I'm giving up on WK, and here's some feedback after making it to level 20 in three-ish years

  1. Poor error management: It’s been talked about ad nauseam on this forum, but the app needs a ‘whoops’ button. It also needs to engage in a positive, encouraging way with your ‘near misses’, for example where you type ‘せつ’ instead of ‘さつ’. At the moment it treats a serious but wrong attempt the same way as it treats me inputting ‘お’ in frustration because it’s the closest key to the enter key and I want to skip to the screen that tells me the answer. On that note, why do I have to manually open the info screen after an error, and then individually open reading and meaning tabs to review the item? There’s not even an option to fix this, it just assumes you enjoy beating your head against a brick wall. For me, I’d rather see near-misses bounced back with targeted guidance on what I’m getting wrong (maybe highlight the ‘せ’ so I know it’s meant to be ‘さ’?), or if I put a valid but wrong reading for the kanji in, a hint that it’s a different reading. I’d also like a setting that shows me the meaning and reading instantly on a wrong answer so I can refresh myself on it.

You-, you know you can just hit the “Refresh”, right? If you made a typo you can just refresh the page, and all the items that you haven’t submitted yet will be restored to initial state. I mean that’s kind of cheating, but on the other hand, if you want to cheat you will, so that’s whatever. Personally, I use it only when I know it’s a typo.

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Actually, I type all my Bunpro responses, same as on WK, this is configurable, and you seem to have changed away from the default way to do it the way you do. Please check the settings. I only ever type the JP readings and EN meanings, depending.


I get it, and your frustration, @nikuotoko. For me, some frustration set in in the middle tens already. One thing I had to learn, is manage to get to some middle ground in terms of reviews. I slowed down to not be bombarded by reviews, then, after a while I had to reduce the slack in turn.

Right now things feel manageable. I have a batch size of 5, WK recommends me to learn 15 things a day and lets me pick, and so it’s doable. My pace went up since I can prioritize particles and kanji over vocab, so I slowly work my way through the new kanji while clearing up the vocab.

If I understand it right, one of my major annoyances with WK has gone away. I could leave some vocab and still get my level progress or do it later. I haven’t done that yet. But it’s possible now due to the lesson picker. I also get to group my learning in a way I feel that day, like more words likely to be onyomi or all vocab containing a certain kanji, and picking my favorites.

I’m not meaning to say all is fine from it. Eventually the usefulness of learning in levels will go down, and even now I see more and more, that kanji I would find useful to learn now (because of their sound-meaning grouping, most often) are pushed way back behind others where I question the usefulness. I can’t reorder, I can’t peek ahead, I can’t say “Hey, let me do this one now as it is useful to me.” This is WK’s biggest flaw, this rigidity of having to unlock each and every kanji.

As someone remarked above, a lot of Japanese is kana and grammar. That’s why I don’t agree on the context sentences. They cannot be improved in WK, really. (Well, yes, they could be simplified.) But they’re really, truly useless without putting the other part in. And for this I do Bunpro, because you can’t just do WK. After about ten levels of WK I added Bunpro.

As for progress, I did realize it got a lot more modest than anticipated. I hoped I could do this in two years. I have now, after 10 months, done 20 levels. This is doable. My daily review rate is about a 100 reviews coming in, and if I start slacking on the new lessons, it lessens.

In Bunpro, I’m closing in on 6 months. In this time I’ve did the 120+ lessons for the N5 grammar, and was exposed to a lot of example sentences read to me. Right now I’m 20% into N4 and have really slowed down because some grammar points don’t stick well. So I can’t keep my modest “goal” (I wasn’t too serious about it) of doing 2 grammar lessons a day.

Bunpro is more flexible than WK, but it can be just as flawed. (I have given a lot of bug feedback, but you get the feeling they’re working through it.) I haven’t really used it for learning missing vocab - I feel like I’m hitting limits there.

After about a year with Wanikani there are things I can do and can’t do.

  • I recognize a fair deal of kanji on shows and can at times piece together words I don’t know or start reading some Japanese names.
  • I occasionally recognize words and constructs when spoken in anime. (This is thanks to the listening exposure in Bunpro, largely.)
  • I understand simple sentences in the typical Japanese terse style, most often on second or third try when rewinding. (I find the grandiose English translations really funny when so many Japanese replies only consist of a verb or a verb and another word).
  • I can’t read without immediately running into constructs I don’t know.
  • I find many constructs common in Japanese speech that either are translated very differently or I just can’t find as grammar points on Bunpro.
  • There are quite a few times when I struggle to recognize kanji and vocab I “learned” already on WK when seeing them.
  • Listening comprehension is in general very poor, especially telling all the onyomi words apart with their endless juu/kyuu and similar sounds thrown at you very fast.
  • When hearing a word I’m more likely to spell it just well enough to have a chance of looking it up on Jisho. But it’s far from reliable.

