I got a lvl up today. Now I am lvl 60.
I will be stating my own experience and things I found out. Obviously enough I can state things which I stated before or which others stated in other threads.
I am very sorry if it is all highly unstructurised and unformatted, I did what I can to put everything in order.
1. Shameless cheating
I decided to cheat kanji starting from lvl 43 or 44.
-What do I mean by cheating?
You all met with a situation when your lvl up is hindered by missing 1-2 kanji and then you sit for a couple of days doing nothing. So I decided to look up the kanji I don’t remember at the moment to ensure the progression.
-How it started?
At job I had a PC with an unstable internet connection so I had my sessions disrupted frequently. I didn’t pay much attention to that, though here and there I started noticing that if I failed an item and then session got cut off, I was able to a lvl up that item in the next session. So around 40+ lvl I learned that I can simply close the browser and have all my failures forgotten. I wasn’t pleased with the discovery. Rarely I kept using that trick to get back an item which I failed thanks to the typo. Then at lvls 43 or 44 I started using it for kanjis.
-How did I atone myself.
I prepared all the kanji in advance and did all the research I needed for each item in advance to minimize the damage.
After reaching Guru 1 and getting lvl up, I protected these items no more and let them fall back to Apprentice if I failed to remember them.
After 43 levels of wanikani with 7-8 days pace I noticed that I had 3 types of items: bad, average and good.
It didn’t matter how much I struggled with bad items, I kept failing or forgetting them and never felt comfortable with them. I decided that I need to see them “in the wild” to grasp them or at least to push them to the average recognition. Hence I didn’t care what actually happened with items I can’t remember without cheating since I did all I could with them.
Average items mean that I usually catch their meaning but I may confuse them with other family members or I need quite a while to remember meaning or reading of that item.
Good item means that I answer it without feeling pressured.
Also those items which were damaged by cheating got reinforced with newly unlocked vocabulary. I didn’t cheat on vocabulary by any means. So damage was minimal.
-Why did I rush?
My patience was at an end. I just wanted to be done with it. I am a sprinter by nature and I can endure immense pressure for a short period of time but not the mild one for a long period.
Also I wanted to save money.
-Why not a lifetime then?
Lifetime meant more money to be spent since my pace was faster than 2 years. Also having no lifetime means I have no excuse to stop and chill out.
Only benefit from a lifetime is that you can burn all the items eventually, but I think “Guru 1” is all I need. Also nobody says that burned items don’t get forgotten (they DO get forgotten). So it is better to get out of this vicious cycle as soon as possible and reinforce words “in the wild”.
2. My stats
Lvl 1 was so long because I’ve made an account, got confused with SRS and left instantly without caring.
Lvls 2-4 were so long because I still had no clue what is SRS and how it all works so it was really random.
Lvl 17 was a snowboarding trip in february 2020. I had no time to lvl up, so just tried to keep up with the daily piles.
Lvl 37 was a 2 week long trekking in mountains in august 2020. Flaming Durtles app died there so I wasn’t only unable to do my reviews, but I also had to deal with a huge pile of around 1k items when came back home.
3. Mnemonics and memorization.
By around lvl 50 I started having custom mnemonics for almost all kanji and did additional research for each vocabulary to ensure max. sync. with new items and have less headache later.
Research led me to even finding whole families of kanjis. Though the more members you find, the lesser possibility of finding new member with the same reading is. So families are good only for narrowing down possible readings most of the time.
Example of families:
・ボ sound family 慕墓暮幕募 where 幕 unfortunately has only マク, バク and not ボ.
・曹 office kanji family of 遭槽. 曹 dictates ソウ reading.
・叔 uncle kanji family of 寂 and 淑 where only 淑 and 叔 have シュク
・咅 clown family of 部倍培賠陪剖 where 部剖 are left clowns and they have different readings, rest have バイ.
・賁 decorate kanji family of 墳噴憤 with guaranteed フン reading.
There are more but I don’t have all day to go and dig all my findings, it is quite tiresome.
While kanji families aren’t safe for readings, they are quite good for mnemonics. Unification under one main core kanji helps to make a strong chain of mnemonics. Such chains of mnemonics help avoiding confusion between similar kanji.
I loved making a long story for a splinter 禺 family where reading was guaranteed to be グウ. Even while 愚 has グ, it is not an issue, since mnemonic took it into consideration. How? Here:
・偶 splinter gets some グウ on his head and becomes a big rat leader.
・隅 when splinter enters buildings, he hides in corners. There are 炭 in a corner though, so he gets his feet burned and returns to sewers.
・遇 splinter rushes to the hospital on a scooter through sewers. グウ splashes everywhere.
・愚 splinter realises that poison went up to his heart already, it is too late for treatment. He feels stupid for trying so hard to survive and stays still. グウ goes away from his body along with his life and gets halved to グ.
How about a wolverine? Wolverine on a stool family 侵寝浸. Core kanji like that doesn’t exist, so I am working with what I got.
・寝 icicle falls on a wolverine’s head when he stays under canopy and he falls asleep.
・浸 tsunami hits the same sitting on a stool wolverine with a sore forehead. It submerges his place under a canopy and nearly drowns him.
・侵 then leader barges in wolverine’s place and yells that they are getting invaded. Wolverine grabs a weapon and runs out.
Or how about a 茂 - 蔑 connection? Both are quite messy, 蔑 especially.
・茂 drunkard slid to a hidden cave with flowers. They are so luxuriant and he broke nearly all of them!
・蔑 drunkard slides in a cave once again but this time a net is set for him. A great scorn emanates from the cave dwellers!
Taking in consideration two paragraphs from above I want to mention that I highly despise moments when WK pushes new kanji with 4-5 radicals. It is so insanely chaotic that I was obliged to find families like 賁 and having my own custom radical. It is much easier to do extra work to create a new radical or memorise that core kanji than trying to put together that mess of many radicals.
-Now, a bit about sounds themselves.
I will be listing little amount of mnemonic stories here since mnemonics are extremely subjective and based on memories and experiences of each individual person. There is no way most of my or anyone’s mnemonics can be shared.
Though I want to share how my mnemonics evolved, here is probably an incomplete list:
ぼう became strongly connected to 亡. Now ぼう = death.
ぼ is half of death. So nearly dead, on a brink. Half dead 亡.
なつ became strongly connected to 夏. Now なつ = summer.
れつ is somehow connected to yakuza 列 violence now.
あみ is my personal. It is 阿弥陀丸 Amidamaru from Shaman King.
え became strongly connected to 絵. Now え = picture.
ず is my personal. It is Zu (ズー) from Final Fantasy. Dreadful and disgusting bird which brings ruin.
えき became strongly connected to 駅. Now えき = station.
さわ was Sawada Tsunayoshi. Became 沢. Now さわ = swamp.
たお is a Tau Empire from Warhammer 40000.
も became Filthy Frank’s moaning. (???)
もう is Moe with a mower.
ぬ became strongly connected to 濡. Now ぬ = wet.
よこ is Yoko Taro, a crazy video game director.
は was 葉. Later became a Tidus from Final Fantasy 10. Why? Because of his laugh.
み became 未. Now み = not yet.
ば became 婆. Now ば = old woman.
とつ became 突. Now とつ = stab.
- xつ rule
I’ve also came up with a rule suggested by こつ WK mnemonic for 骨. こつ = two coats. つこ isn’t. So ～つ means two of something. If I want to break that rule, I need a supportive mnemonic.
When I lacked mnemonics I used some of colloquial Japanese rules. You may know that adj. すごい becomes すげー, うまい becomes うめー and etc.
So I met with a word 輔 (help[) which has すけ reading. What did I do? There is an easy word すき (like). So I imagined that すけ is a broken, distorted love. 輔 consists of car 車 and wedding. Mnemonic for reading was that during wedding something bad happened and just married couple had to use a car to search for help. But due to that wedding ceremony was ruined and pure day of good emotions became distorted and bad, thus すけ.
