Level 40+ Learners, How Is It Going?

Dear long-time users of WaniKani.

I’ve been stuck at level 3 for quite a long time, since I’ve been waiting for the discounted subscription. For those of you who have achieved level 40+, or who have invested quite a lot of time in Japanese, how did it go? Did you find WaniKani effective? For how many hours per week do you study Japanese? What other sources do you use, and how much time do you dedicate to learning Japanese (excluding/including hobbies, eg watching anime). And finally, why do you learn Japanese? Share your story, I would be really glad to listen.


WaniKani has definitely been effective for me. I took the JLPT this last Sunday and the vocab/kanji section was a breeze. Most of the words were super easy and ones I had already seen while using WaniKani.

As for what else I use to study, I have been using the Genki to study grammar and Kitsun to study vocab outside of kanji. I also use The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar as a reference when I don’t know a certain grammar point. Looking at potentially using Tobira next year to level up my studies.

And for how much I spend studying, I usually study Japanese for about an hour to an hour and a half every day. I’ve been a little lax on certain areas like reading and listening, but I’m hoping to remedy that next year with a more structured study plan. I’m hoping next year to pass the N4, so we’ll see how effective it is.

To finish up, I’m studying Japanese because:

  1. I’m interested in the culture. Considering how unique Japanese culture is, it would be a shame and a waste to only be interested in just Japanese media.
  2. I want to go teach English in Japan as an ALT. I’ve been working on this goal for a while now. I applied for JET last year and didn’t get in, but I applied again this year so we’ll see whether or not I get in this time. In the mean time, that gives me more time to learn and practice.

Long story short, I’ve got some goals and hopes in my future. Also, congrats on making it to level four! To mimic you a bit, why are you studying Japanese?


Well if it hadn’t been effective for me I wouldn’t have been 40+


It’s been going quite well!

Thanks to my Japanese I’ve made two trips to Japan (I mean I could’ve went anyway, but I wouldn’t have had the incentive, and wouldn’t have been able to speak to people), even met up with people I’ve gotten to know through italki and Hellotalk, and also gotten to read some cool stuff.

Oh, definitely without a quesion! Being able to read the kanji WK teaches you is super helpful going forward. Basically it means you only have to look up the odd kanji here and there.

When doing WK probably two hours a day. Nowadays I guess only anki is actively “study” so in that case 20 minutes or so.

I use anki with the morphman plugin to practice listening using context sentences I’ve made myself from all over the place (often with subs2srs or voracious). Probably around 20 minutes.

I use italki to practice speaking for an hour a week.

I read at least two pages (though often considerably more) in a novel each day. Recently decided to finally give Murakami a try and I’m enjoying that so far.

Then I like to watch let’s play videos in Japanese to relax. I only do this when the mood strikes though, so it can be anything from all evening to nothing.

My interest probably started from JRPGs, but mostly it just seemed like such an exotic and cool language to know.

Nowadays I keep going because this exoticness still makes it fun and rewarding to learn and because my studies have made me do stuff and get to know people I otherwise wouldn’t.

EDIT: I’ve started listening to audiobooks for listening practice as well, but I cheat by making it so I can repeat each sentence as many times as I want


I’ll vouch for crihak-senpai. He’s good help when I run across sentences that I’m not sure about! Be serious, like crihak-senpai, and not lazy, like me! :slight_smile:

But, to add some content, so said senpai doesn’t slap me, WK was amazing for as long as I put the work in. When I started slacking more and just “wanting it to be over” in the 50s, a lot of that stuff didn’t really stick long-term.

I honestly don’t “study” at all anymore, even though I definitely should. I have anki decks for both vocab and grammar and I even worked on my own tool for creating decks out of eBooks, that I was going to use for study. But I just ended up practicing instead. It’s not as effective, but it’s the most fun for me, and since I don’t exactly have a deadline for when I want to be “done”, it can take as long as it needs to. I mostly play video games, read manga and light novels. I have a tendency to try and do a lot of different stuff at the same time, which is also not recommended for efficiency… :slight_smile:

As a side note, if you like WK you should try out bunpro for grammar. It’s a very, very well-built tool that also uses SRS and example sentences to reinforce grammar points. First month’s free as far as I know so check it out and see if you like it.


Really effective. Tried other methods and tools, some of them I’m still using (like anki) but Wanikani is the best one to learn kanji.

Many sources xD

At the beginning, 5h on weekdays and 12h on weekends. Now, 30m per day reading and 6h per day just listening to podcasts.

I just love japanese =D

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Thank you for your answer! It is a bit surprising because I thought that being level 60 would make even JLPT N3 easy for you. Quite interesting to know that it requires more effort. Good luck on your exam next year!

To answer your question, I am really invested into culture and media. Let’s say, it all started with anime and manga, and when I got to know the culture much closer, I found that the way Japanese live is the way I want to live. Their upgringing, life goals, commitment to work, philosophy of life is something I find very relatable. I know that everyone are different, but this image is how I picturise most of the Japanese.

