Level 60 🥳 thanks WaniKani

To start, I want to thank WaniKani for providing a way for me to learn Kanji on autopilot and motivational emails, etc. as well as @Kumirei for making the experience on here a lot better. I love your heatmap script especially :slightly_smiling_face:.

I think there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said by someone else, so I will leave you with only three things that I found especially important during the last year learning Japanese. Hopefully this will help you on your own journey:

1. Have a strong "why"

Know why you are learning Japanese.

I think this is crucial with any big/long term effort you are taking on. Learning Japanese to an acceptable level where you understand everything and can communicate takes a very long time. I can almost guarantee you will want to quit or “pause” along the journey.

Having a strong why will help you to keep going even if you don’t feel like it.

This can be anything from “Planning to live in Japan”, “Wanting to learn about the culture”, or just the “Enjoyment/challenge from learning the language”.

Whenever you feel like quitting, the stronger your why, the stronger the drive to keep going.

2. Start reading early on

I can not stress this enough … reading is the most important thing when learning Kanji specifically. The more you read, the better.

Start reading around level 10 and see how you go. Read what you want. Read what you enjoy. In my opinion reading graded things is fine, but don’t get too caught up in choosing random graded stories you don’t care about. Read what you are interested in.

It will be hard and you will feel like a first grader. That’s fine. Practice makes perfect. At the beginning I set myself a timer to read for around 30 minutes and then just stopped. It’s really hard at the beginning and you have to fight through the sentences, but the more you read the better you get at remembering and recognizing Kanji.

I see WaniKani as a supplementary tool. I think it’s good to prime your brain for new words, but ultimately reading will be the best way to make strong connections to the words you have seen a few times.

Also… if you don’t want to read, why are you even learning Kanji?

My favorite reading resources:

  • NHK Web Easy: at the beginning only easy articles, now I usually read the easy article and then read the “normal” article with the link at the bottom
  • Satori Reader: Very helpful at the beginning and I read most stories. My sub is now cancelled in favor of ebooks.
  • Amazon.jp Ebooks: I use it with my kindle and can read anything I want
3. Quantity > Quality & Context > Isolated Words

Read as much as you can. Listen to as much as you can. Watch as much as you can. Context is king and will help you make connections to remember words.

Don’t focus on getting everything right when reviewing flashcards, focus on speed. Especially, don’t focus on getting isolated words on flashcards right. You will make mistakes going fast and that’s fine. With enough repetition of words in context (books, news, videos, series, etc.), things will start coming together, I promise.

Piggybacking off part of a post from another level 60 just recently:

If I am not mistaken, the CIA estimated that it takes them 2200 hours to teach an employee Japanese to a level at which they can be deployed in Japan. Despite the numerous products on the internet claiming to accelerate language learning, rest assured that you will not learn Japanese faster than 2200 hours, no matter what method you choose. If you dedicate 10 hours per day, it will take you 220 days. With just 1 hour per day, it extends to 6 years, and 30 minutes per day amounts to 12 years. Keep in mind that the 2200-hour mark typically only signifies an intermediate/N1 level.

If you are a busy person and allocate only 30 minutes a day to learn Japanese, I can almost guarantee that you will not succeed. It is best if you stop wasting your time. I know this is harsh, and that this advice this applies to most Japanese learners, which is why I believe it is important to mention it. In my opinion, aiming for 3 hours per day is more realistic, allowing you to reach an intermediate level in about 2 years.

I 100% agree with this.

The big learning here is to maximize the hours you spend with the language as a whole. Think back to my first point. Think about your why. It will help you do more rather than less.

Also, put aside the flashcards for a moment. Pick content to watch, read and listen to that YOU enjoy. You will have a much easier time consuming more of it.

I tracked every single minute learning Japanese since I started in November 2022.

Since November 2nd 2022 I have spent 2021.43 hours total actively learning Japanese. This averages out to 4.68 hours each day from the November 2nd 2022 to January 7th 2024.

To give you some insight into what I have done, here are the stats and some extra info:

Yay, stats

Total hours studied:

Categories are:

  • Hiragana/Katakana (13.13 h): only done in November 2022
  • Vocab/Kanji (1140.19 h): dedicated vocab study by using WaniKani Level 1-60, Genki 1 vocab, Genki 2 vocab, Miku Real Japanese shadowing course vocab and the Core 2k/6k deck
  • Listening and Grammar (617.93 h): Genki 1 & 2 grammar lessons + practice, beginner japanese podcasts, YouTube videos and Miku Real Japanese shadowing course. (After May 2023, I split this category into “Grammar and Shadowing” + “Immersion Listening” and “Immersion Video” for better granularity)
  • Immersion Reading (39.54 h): Reading everything from news to ebooks
  • Talking lessons (57.50 h): free talk lessons on iTalki (casual conversations only, no actual lessons).
  • Grammar and Shadowing (42.68 h): Miku Real Japanese shadowing audio and dedicated grammar lessons or grammar repetition
  • Immersion Listening (92.91 h): Purely listening to podcasts and stories, no subtitles (introduced in June 2023)
  • Immersion Video (17.55 h): Usually youtube videos or anime with japanese subtitles (introduced in June 2023)

WaniKani accuracy stats

WaniKani level up stats

27 Likes

Congrats!!

Impressive tracking and graphs, this is interesting. I can only assume since you lumped listening and grammar together that you listened to a lot of your grammar through youtube channels?

And just a little side note/encouragement for anyone with less than 30 minutes a day for Japanese practice

while I agree one has to dedicate a lot of hours in total, it doesn’t have to be hours a day to be meaningful. Lest someone be put off by that, I just wanted to briefly mention that after 6 years of very minimal study (Genki I, some Anki and a weekly 30 minute talk with a Japanese friend) which must have average well less than 30 minutes per day, I’ve actually found that gave me a pretty solid foundation (I was conversational) and a fine jumping off point to being able to read. From March 2023 last year I started reading daily consistently, but even then not spending more than 30 minutes total on Japanese everyday, and by the end of the year I could read alright at a Natively level of 20-25.

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Thanks!

Yes. Most of the listening at the beginning was the shadowing course from Miku Real Japanese. It’s purely single sentences tackling one grammar construct in casual Japanese. I watched some YouTube stuff at the beginning, especially the Genki series by Tokini Andy.

Yep. I believe that. No qualms with people taking it slowly, although there is a massive caveat in my opinion. People tend to quit when they notice after several years of studying (2-4) that they still can’t follow a conversation. I think humans are wired to get gratification fast, which is why things where the positive feedback is significantly delayed are particularly hard. Hard, but possible.

Glad you liked the stats!

1 Like

oh neat, I hadn’t heard of Miku Real Japanese yet, I’ll have a look!

a very good point - to be fair, if I didn’t have a really good friend who is Japanese, which gave me personally a very strong motivator, yes, I would have given up well before I could do enough with Japanese that was of intrinsic interest! (edit: actually, now that I think about it, I specifically remember reaching out to meet language exchange partners because I felt otherwise it wasn’t worth doing, and then I lucked out massively and met someone with similar interests and we become very good friends). I think that works really well with your “know your why” point, a really helpful one for most hard things in life.

very much so :star_struck: