Level 60 in 6 Years

So, after a long journey, I finally reached level 60. It took me a bit longer compared to others, but I wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts and reflect.

The Start

When I first started learning foreign languages, Japanese wasn’t actually my first choice. I had a strong interest in learning another language and was heavily into manga, light novels, and novels at that time. However, I felt overwhelmed by the idea of learning Japanese, so I decided to learn French instead. After about six months of half-hearted learning, I mustered up the courage to switch to Japanese. While I had plenty of untranslated novels and bandes dessinées to read in French, I realised that the majority of the stuff I was interested in were in Japanese.

Levels 1 to 25

During the first 25 levels, my progress was all over the place. I went from going slow to going too fast, and I ultimately had to reset my progress twice. It was then that I stumbled upon jprspereira’s Ultimate Guide to WaniKani on the forums, and it completely changed the game for me. I incorporated some of the recommendations from the post into my daily WaniKani routine, such as clearing my reviews 3 times a day, adjusting the number of lessons based on my apprentice count, and utilising scripts to avoid typos as well as reorder lessons. I also prioritised kanji for five levels before clearing the lesson queue and starting again.

Levels 25 to 50

Between levels 25 and 50, I started to find more consistency. With WaniKani running smoothly, I ventured into studying grammar, reading, and listening. I tried self-studying with Genki, utilising BunPro, reading graded readers on Tadoku, and exploring manga. However, I struggled to maintain consistency with most of these activities. Eventually, I decided to sign up for lessons on iTalki and started working through Minna No Nihongo with my teacher. Due to my other commitments, I could only take lessons every two weeks, which slowed down my progress but these lessons allowed me to apply what I’ve learned. I also continued reading the graded readers, albeit not as consistently as I would have liked.

Levels 50 to 60

For levels 50 to 60, I made a firm decision to buckle down and become more consistent. I started using an app called Strides to track the time I spent daily and weekly on reading, grammar study, and listening comprehension; aiming to increase the average as time went by. Finally, after six long years, I reached level 60. Thank goodness I purchased the Lifetime membership in the first year. There are still around 400 lessons left for me, but I’m not too concerned about rushing through them.

How I would do it differently

Looking back, if I were to do things differently or offer recommendations to new starters, here’s what I would suggest:

  • Spend only two weeks on hiragana and katakana. You’ll reinforce them throughout your studies anyway, so there’s no need to worry about being perfect from the start.

  • Don’t get too hung up on accuracy using WaniKani; the point is to learn Kanji and Vocab you then reinforce later. I’ve been mid 80’s accuracy wise the whole journey.

  • Start iTalki lessons much earlier, ideally around the same time you start with WaniKani or whatever kanji tool you choose. If you can’t afford or justify iTalki lessons, I’ve heard good things about TokiniAndy as a self-study Genki option.

  • Begin tracking your time spent on reading and listening practice once you’ve settled into WaniKani and iTalki, perhaps around level 20. Tadoku graded readers and the Japanese with Shun podcasts are excellent places to start. Set a goal of one hour per week for both and gradually increase it over time. The more you practise, the easier it becomes to dedicate time to it.

Stats



As for what’s next, I’m currently working on reducing my WaniKani study sessions to two a day, and eventually down to one, so I can focus more on other areas outside of WaniKani. Once I reach that point, I might consider keeping WaniKani as a daily habit or moving on entirely. It would be great to switch to weekly iTalki lessons, allowing me to progress faster with Minna No Nihongo, but that depends on whether life permits it. Regardless, I will continue to increase the time spent on reading, listening, and overall Japanese language usage every week. Hopefully someone finds this post useful. You may not get to Level 60 in 2 years but if you keep at it you will get there. Also use this post as a warning to not too get wrapped in WaniKani, it’s just one part of learning Japanese. I can tell you from experience that a good knowledge of Kanji and Vocab is not very useful if your grammar knowledge is abysmal.

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Yaayyy congratulations on 60!! I love reading about everyone’s journeys.

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Congratulations!

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Congratulations!

How do you feel about your long term retention of kanji you learned early on? Having burned some for greater than 5 years, do you still know them? I am curious because I am not rushing through WK but want to make sure I retain most of what I learn.

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Congrats! :tada:

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Definitely a bit shaky for those that I haven’t reinforced via encountering them in the wild. Probably beating a dead horse, but not getting too absorbed in WaniKani and making sure you do regular reading practice is so important.

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Congratulations. I agree with you about iTalki. I have been putting off working on my spoken Japanese until I finish Wanikani, but there really is no logic to that. I should just dive in now.

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My stats are somewhat similar to yours, in terms of accuracy and level-up time! We’ll see how soon I finish up…

Congrats! :+1: :partying_face: :student:

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So easy to put that sort of thing off. WaniKani is just so easy to casually chip away at, compared to the real deliberate time you need to set aside for listening, reading and speaking.

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Hey Dass3m! Congratulations on reaching Level 60, and thank you for sharing your story on how you got there. I think it’s awesome when those who have reached the top of the WK kanji mountain let others know how they got there, and also when they suggest ways to make the climb easier for others. That’s really an altruistic way to go about it! And for that, you get CAKE!

cakechop

Good luck on your future Japanese language endeavors!

-Nick at WK

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That’s great man, congratulations!

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First of all, congratulations ! What a great journey to lvl 60. I can imagine how good you feel now to reach the goal. But the real journey just begins…

I stopped learning grammar and reinforce my audio comprehension for the same reason too. I have to struggle with a job that needs a lot of time, so lasting energy is for WK :slight_smile: . So I understand your struggle

Hope it will change !

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I’ve got toddler now with another kid on the way, so I’ll have even less time to study. Really makes me look back at myself when it was just the full time job and think of all the free time I wasn’t using. At the time I probably thought I was going hard, but now…

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congrats!

My journey here is almost coming to an end.

Already thinking what I am going to write when I hit lvl 60 (like rehearsing an oscar award speech :rofl:)

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Definitely spent the last couple of levels checking the forums and doing some drafting :grin:

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So cool - congrats!!

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I like how it splits into 6 pieces for each year it took :smiley:

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Completely my intention for that GIF. Totally not a happy coincidence :sunglasses:

-Nick at WK

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Congratz. How often would you review daily during 1 to 25 level? And how many items would you introduce each week? thanks!

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First off, congratulations! this is a big accomplishment so I hope you celebrate it well! I saw this post and I had to read because I love learning from other’s experiences. I started maybe two months ago, have a 4 year old and another that recently turned 1. It’s tough to find alone time to study, to listen, do other kind of lessons (i use nativeshark, I love it), and continue to try to immerse yourself in it. I wish I could do it fast, but life has demands, and I am encouraged that even though it took six years, you stuck with it! so… I can stick with it too haha thanks for the wisdom shared!

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