I have only used Wanikani to learn kanji and nothing else.
I have applied little of my knowledge, barely practicing or reading books that have basic Japanese grammar.
All I can do is understand a few words characters speak, as well as read some vocabulary and kanji, while being able to read hiragana and katakana pretty well. However, I have not been able to put my knowledge through the ringer.
So – as they say, best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. It’s generally true that it’s best to keep yourself more well rounded so you can get into really applying your Japanese, and it’s understandable to be a bit frustrated with your progress after this time. I’d definitely recommend taking a look at resources for grammar, as well as ways to learn important commonly used vocab outside of Wanikani. Once you’ve done that a bit, you can hopefully interact more meaningfully with media to learn from it.
That said… I need to preface this by insisting I’m not trying to be rude and I only mean to help, but are you intentionally moving at the speed that you are? Or is it more of an accuracy issue? I know people have very busy lives and can’t stop everything for Japanese, and picking a pace that works for you IS good, but depending on the level in Japanese you want to reach, there are limits where I’d worry about being potentially too slow. Assuming you do mean a whole year, moving at basically one level per month puts you at 5 years to complete Wanikani. And that might be fine if you were doing more Japanese studying along with it, but… there’s no getting around the absolute enormity of learning this language. The hard truth is that I think you might need to consider if you have more time to devote to Japanese generally or otherwise strategize how to be a bit more efficient as you broaden your studies, because I worry that the amount of years it’s going to take for you to really see fruits of your efforts is going to be an amount that is very hard for most people to stick with.
People who need to take it slower have my total support, but this is a gargantuan task in, just, total number of things you need to learn. I don’t mean to pile on more negativity when you’re already concerned – just, this is a good opportunity while you are rethinking your whole study method to ensure you’re, as much as you can, giving it the time it needs (and prepared for how much that’s going to be, heh).
Don’t bring yourself down too much! The first step is to realize you made a mistake, so now you can work on reversing it.
On the bright side, you’re at level 12, so you’ve been exposed to (edit: I counted properly this time!) 425 kanji. That’s more than what’s covered in the two Genki textbooks (317) which is about 2 years of Japanese study at a university. Not bad considering you reached your current level in a year! It’s more than enough to get your feet wet and get started with a textbook or work through more basic reading practice via a graded reader. Even if you only remembered half, that’s still more than the equivalent of what you get in one Genki textbook.
How much Japanese grammar do you know? If little to none, that’s no problem! Some people will use videos on Youtube to learn grammar, others will use textbooks. I don’t know about the other textbooks, but I like Genki because you’re following the story of a foreign exchange student in Japan and her dialogue exchanges with different people in different situations. And in those dialogue sections, you’re introduced to a new grammar point (as well as vocab and kanji), and they’re explained pretty well I think. At your level too, you should’ve learned most of the Genki kanji that it covers.
No, no you’re right! I was reading my little fuel gage thing wrong and looking at the incomplete kanji so far! Thanks for mentioning that! I honestly thought the number seemed oddly high when I typed it out too, but all logistics go out the window when you hear baby crying!
I don’t think you’ve screwed up. I mean how much do you know now that you didn’t know a year ago?! A lot. A massive amount. Don’t say you’ve screwed up big time, I don’t think that’s true at all. You’ve learnt masses.
I mean I do say this because I’m pretty much in the same position as you It’s because I don’t find much time (energy) to sit over a textbook. But now I feel in a really good position to try reading things. Now I don’t have to sweat over all the kanji as well as trying to figure out the grammar as well! That’s got to be a good thing. Imagine going at it with no background at all. You see you’ve not been wasting your time. You’ve been putting in the preparation. You’ve got the rest of your life to read things and improve at Japanese.
Or have you built a foundation for reading practice?
Because I’m leaning towards the latter. You haven’t screwed up, you’ve just come to the realisation that your knowledge is unbalanced. You know how to fix this - learn more vocab, learn grammar, and read.
You absolutely didn’t screw up big time. You’re learning.
You might feel and think differently, but you haven’t screwed up.
They advertise it as learning all the kanji in one year, but that’s for a select few of people. Most either quit or spend multiple years.
So if you’ve been sticking to it after one year, that is dedication and good work. Don’t stare blindly at the results, look at where you were and how you are now. It’s a bit hard to gauge where you are at that point, but you’ve learned plenty of kanji where you can pick up a beginning grammar textbook and see them back. Keep moving forward, with a small step at it every time and you’ll improve a lot.
My first year of learning Japanese, I did a year of evening classes where we learnt no kanji at all and I wasn’t really confident with katakana by the end of it and when I watched japanese tv I’d be lucky if I understood one word even with the english subtitles on. Seriously, you’re fine.
You’re not alone, i started fully dedicated to WaniKani from September 2020 and starting level 4, i’m currently at 44, it’s quite bizarre that i know almost all N2 Kanji and can recognize most of them in lyrics, on the web, still i haven’t touched grammar and it’s noticeable, because i can read but it doesn’t make much sense a lot of the times because of grammar, being a different structure than english/spanish, having chosen to be dedicated to the Krabigator i might take WaniKani a bit lighter and focus more on grammar.
TLDR: I’m the same but at level 44, must balance WaniKani with quite a lot of grammar to get to my kanji reading level (~N2)