Lesson Notes?

Do you guys take notes on your wanikani lessons??? I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately so I was wondering if doing notes would help motivate me??

EDIT: I would like to say thanks, all of your comments really helped me get out of my slump. I think my main problem was having the notion was having 0 reviews all the time which isn’t really viable! And the scripts some of you have shared seemed really helpful! I think I’ll take notes but more for kanji/vocab I don’t know and also practise just my handwriting! So thanks again for all you’re help!!!


I need to write down my lessons to remember them. It forces me to spend a little more time on each item.
Be warned though that it will slow you down.
I also leave myself messages of encouragement at the bottom of the page. Go tanuki go!


For vocab, I decided back at level 6 to make a spreadsheet of most of the vocab. I try to make this my first task each time I level up. Even if I do not go back and refer to it, the work creating it seems to help things stick. And I’ve used table format, so I can search the jukugo compounds by element, or sort by reading. I think everyone has to figure out the right method for themselves. The SRS is really incredible, but for some folks it’s not enough all by itself. There are threads on here repeatedly about “should I study outside of WK?”

YMMV, and good luck! :slight_smile:

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I do if I foresee myself having trouble with the vocab or kanji later. A good portion of the time, I can get by with the phonetic component script though.


If per-session notes work for you, go for it.

WK is mostly about pure memorization, though, there isn’t any real reasoning involved. I’m unsure of what I’d write other than “today felt particularly hard/easy”.

The system already tracks progress and accuracy each session and there are plenty of user scripts to aid with tracking.

There is a LOT of disambiguation required, though. I make heavy use of the meaning/reading notes on individual items.

Often I want to distinguish from one or more similar looking characters, so I might write all of them down in the notes for each character, copy and pasting my mnemonics to distinguish them. (The Niai user script is also a terrific help.)

Other times I just want to clarify which specific English meaning was intended or any other usage notes I might want to make.

You can’t see your item notes until you answer an item (correctly or incorrectly) but you’d only be cheating yourself if that weren’t the case.

In summary, I personally see little value in per-session notes, but per-item notes stored with the system have proven invaluable.


I made the terrible, time wasting mistake of writing down all my vocab lessons on a notepad. I only referred to it five times or so. I don’t really think it’s worthwhile to take notes. Your studying material is WK itself. If you forget or want to look up something, maybe you should do it on the web page or the phone. You may even trouble yourself more by making notes.
If truly necessary, I suggest that you write down Kanji with the goal of remembering readings and meanings only. Writing a bunch of lines of (a) certain Kanji won’t do much for memorizing how to write it.
This is my experience though! I don’t know if it will motivate you enough.
Please remember! Motivation gets you started, discipline carries you all the way!


I don’t think taking notes would necessarily help with motivation. Personally, I find taking notes very tedious and know that I’ll never refer back to them so I don’t do it. Wanikani isn’t the only resource that I use to learn Japanese so if I took notes for each lesson, I wouldn’t have time for anything else. However, I do try to reinforce what I’ve learnt here through hello talk. Reading people’s moments lets me see the vocab that I’ve learnt out in the wild while writing my own moments gives me the opportunity to use it myself. It really motivates me to be able to recognise what I’ve learnt and put it into practice. Even if I listen to a Japanese podcast where I’m barely able to understand anything, it’s still super encouraging if I am able to to recognise just one or two words in a sentence. The motivation won’t always come from wanikani alone, so I think it’s important to engage in other Japanese language activities which are engaging and enjoyable for you whilst also benefitting your learning.

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If you feel like this could be helpful for you, I’d say to give it a try. :blush:

I like the feeling of writing things down :writing_hand:t2:, I’m
a stationery enthusiast :sweat_smile: :star_struck:, and I also think it helps me retain lessons much better :nerd_face:. This is how I do it:

This process does not require endless, boring repetition, writing down the same kanji over and over again. And doesn’t take a long time either.

But the main thing is checking if taking notes would be helpful/pleasant/motivating for you, considering your own preferences and circumstances. “Different strokes for different folks”, after all. :wink:


only in very rare cases where a word is very ambiguous.
like 対する- wanikani translates it as facing each other and comparing.
Meanwhile, in all context sentences, it goes as expression- ni対する which can be translated as * regarding/towards and ext.

Not notes per se, but I do make it a point to think up an original and personalized mnemonic for every kanji I encounter, as well as every unintuitive vocab. I figure that if I make a mistake, it’s because the mnemonic wasn’t good enough, so every time I think up another one until something sticks. Sometimes, I’ll also throw in WK’s note section some rants about my leeches, or tips to keep them apart. It does slow down the process, but thanks to that I can maintain high accuracy.
I don’t take notes outside WK though

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My earlier reply was about notes, but I forgot to mention slumps and motivation.

Everyone goes through slumps but making a habit of daily reviews always got me through mine.

I’ll discuss some motivational tricks below, but in my opinion, the ENTIRE key to success with WK is to consistently perform a comfortable number of reviews almost every single day (ideally getting your review queue down or close to zero each time). Lessons are the “throttle” for the workload, reviews are the workload. Life happens, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two here and there, but WK works best if you do your reviews every single day. (I’m no speed-runner, so I’ve no interest in more than one session per day.)

