Hey everyone! Remember me? Maybe not, because I haven’t been active on the community for the last month or so. Why not? Well, a great mixture of things, but the most relatable reason is because I’ve been skating on the knife’s edge of burning out since I hit the fast levels. Those fast levels are no joke, muchachos. Anyone who tells you differently is either a) Superman or b) lying to you. Or maybe, c) just more talented than I.
Anyway, to the real point!
Here I am, 430 days later, sitting at level 60! And how does it feel?
…Well, see above. It feels tiring. I want a nap. I just woke up and I want a nap
But before I nap, I want to thank this community so so so much for being such wonderful and supportive individuals. Without you guys, coming to do reviews every day is a chore. With you guys, I have a good reason to procrastinate on my chores.
Wait, I have to be a good influence or something.
Uh, do your reviews guys.
So this is the part where I blab on about MY JAPANESE LEARNING JOURNEY or whatever, so I’ll hide that away in case you don’t like reading about some weird lady blabbing on about her life. I am painfully aware that I’m really bad at being brief.
TLDR: My name is Shadkat and I suffer from depression, but I like learning Japanese
So, once upon a time, I wanted to learn Japanese. But I kept getting scared away. It looked terrifyingly difficult to do, not in the least because I had not a single clue where to start. I’m just a lowly monolingual American–I can’t handle this language learning nonsense!
So I put it off, saving the occasional resource, sticking it in my “someday” pile. And I’d listen to Japanese music, and play JRPGs, browse art with Japanese scribbled all over it, be a general weeb about it, and I’d sigh. Maybe someday.
“Someday” started sneaking up on me in late 2016, when life handed me too much to handle at one time and my mental health started falling apart. I fought to keep it all together as long as possible, but finally had to wave the white flag and move back in with my parents in the spring of 2017, which is exactly what every 25 year old dreams of doing.
I made my first foray into Japanese learning around this time–I tried to learn Hiragana. It…didn’t go well. I memorized all the way to about つ before my brain yelled, “NOPE.”
It was not a prolific start. I gave up.
By August of 2017, my parents and I were moving out of my childhood home and I was officially jobless. (Besides moving nearly 20 years of accumulated crap, which is a bit of a job in and of itself I guess.) And on a whim one evening, I opened Duolingo and saw a Japanese course. “DO IT,” my brain whispered aggressively at me. “okay,” I whispered back in a much quieter tone.
Well, Duolingo is not quite beginner friendly thanks to it’s UTTER LACK OF GRAMMAR EXPLANATIONS, as I’m sure some of you know. But I kept stubbornly throwing myself at it anyway and slowly figuring things out. Oh, how I wish I knew of the resources I have now.
Beyond the grammar difficulties, there were the freaking kanji. I knew one kanji going in: 光. There was not a lot of call to use that one kanji in Duolingo. I have a page early in my notes that makes me smile now, because I’d written in frustration something about 中 being pronounced as naka sometimes and chuu other times and how it made absolutely no sense to me.
The last full night I was to spend in my childhood home, I went on a Google binge that somehow led me to Wanikani. I remember being incredibly doubtful about the claims. 2000 kanji, 6000 vocab, in just over a year? Yeah right. I didn’t know much about kanji, but I did know that that was too much to learn in a year! Do I look stupid?
I signed up that night.
So I’m a little internally inconsistent, sue me.
In my defense, what really convinced me was the guide to learning hiragana and katakana in the FAQ. I was shakily familiar with all of the hiragana and most of the katakana characters by then. But just reading through those guides that night, everything clicked neatly into place. I stayed up too late that night, reading mnemonics for all the hiragana and katakana. I woke up at 5:30am the next morning and still remembered everything. I was convinced! I did my first radical lessons and proceeded to…finish moving! That was a long and tiring day.
I’m one of the lucky few who never really got to suffer through how very slow WK is at the start. I was so busy with the move that the time between reviews never really registered as a problem.
But, suddenly, there I was. Actually learning Japanese. Wild.
I mean, I was and still am suffering from depression, and anxiety, and various physical health problems yadda yadda. I’m willing to bet almost of y’all understand how that goes. But for the first time in a really long time, I have a goal. I have something I wanted to work towards. It is downright freaking magical.
Maybe one day I’ll even go to Japan and marvel at all the signs I can read now!
Some quick nitty gritty boring detail nonsense:
I averaged 8 day level, and the longest I took on a level is 12 days. I took the fast levels mostly at top speed (besides level 55, when my grandma came to visit. I got stuck on 88% guru’d kanji on that level for a few days. What can you do?). My average correct answers are all in the low to mid 90% range, which is kind of a miracle, because, let me tell you, my latest review sessions have not been stellar.
Keep in mind that I have an abundance of free time, so my experience may not be your experience. There are people here who are ABSOLUTE BEASTS who go faster, or who have more on their plate, but still keep up with WK. I salute everyone here, no matter what their own personal situation. You are all ABSOLUTE BEASTS. Yes, even you back there, in the corner, making a weird face at their screen.
So, now that I’m a member of that vaunted Golden Circle Club, what next?
Well, I keep WKing, first of all strained smile at the mounains of lessons and reviews still waiting to be done I paid for another year subscription at the beginning of September, so I might as well get my money’s worth, dang it.
But I’ll keep working on my Japanese in general. I may be level 60, but I’m not very good at Japanese yet. I’m still pretty solidly in the upper-beginner region. I’m like a clueless baby who’s been taught to read. I was originally planning on taking N4 this December, but decided I’d rather save that money for something else
like Kingdom Hearts 3. I’m a simple woman. I assume at the level I’m at, I’d either barely pass or barely fail N4, so I’ll just self-assess myself as N4.3689 or something stupid and keep on keepin’ on with my studies.
If I had any WK advice to give, it’s this:
Put in effort every day. Put in as much effort every day as you can.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s not gonna be a consistent amount of effort. Some days you’re gonna struggle to do your reviews and leave your lessons untouched. Some days you’re gonna knock out 250 reviews at 95% accuracy, and clear your lesson queue to boot. Most days, you’ll be between those two extremes. Take care on those rough days and ride the waves of victory on those days you’re on fire, you magnificent unicorn you.
If you’re having a lot of consecutive hard days, your brain is probably asking for a break before it breaks. Be gentle to your brain occasionally, okay? It’s the only one you get.
Anyway, be excellent to each other, tip your waitress, ganbatte, all that good stuff. Thanks for reading and/or skimming over hastily
TLDR, part 2:
me @ me: