Level 38 and ready to give up

Last January, I started learning Japanese and started WK. I initially planned to spend around a year learning Japanese, and then perhaps visit Japan to celebrate. Conveniently, WK takes a little under a year to complete.

As usual, the early levels were incredibly slow and boring and I vowed to go through WK as fast as possible and set a new record, or at least as close to that as I could get without having to get up in the middle of the night to do reviews.

Obviously, WK gets a lot harder in later levels. But my commitment to the speedrun has kept me going on WK through thick and thin, week after week. However I’m now level 38 (and about to hit 39), and I’m seriously contemplating defeat. Lately I’ve been getting crushed by reviews again.

This morning, it took me around an hour and 15 minutes just to get through my morning WK reviews and Bunpro reviews (but mostly WK). And the fast levels are quickly approaching.

On the one hand, I don’t want to admit defeat. Partly out of pride, but mostly because once I stop once, I’ll have broken my streak forever and thus lost most of the motivation causing me to keep at WK every day. But on the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine doing fast levels when I can barely handle WK as it is.

I know people say you need to do more reading and so on to reinforce what you learn from WK, but I have no idea how people manage it. Although I probably spend the majority of my time on WK, I do watch an episode or two of anime most days and have been trying to keep up with NHK News Easy and listen to podcasts and so on. It feels likely barely scratching the surface and yet even that minimal amount of Japanese exposure has been a struggle to maintain, both due to the time and the immense mental effort required. I can scarcely imagine how I could devote more time to Japanese study, short of quitting my job.

Of course, my original plan seems kind of silly now because it doesn’t look like there’s any chance of visiting Japan any time soon anyway. Of course Japanese has proven far more difficult than I could have imagined, so I’m not sure I’d be ready to go yet anyway.


I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling that way. I can certainly understand the crushing weight of reviews; after taking a five month break I came back to a thousand reviews and doing a lot of those very quickly ended up giving a few hundred reviews every day to catch up.

The motivation of a streak is a great thing to keep going, but other people can help too. Have you thought about joining something like the Luminaries thread to have a leader board to keep yourself motivated? Or perhaps making a simple study log to hold yourself accountable?

I know that it can feel like it’s all too much at times, but you’ve come so far and are just three months away from hitting 60 if you’re speed running as you say.

You aren’t doing this alone and lots of us will cheer you on ^^


I say absolutely admit defeat on the speedrun. Give it up for good. It’s a pointless goal that gets you nothing in the end.

Okay that may be a little harsh, but burning out and quitting Japanese altogether is a far worse outcome than just slowing down, admitting that maybe the WK marketing lied a little about how long it will take, and spending some time on other parts of the language.

Slow down to like 5-10 lessons a day, keep doing reviews every day, and within a few weeks your WK load will have lessened significantly. Then you have time to, for example, join a book club and practice reading. Or study non-kanji vocab on another site. Or practice speaking. At level ~40 you should already be comfortable with a large majority of the kanji you come across, so you’ll see a lot of benefit focusing on other areas next.

Of course it hurts to admit that a goal was unattainable, but IMO its better to adjust and retarget than to give up the subject completely.


I was attempting full speed at first. Then got me 2 weeks to recover. Now i am taking it very slow. 10~20 ) lessons every day. And no lessons if apprentice count are more than 100. I guess these rules keep my review more managable. As for bunpro i only do lessons if my next day review count is less than 20 and i do lessons 2~3 times a week. I am also doing kamesame but it not that bothersome to me since review count usually is less than 60 whenever i go to do reviews
Edit: also my favourite quote in this forums
“It is not a race it is a marthon it doesn’t matter when you get there as long as you do”


Something tells me I’m going to get absolutely crushed by the fast levels. I haven’t slowed down yet


Sometimes, WaniKani isn’t for everyone perhaps? Or maybe there are times where you don’t need to do WaniKani at all. I actually stopped for a while because I lost motivation just like you at level 24 or so. I was burned out and just needed something new.

After almost a year of no WaniKani, I made a friend who was around WaniKani Level 45 at the time and passed JLPTN2. With that I turned it around and decided to try it out again and here I am chugging along slowly. So I recommend you either

  1. Keep going at your own pace that won’t kill you while finding other means of Japanese motivation
  2. Take a break from WaniKani and try other methods of learning like a tutor perhaps? Try and make Japanese friends with HelloTalk or see if there are any Japanese Language exchanges you can do online or in person.

At the end of the day your goal is to learn Japanese, so just try other things you think will make it fun for you especially with time constraints.


