This morning, my 362nd day of reviews, I leveled up to 60! Besides kanji, of course, I’ve learned some lessons in how to use WK that I’d like to share, as well as just wanting to share the fun data pics Images are from this morning, before I did anything at level 60.
Time taken, in various forms
First, wkstats tells me I’ve been at this for 4 years, but only because I made an account and then did nothing with it for a few years.
Heatmap gives a more accurate picture: 362 days (including today), doing my first lessons and reviews on April 17, 2019. The last couple months are the fast levels, which got pretty intense. Still, I only had one day with more than 400 reviews, for which I am very thankful!! (Customized the display intervals slightly)
And, of course, level durations! Including 1200 days of sitting at level 1 (i.e., having an account and doing nothing with it). Level 8 is an odd man out because I messed up just enough kanji just late enough in the cycle.
Accuracy and items at each level now and over time
Review counts and accuracy numbers! Though perhaps a bit rosy, since once I got one side of a card wrong, I often got the other side right (even if I wouldn’t have).
Number of items at each SRS level! I nearly have increasing numbers from one category to the next, but I think the fast levels have inflated the Guru numbers and there hasn’t been enough time for those to get to Master… (Locked is all items not at an SRS level yet.)
Time machine! With a noticeable uptick in guru counts when I hit the fast levels.
My general approach
Everyone has their own way of doing things here, but I thought I’d share mine. Some pieces are generally applicable, and some aren’t.
I, like so many others, are indebted to this guide, and took much of my general approach from it: My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 )
First off, my time spent on WK was about 1 hour/day until the fast levels, then ramped up to about 1.5 hours/day in the midst of the fast levels. I managed this speed by being able to do about 25 reviews/5 minutes and not spending a ton of time on vocab lessons, with a pretty good accuracy. I also came into WK with 2.5 years of college-level Japanese, so I had some amount of kanji knowledge, vocab, and intuition already built up. (This intuition came in the form of having a good idea of how to look at kanji as pieces already, and to recognize some of the pieces that would hint at meaning or reading.)
In general, before the fast levels, I did 25 lessons a day as available. I used the Lesson Filter script (NOT REORDER) to prioritize radicals immediately upon level-up, and then to space out the kanji over the next few days, mixed in with vocab. I’d make sure to do the radical reviews on time, and then to do the remaining kanji lessons the moment I gurued the radicals.
E.g. Level-up at 9am. Do radical lesson immediately; reviews at: 1pm, 9pm, next day 8pm, two days later 7pm. Do remaining kanji lessons immediately; reviews at: 11pm, next day 9am, next day 9am, two days later 9am. = 7 day level-up.
*note: On a day I was guruing the radicals, I’d do fewer lessons in the morning. You could also do fewer lessons the following day. In order to do the radicals on time in the evenings, I would sometimes use the review-reordering feature to only have to do the radicals if I didn’t have time for the whole stack. I would only recommend using this script/app feature on level-up crucial items, in general.
This approach, as long as I nailed the radical reviews and enough of the kanji, meant consistent 7-day levels, zeroing lessons at least once per level (no vocab left behind!), while still spacing out lessons. I also managed to keep Apprentice counts around 100 in general (until the fast levels), with some variations up and down.
Why I recommend spacing out lessons to EVERYONE
At first, WK appears to go pretty slowly to most people. This is generally because the number of reviews is pretty low to begin: you have only a few balls in the air, and you have to wait for them to come down. But eventually, you’ll have items at every SRS level, and sets of items learned at the same time will largely come back for review at the same time (assuming decent review accuracy). At some point, every day will consist of reviews of items from every SRS level except burn. If you’re counting, that’s 8 levels. If you do 25 lessons per day and review perfectly, that’s 200 reviews per day at peak.
If you do much larger sets of lessons at a time - say, 80 - then you could have 640 reviews in one day if the days lined up - and that’s assuming perfect reviews. The average number of reviews would be the same, but the review load can get incredibly uneven. Some people enjoy this trial-by-fire, but many either don’t have that much time to devote in a day, or their review accuracy suffers when doing especially large sets of reviews. The consistency of doing a similar number of lessons and reviews each day allows you to build a routine around the amount of time, and to probably remember more as you don’t suffer burn-out from large review sessions.
7-day levels are NOT REQUIRED, and I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone. I personally didn’t have more time to spend on WK than 1 hour/day, so I would’ve leveled slower if necessary to keep time per day down. Almost all of us have other stuff going on, and that’s totally fine! Whether that other stuff is family, friends, work, other things we enjoy, or even other Japanese learning (grammar and reading!), it’s important to find a balance that works for you. If you commit to more than you have time for, it becomes much more likely that one day you won’t have the time or energy to give, and you’ll stop.
I WILL say that I think doing something on WK every day IS important. I’d make that one thing reviews: better to solidify the stuff you might lose than to try to add more to the pile. If this means slowing down when things get tougher to remember, or when life gets busier, that’s fine! I have been riding burn-out for about half the time I’ve been here, but still made it to 60 on the power of doing WK every day, even when I really didn’t feel like it.
