Keep taking breaks while learning Japanese

Hi, I’ve been learning Japanese for a while but I find that after a few weeks I end up giving up and then want to learn it again lol. Anyone else ever have this problem?


Well, I had it when I used Duo. Sometimes I would feel that I don’t want to do it anymore and after about a week of forgetting my goals and stuff, I would suddenly wake up one morning to find that I wanted to start again. Then I discovered that while I did want to learn Japanese I disliked Duolingo. I searched a lot for some other website and came to WaniKani. The same happened with Wanikani so that the first three levels took me around 5 months to complete. But since I started paying from Level 4, it has helped me to motivate myself when I don’t feel like studying. I do take days off, when I just don’t feel like studying Japanese but the next day I am back. :blush:


I have no data to prove it, but I believe that yours is the same experience of 90% (to be very conservative) of Japanese learners. Only a fraction do end up speaking fluent Japanese, and usually because they live in Japan.


…guilty… for 20 years…

I know enough to watch J Drama and some Anime (like school based shows; SciFi with lots of crazy terms… nope) and that has been enough for me.

Always wanted to learn Kanji and be able to read all the stuff I keep buying though, so here I am 225 out of 225 days studying on WK. After 20 years of being a lazy arse, I buckled down because during the lockdown I was struggling to keep my brain engaged in things.

I think some level of wanting to take a break is normal. Just don’t do what I did and take 20 years to figure out what works for you! :smiley:


I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately because I’m focusing too much on learning Japanese (most the vocabulary), and several times I end up forgetting about other things I like, such as reading books, drawing, etc.

Every hour I check WK and KW, and this kind of became a habit since last December, when I started paying WK. I think I need some break, something like a one day off just to unwind.


me too…
sometimes my work is neglected because wanikani… vice versa


I used to have this problem in the past. I made some effort, then stopped, then made some more effort and stopped again. As I remember the first time I touched Japanese in any learning form was when I was 16, but got discouraged far too easily. Early last year I did my first course, but then took a long break (3 months or so?) and resumed in October until I finished my second course before Christmas.

This year my resolve is much stronger and every time I start having doubts, I remind myself why I’m doing this and just continue :slight_smile: . I no longer shy away from more difficult kanji or vocab and keep on writing them until they’re in my head.

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The structure that wanikani offers has helped me to stay consistent and feel like I’m progressing, no matter how slowly, so I don’t really have this problem anymore! That being said, I have to keep reminding myself of my goal in learning Japanese, as well as the fact that it doesn’t matter if I take the scenic route to that goal so long as I enjoy it. Doing something inefficient that you enjoy, consistently, is better than doing something efficient, that you hate, irregularly :smiley:


I would like to voice my support for this unsubstantiated claim :rofl: With further unsubstantiated musings.

I would suggest not keeping up with Japanese (or any language goal (or just any goal)) would actually statistically be the norm.

The more surprising thing is that anyone DOES maintain effort across time ! Japanese, and in fact learning any new skill to a good level is really hard, and takes bags of motivation, time, and has a massive opportunity cost. So in order to reach FLUENCY (or anywhere close) - you need to rank the importance of Japanese above most other things you could be spending time on.

As for wanting to learn it again - I think that’s fine. You will forget the majority of what you learn. Find the most efficient ways to study (Wanikani being one of them :slight_smile: ) so that you can see maximal results in the minimum time (for your situation).

I would say WANIKANI is a great way to ensure at least some level of effort across time. Consistency is very much the key !!! (I speak to you from day 592 of my wanikani streak :sunglasses: )




What do you mean by that? :smiley: What were you doing all that time?


@pajo00 Here comes a long reply.

There are 3 things in play here Pajo san :slight_smile:

  1. Having realistic goals.

Realizing you are never going to be as good as natives unless you live 10+ years in Japan. Be extremely clear on your goals (These can change as you move forward. But setting the right expectations will go a long way in keeping you motivated.

A lot of us have a goal of watching anime/J-Dramas without subs. It is a worthy goal but it is not going to happen soon. It will be years before that happens. Measuring the progress can keep you motivated.

For example, my main motivation for learning Japanese is reading books in Japanese and reading JP manga/Light/Web novel raws. I know how many times I have to look up even the basic terms. I am very clearheaded in what success means to me. If I am reading manga raws of a particular series, if I looked up 30 times for chapter 1, I want it to be around 20 (on average) by chapter 50 and around 10 or less by chapter 100. I know even if I spend the next 10 years solely on Japanese, I still have to look things up.