This is also a question I have, every one says (and I certainly agree) that you have to use more than WK to get competent at the language. So I do, a daily mix of WK lessons/reviews (1 hour), Duolingo (30 min) and Genki (1-2 hours). That’s at least 3-4 hours a day and leaves little to no time for reading.

I’m 3 months in at the same study pace of 3-4 hours every day and after a year of that my little brain will be fried. No idea how people find the time to mix in Reading on top of WK, Bunpro, Genki etc.


You’re at a good level to start reading more. Fast levels are not worth it, IMO. I’d say slow down a bit and keep chugging everyday, but allocate more time to other things Japanese. Level 60 is not some magical point which transforms you. At this point kanji are not holding you back that much, and better to start the “real” journey of getting into native stuff sooner than later.


You don’t have to do the fast levels fast. You’ve made great progress but it sounds like it’s time to slow down to spend more time on other skills.

Slowing down is not a sign of defeat, it’s a sign of your endurance and resiliance! :muscle:


The speed at which you do lessons is the speed you’ll get reviews. When I came back last year and had 600+ reviews I did 30-50 reviews a day (with no new lessons) for months until I got back to 0 and now things are fine.

I do a set amount of WK reviews a day (normally 3, sometimes 6 if the review number is low for the day) and keep my reviews on WK and BunPro to 0. With the addition of reading and using another SRS program for words that aren’t on WK (HouHou SRS), it soon adds up. I usually get about 25-35ish WK reviews a day, 10 for BunPro and 20ish for HouHou SRS and I don’t feel like it gets in the way of other stuff.

For reading, I got the first six volumes of Taishukan Readers from amazon.jp. They start off very easy and go up to pre-advanced. I’ve covered all N3 grammar, and it’s been enough for 95%+ of what I’ve seen in the 1st 4 volumes.


Make it slower, yes. No hurry here. Keep time to enjoy Japanese at your own pace. My strategy : one review when I feel it right, and then after, just one lesson. Then closing WK and switch to another activity, whatever it is. No more, no less.


Don’t give up!


My strategy with this is everyday I study a little grammar to do a little reading, but never both on the same day. So it’s either an hour grammar or an hour reading, and what I choose depends on what I feel like (and also if it is a book club day or not :stuck_out_tongue:). That way its not too much of an overload. Oh and the occasional skip day/break day is completely fine if you’re not SRS-ing grammar.


Have you looked at the 4500 sentence translation pack that Tofugu sells? That for me was an excellent way to start moving from vocabulary to a more cohesive understanding. Personally, I find explicit grammar study to be not very useful. Looking things up as I stumble on them is a lot slower, but I feel like it sticks better for me.

On the speed run… have you considered the possibility that you’ve already won? At level 38 you’ve got a solid enough grasp of vocabulary to do pretty well in Japan (I did OK with a lot less when I went).


I’ve been lingering on the forums for a while and seem to see a lot of posts like this one; this is my first time replying. I understand why these posters may feel disappointed about not meeting a goal they had set for themselves, but I’m puzzled—and honestly very put-off—by the amount of conversation here that frames Japanese language-learning as a video game or an adversary to be “defeated.” WK may be gamified, but learning about another culture is not a game and cannot be accomplished through a “speedrun.”

It’s not just the WK community that can talk like this, it’s a whole online subculture (see Matt “vs.” Japan). I’m sorry if this comes off as patronizing but it really bugs me, and I think it creates problems out of non-problems, and it got me worked up enough to post!

To the OP: Why are you learning Japanese, and why does it matter how quickly you do it? Was your initial goal of <1 year set by some external circumstance? (It seemed like you designed the trip to Japan around WK, not the other way around—right?) You say, “Conveniently, WK takes a little under a year to complete.” Are you basing that expectation off the guide by the one guy who did it in 368 days (over a year), and explicitly says that it was nearly full-time occupation (“Please hear me out here: I’m a college student with too much free time. I had the time and the motivation, so I did it”)?

You seem really dedicated to learning Japanese. I’m way, way behind you and hope I make it to level 38 someday (and I hope you really chew me out when I come to the forums at that point and complain about my stats). You obviously have been extremely motivated to learn Japanese and enrich your experience of Japanese culture. That’s your goal here, not completing WK or completing it in a set amount of time. It would be really sad if your performance in the WK video game discouraged you from that wonderful—and actually meaningful—quest, which it sounds like is currently kind of happening.

