I've been holding myself back. When should I start speeding up?

I started WaniKani about the same time last year, I’ve been using this program for 1 hour or more every day, and I’m still only on level 12.

That said, I think I’ve been holding myself back. I’m VERY thorough when it comes to learning and reviewing. I will always memorize the stroke order when learning new kanji or radicals, and I will always read at least 1 example sentence when learning vocab. Doing so usually exposes me to other things, such as new vocab patterns (and frustrations!) when looking at some of the example sentences. I think I’ve learned quite a bit by simply encountering weird stuff in the example sentences and looking it up.

But at the current speed I’m at, it takes 30+ minutes to do only 10 lessons, making them very painful.
Reviews are a bit easier. I could eat through a pile of 100 in 20 minutes if I’m at top speed and anime music is blasting on high.

Since a year has passed, I’ve pretty much gotten the hang of the stroke order and picked up the essentials of the vocab structures. I’ve also been exposing myself to learning the language through other means - using bunpro, memorizing songs, trying to read a light novel, etc.

I’ve heard of people completely emptying out their lesson queues and speeding through levels in 2 weeks or less.

I think I could do that too, but I would have to really start cutting corners: lessons would have to be rushed, and I would have to ignore everything but the meanings and pronunciations.

So is it worthwhile to start picking up the pace?

And if I do, how many more hours of work can I expect as a consequence?


I can’t answer the second question because I’m new to WK, but the ultimate goal of this system (and any system for studying, really) is learning. If you move at a faster pace, skipping over what you normally do, would you still be learning as much? Or would you be cheating yourself for higher levels?


The fastest possible level up is somewhere around 7 days per level.

As an example I have around 200 reviews a day with an average of 8 days per level. That would highly depend on your accuracy and number of apprentice items, which may be hard to keep up if you do all your lessons at once.

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That’s a good thing. I dont usually do more lessons until I have learned the kanji that I’ve been given. Lately, though, I just want more reviews. We’ll see how that works out.

I would say: Go only as fast as to guarantee maximum retention while reaching your goals.
If your goal is to read, write, and speak well, then memorizing stroke order and these things is of utmost importance.

If you have no reason for writing Japanese— for example, a job of some kind that requires it. Then don’t worry about stroke order so much and worry about listening, reading, and grammar.

It takes me a little over a month to finish a level because I wont continue until I know the kanji. (And the SRS can be slow.)


When at your 100%, how many hours does it typically take to do these reviews and lessons each day?

Definitely maybe. :slight_smile:

The point of SRS is to learn a lot of things with max efficiency. That is, study as little as possible. (speed is a byproduct of that: if you’re studying as little as possible, you can study more things.)

It seems like you’re defeating that by going over and above, doing stroke orders, drilling them outside the reviews, etc.

BUT that is not necessarily a bad thing. You’re learning them better than everyone else, I’d wager, at least at the beginning. The debatable part is, that extra? That might happen automatically through exposure later even if you don’t do it. I don’t know.

As to how much work, your daily reviews will be 8x your daily lessons. (On average, and delayed reaction, but still)


My 2 öre(cent)

Skip this and save it for when you learn and practice writing specifically.

This is good, but if you want to go faster you could also skip this and save it for when you are actively reading stuff.

That seems like a lot. I think it would probably be better to try and cut that down as much as possible and let the reviews do their thing in making you recall properly.

That’s not too bad, but perhaps there are some scripts which could help you get faster? Like lightning mode in Double Check, or 1x1 in Reorder, or just reorder in general?

On the other hand, you won’t really need the kanji unless you have the grammar, so if you’re still at the beginning of your Japanese journey I don’t think it’s really a problem. Some people reach level 60 before even starting with grammar, which doesn’t make much sense in the long run. If you feel like your kanji level matches your grammar level then proceed with business as usual.


This guide will improve your understanding of how levelling in WK works.

I think Ive seen @seanblue mention a ratio of radical/kanji/vocab lesson per day which allows for a decent pace.


plus a fudge factor for failed items, which is why there’s also such a thing as too fast.