Once I hit the fast levels (levels where you get 90+% of the kanji immediately on level-up, allowing 3.5 day levels: about half of the 40s and all of the 50s), I ramped up the number of lessons per day, first to 30 (during the 40s), then to 40 (during the 50s), in order to keep up with all the vocabulary. Fast levels also require doing ALL available kanji up-front to achieve top speed.
Would I recommend doing fast levels… fast? I’d say it depends. If you’re already spending as much time as you have available on WK, I wouldn’t do this: it increased my daily time spent by about 50%. It is also an extra challenge on level-up days: 30+ kanji is a lot to digest at once. And of course it increases daily reviews: mine crawled up from ~250/day to ~350/day on average. But if you have the time to spare, and have some reason to want to be done sooner (going to Japan, JLPT, life stuff on the horizon, etc.), it can be worth a try. (Going full-fast cuts about 8 weeks off the end.) Thankfully, only half the 40s are fast, so you can try and see whether the fast-level approach works for you before hitting all-fast-all-the-time. I was pretty scared of doing levels fast, but the 40s convinced me I could manage it well enough if I carved out more time, and I had life reasons to want to get to 60 in April instead of June.
I am a big fan of scripts, and think most/all users would benefit from them! Besides the fact that the Lesson Filter was necessary to my approach to lessons, I think there’s a lot of ways to add to the learning experience here - extra information, ability to add user synonyms during lessons, practice recognizing kanji in other fonts, and more. Here are the scripts I accumulated during my time here (so far), loosely categorized by what they affect. Hopefully this list will convince you that there’s something for everyone
A general list of scripts: The New And Improved List Of API and Third Party Apps
Required to make some of the below work: Wanikani Open Framework: Installing Wanikani Open Framework
Lesson Filter: [Userscript] WaniKani Lesson Filter - allows you to customize the TYPE of lessons for each session, e.g. 8 kanji, 10 vocab. Essential for spacing out kanji lessons while also learning vocab.
Lesson Spoiler Removal: [Userscript] Wanikani Lesson Spoiler Removal - hides the meaning of items on most lesson pages; I particularly like it for trying to guess vocab meanings before seeing them
Lesson User Synonyms 2: [Userscript] WaniKani Lesson User Synonyms v2 - allows adding user synonyms during lessons (rather than having to go to the item page or wait for a review)
Kanji Info: [Userscript] WaniKani More Kanji Info (JLPT and Pinyin, Oh My!) - displays school grade, JLPT level, and frequency number for kanji during lessons
Niai Similar Kanji: [Userscript] Niai 似合い Visually Similar Kanji - shows visually similar kanji during lessons and on kanji’s page (to help immediately consider what you might confuse it with)
Homophone Explorer: Homophone explorer - lists homophones from WK during lessons and on item page; can help notice words with same reading with different kanji and similar/same meaning, or immediately know what you might confuse it with
Hide Context Sentence: [Userscript]: Hide Context Sentence Translation - hides translations of context sentences until you hover, so you have a chance to attempt to decipher before seeing the English
Common Vocab Indicator: New User Script: Common Vocabulary Indicator - displays “common” or “not common”; mostly useful for convincing you a word is actually used (“not common” is no guarantee, as the distinction is based on weird things/newspapers)
JLPT Indicator: [Userscript] WaniKani JLPT Indicator - indicates the JLPT level of a vocab, as applicable *I only just discovered this one today!
Order Vocab’s Kanji Breakdown: https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/367668-wanikani-order-vocab-s-kanji-breakdown - orders the kanji breakdown in the order shown in the vocab
ConfusionGuesser: [Userscript] ConfusionGuesser - when you get a review wrong, pops up some things you might have been thinking (like you used kun instead of on in a vocab, or there’s a similar-looking kanji, etc.)
Hide Review Accuracy: [Userscript] Hide review accuracy - hides your accuracy percentage during a review session; really helpful if you find the number distracting/demotivating
Jitai: Jitai (字体): The font randomizer that fits - displays items in different fonts so that you can practice reading kanji written in different ways (and changes to normal font on hover, in case font is illegible to you)
Katakana Madness: [Userscript] WaniKani Katakana Madness - makes you automatically type in katakana when a kanji reading is looking for on instead of kun, which helps you visually remember which it is; also displays on readings in katakana everywhere except reading mnemonics *warning: this can sometimes give you a hint about what kanji you’re looking at, so decide what you’re typing before you type
Show Specific SRS Level in Reviews: [Userscript] WaniKani Show Specific SRS Level in Reviews - makes pop up telling you new SRS level more specific where there’s an option (e.g., “Apprentice 3”, “Guru 1”)
Do You Even Kana?: [Unmaintained] Do You Even Kana? Okurigana Matcher - saves you from yourself when you type the wrong trailing kana (doesn’t allow submission of readings that don’t match kana given outside of kanji in vocab)
Heatmap: [Userscript] Wanikani Heatmap - shows you lessons and reviews per day history as a hover-over heatmap, including steak counts and customizable colors!
LevelUP Celebrator: [userscript] Level-Up Celebrator! - displays a customizable congratulatory image upon milestones like level-ups, first burn, 2000th guru, etc. (all so easy to miss otherwise!)
