In terms of proficiency by 60, what should I expect

I realize I’m getting ahead of myself here, by a lot, but I’ve been thinking about my previous study in Japanese and what I was good with and poor with. I studied at a college level and would say I generally found speaking the easiest, listening slightly harder, vocabulary hard to maintain, grammar confusing, and Kanji hard to the point of pointlessness.

When I reach “the end” of WaniKani, I obviously won’t have practiced much beyond improving my Kanji and vocabulary, but where does that really leave me in terms of paths for general proficiency? What is hard from there? What is the next “level 60,” in a sense, for learning?


I think you should think about keeping up with grammar studies. And improving reading speed. By the end of WK you should be able to comfortably read about 2000 kanji, but if the rest is lacking…


Hmm I don’t want to say the wrong thing or offend anyone but I think your proficiency would be close to zero if you only focus on wanikani.

You need to study grammar too, and you said you already did but if you’re not proficient with that already wanikani will not help you in that regard. It will enable you to read kanji when you encounter them but unless you’re practicing reading along with wanikani when you get to level 60 you will not be able to smoothly read a novel or article for example.

Kanji is just an alphabet, after studying hiragana or even the english alphabet did that give you any proficiency? Not really. It’s just a building block, a very large one, but one

Also I’m not sure if there is a next “level 60” :thinking: I feel like learning all the grammar at N1 probably? Other than that skills like writing, reading, and speaking can’t be quantified into a set number of levels. Just keep practicing until you can smoothly do the things you set out to do with Japanese.


You’ll be able to recognize over 2000 kanji and you’ll know how to read 6000ish words, but it’s definitely just a start. Even among easy kanji, you’ll continue to encounter things you don’t know.

For instance, these are difficult words that use easy kanji

木立 (こだち grove of trees)
土木 (どぼく public works, civil engineering)

You will see stuff like this regularly after you move beyond WK, for kanji of all levels.


You will be a god walking among mortals.


You will be able to read the back description of this weird drink you accidentally started drinking.


I see a lot of people recommending different grammar resources on here, and I’m open to suggestions as well, but it’s hard for me to know when to start them… I work a full-time job and have a kid now so I have to pace myself a bit with all of this.

Are you saying I should start grammar now? Or is there a level threshold at which the grammar easier to apply and think through?


The biggest mistake I’ve done imo is not focusing on grammar and talking enough. But Kanji is fun so eh time well spent anyways.


Well, there are definitely metrics that can be used to quantify one’s level: how many words you have to look up per 100 word written/read/heard, number of mistakes, size of active/passive vocabulary, etc.
It’s hard to see where to put “level 60”, though. Considering that WK doesn’t even cover all the Joyo kanji, it’s not like “level 60” would mean the end, anyway.
Following the European Framework of Reference for Language, level 60 would be reaching B2 or maybe C1, I guess? (So, yes, about N1) Solid in the language, but still a lot to do.

As for the next step, OP, well, it should probably be grammar and then consuming native media/ get exposure. But I don’t think those should be sequential steps. Learn some grammar as you go, then dive into “level-appropriate” material to solidify everything you learned. Rince and repeat.


That really depends on your background. For complete beginners, WK recommends to get to level 10 first, so that kanji and vocab used in beginner level resources would be out of the way and the focus 100% on grammar.

Since you have a bit more experience, though, you may want to dive in as early as possible. In any case, that’s something you have to try and decide by yourself.


Yes I think you should start now. If you mean in terms of wanikani then I don’t think there’s a level that will make grammar easier. It will make it easier to read explanations in Japanese or example sentences, but normally those have furigana too. So wanikani will technically make it easier, but no so much that it’s worth waiting to get to a certain level and then beginning your study of grammar.

There are a lot of resources, It depends on your learning style. I personally liked genki -> tobira -> N2 Jlpt book. But I know a lot of people who are bored by textbooks.

I used to also learn one grammar point a day in an app call Jkim something? And if you really like wanikani style then I def think you should try out bunpro for grammar srs and you can learn a grammar a day or every two days if you like by picking one, reading explanations and examples and reviewing it whenever the srs calls to do so.

I think you can quantify your level up to a certain point but just not with hard numbers? I just meant I don’t think you can decide that you’re at level 45 speaking and level 30 reading and level 60 writing. You can say I’m at a conversational level, or a business level, but in the way op said it, I just don’t think you can do that. Sorry If I didn’t explain that properly the first time.


For complete beginners, WK recommends to get to level 10 first, so that kanji and vocab used in beginner level resources would be out of the way and the focus 100% on grammar.