I was recently frustrated with my progress, and still am every other day, but not due to WK mainly, but due to the Japanese language being such an interlocking enigma where you need a lot of groundwork on several fronts (kanji, kana, listening, reading, grammar) to just make the next batch of progress. Once I make some progress, it can be liberating to some extent.

I know, for me, the next step is really get into reading, but I haven’t quite figured out how. Satori Reader has great support for learning and aiding you in understanding why something is the way it is, but I couldn’t just get into it yet. Maybe it’s the choice of stories. Reading through manga without electronic support in vetting out unknown words seems super-daunting, it’s slightly better for Light Novels. What scares me is that I might get basic JP right and then they throw slang and dialects at me. Don’t know how common that is.

I guess I just need to “man up” quite soon and go at it, figuring out between using Yomitan, e-reader dictionary support, “reading together threads,” and Satori Reader what will work for me. It probably will make more actual JP progress for me than WK or even, to some degree, WK and JP together. I have no idea when I will tackle speaking that damn language on my own. I put that way down my list of priorities because right now I have no need. Reading and listening comprehension are my goals.

Good luck. Don’t believe any hype about doing WK fast. Add in what is missing and remember your own goals, whatever they may be. :slight_smile:


PS - one thing I got recently reminded of… I know I only take this only from shows and media, but there seems to be a fair share of Japanese people whose kanji knowledge isn’t great, either.

A common taunt to those academically struggling characters in shows and manga is “You don’t know that kanji/that word.” And it’s another, seldom-used word that might come up in a test or a text when studying but isn’t needed to, well, just live in Japan. This becomes especially apparent in fiction where the protagonist is slacking on his studies. So, somewhere in the 12 years of studying some people will develop ever greater gaps and might never truly remedy them.

(There are always people who do poor in class in comparison, that’s just reality. And there are widely varying standards between high schools and what they teach you.)

If one learns all that WK has to offer and can keep it somewhat present, you’re doing more than some Japanese people manage. They will still trounce you in speaking that language, no doubt, but I think even the “recommended” sets of kanji need to be taken with a grain of salt. WK does not agree with the government list, never has, for example.

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Well… for vocab, which to me is quite important at this early point while going through the Genki textbooks:

  • “Translate” accepts typing but only provides the vocab item not full sentences
  • “Fill in” requires typing but expects EN->JP production, not recognition
  • “Reading” gives a full sentence but does not allow typing in the EN translation it only has the “grade and reveal” answer type
  • and that’s it… what am I missing?

Yup :frowning:

So this still happens regularly even after 20 WK and 6 months of N5 and N4 gramar. Ouch, good times ahead! :frowning:

Yup :frowning:

Maybe try NHK and Watanoc, if news would work better than fiction stories?
The latter is more non-native friendly - they give N- ratings to articles and include translations (in full or individually per item).


Well, for vocab it’s actually quite mixed, I have to admit, but it’s improving, I think.

I have for vocab reviews in my settings:

  • Question Type: Fill In
  • Answer Type: Manual

(Which are the defaults.)

For some or most vocab, I get the typical fill-in questions, where I have to type kana into sentences. This is especially true for example for N5 vocab, which is likely in the best shape as regards example sentence preparation, like for example for " どうも". This should be the ones that can honor my preference, and that’s “Fill In”.

For other vocab I get seeing the Japanese and am expected to type the English, like seeing the kanji “宇宙人” and am expected to write “alien”. This should be “Translate”. This is likely due to auto-generated vocab entries with no example sentences.

Does neither fit what you want to do?

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Well… yes and no.
I’m still early on in this journey and with the primary goal being reading, secondary listening and a distant third speaking.
Going through the Genki path as quickly as I can and wanting more exposure to written content I went with their “Reading” option. It’s fine this way, really because what I do is:

  • try to read and understand the sentence in full - often it’s impossible because as you say there’s almost always something in a sentence that is unknown to me (it’s quite depressing, actually but oh, well…).
  • write down the answer for the review in a notepad - both JP and EN
  • reveal & mark as good/not good
  • listen to the pronounciation once or twice
    What I don’t like right now is that they seem to be changing the voicing of the sentences this week and I don’t like either of the new male and female voices and also the recordings seem to be of poor quality than what they had before :frowning:
    (I understand the previous ones were machine generated - dunno about the new ones :man_shrugging: )

Anyways, sorry for derailing the thread but then again it quited down over the last few days.

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Well, don’t get down over this. I think at this point a lot of the groundwork has been laid and needs to be utilized.

What do I mean by this?

You could take a negative view, and say: Hey, he can’t read this, can’t read that. But now these things stick out, and I can start looking them up and trying to figure them out.

Example: I was watching “Toradora!”. The title song has transliterations, and almost all sentences end in もの/mono. It took me a while, but eventually found the grammar point on Bunpro for “childish-feminine” speech and put it on my practice list. Isolating what you don’t know has value if you follow up.