Supportive mnemonics help me now and then. It is a 2nd mnemonic which tries to cancel out possibilities and brings certainty.
For example 坪, a two mat area kanji. つぼ breaks the ～つ rule and requires a supportive mnemonic.
坪 main mnemonic- there are two bodies under mats.
坪 supportive mnemonic- Kubo Taito organized transportation of these bodies under mats. Why Kubo? Don’t ask me, this is how my brain clicked and I used that opportunity immediately. It works, just works and lets me know one thing for sure that it is a ～つ being reversed.
-Here are some good mnemonics
- I want to mention 噂 mnemonic “umbasa”. In Demon’s Souls game “umbasa” is some word people of faith say and it stuck in my head. So I used umbasa for うわさ.
- There also was quite an interesting episode. I tried to come up with mnemonic for 疎ら and came up with ま being 魔 and ば being 婆. Magic + old woman. Old witch. And then I googled 魔婆. I was dumbfounded when I found out that it is an actual name from my favourite anime Soul Eater. It strengthened mnemonic immensely.
- Mnemonic for 胡瓜 was instantly found. All I needed to do is imagine Marie Skłodowska Curie eating a radioactive cucumber.
- Mnemonic for 憤り was good one. Why do I resent everyone? Because I can’t breathe 息(いき) though 通り(どおり) through the mask. 息通り is impossible with such cloth!!!
- 成功 (せいこう) was achievement or success all the time. Achievement is the wrong answer.
I dealt that by remembering Seiko Watch Corporation. That company is has to be very successful if it has such fame and so many watches. So せいこう=success=成功.
- 虐げる is to oppress. How do you oppress someone? By making them eat SHIITAKE mushrooms!! しいたげる.
- 蔑む is to scorn. Remember a story? Drunkard fell on flowers but got caught this time and received a lot of scorn. Who suggested (さげす - SA GE SU to) to use the net to capture him? Who suggested to use saw (さ) with fangs (牙) and a suit (す) against blood when punishing him?
- 羅針盤 mnemonic is that I imagine compass being used instead of rasengan. RASHINBAN!!!
- 鳥 and 烏 kanji are extremely similar except for raven having no white (he is black) and bird being white 白.
- 烏 kun’ reading can be tricky. But not for Ace Attorney fans. In AA: Investigations there is a 八咫烏 (やたがらす) character. So I just remember that little thief being connected to ravens, cut off 八咫 and de-rendaku がらす to からす.
- 崖 kun’ reading is troublesome. But not for those who use colloquial rule I described above. In ancient sparta only bad children were thrown off a cliff (崖). Child = ガキ. Bad child = ガケ. It is that simple.
- 鶏 kun’ is strange. But you have to realise that chicken is a household bird, chickens don’t live outside of farms. They always live in your backyard and garden (庭). This is a 庭の鳥, a bird of a garden. In short, 庭鳥 (にわとり).
- 潜る is easy because there are Moguls of Final Fantasy. They always have concealed villages, hence they always go underground. モグル.
- 鉛 mnemonic is good also. Lead (鉛) is poisonous. You become numb from it. I imagine that Harry Potter got poisoned by lead due to his stick having a lead core. I imagine that numb (なま) Harry (あり) lying on a floor, all weak from poisoning.
- 慕う reading mnemonic is based on a tongue being した (舌). You even stick your tongue (した) out in anticipation, you are yearning for that thing.
- 己 is connected to Honoré (おのれ) de Balzac. He thinks too much of himself.
Most important part about transitive-intransitive confusion is that you have to know both of the verbs before deciding which is which. If you can’t remember 2nd one, you can’t possibly guess anything. Why so? Because I have certain patterns:
- ～る＋～す pair like 映る and 映す where ～す one is trans. usually
- ～がる＋～げる pair like 上がる and 上げる where ～げる one is trans. usually.
- ～ける＋～かす pair like 欠ける and 欠かす where ～かす is trans. usually.
- There are more but you better find others yourself since I am lazy.
