KaniWani spin cycle - how can I break it?

WaniKani is going great, I have a good process I’ve worked out for picking up new items of whatever sort. Fortunately even items that have been slow to level up seem to get through eventually, as evidenced by an Apprentice number that stays pretty stable even as I add kanji/vocab.

KaniWani, for reasons I haven’t figured out, seems to work differently for my brain. My Apprentice list there keeps getting slowly bigger. I’ve looked through the vocabulary lists by word, and I can see that there are a good number of items that just seem to bob around the same SRS number. It looks like these items rarely advance, and when I do, I soon enough make an error then they drop back a level.

Other than sheer practice (which I do faithfully), or going through each list by individual item and trying to find the ones I’ve reviewed the most with the least success, does anyone have a process for focusing on the items that seem hardest to pick up? Even an automated way to list the items I’ve reviewed the most would help because then I could put together an Anki deck of these to break the cycle.

On a related note, is there any way on KW to see all the items I’ve gotten wrong in the last 24 hours not just the ones wrong in the last review session?

Thanks for any advice.

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So you use WK and KW and to get the items from KW that don’t seem to stick you are trying to use Anki? That’s 3 different SRS for basically 1 input source.
How much do you do outside SRS in your japanese studies, that seems very rough!

If you want to get the items in no matter what, write them on post its and put them where you can see them several times daily, there is no way around more exposure to them if you want to learn them in isolation.

Another method would be to start actually strip down the SRS times and fill that time with actual reading/listening or some other fun activity with the language. Ultimately if you really engage with the language, the important bits will stick naturally and the rather unimportant bits at your current level will just be forgotten until you are ready to take them in.
Your brain can’t not learn, so if you keep doing things and don’t burn out, you will advance. There basically is no way around spending a lot of time with the language, but on the bright side, you also can’t actually “fail”. :slight_smile:


Thank you. I actually only use WK and KW at this point, I just also have access to Anki. I definitely do not want to add to the SRS numbers! I try every so often to engage with some other type of activity but I haven’t yet found anything slow and simple enough that I don’t find quickly frustrating. I will keep looking for the right type of engagement, though. In my imagination I’m watching “Shogun” with the subtitles off, but in the real world I’m struggling to read about seeing Spot run LOL.

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This is entirely normal and is the same for me and everyone else who does it. The reason is actually quite simple. Recognition is much easier than production. It’s also often referred to as passive versus active vocabulary. You can recognize words in your passive vocabulary, but the words have to be in your active vocabulary in order to produce them.

It’s every bit as true in your native language too, it’s just that you have a massive active vocabulary, so you don’t notice it as much. For example, you probably recognize words like galvanize, melange, convivial, and prevaricate, but how often do you ever use them? Chances are at least one of those words you know, but you wouldn’t really be able to produce it spontaneously in the middle of a conversation.

Another example would be to think about why you often see multilingual couples having a heated conversation with each other where each is speaking their respective native language while fully understanding what the other one is saying. There are many potential reasons, but typically the primary reason is because even though people can be fluent enough to understand each other, production is significantly harder. That is especially exacerbated when they’re not really thinking straight because they’re upset about something or when they’re particularly tired.


By the way, just to illustrate how much of a difference the recognition versus production is, my current stats on WK (recognition) are ~98% accurate:


However, with KaniWani, I routinely have sessions where I only get 30 and 40% right!

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I’m with you on that one. I’m only starting now to enjoy re-reading beginner books on Tadoku. And Tae Kim’s grammar is finally accessible. It’s still a slog to go through the material, but the kanji is no longer a problem :grin:

This now seems blindingly obvious once pointed out. I may have come across one of your posts about this before. Thank you.

I am also struck at your high reading accuracy. I do fine with meanings, accuracies around 95%, but my reading tends to sit around 88%, a little better for kanji than vocabulary but very similar. Any insights on that end?

I started learning on Duolingo which I have since found to be not systematic enough for my taste - too many grammatical constructions pop up with no real explanation of use or rules - but I’ve been seduced by the gamified environment. I think I’ll give myself permission to ignore Duolingo once I hit an upcoming 365 day streakm and switch over to some of the resources you mention. I have Tae Kim and I actually really like the clear explanation. I’ve heard of Tadoku so maybe I’ll try there for a real change of pace.

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When I have items that just don’t seem to want to stick, I write myself a new mnemonic for them that I feel will be more memorable to me. (I put it in the notes section.) It makes a huge difference!

Well, first thing I’d say is that an accuracy of 88% is great by itself, so there is nothing to be concerned about! Many language learners aim for an accuracy of 85%+ with SRS as a good balance between the time spent and retention. The retention curve for accuracy is exponential, meaning it requires more and more time to continue improving it beyond the point of diminishing returns. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my accuracy is high because I spend a lot more time than just WK which means I’m really not being as time efficient about it as I should be.

With that out of the way, if you still want some tips that might help, I made a post a while ago with some.

Since then, I’ve also started putting one of the items from each pattern of use for each new vocab item into Anki, so I have a lot more exposure to the readings than just WaniKani. Comparing the stats from the linked post to the ones in this thread shows my reading accuracy has gone up as a result of that.

That said, it’s not a recommendation I would make for everyone in general because it does increase the work load quite a bit though since it basically means every new vocab item on WK ends up with another average of 3 items in Anki. Given most days are 8-10 new vocab items, it’s an additional 24-30 new cards per day in Anki. It all adds up pretty quickly.

Anki’s FSRS algorithm has made it fairly sustainable for me in terms of the number of reviews, but it’s really close to being too much when adding that to the other things I do and I have been considering dropping it back down to maybe only adding two patterns of use for vocab item.

I have started working harder to create my own mnemonics for any items that don’t seem immediately “sticky”, and it has indeed been very helpful. But it never occurred to me to put them in the WK Notes! I just have a paper scratch pad that stays in my EDC bag and I do written practice of whatever type there, but I should definitely rescue my silly effective mnemonics from paper oblivion.

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As a fellow learner who started out with Duolingo, I’d like to suggest Renshuu. I couldn’t get into Anki, so it’s a great way to learn and study new vocab and grammar. Its content goes up to N1, it has plenty of user-created mnemonics, and it uses SRS.

Do you have any notions about Renshuu versus Bunpro? That’s the other more grammar-centric SRS-type app I’ve looked into a bit.

I’ve actually just bought a month’s subscription to BunPro to try out its grammar lessons, so I can’t say for sure how they compare. I can say that Renshuu has some pretty detailed lessons about grammar, though they currently only go up to N4. To be clear, they still give you a brief description of how it works when they introduce it, but nothing like their more detailed lessons.

Really, though, Renshuu’s strength is its vocabulary lessons. I’d suggest just using both (using BunPro just for grammar), along with WaniKani and KaniWani.

That said, take my advice with a grain of salt, since I’m a complete beginner.