Level 60: Great Crabigator Era

The world is about to witness a Great Era of Crabigator!

I’ll start off by saying that creating a level 60 post is a surreal one. Have you ever thought
about what you’d say if you were a guest on your favorite podcast or talk show? This is a similar feeling
to that. A lot of speculation, anticipation, and excitement. Learning Kanji has been an incredibly rewarding journey and I owe a lot to WaniKani for helping me get such a solid foundation. I’ve written my post in the hopes that it’s a “Choose your own adventure”. If you’re looking for some practical tips on what helped get me through the process, I’ve added those. Then some mental or motivational tips if you’re staring at a pile of reviews and need some solidarity. Finally, I close out it out with a bit about my story.

Practical Tips:

  1. Use the vacation feature
  • I’m starting with the tip that I struggled with the most, but was also most beneficial. For the first year and a half I never took a day off. Then I started taking Friday night through Saturday morning off. I’d turn on vacation after work and back on Saturday night. And I started getting through levels … faster. “But, but, but, the time is ticking!” my brain said! And yet, every time I did it, I came back more fresh, able to progress quicker, and remember my leeches more effectively.
  1. Make a journal
  • I kept a large note set all through GitHub (I’m a programmer by day and it felt right). It’s fun to get to see your progression through the language and being able to see what notes you took at certain times in your Japanese journey. I also kept a running diary entry so that I could look back on the emotional beats.
  1. Learn grammar
  • I’d learned a bit of Italian back in my college years and had used the book called Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It by Gabriel Wyner. It was the same system I used for learning Japanese grammar and it works incredibly well. My only recommendation is to just read the book rather than using their app. He mentions this in the book, but it’s better for your memory if you’re the one to create the flash cards, because then your brain also has the memory of creating the flash card to help reinforce the information. Their app takes that away from you. And the app costs money whereas whereas Anki is free.
  1. Getting rid of leeches
    Polonius: “What do you struggle with, my lord?”
    Hamlet: “Leeches, leeches, leeches”
    • Shakespeare, probably
  • My unique bit of tackling leeches is piggy-backing off my grammar tip. I would make sentences with them in it and put them into Anki. For more ambigous words, it was helpful to attach it to some other ideas and give myself some context.
  1. Read things that are only in Hiragana
  • Reading hiragana-only text was very difficult for me in the beginning. I’d become quite reliant on being able to muscle my way through reading with my kanji knowledge. It also helped my listening ability! A couple suggestions would be Children’s books or early Pokemon games.

Motivational / Mental Tips:

  • For me, a big a part of getting to level 60 was a mental game. It was making sure that I could get up everyday and get through my reviews without burning out. These are some tips if you’re looking for a pick-me up or need a different perspective on the process.
  1. Be kind to yourself throughout the process
    - This is a difficult journey. One that seems to have different challenges for every brave person willing step into this arena. You’re doing great. Really.
  2. There are only 60 levels
    - While this might seem like an odd mental gymnastics move, it’s one that helped me through times where I felt like this process was never going to end. There really are so many kanji that you need to learn before you are going to be able to operate at a high level. Every review you do gets you closer to that goal.
  3. Change your approach as you continue through the process
    - If you’re feeling like you’ve hit a rut, try spicing things up a bit. Try and go read a bit of a book, watch a YouTube video, play some video games, learn some grammar, listen to a Japanese podcast. Don’t worry about understanding every bit of it. Just the very act of working through language that you don’t fully comprehend is a valuable tool.

My story:

  1. Why did I learn Japanese?
    - Honestly? I wanted to be able to read One Piece in the original language. I’d recently moved to a new city and was having trouble adjusting. As a remedy I started reading it again, and thought to myself “How cool would it be to be able to read this its original form?” I can happily say that I am able to read it now and it is just as good as I thought it would be.
  2. What’s next for you?
    - Definitely being able to have more in-depth learning with native materials. I’d done a fair amount of reading already, primarily through playing video games, but I never felt that I had the bandwidth to be able to put all that vocabulary and grammar into cards and balance it with WaniKani. “Tobira” and" Jazz Up Your Japanese with Onomatopoeia" are the next grammar books that I’ll be working through. The podcast YUYUの日本語 is incredible and I’ll be working through some listening comprehension with that.
  3. What levels were hardest for you?
    - This is a question I was often most curious about. There were a couple different difficult stretches for me that were influenced by different factors. The first was that I didn’t keep up with my leeches. They ended up causing a fair amount of frustration so I finally took some time and got rid of the ones that were causing me to pull my hair out most frequently. The second was when I started balancing grammar and WaniKani simultaneously around level 30. While the challenge of WaniKani never changed, trying to keep both of them straight caused some additional difficulty.

Congrats! I also did Wanikani while moving to a new city, so that may be the trick haha. But a very good write up and since I’m currently struggling with Onomatopoeia (and some Hiragana words) I’ll try to go through the book you mentioned, it sounds pretty good.


BTW, you have a great handle.

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Big congrats!
Super exciting for you! Well done for your progress and the big achievement! Best of luck with the rest of your Japanese journey as well. :slight_smile:

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Congratulations! :crabigator: :cake:

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The Crabigator welcomes you into its crabby arms! You are now entering level 60 nirvana!

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Good luck on the next stage of your journey!!

-Nick at WK