Sometimes old words get completely forgotten. At first I was freaked out by that, but later I’ve realised that as long as you learn your perspective and understanding changes more and more. Words and grammar which you saw in one way before is now seen at different angle. So it is alright to learn the word or even a grammar taking in consideration all of the new understanding. Building on ashes is profitable and goes well with a learning cycle.
You know, it somehow feels like a prestige in games when you reach cap level and start from the bottom again, but you start differently.
4. What am I
-When did I start Japanese?
Around 2018 october 21.
-Why did I start Japanese?
I was playing through Final Fantasy 10 and was like “Yo. Why don’t I understand what they say? I want to know what the hell goes on with that language”.
Though it was a “last drop”. I wanted to start earlier. Back then, in the end of 2016 when I was playing Dragon’s Dogma Online with an english patch I already had some fire burning and I was extremely envious towards other people who knew those mysterious hiragana and katakana. But I was busy kicking around my german and I decided to start later, when I get satisfied with german.
-Why did I start WK?
After spending a year with my textbook I got annoyed with kanji. It was super hard to rememeber them. I had to struggle when I was reading texts, reading grammar, doing exercises. WK solved that graciously.
Flaming durtles when PC is out of reach. Used it in Anki mode because typing on a phone is just disgusting.
PC without mods except my funny cheats.
-What is my current status?
I’ve nearly finished “Читаем, пишем, говорим по - японски”, a textbook consisting of 2 volumes from authors Стругова and Шефтелевич. As I feel it, 1st vol. is around N5 and 2nd is around N4. But I have no clue, just guessing. But I do know that it should be like 2 volumes of みんなの日本語.
Also between vol. 1 and vol. 2 I checked out TRY!N5 textbook to see what is JLPT but never actually took it thanks to COVID.
My next goal is to try that ever-mentioned 上級へのとびら which will supposedly give something like N3.
Also I am going to play Skyrim and Death Stranding in japanese.
In addition to that I will finally have time to start reading one piece heavily since I bought 46 volumes already.
I forgot to mention that I took part in helping to translate Duranki and Berserk mangas for some small community. Also I tried my hand in translation of an interview of Kentaro Miura.
Applying your knowledge in real tasks challenges you hard and requires searching for things far outside of your knowledge. It is a very good experience.
5. Benefits of lvl 60
It is a great relief to have no headache when you see something written in Japanese. Even when I understand nothing, I can at least know how word is read and and what it means. Even when I forgot the reading or I don’t know how to read that particular kanji in that particular word, I still know its meaning and I can guess the word’s meaning. At lvl 59 I spent some time in Death Stranding and had no immensely hard moments. Yes, I needed to use jisho, to open my grammar notes and stuff but it wasn’t troublesome.
Also I’ve received a great training in mnemonics creation and how to handle kanjis, words and sentences. I can continue doing what I did in Anki, but at greatly slackened pace.
6. Being a crybaby
Even with a 7-8 days pace I felt a bit overwhelmed with reviews constantly bugging me even at weekend and especially when I was away from home.
When I tried 3 days pace I felt like “no freakin’ way I gonna endure that for longer than 2 levels”. But somehow it worked out with a lot of moaning, self-loathing and lack of sleep.
Yeah, I’ve tried to do what others did, I woke up in a middle of the night once to handle those kanjis. I even had one night when I woke up twice with some interval just to lessen the wave which gonna hit me at noon when I get out of bed. Greatly unhealthy and stupid. Never gonna do that again.
But I had to do that because I am actually very slow. I can do max 50 reviews in 15 minutes using flaming durtles but it will be suuuuuper messy and I may have false hits and also all these items have to be good, if they are bad or old, then I won’t have any speed. So my normal average is like… ugh… around 100 reviews per hour. I am THAT slow. So imagine how my eye twitches when I see 100+ at morning.
7. How I understand the language learning process now.
As I see the language learning now, it is most important to start speaking and comprehending what people say. To do so I should just start living in a target language society and my progress will be immesuarable (I have to be an active member of society though).