This. If you don’t have enough vocabulary and understanding of certain Japanese linguistic concepts, the grammar is not going to click. If it doesn’t click, it doesn’t stick. There’s a temptation to just go full blast and try to learn everything all at once, and there’s really no reason to do that.


Thanks @Naphthalene and @AngelTenshi and everyone else for all the helpful replies so far!

Maybe if I frame this it will help:

Something I have really appreciated about WaniKani is how it teaches the interplay between radical, kanji, and jukugo vocabulary (so far). I didn’t get that in my classes, or perhaps was unable to internalize it, so it made all of kanji seem opaque. But when I can see the logic to a word’s construction, or at least create a logic to it, I find it very powerful for retaining. I can already tell my retention is wayyyy better than when I was just memorizing kanji for class.

The Genki books I found relatively underwhelming in this regard—it very much felt like a text book’s way of memorizing something rule by rule, when what I wanted first was the formal system behind how things operate and interact. Is Bunpro useful in that regard? I’m totally down for another SRS, love this system, but I feel like I really need that logical, in-depth explanation of each subject if I’m going to grokk grammar this time around.

(In fact my one complaint of WK is that there isn’t some deep-dive option for you to come to see the history behind the radical, the word’s adoption or creation in literature, evolution of its usage, etc. etc.)


Ah, I see what you mean. Well, you can though. Take the metrics I talked about or the score one might get in the different sections of the JLPT or something else entirely, then put arbitrary thresholds, with an open one at the end, and you get levels.

Sites like Jalup do have that approach.
Is it useful to do that? I don’t know. I guess it adds a sense of progression even when it becomes hard to feel progress? In any case, I think the argument is beyond the point of what OP is asking for. In their case, I agree with you that aiming for a better established reference like the N1 would make the most sense anyway.


I think you should consider that the mentality of you tackling anything by means of studying with or without SRS alone, is not realistic.
True, you can finish WK and get to know 2000 or so kanji and a lot of words with those, which you’ll be seen on a constant pace while following the SRS model. Same is true for grammar. You can study grammar and drill exercises, and make notes about it, BUT that will only give you the superficial understanding and will let you walk on a thin layer towards actually making use of that.

So make use of that the minute you can. Go through that first grammar book, those first thousand vocab words and kanji and read. Listen from day one, simple things, even if you don’t understand them fully; little by little try to create also a routine in which you start using with a practical end whatever you become aware. DON’T expect to tackle all kanji, all grammar… realistically that won’t happen… but more important, you don’t need it to make huge progress in actually using japanese. The moment you get to switch from studiyng things to using them you have won and taclkled the most important obstacle :slightly_smiling_face:


There are speaking and writing (composition) tests out there, if you wanted to have certification for your abilities.


This is the opposite of what I was trying to imply, but I might have been unclear. I was trying to say, how does one take and act on this knowledge in a meaningful way to reach a hypothetical “next level 60” of actual comprehension. Like I’ve been thinking about conversation groups, watching films and TV, reading books and light novels, et cetera, but I think it’s hard to have a sense of when these things become more or less useful to introduce.

I’m not really at a place where I feel I can be awash in a bunch of stuff I don’t understand, so I want to pace myself in this regard. So I was hoping for some higher level folks to suggest when they found branching out to be helpful/necessary/empowering and learn where they went at those junctures.


I mean if you test someone on how many words they look up when reading an article about washing your dog, vs fixing a car, or quantum tunneling you’d get different scores on each. Conversation and writing are creative, unlike grammar and kanji and numbers which all have rules that are not debatable. So you could get a relative score on a certain topic but, wouldn’t you have to quiz someone on everything ever said in a given language to know their true level on speaking the langue? Whereas for kanji you know there are about 2,100 that you need to know in order to read kanji that appears in a newspaper, and N1 to understand all the grammar used in a business setting. So if you know 1,000 kanji you know that person can read half of the most common kanji. But if they get a 35/50 of a reading comprehension setting how does that number relate to them hearing Japanese on any topic? There’s just so much to a conversation and reading that testing someone once on isn’t enough to get a score that would mean anything relative to much else.

They do but it’s also arbitrary and opinionated. It seemed to work well for us in the book club, but what if all of your vocab consisted of 2,000 vocab words for plant life? These levels are debatable but the number of kanji you know versus all the kanji in existence, this ratio is not debatable.

It is a redundant discussion to op, but an interesting one nonetheless. Or did you mean you don’t want to talk about it anymore?

