Level 1: vocabulary doom

is it usual to feel like youre doing really well only to start the vocab stuff and feel like you’re useless?
i seem to be struggling all of a sudden.


It’s usually really difficult to start new levels and vocab because you are usually seeing it for the first times. It should feel better the second or third time you see it.


Welcome to WK!


Maybe you’ve tried doing too many lessons at once? Many do a few per day all according to their own life circumstances.

It’s very hard to guess at what your actual problem is if you don’t tell us more about your study routine, or which part of learning vocab you’re having a hard time with.


It gets easier as time pass and level increase.
By order of difficulty, imho:
kanji >> vocab with unique/exception reading >>> vocab with new reading >> vocab > radical

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thanks for this, I think I’ll benefit from some self-study outside of the programme.

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although its tough, I have been thoroughly enjoying it, so Ive been checking every hour or so and completing all tasks when they become available. what I’ve been struggling with is the amount you need to remember! you learn the radical, then kanji and then there’s vocab with its own unique reading haha
but like I said, im really enjoying it, I don’t see myself being deterred


That’s good. Still, lots of people space out their lessons. Others also “schedule” their reviewing, to get those SRS intervals at good times during the day.

It’s good to go at a steady pace, while letting the information sink in. So, finding that balance to make WK long-term sustainable is important.

But, that’s an individual thing, especially with IRL things going on at the same time. So, its a bit hard to define.

I suggest a read of this guide as it might give you a better grasp of how WK works and how to make the most of its SRS system. :slight_smile:


Just to add that the guide is the 2nd post. The one you linked points to the main one where it’s mostly about me rambling about my Japanese journey and reaching level 60 :stuck_out_tongue:

This is the link for the actual guide:

@skeletonjoe, don’t worry too much about not getting everything correct. We’re here to learn, not ace tests. We shouldn’t expect ourselves to know it all and get 100% accuracy precisely because we’re going through a learning process :slight_smile:

A good tip to improve accuracy that hasn’t been mentioned yet is to just give more time to yourself when you’re doing lessons. Read the mnemonics, check the example sentences, say the meanings and readings to yourself or out loud without checking for the answers, etc :v:


I remember going through several “level ups” in my study and learning skills in the first ten levels of WK. It’s normal to feel challenged!

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thanks, I’ve bookmarked this for a read.

im in lockdown at the moment, not currently working so im able to spend more of my time on WK and my Japanese studies in general.

also, this is my first post and im delighted and really impressed by how fast and helpful peoples responses have been. looking forward to ingratiating myself in the community going forward!

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For me the vocabulary is where things start to sink in because you get to see the characters in other situations than just by themselves (especially on-yomi readings). It certainly doesn’t happen at first! But it’s one of the things I love about Wanikani.

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I might mention that the first three levels or so actually have disproportionately difficult vocabulary, because several irregular counters are covered. So you learn 一 is いち, and 人 is じん or にん or ひと but then 一人 is ひとり. Counting people, months, and things all have irregular readings which can be frustrating at the very beginning of this program. As you move past these, you’ll find vocab that make a bit more sense, so just keep on do reviews and moving forward. If the counters are tripping you up, finding a list of them in sequential order and studying from that helps A LOT. It took me months to finally think of actually studying the days of the month on a calendar, and then I felt like an idiot.

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thanks for your reply!

what do you mean by ‘the counters’?

Number of days and number of things. 一日、二日、一つ、二つ。 Up to ten, they all have different, almost arbitrary pronunciations. It’s something I still struggle with. Don’t worry too much if you get these wrong, most of the vocabulary you’ll be learning after will have more comfortably consistent readings.


I thought you meant this (just wanted to double check!)

thanks again

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Reading an introduction to counters (and numbers) before you start the vocab will also prove very helpful, I believe. Tofugu should have a few articles covering those subjects. There are some easy rendaku and readings patterns that you can pick up this way as well, that will make the memorization process much less painful.

(The Japanese Counters Guide: Beginners Start Here) ← a good starting point.

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I eventually made this:


(I think it’s publicly accessible, first random flash card website I found)

Because I couldn’t remember any of the simple counters, and I wanted a to revise them when I had a spare five minutes now and then.

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It takes a while to get used to how kanji come together to form vocab, especially learning how to predict it. There’s no English equivalent, so it’s a completely new skill. Vocab absolutely stressed me out for a while. The nice part is, you don’t actually need to Guru vocab to level up.

Still work with them of course, if you don’t guru them consistently eventually it’ll just give you way more daily reviews, but it’s not like Kanji where if none of them are sticking you can’t proceed. Just keep working at it and it’ll be second nature before you know it. Eventually it even becomes easier to tell when things are going to rendaku and predict when exceptions will happen. Half of learning is learning how to learn.

(Also there are a lot of exceptional vocab readings in the first few levels, probably because they’re a lot of very common kanji. If they’re tripping you up feel free to study them outside of WK. There are gonna be exceptions in vocab every level, but they seem to be everywhere in the first 3 or 4. Don’t worry if your accuracy isn’t as high as you’d like it.)


I’m not much further on than you but it does get easier!

I think the 〜日 counters are hard because they all seem irregular. I found that making a simple spreadsheet helped me organise my thoughts more than anything else.

The good news is that the next ones, the months 〜月 are much easier.

This has given me some trouble too and I am glad to hear that the readings will be more consistent after I level up a bit more. Also, I have definitely messed up the がる and げる verbs more than once in regards to their meaning.

Also, when you level up, it definitely comes off as overwhelming as you unlock ALL of the vocab of your current level and the radicals (plus a few kanji) for the next level. I was tempted to do all of the lessons at once and quickly realized that I wouldn’t retain most of it, so I decided to try ~40 new items a day (I count readings and meanings as separate items), which seems to be working well.