The SRS will still work, and you will still learn them, but at the cost of a very high workload, counting all the repeats. At some point the whole house of cards collapses when your review stack takes longer to go through than the repetition frequency you need.

I’d say, yeah. Try speeding up. If your accuracy goes in the toilet (I’d say 80% is a good target), maybe that’s too fast. You’ll find the sweet spot with a little experimentation.

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With Lesson Filter I did 3-4 kanji and 8-9 vocab a day (all radicals on day one of a new level) for a total of 12 lessons a day. I usually leveled up in about 14-15 days with this approach.


I do them throughout the day when they appear usually, but when I have to do around 200 in one go i’d say it takes a bit less than an hour.

As usual with this kind of (good) question, it depends on your goal. Here’s my personal anecdote which may help you decide, based on your goals.

I’m in this ballpark, too. Maybe not taking quite as long, but I do spend a good amount of time up front trying to make the mnemonics my own, to really cement the general idea of the new material into my brain on the first pass.

This is because I personally prioritize kanji recognition, and so I want to be learning kanji as frequently as possible. I use the reorder script to deprioritize vocabulary. I still learn vocabulary, but kanji takes precedence for me. (Obligatory note about skipping vocabulary and its tradeoffs.) Levels don’t mean a thing to me. I just want dat kanji, yo, and the kanji are gated behind levels, so alas.

Deprioritizing vocabulary hasn’t turned out to be too painful for me since I come across words in the wild and learn different kanji readings through other input.

So (rhetorical, if you so choose) what are your goals? I agree with others that your pace is caused in ways by all of the additional learning you’re doing with each new WK item. None of that is bad, but if you want to pick up the pace, you’ll need to rebalance (you called it cutting corners, but as long as you’re putting your good effort into your learning, I think it’s just rebalancing).

This saved me a good amount of time in working on vocabulary. :+1: I now use the sentences when I don’t feel I grok the meaning of an item at first glance.


Somehow i can’t make my thoughts conclusive on this but here they are anyway:
I think it would benefit you to speed up.
At this pace it’ll take you about 3-4 more years to reach level 60.
Of course if you don’t mind that and want to learn writing at the same time, that’s perfectly fine.

But otherwise i’d recommend delaying writing practice until after you can read well,
especially now that you’ve learned general stroke order patterns and can probably guess stroke order quite well already.
That’s also what this lvl 60 user did and recommends:

I’d say doing WK in 1-2 years, with maybe a more efficient approach to lessons, will benefit your japanese more than being so thorough. Consider how being lvl 60 1-2 years earlier/longer will benefit your reading.
I’ve said it before, i think quantity beats quality in language learning, as long as you actually learn and don’t practice/repeat mistakes (without fixing them).

I actually look at almost all info, meanings, pronunciation, pitch accent, example sentences… but i try to be quick, because i’ll cement these things in the course of reviews anyways.
Also, i almost never look up things from example sentences, because almost every one on WK uses unknown kanji and speech patterns, and i expect WK and things like Bunpro to teach them to me more efficiently later.
I just read the example sentences to get an idea of the word’s usage, and see if i can quickly pick up anything else like a grammar pattern used with it.

I personally go for 7 days a level, though i also often spend much more than one hour per day on WK. I think this is doable with 1-3 hours a day if you’re efficient, and an 8-9 day schedule gives you even more leeway.
(for just reviews about an hour is sufficient, but sometimes you need lesson marathons)
Do read that guide on leveling quicker etc.
Do your level-critical radical and kanji lessons and reviews first, as long as you can keep up with the workload (keep apprentice items below 100 if you don’t want to be overwhelmed).


You should start speeding up when you want to speed up ¯_(ツ)_/¯ It’s worthwhile if it’s worth your time and money.

I will add that when I breeze through lessons and don’t really internalize the mnemonics or take time to make my own, the initial reviews suffer. But in the long run, it doesn’t produce any more leeches.


