I remember when I first found WaniKani, some FAQ or another said it took most people about two years to finish, but it was possible to do it in one. One year shouldn’t be a problem for me, I figured. I’m motivated and I have a good memory, so as long as I don’t slack off it should be easy, right?
Three years and seven months later… hello! I’m level 60!
It took a lot longer to get here than I expected, but honestly, it never felt slow. After starting, I quickly realized two important things:
- Speed at WK is less about how good you are at learning, and more about the raw time commitment.
- There’s a whole lot more to learning Japanese than kanji.
As a working adult, I could only put so much time per day into Japanese, and I didn’t want all that time going here—there’s grammar, reading, listening, and on and on. So, I found an approach that worked for me, and I stuck with it. I wouldn’t say the time it took to get here felt fast or slow. Three years and seven months is, for me, exactly how long WK should take.
There are some more details on my approach below, in case it’s helpful to anyone. And yes, there’s also cake.
Here’s my WKStats graph:
This actually represents a very consistent workload! It’s just that the workload wasn’t all on WK. The big spikes are mostly times I set WK aside to focus on JLPT-specific vocabulary in advance of a test, and some periods were less consistent due to travel and such. With Covid, I haven’t been travelling and the local JLPT was cancelled, which is why my last 25 levels or so look a lot smoother.
My Study Approach
I don’t attempt to schedule lessons or reviews during my day. Instead, I have a goal of what study tasks I want to accomplish each day, and I fit them in whenever I have spare time. This might mean doing some lessons over lunch or while waiting for water to boil or the like. I do keep a consistent schedule week to week, though. Here’s what that looks like:
- Monday: About 20 lessons of WK or other vocab. Watch an episode of something in the evening (with Japanese subtitles or no subtitles).
- Tuesday: 20 lessons on KameSame, which I’m using for reverse WK and vocab. After that, read some articles or the like.
- Wednesday : About 20 lessons of WK or other vocab. In the evening I usually have an iTalki lesson.
- Thursday: Grammar study on Bunpro or reading. 30+ minutes of additional listening/speaking practice (e.g. shadowing) in the evening.
- Friday: More grammar study on Bunpro or reading.
- Saturday: About 20 lessons of WK or other vocab. 30+ minutes of additional listening/speaking practice.
- Sunday: Write a few paragraphs, to review in my next iTalki lesson. Reading in any extra time.
The specifics have changed a bit over the years, but this is where things are right now. Once I’m done with the last level 60 lessons, I’ll probably put a bit more time into KameSame in place of other vocabulary. Also, I of course do my reviews every day, basically whenever I have a chance.
One secret is that I set my lesson batch size to three, which makes it easier to squeeze a few lessons in whenever I have a spare moment. This is why I said “about 20 lessons”—technically, I usually do seven batches of three in a day, for 21 total.
There are some aspects of Japanese that I’m missing (notably writing by hand) or could bear to spend more time on, but there are only so many hours in the day. I’m pretty happy with where I’ve landed so far, and intend to continue adjusting as I progress.
Final Thoughts and Cake
I don’t post much here, but I’ve found some great tips over the years that have helped shape my approach. And while WK is only one part of my routine, I feel like it’s served as a sort of backbone to everything else. It’ll be weird to not have this at the heart of everything anymore, but as long as there are reviews to be done, I don’t expect to really leave it behind.
Now, I said there’d be cake. Not long before hitting level 60, I saw this in a bubble tea place nearby, and knew I had to get it when the moment came:
Looks good, doesn’t it? Here, let me slice it up.
Ahhh! (It was chocolate mousse and actually quite good!)