Level 60! and what I recommend NOT to do

I’d initially wanted to speedrun wanikani, since I had a ton of time on my hands and wanted to get through it as fast as possible. I don’t recommend doing that, at all, even if you have the time.

I think wanikani is an amazing tool, but if you have the time to speedrun, I’d recommend just slowing down a little, and spending more of your time focused on grammar, reading, listening, and all that stuff. I’ve pretty much been doing hours of lessons and hundreds of reviews every single day for almost a year and a half. Personally, doing reviews could be pretty tiring, as a result, I’ve neglected pretty much every other aspect of learning Japanese. I did start grammar at one point, but fell out of that habit after getting a job.

The reason for failing my speedrun was also because of this job. Around april this year I got a job as a covid tester, which was a physically and mentally demanding job, where I worked 3-5 days a week, and 10 hour shifts. Getting home after that and having hundreds of reviews piled up was very hard sometimes. For morning shifts I’d wake up, go to work, get home, do wanikani for an hour or two and have some free time for a couple of hours. For the afternoon-night shifts I’d wake up, do wanikani while eating, go to work, get home, do wanikani while eating, go to sleep. This was exhausting, so I stopped grammar, and I stopped doing lessons, as you may be able to see from my stats.


Eventually as people stopped getting tested, our test sites got closed down and I was back to having a bunch of free time, and now I’m finally at level 60.

So I would recommend not neglecting all these essential parts of studying like grammar, unless you’re one of the few people who both have enough free time and energy to do both hundreds of reviews a day as well as studying grammar.
I’d also recommend being careful with user scripts, specifically the ones that let you change your answer to correct or let you retype your answer. Don’t fall into the trap of getting an answer wrong and thinking “ah, I knew that”, and correcting it to the right answer, when that item comes back in a couple weeks, or months even, chances are it’s gonna be the same thing, you can’t really recall it, but once you see the answer you think “ah, I knew that” again. Don’t cheat! You’re only cheating yourself.
Other than that there are some great userscripts out there, like the ones that show pitch accent info, or give you a list of similar kanji for a kanji you’re looking at.

My time to get to 60 was 528 days.

Good luck to all of you, I believe in you! Just put in the time and it will pay off. Stay strong.

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Good advice, and thanks for being a covid tester. Being former military, people often say the “thanks for your service” thing. To be honest, that kind of makes me embarrassed when so many people are stepping up to do even more useful, necessary, and under-appreciated things like that.

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Congrats on reaching lv 60! :partying_face: :tada: :confetti_ball:

And thanks for sharing your thoughts about getting there. Those vere some solid advice! :+1:

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Congratulations! I completely second the slow down to have time for grammar and things like reading and listening practice. I also fell off grammar lessons while thinking ‘I’m still spending a lot of time on Japanese’. Well earned cake!

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I didn’t feel underappreciated at all, we got paid very well :wink: But thank you for the kind words!

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I am so guilty of “ah, I knew that”.

I may need to take out the undo button entirely :sweat_smile:

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I still think it’s a very useful tool for typos and such, but if you keep falling into that habit it might be a good idea.

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Congratulations!! This post ac made me feel better about taking my time with levels. My current average is 12 days, but together with my bachelors degree I don’t have much time to focus on others aspects of the language such as grammar and speaking. I think I need to get out of the time-limit mind set, that I need to get through levels as fast as possible. There’s no point if getting through them quickly if its not helping me improve my Japanese, so thank you for your advice!!!

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Congratulations!

I am definitely guilty of overusing the scripts. I have stopped doing lessons to focus on the leeches as they appear. In the meantime, I’ve been reading Japanese and Anki-carding all the new vocab I come across. It sucks sometimes since I won’t see my level going up, but I am now starting to feel comfortable reading Japanese.

Out of curiosity, where are you headed next in your Japanese learning journey?

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Congrats on 60! I agree with your advice on grammar/etc. I’ve come to realize that WaniKani is a kanji learning tool - not really a vocabulary, grammar or anything else. The wanikani vocab feels more to be about drilling in readings and recognizing, and when fit into a study routine of reading/vocab/grammar, works wonders.

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Congratulations!!!