“Comfortable” means that it doesn’t feel like a slog. Two things affect my comfort level: the total number of items in my daily review queue, and my accuracy rate (mostly affected by percentage of review items in the Apprentice 1 or Apprentice 2 stages).

Each person is different, but for me, a “comfortable” review session takes about an hour to complete and comprises about 100 to 150 items that I can answer about 85% to 90% of the time.

Seeing under 100 items in the queue feels like a vacation day (woohoo!). 100 to 150 is normal. Seeing 150-200 tells me I’m in for a harder day than usual. I kinda dread seeing much more than 200 in the queue — I usually try to break it into a morning and evening session when I see that many.

Similarly, if I answer more than 92% of the questions in the session correctly it feels like a breeze. 85% to 92% still seems pretty effortless, but normal. 80% to 85% feels kinda hard. Below 80% feels like a demotivating slog.

So I do everything I can to keep the review queue to under 150 and accuracy rates close to 90%. Mostly this means doing just enough lessons to keep around 100 items in the Apprentice bucket.

My Japanese vocabulary was already pretty established (I’ve been trying to learn this crazy language since 1975) so I find vocabulary lessons fun (“So THAT’S the character for that word!”) and easy. I do many more lessons when I’m toward the end of a level because I’ll mostly see friendly purple vocabulary lessons. The beginning of a level is mostly evil pink kanji, so I rarely do more than five a day. (I don’t like seeing more than 5-15 kanji in the Apprentice 1 or Apprentice 2 stages.) Simply put: do more lessons when they seem easy, fewer when they feel hard.

Motivational tricks:

Decide on a time of day that works for you and try to do your reviews at the same time every day. I like mornings because I’m still sharp and unlikely to be interrupted. Many others are night owls. Some people prefer their lunch break.

Try to associate WK reviews with something you do every day. For me, it’s drinking coffee. I do my reviews with my morning coffee every day. I once read that it takes three weeks to form a habit. But anything works: making the bed, brushing your teeth, laying out your clothes for tomorrow, whatever. Just try to do your reviews immediately afterward until the association is formed and it becomes such a habit that you can’t do that thing without at least thinking about WK.

Rewards can also be a good motivator. Give yourself some small treat whenever you do your reviews. A snack or another beverage works well. Maybe giving yourself permission to indulge in a few minutes of web surfing. Anything really. Just don’t reward yourself until you do at least a few reviews that day.

Streak tracking also does wonders. I’m a fan of a physical calendar with a big red X that you enter every day you review at least a few items (ideally getting the queue down to zero). Try to make that string of Xs as long as possible. The game becomes don’t break the chain. The heatmap user script will automate this, and WK itself will track your longest streak, but nothing beats the visceral feeling of crossing out the current day on a physical calendar. Writing that big red X becomes its own reward!

Lastly, try to focus on your successes and never feel guilty about missing a day or struggling with your reviews. Learning to read several thousand kanji and vocabulary items is a tremendous undertaking. Take pride in the progress your making and try not to be too hard on yourself when it inevitably gets harder.

Just. Do. Your. Reviews.™


Woah. That is really cool. I can’t read my own English handwriting, much less kanji and hiragana!

I’m so impatient and sloppy that neat and orderly journals like that impress me greatly. I notice that most of my Japanese friends and co-workers have the skill.

There’s a reason that Japanese stationery and office supply stores are so, so wonderful!


I don’t take notes on WK lessons, but I do take them on some of the words I learn outside of WK through Minna no Nihongo, and I take notes on all of the grammar concepts I’m learning. I also practice writing kanji after learning them in WK (and in some cases before I learn them in WK, haha, if I need to learn the word before I get to it in WK).

When I learn how to write new kanji, I just practice each one twenty times, and that’s it. If I need to, I’ll refer back to stroke order charts when I have to write the kanji either in my notes or in workbook exercises, but I’ve found that practicing a lot of kanji a little bit over a long period of time is more effective at teaching me basic writing skills than practicing fewer kanji over and over again until I have them absolutely memorized.

Taking notes and practicing writing kanji are both things that will absolutely slow you down. For that reason, I’m not sure they would really help with motivation, unless you’re someone who really enjoys the process of journaling.

I do think, though, that taking notes and learning to write kanji absolutely helps you remember the information you’re learning, and has other benefits as well, such as helping you look up unknown kanji by drawing them on the IME pad (you’ll have way more success with this if you understand stroke order, which is something that practicing writing kanji will teach you). Even if you don’t refer to your notes after you take them, the process of writing it down in the first place typically helps you remember the information better.

As far as treating your slump goes, I’m seconding the advice to make WK part of your daily routine, and to keep your daily workload regular and controlled. If you haven’t tried this strategy before, I highly recommend picking a number of lessons to do each day, and then just doing them consistently. That’ll give you a more even pace than binging your lessons. If your daily review counts start to get too high for you to comfortably do them, then you can reduce the number of daily lessons by 5 or 10 and control the workload that way. Some days, you will be less excited about doing your WK reviews than others, but if you make it a daily habit and if the workload isn’t too strenuous, it’s easier to get yourself to do the work. At some point, you will recover from the slump and get your enthusiasm and motivation back!

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