So think back to what got you started on all this in the first place. If you still think WK is the right tool to learn Japanese the way you want to learn it, then go at the pace you need to go. If WK has become more of a burden than a help, there are plenty of other ways to learn Japanese. I hope this perspective, from someone much closer to the beginning of the path, is helpful.


you can speedrun wanikani, but you can’t speedrun japanese.

with that established, maybe stop lessons for a while and zero out all your apprentice and guru items, which will take a month.

this is not going to set you back really, because if you continue like this, you’ll have to put in a lot more work to stay on top of it - and i mean a lot of work, which also means energy and time. if you ignore that, you’ll slowly spiral into terrible accuracy, a huge amount of leeches, frustrating repetitions and an ever-growing pile of reviews, which will take its toll.

look at it as an investment. you did so much work on this, spent countless hours, memorized so many kanji and vocab items. you did some related studying, too, and are already two thirds through the largest obstacle to picking up the language (the writing system). throwing this away because you can’t achieve perfection with a limited amount of time/energy doesn’t make sense.

consolidating for a month saves you time in the end, it solidifies what you know, helps you sort out what leeches you have accumulated, and it will invigorate you, because your workload will go down.

i’ve been at it for a decade now. started on Oct 15th 2010. believe me, a month is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but you’ll probably regret throwing all that work away at some point.

good luck.


Something to mention, is that many of the people known for having completed Wanikani in the shortest possible amount of time also had other factors involved. Some already had a solid background in Japanese and were using WK for those harder kanji at the end. Some chose to do kanji only here and learn vocabulary through a different method. I’m sure someone somewhere went from 1 to 60 as fast as possible learning every word and with no prior background, but you need to look at why.

You have not failed anything by feeling burned out at your level. You have already accomplished SO MUCH. If the endless flashcard are getting to be too much then slow down, allow you review pile to dwindle to something manageable, and put the extra time into something you find fun. Don’t give up Wanikani, and certainly don’t give up Japanese. I assume you’re still planning a trip to Japan at some point when it is safe, so now is a great time to spend some time learning grammar, immersing yourself in reading or listening or watching, or even find someone to talk with so your Japanese is functional when you get there.
You haven’t failed at anything. You are burned out and feeling miserable and you need to reassess you goals and reallocate your time to best suit you.

Hope it all sorts out and that your Japanese journey is long and satisfying!


I am sharing your misery. Brace yourself and keep going. This is a very tough and long road. I am sticking to the tactics of less thinking and doing what I am supposed to do daily.


I think learning a language doesn’t have to be neither a race nor a marathon. For me it’s more like a stroll in the woods. Sometimes I get completely lost and discover places I’ve never dreamt of. And then a nice old lady with a black cat comes and offers me some candy.

If I get to level 60 here (or level 6 for a start) I’ll sure be proud. But learning Japanese for me is not really about levels or certificates. So I guess I think it’s okay to stop whenever it’s just not fun anymore or I get feeling I’m working towards a goal just for the sake of the goal itself …


Congrats on getting to level 38. That’s a lot of kanji and vocab to learn and memorize. I understand that your motivation was initially to speedrun through all 60 levels but i think you need a few more motivating factors to keep going. I’m working thru level 30 and it’s taken me a year. I’m also an american born Japanese and even attended Japanese school on Saturdays(up to 8th grade). BUT…it’s still been difficult for me even with a solid knowledge of hiragana, katakana, grade school kanji and speaking/comprehension knowledge.
What i’ve learned over the year is that consistency has been key for me. A pace that can be flexible but yet be diligent in doing the reviews and lessons (both kanji and vocab). I’m at a pace of about 11 days to level up. Should take me about another year to complete level 60. This has worked for me to still work, raise a family (4 kids), vacation, and do things i enjoy.
I also think that WK alone isn’t enough to really experience Japan the way you might want to experience. Yes, you might be able to read some/most things but there’s still a lot of nuance in experiencing Japan. Reading is important but reading names (people and places) is/can be difficult. Conversing is an art with “rules” for honorific, your relation to them, formal/informal, older/younger, male/female, work/home, etc…
It’s good to immerse yourself in different aspects of leaning a culture. I do admire that you wanted to learn to read kanji and visit Japan. but i would encourage you to practice reading (internet, youtube, manga, magazines), watch shows/movies to learn social rules, history, cues, and trends. Learn how they speak. it’s very different from english. Lots of noises and pauses, head movements, postures, etc…

Anwyay, I’ve rambled on enough. temper your expectation to something more realistic cause it would be a waste to burn out and quit. Make some more realistic goals and i hope you make it to level 60.