It’s time for my obligatory level 60 post (kinda weird how this is my first post though, lol). In this post I’ll be going through a bit of my japanese-learning background, my journey through Wanikani up to this point and what lies beyond for me. (keep in mind, this will most-likely be a super long post)
In 2016, I had taken up japanese as a subject in high school, with the basic intent to just learn a bit of the language that I would so often hear in my beloved Japanese cartoons. At the time I had known hiragana and Katakana from primary school and hadn’t bothered learning Kanji, because i thought to myself that it was something that I didn’t really need to learn if all I ever wanted to do with japanese was just to talk to Japanese people and watch anime, obviously.
During that year I began to grow in curiosity for the language and eventually started outpacing the weekly lessons that I attended in terms of grammar. Now, I don’t intend to stroke my own ego, but the extra grammar that I had taught myself through various resources (“Tae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide” in particular) basically filled me with that beginner cockiness that a lot of people get when they’ve barely scraped the surface of a subject but already think they’re all that.
The following year (2017), I decided to stop taking those classes and instead just learn at my own pace. It was during this time as I was researching more about Japanese that I stumbled upon Tofugu and began bing-reading through a bunch of their articles. One article in particular was about learning Kanji and basically different ways in which fellow Japanese-learners go through the process of studying them, (which, at the time, seemed like a nightmare to me). As I was looking through these options I found WaniKani amongst other SRS systems like Anki. Now me - being the lazy and disorganised person that I am - saw all these systems and thought setting up all that stuff by myself would just be too much of a pain. So I went with WaniKani, and quickly fell off the next day, after forgetting it.
Fast-forward a few years - I had graduated high school in 2019 and had basically nothing to do within the few months before University the following year. I decided, “hey you know what, I’ve got nothing better to do. Why not learn a few Kanji in the meanwhile?” and so I picked up WaniKani again and gave it a try for a few days just to see how long it would take for me to fall-off of it again and basically forget it’s existence for the next few years again. This time however, I set up a rule that I would do no more than 10 Kanji lessons per day. And so on the 17th of November, 2019 I reset what little progress I had done in 2017 and began anew…
Scripts - Didn’t use them:
I’ll start off by saying that throughout this whole time using WaniKani, I have not bothered to get any scripts as my mentality whilst going through this was “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I mainly went in with this mindset because a lot of times when I try to start something new, I do a sort of perfectionist procrastination where I’ll essentially wait until I find the most optimal way of doing something first and then I’ll start to do it consistently. The problem with that is… I end up stopping at finding the " ‘most optimal way’ to do things" step, causing me to basically suffocate in all the potential options there are out there and end up abandoning the whole thing in the end.
If there’s one thing I’ve realised first-hand over my whole time doing WaniKani, it’s that “the best system for doing things” is one that you CAN ACTUALLY STICK TO.
It really doesn’t matter if you have the most optimised scripts in the world (not throwing any shade at people for using them), but if you can’t stick to a proper system, you won’t be seeing those results that you wanted any time soon.
A certain pandemic:
As I was in my early 100’s for Kanji, the world went through a lockdown, essentially enabling me to stay home from University and do things all online. Throughout this time, I was able to easily keep up with my reviews and lessons for WaniKani, reviewing in the morning, midday, and night. This became routine.
Reaching the final stages (50-60):
As you’ll be able to clearly see from my stats, I kinda fell off of WaniKani towards the end there, from around levels 50 - 54.
What was the reason for this? Honestly, it was just my cockiness getting the better of me. It seems an ongoing issue in my life is slacking off before the finish line. Many times throughout my life, whenever I get a lot of a project/work done, I fall into the false sense of being already done with it, as if the last bit of work is so trivial that it’s virtually already finished. If anyone else has this sort of problem I’d love a way to stop it (no? Just me? Ok… )
Anyways, after completing level 54, I decided to get back on track and finish what I’d started. Throughout those last few levels I basically went full-focus mode and kept track of exact times when to do lessons and reviews so that I would be able to level up in an predictable and steady manner. This finally lead to today!
Actually Using Kanji (and WaniKani knowledge as a whole):
This is probably going to be a few short sentence/s on each.