My main motivation is to study Japanese since I watch a lot of anime since 2012. I started watching with Japanese dub and eng sub in 2015, and then I thought: “Hey, I could study Japanese until at least entry level, so when I watch anime, I could learn the language as well!”. Guess what, I enjoyed stuyding it a lot and so despite aiming only at entry level before, I am aiming for much higher level now. Maybe not fluent, but at least N3-N4 level.

Thank you for sharing your story!

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I thought that being level 60 would make even JLPT N3 easy for you.

Well, the kanji part is certainly way easier. I don’t remember exactly what level I was two years ago when I passed the N4, but WK didn’t really help with anything outside of kanji (and some vocab). Which is fine, because that’s what WK sets out to do. And man did I slay the kanji part.


If you don’t put ample time in grammar and vocab, level 60 doesn’t guarantee you could even pass N5 easily. Wanikani teaches mainly Kanji and it’s just one part of Japanese.


Remember that wanikani isn’t everything. For me it works as a way to repeatedly memorize different kanji and vocab so that they would stick to my head better. My journey to Japanese also started in 2012 with anime, and I took some elementary Japanese classes during high school, but we never went further than basic grammar and the kanji for different days of the week… I resumed the studying at summer university in 2018 and after that I continued to study kanji (on paper with a pen) independently and forcing myself to read shounen manga (that way it was easy to google the kanjis with furigana). I proceeded to self study for a year, and got myself into a university Japanese class this fall. I took the N2 last sunday, and I’m pretty confident I’ll pass.


Thank you! To be honest your position was my initial goal. I wanted to practice up until the level where I can learn by doing my hobbies (eg manga, anime, JRPGs, etc). But learning it was actually quite fun and engaging, so I really want to push it! And that’s why I am definitely going to be level 60, just like you!


Yeah, I had the problem of not studying enough grammar. When I was starting, partially due to lack of reliable resources and partly laziness. I might be at level 60, but my comprehension and grammar are way behind where I should probably be. I took the N5 Sunday and was hoping to go after the N3 next year but considering how I did on the listening portion I don’t think that would be wise.

This is pretty much what my main problem is. I have vast crazy amounts of kanji knowledge, but a less grammar to use it with. It can be pretty frustrating that I stupidly went through Wanikani before I knew enough grammar.

Although it has made studying easier.


Thank you for your answer and good luck on your JLPT Exam! I understand that wanikani isn’t everything, but since I mostly self-study (don’t take courses or have japanese tutors) and it is quite hard for me to study with books and other stuff which is not interactive (I tried genki, didn’t have motivation to continue), I was interested whether it is possible to learn japanese with such interactive learning.

I will definitely use other ways to study, but listening to everyone’s stories made it much easier to understand what is actually needed.

Not sure if this already has been said, but if you get lifetime, you get the money of your remaining period back. So if you have 3 months of your year subscription left, you’d get a quarter of the price back. So you could have just subscribed a while ago anyway and get a relatively cheap period in the mean time.


Although it has made studying easier.

That is actually pretty important. As far as I know, kanji is the hardest part of the Japanese language, and that is the point where many learners give up. It might be wrong, but I think that with the hardest part behind, it is much easier to study other parts of the language.


Thank you for the information, fortunately, I knew it. I have decided to wait since monthly subscription would push me to study, since otherwise I would consider wasting my money for nothing. I think that with lifetime I wouldn’t face this issue and will study at my own pace, and with monthly/yearly subscription I would push myself thinking “Why did I buy it when I could have waited until December?”

Anyway, even if it seems unreasonable, waiting until now allowed me to gather up hype and motivation and allowed me to focus on other important stuff at the time.

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I passed level 40 some time ago and apart from some aches and pains it’s going alri…

Oh, WaniKani level 40+!

WK is good at what it sets out to do, which is to get you used to kanji to the point where you don’t have to put much thought into it. When you come to learning Japanese in general then it’s great to not have to look up every second character.

I don’t schedule time in for Japanese studies so it’s hard to say how much time per week I spend. What I have found though is that, at least by level 45, I found it more effective to spend my time on grammar / reading / watching stuff. The setback from coming across an unknown character is pretty minor compared to unknown vocabulary or some grammar point.

I still plan to finish WaniKani though. Before I die. (Honest…)


Thank you for your answer! That’s pretty interesting. I thought that with WaniKani you can learn kanji and vocabulary. I knew there would be problems with grammar, listening and speaking, but I thought that vocabulary wouldn’t be an issue in this case. I’ll be sure to take that into account and practice more vocabulary! Thank you!

The vocab on WK is still useful but it’s just that you’ll need a whole lot more than the vocab here. The choice of vocab here is to teach you kanji, rather than chosen because they are common everyday words.

Every so often you’ll read an account on WK where a partner will look over someone’s shoulder and go “Why on earth did they chose that word! You’ll never use it…” Only to come across it in some literary context a week later…