I feel down right now

I don’t feel like I’m making real progress…
I’m at level 11, with ~1160 burned stuff, but I don’t feel like I really know them. I keep making errors all over the place, I mix between words and radicals, I miss adding う for some words, and I keep making the same mistakes, like my brain just don’t want to figure this language. maybe I just need to give up? I’m trying to learn japanese for years without making a real progress so far, I feel stuck, I feel down.


Maybe you should try going slower then?
Also, I’d recommend taking notes - it takes quite a lot of time, but it does help.
Also, probably everyone who has ever studied Japanese has been through this, me included. Such feelings come in waves. As long as you keep going, they would become weaker and less frequent.
The hardest yet the most practical part, in my opinion, is just accept that you’ve got a long way ahead of you (so do I), so just find your own pace and go at it.
If you can’t see any results yet - that doesn’t mean they aren’t there! They might be small, but with your help they would grow!
Anyway, best of luck to you!


I know that feel. I’m just starting out to learn Japanese tho. But I’ve experienced it from many other things I’ve learned over the years (english, guitar, programming, drawing)

This is a natural thing to happen. Hitting plateaus and feeling like not to progress at all. When this feeling is REALLY strong it’s usually right before you will crush that plateau and move to the next level - if you keep at it and deal with your “weak spots” extensively of course. Afterwards it’ll be that progressing feeling for a while again until the procedure repeats.

Imagine it like a boss battle in a video game at the end of another level. After that it’ll be easier for a while until the next boss battle. :smiley: (some games/things have this inverted tho)

I try to keep that in mind whenever I hit plateaus - although it’s admittedly frustrating, I try to be excited about hitting a wall - because it means I have usually a specific “thing” I need to work on and will be rewarded with a level up - or just the great feel of success/accomplishment.

Don’t give up! Maybe try tackling it with another method. Write down those problems and focus on them. Try different mnemonics. Write a short story using all of those problem-words.



I actually feel it’s the other way around. I’m level 18 and just now I’m beginning to burn my first items (10 days avg. level up). If he has 1000+ burned, I think his pace is already kinda slow… and that might be the problem.

If you’re not using japanese in a daily basis, you’re not going to get acquainted with the language. Consistency is important, but it doesn’t matter if you’re studying japanese once every five days.

My suggestion is, try to do 30~45 minutes of something japanese-related everyday. It could be doing 50 WK reviews, watching anime, reading 1 chapter of a manga, reviewing past grammar lessons etc.

Well, those are assumptions. If you told us more about your approach to japanese, we could try figure it out.


It sounds to me like your studies is mostly focused on wanikani, which I think is a quite big mistake. Of course, it is one of the major things that helps with reading and such but I think to make “real progress” probably means for most people as being able to consume Japanese media at a certain level. I recommend rethinking goals and construct stable study plans to achieve them. 頑張ってください!


Ye find your own system is the best way to learn foreign language, i didn’t think about it and just let my vocabulary for later and now i just have 70 things to learn even on lv 2 ^ ^ it’s quite challenging to find best way, but i also feel with japanese it doesn’t matter that u consume content at the beginning because language is so different and u need at least basic knowledge, which he should have at his lv.

thanks everyone for your kind words.
I also use bunpro for grammer learning and I watch anime whenever I can, at least one chapter per day, sometime more. I also try to do my reviews in wanikani nearly every day.
I just feel frustrated with the amount of errors in my reviews that I manage to do, it’s overwhelming me right now.

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For what it’s worth, I felt similarly frustrated with dumb mistakes around level 11 or a little before. I also created a thread about it.

There were some helpful suggestions by others in that thread. And I found that I got better at WK in subsequent levels. Good luck!

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i felt same way a month ago so i took 20 days off.
it was refreshing.
i can do better now.

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Yeah my point wasn’t to advocate consuming content at all. I was just pointing out that most people judge their Japanese ability by how well they can consume media, and wanikani doesn’t help with some aspects of this as much such as listening and watching anime, etc. though it may help for reading manga and novels, etc. I used to focus very heavily on wanikani and get frustrated my “overall Japanese ability” wasn’t improving, but then noticed I was measuring my “Japanese ability” based on how well I understood anime, which wanikani does not help that much in.

In response to OP, I think you can try making your own mnemonics some perhaps that specifically make sure you know to use the う. Secondly, expanding your learning to different means, you can try some AJATT sentence things for example, may also decrease how much attention is put on wanikani, and these errors in reviews will make much less of a deal in terms of motivation.

Forgive me if I sound rude here but I don’t think that anything you said you are doing is actually related to studying Japanese? I only use Wanikani as the main online tool (even though I know what Bunpro is) and yes I agree that it is a extremely powerful tool that helps memorizing stuff, yet you got to understand that relying on pure memorization is probably the worst possible thing you can do (in any discipline).

Your brain needs to store information progressively by building links and you can achieve this only if you sit down and keep feeding it with diverse sources of information while constantly challenging it / yourself.