News Web Easy NHK:
In my early stages of using WaniKani, this website probably helped me the most in just getting used to reading Japanese, due to how easy it was to use and it’s ability to toggle furigana on/off whilst you were reading the articles. Although the topics themselves weren’t particularly interesting to me, it felt awesome being able to consume Japanese media like that.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t read much official manga because:
A) I disliked reading a lot of raw manga online because if I didn’t know the Kanji, zooming in would only make it more blurry thus making it such a pain to read
B) Ordering hard-copies of manga online to my country that I wanted to read were usually unavailable to ship to my region ;_;
Having said that, I did read short web manga series that were posted on either instagram or twitter, where zooming in was way less of an issue. One of my favourites Mangakas that do this in particular being よむ先生
For me, learning a lot of kanji and vocab on WaniKani has helped me immensely in terms of comprehension. A lot of the time when I watched anime and the like, I would be able to understand around half of it, but I lacked a lot of vocabulary and thus I would still be very lost without the subtitles. Over the past 2 years this has become much less of a problem, to the point where I can watch a bunch of anime and not need to keep my eyes glued to the subtitles to keep up with what’s going on.
Ah, yes. Vtubers. Vtubers were probably one of my main driving factors that kept my momentum going when it came to learning new vocabulary, new Kanji, and upping my comprehension skills. Deciding to jump into the rabbit hole and continuously watching vtubers helped my immersion and raised my comprehension speed of spoken Japanese way more than it ever was before. I’ve reached a point where I can comfortably watch just about any Japanese Vtuber and understand around 90% of what they’re talking about during a livestream with little-to-no worries.
(This next little part is going to pertain heavily to vtubers and isn’t really necessary to my journey as a whole but I wanted to say it anyways )
I’ll say a little more here about it but during late 2019/early 2020, I had stumbled upon Hololive, a vtuber entertainment company. Around this time Gen 4 was relatively new and I was particularly interested in a certain dragon, who seemed to be more fluent in English than Japanese at the time of their debut. I remember during that first stream that she didn’t have much faith in her Kanji ability (or at least it seemed to me at the time), which I thought was something that I could relate to. Later on During a Yakuza stream, I saw her playing the game in full Japanese like it was nothing… so that set the spark in me to also achieve that level someday! As heartbreaking as it is, with her graduation, I have nothing but the biggest thanks to 会長 and wish her the best for the future!
Games - Danganronpa:
Recently, I decided to play Danganronpa for the second time: but in full Japanese. Being able to play video games in Japanese smoothly is one of my biggest goals with the language. But, DAMN, are there so many words that I had to look up. After about an hour’s playtime for the first chapter of the game, I had 92 dictionary tabs open. Chapter 2 made me open up 194 tabs… But you know what? It was really fun playing it, and I’m hoping to continue playing even more of it!
For songs in general, I love reading and singing along to the lyrics of music videos. Now I’m able to do that for a bunch of Japanese songs, without the romaji! This has helped me also learn a bunch of new words.
My Jisho obsession/nightmare:
As I briefly mentioned above in the “Danganronpa” section, I had to look up A LOT of Japanese for that game, and that’s essentially how my whole WaniKani journey has been thus-far. I see a new Kanji, I immediately pull out my phone and open up a tab for Jisho.com . This website is amazing but it also serves as a constant reminder of just how much Japanese I have yet to learn. There are countless tabs that I’ve opened and left open for Jisho, and many times where I’ve had a whole internet window of purely Jisho tabs…
So, what to do now? Where to from here?
For the JLPT I plan on taking the N2 in December and attempting the N1 mid-next year. With all the help that WaniKani has given with me, I feel fairly confident with the Kanji and vocabulary portion (to an extent).
This is one of those SRS systems that I wish I had learned to use earlier. Having said that, I still haven’t learned to use it properly yet, but plan on doing so within the next week so that I may continue to learn Kanji even after completing level 60 and stuff in a whole bunch of new vocab that I hear in the wild.
Increasing my reading speed:
This is something I’m currently trialing with myself on a few different things. One way I’m attempting to increase my reading speed is by trying to keep up with Japanese subtitles on anime through Netflix. I’m also attempting to read the song lyrics on Japanese songs in time with the actual singer. I’ll probably try more things in the future but as for now that’s all I’ve got.
Completing level 60:
Finally, who could forget that although I’ve completed 59 levels up to this point, I’ve only just started on level 60. I’m going to aim to have it done by this upcoming week. Along with this, I also aim to have the majority of my items burned too at some point.
Well, that’s about the end for my first post. I probably have a ton of mistakes in here to do with, spelling, grammar, formatting, etc. but I think I’ll edit it all later this week or something. Right now, I’m just glad to have reached this level! Thank you WaniKani!!