to the other good advice here (slowing down, using mistake review tool, starting immersion asap), it may be worth exploring a secondary modality to study kanji with. I noticed similar feelings in the mid twenties and started a “second pass” by going through a kanji textbook (kanji in context, for those curious), and the textbook work, coupled with WK and some light immersion reading have helped quite a bit.
Outside of the pragmatic advice, please don’t be too hard on yourself, learning isn’t a linear path
I hit this like two months ago. I reset a few levels because that was where the vast majority of my leeches were and I also started an anki deck (I use anki religiously) to basically start relearning all the wanikani kanji. I really like wanikani, but the customizable aspect of anki can’t be beat. I think the intervals I have set up on anki just work better, especially for burned things because I will forget them and there’s no opportunity for them to come up for review again once they’re burned.
Wow. I seriously appreciate everyone’s advice! I didn’t think I would receive this much feedback, to be honest.
For some reason, I had a fear of stopping lessons as it would increase the time spent overall, but I think many of you are correct in that being a good idea. I’ll give it a shot and see if I can get my reviews under control before continuing with lessons.
As someone mentioned, I’ve definitely been a little more stressed/busy at work and outside of studying in general, so that could have something to do with it. I’ve always had a lot of anxiety not only in general but when it comes to if I’m doing the right thing studying since I’m doing it entirely on my own.
Everyone’s advice here has definitely calmed me down and given me some good steps to take going forward.
For sure. I find that even as my stress level fluctuates throughout the day at work I can lose my edge. Often the reviews actually calm me and I get a natural flow going but sometimes if I start getting too many wrong in a row I just walk away and come back to it when i’m less tense. The memory starts to flow again. Don’t let it freak you out. I also find it super helpful to use the wrap up button and only do 10 reviews at a time. For some reason I get more anxious when faced with 300 reviews and i make more careless mistakes. But when faced with only 10 i’m calmer and more able to focus on each one. Now I do ALL my reviews in these 10 review chunks…it’s a strange trick but it works for me.
I can only echo what others have said here and advice you to slow down a bit until you feel like you want to start adding more new lessons.
If you are not already doing it I would also suggest to incorporate more reading or native media consumption into your routine. Especially when reading you will find that a lot of those enlightened items you thought you forgot will come up pretty often and will help you remember it more easily when it comes up again in WK.
I’m sure there may be something to that, but one thing I noticed when hitting the 30s is that you now have a much higher chance of seeing similar Kanji since you’ve already built up a decent amount of Kanji knowledge.
I found that this only increases as the levels get larger and you start running into a lot of kanji that are only one radical off from previous ones, so getting an handle on it now is a good idea.
I find it gets worst as even more kanji gets learned beyond WK library. WK doesn’t really address how to navigate this either outside a few scripts that helps a user be aware of similar kanji. And the general response I gather has been just ‘read more’ to help solidify but I find both of these approaches are more or less a collocation-esq approach. I think this is good for making a lot of progress in a short period of time, especially for beginners but ultimately have limitations unless you have the time to power-read through alot content (and content variety) with a lot of patience. Ironically, the WK sentences are very ‘anti-collocation’ which is a reason I find benefit in SRS’n them independently…besides engagingly entertaining, there are alot less contextual safe assumptions.
For the similar kanji issue, the most sure solution was the most obvious for me; I have to learn to productively write (and essentially what natives have recommended since the beginning). I would not have considered this a few years ago, thinking ‘ah, I don’t live in Japan so this is alot of time for a skill set I won’t use’ was my general attitude but the physical musical memory has helped alot for reading accuracy. I had made a writing attempt long ago and was entirely overwhelmed to continue…but going WK makes the process so much easier that hasn’t been a burden at all and the benefit have been quite satisfying to keep going with it.
This recently happened to me in hell levels. Then I see it is time to change something. I quit studying japanese for 10 years exactly because I hit a wall in 2011 and I didnt see anything else to change that.
So now I started watching anime with japanese subtitles, 1 episode per day is enough for now and it has been a blast. Can’t wait to get home from work and watch one episode. Today I finish my second series and tomorrow I start a new one.
Otherwise I had realized many vocab I was forgetting for being burned, and I didnt see a way to keep them fresh in my mind and now I see them in dialogues. In context, which is the main point here. Quite helpful.
Also I want to increase my reading speed because it was abysmal, worse than a second grader I am sure
I had (and still have) a lot of the same feelings as you do. Consider the total number of items you have learned in relation to the items you have trouble with. At level 50 my total of leeches is 214, which seems like a really huge amount. But then, how many items have I learned in total? How many items have I managed to burn (even if I forget them sometimes)? 214 items out of 7,599 is only 2%. Besides, getting an item wrong just means you have the opportunity to practice it more. And isn’t that why we are all here?
I have been keeping a journal detailing my progress through this journey and when I was around your level, this is what I wrote:
Level 31 Journal
I keep telling myself that mistakes are part of the learning process and making a mistake on an item
just means I get to practice it more. Despite knowing that, I still felt like such a failure that day I got 18 wrong—or really any day my accuracy dips below 90%. But this is NOT an easy language to learn and I will keep making mistakes like these and I will keep learning from them. I do feel good that it’s quite rare for me to completely blank on an item. I usually know at least the meaning or the reading and I usually don’t make a mistake on the reading unless it’s an exceptional one. I’ve also found that it’s easier for me to recognize kanji as part of words because of the context like 結婚 (marriage) vs. 結 or 時間 (interval) vs. 間.
At around Level 34, I wrote this:
Level 34 Journal
About halfway though Level 34 I finally had a moment of clarity about accuracy: Accuracy is only a progress indicator (and one of many)—it’s meant to increase over time as I learn and grow. It’s not meant start at 100% and stay there. If I my accuracy was always 100% I wouldn’t need to be studying anymore: I’d already be done. The reason I’m studying every single day is because I’m NOT done—there’s still more to learn—and that means continuing to improve little by little, making mistakes along the way and learning from them.
(August 28, 2021 6:45AM)
And at level 38, I wrote this, and I think it is the most important realization I had thus far:
Nearing the end of level 38 I still felt bad when I made 22 mistakes one day. I’d made 21 mistakes the day before, and 27 the day before that and even though that meant I’d gotten 80% of the answers correct, I was still frustrated. I thought “Why can’t I do this? Other people can do this. Japanese kids can do this. Why can’t I?” And then it came to me: Japanese kids do this over TWELVE YEARS of schooling, bit by bit. I’m attempting to do it in ONE. (Closer to one-and-a-half.) AND I have an 80% accuracy rating, which means that most of the time I can read what I am looking at. I couldn’t say that at this time last year. So maybe instead of being angry at myself for making a few mistakes I ought to celebrate all the hard work I’ve been putting in this past year.
So, don’t be hard on yourself. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish, what matters is that you stick with it. Instead of feeling badly, celebrate that you made it to Level 32! Look at how many kanji you’ve learned already! Look how much you can read that you couldn’t read before!
And don’t forget, we are a community and we are here to help and encourage you. You can do this.