I’ve got lifetime now, so I’m gonna stick with wanikani for a bit to learn the rest of level 60, and burn some more items. Other than that my main focus will probably be going hard on grammar, so I can start reading asap.

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I feel grammar actually helps to make you remember a lot of things in wanikani better. A lot of users here have trouble with transitivity because they may have not studied that yet.

Personally, I would recommend speedrunning up to level 18, and then relaxing a bit after that. Knowing basic kanji and vocab is really important. For example, you mention studying grammar, but it will be difficult to follow any of the grammar guides or understand the example sentences without knowing the words they’re using. It’s a lot easier to follow when you already know the words and the grammar is the only unfamiliar part.

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Well by the same token, one could also say to speed-run Genki I learning only the vocabulary in it and skip everything else until you’ve done that. Theory being, once you’re somewhat comfortable with a basic grammar system, then any word you learn you can immediately use. Tae Kim seems to work this way as well.

Which angle you go at it is a matter of opinion, but the fact is you’re going to have to bootstrap something by rote memorization, then use that as a tool to learn the others. If my choice of starting point was vocabulary, then I wouldn’t choose WaniKani for that, I’d use an N5/N4 study guide vocabulary list.

Well we’re on the WK forums, not the Genki forums. But in any case, you have to learn kanji, and WK teaches you a lot of common vocab while you’re learning the kanji as a bonus.

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I am a little late to this thread, but how did you get the chart of you Level-ups? Is that in Wanikani somewhere? I have no idea how long it has been between mine, but would be interested to see it.

the levelup chart is from wkstats.com ^^

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I find that beginning Japanese is a lot of “bootstrapping the things you need to bootstrap the things you need to bootstrap the things”.

My recommendation is:

  1. Pick any “learn Japanese” resource aimed at absolute beginners, I mean literally starting out knowing nothing. This can be a website, or an app, or a textbook, whatever you like. Your aim is to learn, uh, several dozen words and common expressions, and absolute basic grammar: ha, ga, no, wo, ni, de, e, ka, how to put a basic sentence together (SOV), da/desu, verb tenses. Learn pronunciation - you don’t have to be good at it, just know what you’re aiming for.

  2. Start learning kana, and this is a good place to start something like WK. I’ve studied Japanese with learning kanji and without, and going without is actually insane. Don’t bother with more grammar yet. If you pick up some by accident, that’s cool.

  3. Get to somewhere between L10 and L20 in WK, depending on how eager you are and how tolerant you are of having to look things up, and then you can start studying grammar for real because you’ll be able to decipher example sentences without relying on romaji (or constant flipping back and forth between the examples and a long glossary).

  4. Pick up more grammar, more kanji, more vocab, and start reading stuff.

Sometime after #4 you’ll actually have enough knowledge to start learning from native sources, or sentence mining, or really seriously hitting grammar textbooks, or whatever your jam is. This is the point that all the ineffective faffing around in the beginning is trying to bootstrap you to.

Of course, I’m still getting there, so I’m probably full of crap and don’t know about the other struggles yet.

(edit: in case the reader thinks I’ve overlooked the speaking/listening aspects of learning Japanese… yeah, I totally did. This isn’t because I don’t think it’s important or should be left until later per se, but because I think learners will have very different experiences with speaking and listening comprehension depending on how much time and energy they have for practice, what resources they have available or are willing to use, and also why they’re learning the language. You could be a fiend for anime or dorama, so you’ll probably get a lot of listening and maybe shadowing practice there. Or you could have a Japanese family member, friend, or partner, so you can practice speaking with them. Or you could take classes, or use iTalki or some other tutoring/conversation platform. Or you could do none of these, since most of the study material out there is written or multimedia; this will leave you a comparatively poor speaker, but if you don’t have time to add speaking/listening to your study or you’re mainly interested in reading, then at least you’ll still be learning the language and you’ll have all that vocab and grammar to fall back on. I know I have an easier time understanding native speech when I already know the words they’re saying, and of course you won’t be able to speak unless you know what to say.)

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i assume this is a typo, and you meant kanji? i’d put learning kana (at least hiragana) into step one. it’s one of the easiest skills, and quite essential.

otherwise i quite agree with you, and think that this long initial bootstrap is one of the things which makes japanese comparatively difficult to learn.