Wanikani is the “lazy” way and is not a self-sufficient method of studying, Imo. You click on some pages, a Kanji pops up, you read some infos, maybe a example, you keep going forward and that is it. Got what my point is? It works, because if you keep doing it indefinitely info will eventually “”“stick”“”, but its a damn lazy way of learning.

You got to make it hard for yourself, way more challenging that WK, i.e. open a book / text, find the kanji, see if you can read it or understand what is going on and maybe by reading the actual text you will find that - by the way a sentence sounds - one reading is just more probable than the other. And it will stick. You will not forget that or at least you will have created a link to something you can recall later on.

I can make you a example. I was pretty sure until 1 hour ago that I had 100% learnt the kanji in “来る” (lvl 5 WK btw) because it’s pretty common in the textbook I am currently working on and I never failed to recognize / read it properly.

However here is the funny thing, I bought a graded reader level 0 a couple of days ago, a short story, and I decided to manually copy it on my notebook. I see that at some point there is a “来ました” in a sentence and while I was able to read it on the fly I couldn’t recall its meaning. I was literally staring at it thinking “what the heck did this mean ffs”? That is because I had never written it down before or I never established a proper / organic link in my brain for it. I had just passively read and memorized the kanji. (I thought I had).

On the flip side in the same text I also found “夏” aka “summer” (lvl 7 WK) which I already knew from somewhere else, yet I had no troubles recognizing nor reading it simply because it contains the radical of winter 夂 in the bottom part of it. I had spent quite time on that radical because I wanted to understand its link with winter “冬”. Simply because I remember how to the kanji for winter looks like, I built a link with the kanji for summer since they share that little portion. That may not be the strongest example but it’s a very different approach from just memorizing the mnemonic associated with it (or any other thing which doesn’t have a intrinsic meaning).

Also I do sometime check out some kids show on Youtube just for fun (ONLY if subbed in Japanese) and its a nice way to spend 10-15 minutes but it is what it is. I play it at 0.5 / 0.75x speed so that I can try to understand the reading of the kanji and I feel pretty good if I can read a full sentence. However chances are that most of the context / meaning is lost anyway and eventually its not that useful. Mmm watching Anime…? Are you sure its a good investment of your time?

My advice is to start learning pro-actively with open eyes and brain and reduce to a minimum the time you spent on passive learning. WK in my opinion sort of is in between, it really depends on how you use it. But excuse me if you burned items and you forgot them already then probably its time to rethink how are you actually studying :slight_smile: They are supposed to be the most common ones so, hey, you know where to find them I suppose!

Wanted to add few more things but got to go now. I could have used stronger examples but I am sure you will understand what I tried to say


P.S. I always try not to forget to imagine how supposedly Japanese do it in Japan. From elementary school, something around 100 kanji a YEAR. I imagine these kids coming back in the afternoon filling pages of the same stuff over and over again etc… Naturally they have a different content in which they can practice but its food for thoughts. WK goes way faster in this respect.


I agree with the sentiment that a boost in pace could inspire you.

I started WK ~1 year ago on the 4th of July, and did it every single day right up until Lvl 55. Pushing this system as fast as I could was my biggest source of motivation because any time lost was time I could not make up.

I believe the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.”

I think a big wake up call for me in your place came down to having to grapple with two things I hadn’t really wanted to grapple with:

  1. What level of fluency is realistic for me?
  2. Why do I want to learn Japanese?

For #1, I struggle with a pretty deeply ingrained misconception that people are either “fluent” or “not fluent” in a language. This kind of thinking leads me to feel like if I just can reach a certain number of memorized words, or get a real feel for grammar, I’ll be “pretty much fluent” and that the rest of my learning will all cascade where I’m just absorbing each new vocab I come across. It makes me feel like I’m languishing down in the land of non-fluency with no exit in sight.

A real eye opener to me for #1 was this self evaluation list published by the JLPT people. Even people at the highest rankings on that test have categories of things where less than 25% of people who passed the test feel fluent. Things that feel like a breeze in my native language, like “I can understand the main points of TV news about politics, economics, etc.” are ranked as really really difficult.

The point being, it’s easy to languish or feel stuck early on in learning, but I think it’s freeing to not compare yourself to some mythical level of fluency that you’re so close to.

Which leads me to #2-- why do you want to learn Japanese, anyway?

Having that goal in mind seems to help a lot, and its a good way to focus your studies. Do you want to get a job where the language will help? Just want to be able to visit and not be totally lost? Do you want to be able to read a lot of Japanese media untranslated? As long as your answer is anything but “I plan to one day move to Japan and fully integrate myself there” you have an achievable goal. (You can definitely move there, and you can definitely live a satisfying life. Just don’t think you’ll be accepted as Japanese)

If you keep that goal in mind, I find that’s a much better way to gauge your progress. My own goal is to better be able to communicate and navigate when I visit, and I can benchmark that with trips and target my studies more towards vocab that deal with directions and shopping and small talk.