No, so far it doesn’t break down grammar the way wanikani does, it’s just an srs tool with links to other rescores to learn the grammar. Though they are working to write their own explanations, I haven’t read any of them yet however. I don’t know if I’ve come across a resource that does this. My teachers are the ones who teach me the linguistic and logical make up of the grammar sometimes. I didn’t really find this essential however. 向け for example, the verb and kanji means to turn towards/facing and the grammar means it’s aimed at someone. So 子ども向けの本 means, a book made for kids, a book made with kids as the audience in mind. So it’s kind of easy to see the correlation just by knowing what the kanji means. That’s kind of how I make the logical connection. If you want the history and breakdown and logic of a grammatical structure I think you need to take a linguistic course on Japanese which is beyond learning the rules of grammar imo. At least every time we learn something the teacher says " If you want to know why this grammar point is the way that it is, please take my linguistics course. "

Edit: You know what I think this one would some times say why a grammar came about. It would say what kanji it came from or something, I’m sorry I read this 3 years ago but I think it’s the closest to explaining the break-down logic you are looking for I think it also mentioned older usages, what it used to mean and used to be applied, and how it changed.


I think this resounds with the moment I read about all the people that come telling themselves that they want to learn japanese because they want to understand shows, read manga, etc… and then the one thing they never do is start doing those things. :dizzy_face:

I think is an illusion that people have, maybe cemented in the way we’re taught at school, that you only move from A to B when you fully understand A. Just I don’t think it applies here.
You will study kanji and most likely come back later to review it again, not because you did it wrong the first time, same for grammar actually, but because you haven’t earn them yet, by mean of thousands of times reading them and listening phrases.

I think immersion serves as the “illogical” way in which your brain will make the connections between the patterns it starts to pick up and the logical explanations you provide. At first, those logical explanations might give quick gains, but they plateu rather soon… There’s supossed to be incertainty when learning, when you pick you first book or listening practice you are NEVER ready. So the faster you dettach yourself from thinking you can hold all this journey with detailed knowledge the faster you see a whole realm of tools that will push you forward at keep learning :slightly_smiling_face:


So, for example, were you to watch right now a japanese subbed movie. The one you have watched countless times in your language. What is it that you’ll be missing? The plot? No, you know it by heart. The dialogues? most likely you even know those too. The idividual words… bingo!!! So what? You’re watching it this time as a learning tool, and a rather fun one if you compare it to another resources if you ask me :slightly_smiling_face: … So think In all the vocab you already know and aim at picking that up from the show, same for grammar (who says what, when, etc). There’s so many nuances you could be reading countles hours about them and still be unclear, but then a couple of movies hearing those put to use so many times, that you just get them. And then there’s the low hanging fruit of vocab… that word you hear all the time… you are then able to parse it, and heaven allows it, you can search it in the dictionary and even come up with a couple extra new words from the experience.

If you are ok with the fact you won’t get the same experience that you have when watching this in your language, you’ll see material that is suitable for you, EVEN if you don’t fully undesrtand it.
So there’s that… there’s tons of material you know already too well. THAT is you’re level if you’re starting to immerse.

just my 2 cents though :wink:


Technically, that’s not even enough, you would have to quiz them on everything that could be said. That’s open ended, so obviously impossible, though. But you don’t really want a completely accurate description of your skills. The more accurate it is, the less likely it is to hold true in a month or even a day. Heck, you’d be probably learning things while taking a very exaustive reading test since you are reading about topics you didn’t know about already.

Well, the general idea is to test people on a broad range of subject to smooth out things they might be familiar with already, or stuff that they have completely missed even though they are “mainstream” topics. Plus, you can estimate the difficulty of a text based on the total number of different words used (although there’s a bit of a dispute among academics on what counts as different words), and how rare those words are in a large corpus of native texts. Pick 3~5 texts of equal difficulty on completely different subjects, and average (or take the median). Even if you get a good score, it doesn’t mean that you would understand everything. The same way a level 60 on WK can fail a level 20 item *cough*

I find it very interesting and I’m glad to have this conversation. I was just worried that we are completely derailing the thread with walls of text :sweat_smile:

So back on topic, OP, I also haven’t found any good book that does what you want.

Now that I do not have classes anymore, though, I just google it. A lot of grammar points, especially at the N2+ level are basically vocabulary anyway, so understanding the individual component is usually enough to see where it comes from. Warning: it’s not just vocabulary, though, more like a specific expression that kinda solidified in a pattern over time. So the meaning can be a bit far from what you’d expect.
Ex: 〜に限る “~is the best” while 限る means “to be limited to”. You can recover the meaning through thinking “there’s nothing else than ~ => ~ is the best” but it’s not completely straightforward.