Ultimate Timeline: [Userscript]: WaniKani Ultimate Timeline - what the review forecast tries to do, but doesn’t do quite as well: shows you how many reviews you have coming up and when, including info like SRS levels
Dashboard Level Progress Detail: [Userscript] Dashboard Level Progress Detail. update to broken script - replaces progress section with bars, one each for each relevant level’s vocab, radicals, and kanji, that just shows number of each at each apprentice SRS level (hides info about specific items, which I like, because I don’t like the “passive review” of kanji sitting on my dashboard, but that’s a personal preference)
Dashboard SRS and Leech Breakdown: [Userscript] WaniKani Dashboard SRS and Leech Breakdown - displays number of items at each SRS level (breaks down Apprentice and Guru) and number of leeches at each SRS level
Progress Percentages: [Userscript] Progress Percentages - shows percentage of kanji learned from various categories: the JLPTs, by frequency, Wikipedia, JLPT, etc.
R/K/V Tiny Bars: [Userscript] (Hotfix 1.2.2) Levelup material overview + individual R/K/V global progress bars - shows overall progress in each of radicals, kanji, and vocab by SRS level as a single bar for each; can also display SRS progress on backlog vocab (I use for the former purpose)
Locked Count: [Userscript] Locked Count - adds a box to SRS level boxes with the number of items not yet learned (including unlocked but still in lessons)
Forecast critical reviews: [Userscript] Forecast critical reviews - changes the colors of the bars in the review forecast for hours that have reviews critical to level-up or items to burn
Lesson Hover Details: [Userscript] WaniKani Lesson Hover Details - when you hover over “lessons” it tells you how many of each kind (R/K/V)
Levels Overview Plus: [Userscript] Levels Overview Plus - when you click on Levels, each level number box is shaded based on the percentage of items at each SRS level from that level
Dashboard Level: [Userscript] Dashboard Level - displays current level in Levels button
Level Duration 2: [Userscript] Level Duration 2.0 - displays how long you’ve been at your current level under Levels
Levels by SRS: [Userscript] Levels by SRS - under each box of # of items per SRS level, tells you the level where you have 90% of items at that SRS level for that level and below
DotDotDot Expander: [Userscript] Wanikani DotDotDot Expander - expands things displayed with “…” at end, such as in search
Remove Useless Panels: https://userstyles.org/styles/144763/wanikani-remove-useless-panels - removes most of the stuff on the bottom of the dashboard - recent items, community topics, etc. (for those of us who find those boxes distracting or don’t like the passive review they provide)
Unobtrusive Kanji Stroke Order: [Userscript] An Unobtrusive Kanji Stroke Order - on hover, shows stroke order as a single image with strokes numbered; there are a few of these scripts, but I like this one for being a single image; YMMV
Kanji Highlighter: [Userscript] Highlight Kanji based on WK level in websites - highlights kanji on non-WK pages based on whether you’ve learned them at all, recently, will soon, or will never - based on your manually-input current level
Lesson/Review Status: [Userscript] Lesson/Review Count in Forums - displays number of available lessons and reviews and time until next review at top of forum pages
Easy mentions: [Userscript] Forums: Easy Mentions - adds a button to posts that allows you to reply automatically mentioning the author of the post you’re replying to
Large Image Embedder: [Userscript] Large Image Embedder - loads images usually too large to display natively
Like counter: [Userscript] Like Counter - displays number of remaining available likes, next like timer, and likes recently received at top of forum pages
My biggest tips would be:
- Routine! Review every day, even if you don’t have time for lessons. Try to carve out particular times of the day for WK, and keep the review load to an amount manageable in that time. Motivation is nice to start; routine is what keeps you going in between motivated moments.
- Consistency! When doing lessons, keep the number per day similar and manageable from day to day. This keeps review numbers manageable, too!
- Scripts! Vanilla WK is all well and good, but there are some nearly-essential ways to improve your learning through scripts. Not all scripts modify behavior in dangerous ways: some just provide extra information, such as showing which kanji are similar-looking to one you’re learning.
- User synonyms! In general, WK does not give an exhaustive list of meanings for kanji, vocab, or even radicals, and it’s not important to get their exact word if it’s not the one that is most intuitive to you. Don’t add meanings unless you’re sure they’re accurate (check someplace like jisho.org), but definitely use this feature early and often!! (See scripts for a way to be able to do this during lessons!)
- Community! If you have the chance, join a group on the forums here. It doesn’t have to be much, but it can really help to have people rooting for you and/or a common goal to work toward.
- Do what works for you! Find a routine that works with your schedule, ability to handle large review sessions, and ability to keep up with other aspects of Japanese learning. Grammar and reading are crucial to upkeep of what you learn here.
Anyway, time for me to slow down a bit! The fast levels have been quite the ride, but I’m going to slow down for these last lessons, and then it’ll just be reviewing every day! I’ll be adding more reading and grammar study back into my days, too, now that I’ll have a bit more time
I hope that my experiences can help some of you get where you’re trying to go - whether that’s level 60 here or not. Go get whatever cake you need to get!! 頑張って～