The goal should not be about being great. It should be about sucking less. (My belief)

  1. Pacing

It is very tempting to go full throttle while starting. It will mostly lead to an unsustainable pace and you end up burning out. Uncool as it maybe, I believe in small and consistent efforts towards the goal. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have big pace days, they should be more like festivals popping in one in a while rather than a daily occurrence.

It is very tempting because human brain wants to see the outliers, it is wired to pay extra attention to outliers. Whenever you see one of these Bakemonos (Monsters - an endearing term rather than an insult), you are inspired and want to go all-in like them. The fact about outliers is they are outliers. There is a combination of Luck, Skills, Life circumstances, Freakishly strong memory/recall and any number of factors at play.

Your approach to language should be like a relationship. While you should have big celebration days (anniversaries, special moments etc.), what sustains the spark is the little things you do every single day. A daily “How are you?”, “Can I help you with something”, “You are awesome”, “I love you” etc. go a long way to build a rock solid foundation that will take you far longer than you have imagined.

You can have a 50 lesson day once every 3-6 months if you feel like it. It should be more like 5-10 lessons per day and 200-250 reviews per day or less. Almost every single runner (people who try to do levels at maximum allowed speed), said they regretted it at some point but decided to stick with it to complete it and they wouldn’t recommend it to others.

I don’t want to be a hero. I want to be a regular person doing normal things day-in and day-out and I am willing to wait until I see the results.

You might see heroes splashed on the paper for their extraordinary efforts (saving people from burning building etc.). They are incredible. There are many more heroes who keep things running in the background and you may not notice. These are the people who do their best to keep the disasters form happening. (The people doing daily job at power plants, water plants, sweepers, plumbers, maintenance folks etc.) They are truly unsung heroes and we should be thanking them often :slight_smile:

Consistently repeat simple things.

  1. Community

No matter how strong you are, you are bound to face an extreme hardship/failure. Having a supporting community for encouragement and Accountability goes a long way to keep you going on this long winding path.

There were so many times I could have given up and probably would have if not for the wonderful people on this community. You can never underestimate the impact of simple and encouraging words when you are feeling down. A simple act of kindness has the strength to bring you back on your feet. The feeling that you are not alone in this and there are people to share your joy and pain is an unbelievably exhilarating and relieving thing.

Most of us are still fallible humans. While we tend to show kindness to others, we are unequivocally harsh and unkind to ourselves. Sometimes it takes a friend to point out we are hurting ourselves and we are deserving of the same love and kindness we reserve for others. A gentle reminder of kindness is always welcome.

We are stronger together :slight_smile:

Note: When I say “You” - I am not talking about you, but humanity in general.

Wow, writing such a long and intense reply early in the morning is a cathartic experience :grin: Took me almost 45 mins to write this :stuck_out_tongue:

Good luck Pajo san :grin: and I wish you success in your journey :love_you_gesture:


I started WaniKani back in March and recently picked it up again after a break in December/January. Whatever causes you to give up, I feel like it’s one of those things that you’ll naturally pick up again if it’s important enough to you to learn the language-- which is definitely something you can affect!

In my case, I picked it up again after I began consuming more Japanese media recently (e.g. youtube, manga, Japan-related subreddits). At some point I just felt like, “Man, this would be a lot easier to understand if I kept up my studies” so I slowly crawled back to studying again lol. It’s a challenge, but still enjoyable and a win-win overall <3

So I feel like staying engaged with the language/community helps a lot with avoiding this issue-- but also that it’s fine to take a break once in a while and change things up if that’s what you need ^^


What do you mean by that? :smiley: What were you doing all that time?

I have been “learning” for 20 years. I’ve probably been learning properly for maybe 3-4 of those 20?

A lot of my time was spent finding a new tool, sticking to it for 3-6 months, then stopping. A year or so later, find another tool, same thing. After a while it was a joke, and despite hating myself for doing it, I kept doing it. It is who I am. Fighting intertia, lazy inertia, is what I struggle with daily. I needed to learn myself to learn how to make myself learn, if that makes sense?

In the beginning, I learned enough to be able to watch J-Dramas and get the gist. Anime as well. Over the years of watching a lot more Anime than I should admit, I am able to hear and understand a lot of spoken Japanese, as evidenced by my trip for work where I could understand much of the normal conversations that were had, however, I couldn’t really produce my own sentences since I hadn’t learned that part properly.

I ignored kanji for the better part of my 20 years. July 2020 will mark my finally taking kanji seriously. 225/225 days studied now. I am now sticking to BunPro and RocketLanguages, occasionally picking up LingoDeer as well, though it really just reenforces the BunPro and Rocket stuff I am learning.

Might be more answer than you wanted. Long version short, I spent 20 years fighting myself.


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