TLDR re-evaluate WHY you want to learn, and focus your studies towards that! That should help a lot with motivation and being able to see the progress (that you definitely are making!)


How often do you read?

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You haven’t mentioned much about why are you learning japanese. I see not many people mention quitting as an option… well it is.
If you see japanese learning its making you more miserable than actually bringing any joy to your daily life… I would say … quit… really… life it’s too short.

Don’t get fixed into that self deffined identity of: Hi… I’m John, and I’m learning japanese… which it’s all too common as daily it becomes part of your self description… but actually remember that it was supposed to be a tool to express yourself or enjoy some content / interactions in that language.
“John” … the japanese guy… was a side effect of the long time it takes to make oneself proficient in the language… but it’s not the goal in itself.

I’m only able to go to a pace where I spend a large amount of my days doing japanese learning because at this point I’m still a bit obsessed with the language, more like a puzzle to be solved, than anything else :sweat_smile: … but then again… reality is that it takes time (much more that a western language will take me) to come to a level where I can use the fruits of my hard work in pleasurable activities and not so much studying; besides that, people speaking japanese are not that common in my routine (even though I live in a very touristic city) while there’re lot’s of other foreigners I bump into and speak different languages, and I have a job working with public everyday (so japanese people must be super shy when abroad… perhaps :worried:)

So. Think of whatever reason brought you to the language… the main goal might not seem too atractive right now, and you may be just carrying the burden of your past goals.

If you see a passion behind learning japanese, a goal that will bring a smile to your face… go for it .
If not… count your losses and enjoy what might come next.

Anyway… someone had to say this. :man_shrugging:life >japanese


The first response you got was that you should try going slower, but honestly, I think that might be the opposite of what you need.

You have nearly twice as many burned items as I do. If you have 1160 burned items at level 11, you’re already going very, very slowly. So much so that you may just not be getting enough Japanese language in your day for it to really stick.

Of course, if you’re going so slowly because WaniKani is a secondary resource for you, and you’re spending as much or more time on other forms of study, I’m probably entirely wrong and you can disregard my point.

If that’s not the case, see if you can take on a little more. Do you have enough time and energy to do more WK? Maybe you’ve got a braindead show you can do reviews while you watch. I find cooking shows and formulaic anime work pretty well for this. Another source of learning would be even better, as learning things from twice is a great reinforcement tool. If you have a commute, consider listening to audio lessons on the way.

The most important thing is that you don’t give up. You’re clearly progressing. Otherwise you’d be getting those items wrong when they come up for burn.


I find that even at the level I’ve gotten to, I often feel this way. Now in my case, I think it’s a lack of discipline and diversity in my studying. I often find that even keeping up with WaniKani is a struggle sometimes and so any other form of practice falls by the wayside. The biggest downer is not being able to easily form sentences and understand speech, which I attribute to lack of grammar study and lack of practice. This hit especially bad after my most recent trip to Japan where I went alone. It was fun, but the feeling of being unable to communicate left me feeling anxious and I lapsed into about a 2 month period of not leveling up again.

However, after all that doom and gloom, I can see improvement. I’m starting to pick up more and more words from speech that I’ve learned in WaniKani. Every time something clicks, even if small, I realize that I’m still progressing. I guess my point is that even when it’s hard to see progress, you’re still absorbing information. Even if you get it wrong or forget, having learned it once will make it easier to learn again, until things start falling into place.

Sometimes when faced with the potential of failure, your brain tricks you into thinking that it’s better to fail on purpose rather than honestly try. Don’t do that, cause that makes you feel worse and you will of course get nowhere :slight_smile:


I just wanted to say hi, I just started learning today!

When it gets tough, think about why you started!
Think about how I feel today!
I’m going to keep this feeling I have right now in the back of my mind, because I really, really want to learn.

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Well, said, keep on with this attitude and I am sure you will :blush:

thanks everyone for your encouragement words!!
I feel much better after I read all your replies, it was truly inspiring.
As for the ones who asked why I want to know japanese, that all started because I fold paper, I’m an origami loving person (I also run the facebook page of the Israel origami organization ,check it out
אוריגמישראל OrigamIsrael )
Long story short, I got some books about origami from japan and I wanted to read them, thats been my goal ever since (been years now…)
After reading your comments about really getting serious about studying, not just doing it the lazy way, I remembered I had a graded japanese reader that I bought from amazon couple of months ago, and I read some of it yesterday, its a good thing, I feel stupid to forget about it, I need to read more books like that (Hikoichi, someone familiar with this?).
As for wakinaki, I usually do about 50 reviews per day, I know it’s not much, but more than that and I start to feel like my head hurts. Maybe I need to seperate my sessions, instead of making it in one go.
Anyway, you gave me really good tips and I feel much better now!!!