But obviously I can’t do that. So I use other ways. Where can I hear the language? In podcasts and radio. But there is no visual information in podcasts and since I don’t know words, it won’t work out.
I go a step lower- games and movies. There I have a visualisation like during IRL interaction. I will have a way of comparing what I’ve heard with the visual information for deeper understanding.
But will it work as well as an actual IRL interaction? Doubtably, since I have limited modes of communication in games and I have no feedback in movies, hence I can’t even use sign language to take part in the conversation.
Also there is a problem of slow audio parsing. I go a step lower. I start reading. But when I read it is like a radio but now I don’t even have emotional hints of the voice, these are just dead letters and I can’t get any feedback from them and I have no visual cue. What do I do with texts then? I learn vocabulary and grammar.
What I say may be confusing but this is only way I see for myself.
- Learn some grammar and words.
- Read texts till you get more or less good speed of comprehension.
- Start playing games and watch movies to enhance speed of comprehension even more and acquire all the missing links in understading with the help of visual cues.
- Start listening to the podcasts since now you have a good speed of comprehension without visual help.
- Now you are ready for slow and steady interaction with natives.
All these processes are simultaneous and don’t cease after I go a level higher.
8. Ah, my schedule for reviews
I never had a schedule or a plan.
Woke up? Do them all. Got a window on a job? Do as much as you can. Got back home? Do them all. Traveling in a public transport? Do as much as you can. Walking through forest? Do at least 10 per hour. Playing Rainbow Six: Siege? Do reviews when you died.
Whole consistency was to keep having 0 reviews by the end of the day. I would never go to bed with more than 0 reviews, even when I felt like dying and falling asleep in a chair, I would do them. Absolutely barbaric approach.
After reading through forums I tried to go with 20 lessons per day up until lvl 43-44. Then I gradually removed any brakes and limits and started doing 100+ lessons in one go. As I mentioned earlier, it required me to prepare mnemonics and research kanjis before lvl up happens. Usually it means 10 kanji per day for researching.
9. Sentence a day
My textbook has a lot of tasks to do but having some side task is good for practice.
I suggest using this thread to practice your grammar and words:
Japanese Sentence a Day Challenge
I have very big concentration problems since instead of reviews I want to play games, watch anime, read manga, sleep, eat, play with friends, meet with friends, look at the road outside of my window, stare at the wall…
All these things listed above are very amuzing, but I we have to do our 100000 reviews per day.
I am trying to be satisfied with my state before I review. I mean that I have to complete all tasks like eating, polishing a knife, washing my running gear, cleaning the room, eating a piece of an apple, checking snowboards in an online store, replying to messages in social nets. Anything that bugs me has to go away.
I am turning off my phone’s wi-fi and mobile data so no messages can be received and no distraction created.
I close my window to lessen the buzzing.
I turn on the music according to my current state. Music guides me and keeps me away from thinking stray things. I have to choose corrently, otherwise there will be a significant harm and I can go full brain AFK. Usually best choice is a total silence or some neo-classic without singing like Majula theme from Dark Souls 2. Sometimes I may need a loud opening 5 of One Piece nearly on max. I have to guess it right.
I try sitting correctly. I noticed that if I sit a bit far and leaning too much on a back of my office style chair, I am assuming a lazy attitude and get very slow.
My lvl 60 discovery was to use stopwatch. For information, I am studying grammar with a timer for two years and it worked well so I have a sense of time.
But how stopwatch can help? Easily. It creates a minigame of racing. Do you know how people play speedruns? They have games segmented and they have time for each segment separately. Here I have segments of 10 items fully completeled. Any time I complete 10 items, I mark a lap and and new lap begins. It keeps me quite engaged and I think it helps me to focus on WK even more. My records go from 2 minutes and up to 7 minutes on average. 2-3 minutes per 10 words means that words are well known or fresh and I am not distracted. 4-5 means I have troubles or I am looking up stuff in jisho to add user synonyms or smth. 7-8 means those 10 items were mega bad or I spent too much time on jisho or I spaced out.