Are you a learner that needs to do things by hand for them to stick? Or do you have a language objective where writing kanji by hand is critical?

Ultimately we all only have so many hours a day to dedicate to our hobbies, i.e. Japanese study, so there’s an opportunity cost with how we allocate our time. IMO unless there’s a strong reason to focus on it, anything related to writing isn’t an effective use of time.

As for when to pick up the pace - why not now? Push and challenge yourself. Find out what kind of apprentice card count you can handle. Personally I think 100-150 is a good target.


So, I’m level 2 here. Don’t know how much my opinion counts and I’m sure there are others who have better advice above me. But for what it’s worth, I’m a university instructor so in my experience this is what I have to say:

It depends. On many things. To make it simpler though:

  1. Your learning approach to Japanese as a whole
    Are you using other resources besides Wanikani? And by how much? If WaniKani at the moment is your primary route for learning most vocabulary, familiarizing with sentence structures and kanji then it makes sense that it’s taking you longer to learn. That’s completely ok.
    If you have other resources that are better at teaching grammar, verbs and a bunch of stuff then I would ease up on WaniKani and use it as a tool to recall and read kanji.
    On the note of stroke order, I personally make the effort to learn stroke order because writing is important to me, but it seems to be a personal preference.

  2. Perfectionism
    I hate getting things wrong. I really do and I tend to spend more time upfront learning something. But I have learnt that can be an inefficient way to approach learning. It’s ok to spend less time on lessons and getting a few reviews wrong. By doing this you can focus your time only on the kanji that you get wrong instead of spending a lot of time on each kanji.
    Also, I find things stick better once you get them wrong / start using them in “the real world” (in this case reading, speaking, listening). So if the feeling of getting it wrong is holding you back, speed up and make mistakes! Its so easy to take this simple bit of knowledge for granted.

  3. Your goals in learning Japanese
    This kind of synergizes with point 1. Depending on what your goal is and your learning style, if approaching wanikani the way you do is showing results then continue on! If you are just comparing yourself to others, then that shouldn’t be a reason for speeding up.

Hope this helps! I’ve been learning Japanese for a year now and just started with Wanikani. It’s hard learning any language and you are doing great!


Thanks for all the advice.

I’m going to try speeding up - keeping 100 items in the apprentice status. Should be a fun but doable challenge since I have winter break. I’ll see how much effort that takes me. Hopefully, as long as I do a secondary review during the later hours of the day, it shouldn’t be much work.

I’m going to start also ignoring example sentences unless the meaning of the word is unclear. I find that I take an occasionally extra 15-30 minutes while reading these BECAUSE SOMEONE THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO MIX UP KANJI AND HIRAGANA WHEN THEY SHOULDN’T BE MIXED and I have to reach out to a discord group for help understanding the vocab and grammar when that happens.

However, much against people’s advice, I’m going to keep doing stroke order. Not because I want to write Japanese right away or anything like that, but rather because it just helps be visualize the kanji. I don’t write it down on paper until my hands bleed, I just bring up a stroke diagram (using a browser extension) and visually trace over it with my mind. It shouldn’t take more than a second. Plus it was one of Tae Kim’s key learning tips that I first read when starting out


you know you can also get a stroke order diagram during lessons and reviews in WK with a script, right?

though i’m not sure that i like that it only shows the strokes made so far instead of weakly showing the whole kanji (strokes not yet made with more transparency). it’s a bit disorienting.
what browser extension do you use? Maybe i’ll prefer that one too.

I think I use that one… though I don’t remember it being black and white. It looks like this:

However, sometimes I get curious about the stroke order of the kanji during the vocab sections (and this extension doesn’t support that), so I use the Yomichan chrome extension to get an instant stroke order diagram.

i use dark mode ^^

btw how did you get yomichan to use a stroke order font?

i figured out to get this Kanji stroke order font
and set it in Yomichan with CSS after enabling advanced options:
.expression { font-family: "KanjiStrokeOrders"; }

but it doesn’t work, still shows me a normal kanji font without stroke orders. even restarted the browser.