I’ve also (really just) started reading manga on https://bilingualmanga.org/, and I noticed that with a dictionary (Yomitan) and persistence I can work my way through things and made some progress. I noticed that a lot of “constructs I don’t seem to recognize” turn out to be kana-only adverbs and set phrases.

But take for example this:
“苦手なタイプ女子..” - “Hard to deal with type of girl…” I can make my way through this without a dictionary, bit by bit.

Or (don’t laugh):

“This tale is fiction. There are absolutely no relations to characters, groups, incidents, etc, whatsoever.”

I really needed Yomitan for the second sentence. But when I thought “などとは” was yet another construct I don’t recognize, breaking it down different ways led me to believe it is helper word “など” (“etc”) and a particle “とは” and I can work with that. (I might be wrong, though.)

It’s slow work, but I think this is what ultimately will make all the difference. In this sense, getting 20 WK levels and N5 grammar didn’t get me to an imaginary finish line, but more to a different kind of starting line where I can begin to decipher things with some persistence. It’s not been “for nothing.” :slightly_smiling_face:

In general I’m meaning to encourage you. You’re on a way somewhere, you don’t see the milestones yet, so it’s frustrating. Yes, others are struggling as well. I meant to say: You’re not bad at this in all likelihood. Results will come from a variety of approaches if you go for it.

Just don’t get sidetracked by WK levels, for example.

Thank you! :slightly_smiling_face:


oh wow that bilingual manga page is a godsend. rampantly illegal, but a godsend


Official channels had years to come up with this kind of stuff.
They never bothered. Service problem and all that.


How many lessons do you do for wk, bunpro vocab, and bunpro grammar a day? About how long are you using srs?

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Batch size on WK is five. Since the new features came online i do it like this:

  • Do all radicals ASAP.
  • Do 4-5 kanji a day until level is covered.
  • Fill up the daily lessons (15) with vocab.

This is much better than before when the big lesson piles were discouraging. I could have used a different mix/order but somehow didn’t.

On Bunpro i do batch size 2. But on many days i do reviews to solidify knowledge, especially lately. I definitely have slowed down.

I do not have a setting for vocab lessons on Bunpro. I sometimes pick stuff from the decks in a batch and add it to my stack when I feel i need it. I wish it had a feature to show me words i don’t know with kanji i do know.

If i add too much Bunpro vocab i find it overwhelming, so I’m definitely keep it low key and focused.

I have been using SRS since March '23 when i was using Anki at first before switching to WK about four months later.


Yep WK is frustrating. My biggest gripe with WK are the mnemonics that are a hindrance to memorizing.

I thought I had made the system work for me by using the Tsurukame app and using recall on KaniWani to help retain the difficult vocab. That approach seems to be failing. I’ve just spent a good half hour trying to recall 8 vocabs from level 21, reading the answer and studying the mnemonics after each failure… and still failing after putting them back into the queue.

Recall is harder due to the synonyms, but a good mnemonic should help… or so I thought!?

This is one of those puzzling mnemonics:
立派 “the sect that stands the highest are those who are high class, splendid, and fine”. The sentence makes no sense to me and is grammatically weird: the subject is singular and the verb is plural.

The quality of the mnemonics seems to decline as the vocabulary becomes increasingly complex. If I have to come up with my own mnemonics anyway, I might as well use Anki.

So yes, you are not alone. I am also pondering whether the time has come to jump ship. I was planning to stop WK once I reached the levels of diminishing returns, around level 35 or so, but maybe should do so sooner :thinking:?

Sometimes the statistics can help me make a more informed decision. Looking at the numbers and calculating what’s the ratio of the mnemonics that fall flat.
To make it easy, lets say you have 100 mnemonics per level and 10 of them fall flat, that‘s not a bad deal, you got 90% in your bag ready to go, while if you would have used anki you‘d have to do 100% of the work yourself (100 mnemonics) compared to 10% on WaniKani (10 mnemonics).
So the question is what percentage makes creating all the mnemonics yourself worthwhile time and energy wise.
When you zoom in on something that frustrates you it is sometimes hard to focus on the big picture where it becomes a drop in the ocean. Some mnemonics on WaniKani are not really a mnemonic they’re just a statement that says nothing beyond when x is y x is y which has no hook story or surprise/emotional element, and for more abstract concepts, that’s no help at all. For me the percentage is still useful, and I really don’t like anki (biased much?) so creating my own mnemonic when it is needed is not frustrating.
If you feel you got what you needed from WaniKani and you reached a point it gives you less than it demands from you, cutting your losses and moving on seems like the reasonable thing to do.
Hope this helps a bit, it’s a different Journey when you don’t have lifetime, because in this case time spent on WaniKani is literally money, and it makes the faulty parts more expensive.


correct. The percentage is increasingly tilting the wrong way for me. :pensive:
Previous percentage < 5%, most of which I don’t even bother to write in the app.
Current percentage 20 %, all of which I have to write in to be able to recall.


One of the issues is that the mnemonics build upon each other, so if you’ve started with your own mnemonics, you’ll need to also use that in further items that build upon the previous WK mnemonics.

The good news is that it’s a crutch that you’ll eventually discard. For example, I completely forgot what mnemonics 立派 used, but I can read the word and know the meaning just fine.


Well, I’ve noticed some levels do seem to get lazy with the mnemonic, I don’t know, story? And just seem to list the radicals, that’s pretty much it. Phoning it in. I assume/hope those were place-holders to get something down for every one and then go back and replace with better ones as time permits.

BUT! I haven’t noticed that that’s a predictable trend. Some are good, some are bad, and I don’t think “they get worse as you go on” is a thing I would say.

立派 specifically, I learned that from some random N5 vocabulary list at some point, maybe duolingo or one of those. So when it came up here, the first time I sounded out the kanji it was like rits… ha… probably rip’pa with the rendaku… hey! I know that word. So THAT’s how you spell it in Kanji.

I think sometimes WK assumes you’re not only doing WK. You have some other input as well. I mean, you shouldn’t have to, WK should be able to stand alone (at least for its own content). But we also have people whining about having to learn ‘baby’s first words’, etc. as if something being over-explained is worth quitting WK about. Just goes to show, you could stand in the street handing out $20 bills and someone would find a way to be mad about that.


Wow, this thread is a ride! But I agree with OP on a few points.
I definitely think that error management is the most frustrating part of WK for me. I know I can use Tsurukame to type in answers and their app will allow me to ‘mark as typo / correct’ but typing on my phone is way slower than desktop for me. I can complete around 100 reviews in 15-20 minutes on my computer, but that implies that I’m going to make typos. Its frustrating enough that I sometimes go back to the main page to “cheat” (as some call it? Its not an exam? This is a tool, it isn’t N1 lol) and re-enter my typo’d answer correctly if I don’t want to wait several days to see it again.

I’ve also sort of noticed that often these threads are started by those who are midway through their journey. Being lv 23, I find I can relate a lot more because the early level excitement has worn off and I feel like I’ve already spent forever here - but I’m not even halfway through the grind :') so I find that frustration is easy to come across and amplify. I notice a ton of replies from people who are newer to the app and are SUPER excited and willing to push aside those gripes because they haven’t really been reviewing for months on end. Lol, believe me, its not about motivation, its discipline. But BOY does having things that remove needless barriers help a LOT in carrying through longterm. I’m not trying to be elitist here by any means, but I’m simply talking about the reality that once you start grinding something over a long period, problems with tools and process become more and more apparent and in turn, more frustrating.

For me though, I’ll continue on as I am. As I found when I have taken breaks I actually miss doing WK reviews (I feel like its still a net positive, of course!) I do want to learn Japanese, but its a long term commitment. Rushing through doesn’t make any sense. My partner started WK at the same time I did but dropped off it a few months ago in order to read instead, and while I have a lot more vocab knowledge, well, they can actually read better than me haha. Its all about what you want to prioritize, everyone learns differently and has different goals and things that go on in their life. For me I’m deciding to grind it out at my current pace til 30, then decide what I want to do from there. Currently WK does take, on average, an hour of my time a day (I have kept track!) and after 30 I ideally want to split that evenly between WK and reading.

Also I will put in my 2 cents that I believe scripts are not a valid answer for a lot of these suggestions that users have requested again and again. I used scripts, and found that they broke actual site functionality (because of course, you always have bugs - I’m not putting fault to the devs who made these cool features for us.) and I ended up giving up on them because troubleshooting issues took away time from me just using the damn site lol. I really think a redo/typo button is sorely needed, as well as easier to read context sentences, and fleshing those out on higher levels.

I’d also love a section for “top leeches” that isn’t just the profile wall of shame. One that allows me to go through just those instead of finding them and failing them in my reviews over and over. I swear I will never figure out the transitive and intransitives I have around from 20 levels ago and I don’t have the time to wade through the lists by level to find them myself :')


If you go to wkstats you should be able to see all your leeches in the items section, you don’t need a script for that it’s a stand alone site.
And there’s also The Definitive Guide to WaniKani's Transitivity Pairs perhaps you’d find this helpful.


The OP remarked that the Death levels are particularly difficult. I also noticed that level 21 is setting one up for failure by introducing Kanjis with a primary meaning that is not reinforced in the level or in any further levels.
際 == occasion - vocab is related to ‘side’ or ‘edge’. No secondary meaning is given with the kanji.
省 == conserve - vocab is related to secondary meaning ‘omit’ and ‘ministry’.