Made it to Level 20!

Hi everyone! It’s been a few months since my last update post, but I finally made it to level 20! :tada: :confetti_ball:

I wanted to share my experiences so far for anyone who’s interested. This post is a bit long so I tried to break everything up into categories!

Scheduling and Pacing

When I first started out, I remember being all over the place with lessons and reviews. Around level 6 or so, I started following a consistent 9-1-9 schedule. This helped a lot, but soon after I found my days per level were becoming inconsistent and my review performance was declining. I wasn’t really sure why, but I think I may have just been going through the motions too casually without putting in enough effort. However, when level 16 rolled around, things just started to “click”. I took a step back to really learn how WaniKani works in terms of learning items and leveling up. Since then, I’ve learned exactly how to keep a consistent pace and level up in a certain number of days, and my review performance has started to become better again. :slight_smile:

Currently, I study 20 items per day (i.e. learn 20 new items at (9:00 am)). It feels (and always has) felt like a lot for me, but it’s doable and I plan to keep it up if possible. Initially (when things clicked at level 16), I tried a pace of 8 days per level, but found that new items accumulate too quickly for me to keep up! So, the past couple levels I have been trying 9 days per level, and it seems to be a good balance between unlocking new items and learning them. But by now, I’m happy to know which items to learn on which day, to level up on specific days. Also, doing this in a slightly more methodical way has actually allowed me to recognize the “important” items during review when they come up, which somehow helps me remember the readings/meanings better!

This is all to say that 20 levels later, I think I finally found my schedule and pace! The consistency has been great for my retention and keeps me motivated to keep going!

Future Goals

Back when I reached level 10, I became so excited to finally start learning grammar! I’ve realized however, that I have a hard time actually putting in the required time and effort to learn it. :disappointed: I know I have to make a schedule for it to work for me, but unfortuanetly, 10 levels later, I still just haven’t been able to do so. My plan is to work through Genki I and II, and I have done the first chapter in Genki I and loved it, I just need to make time to do the rest and stick with it! Do you have any tips/recommendations relating to this?

I’ve also had reading practice in my mind for a little while, and now that the level 20 level-up email mentioned it, I am motivated to start reading! Unfortunately, my grammar is very far behind and needs to be addressed first. I plan to start with NHK Easy, but for fun I’d also like to read the Genshin Impact Dengeki Comics, which I picked up not too long ago.

Finally, I’d like to interact more with the community! It’s such a great place and I feel so welcome here, but too often I sign off right after reviews and come back when it’s lesson/review time again. I lurk posts sometimes, but I’d like to be around more often and contribute!

In summary, my future goals are to:

  • actually learn grammar
  • start reading
  • interact more with the community

Some Stats

I think it’s finally time I share some stats. Well, here they are!

We don’t talk about level 1 (okay maybe I signed up for WaniKani but didn’t actually start it until much later. I’m not so happy with the inconsistency, but I know I can improve on that moving forward, and I am happy with the accuracy!

Closing Thoughts

It’s been a wild ride for me so far. Some days feel very easy and others very hard. Some days I perform really well and others really poorly. Still, every day I have fun learning new Japanese and I look forward to continuing, interacting with you all more often, discovering new scripts, and more! My first burns happened recently and it was immensely satisfying and gave me a boost of motivation to keep going!

With all that said, thanks for being an awesome community and see you around!


Yes, don’t give up :smiley: . As someone who finished Genki 1 & 2 very recently, I don’t think there is any special trick to it. Just some minor considerations:

  • writing things on paper, especially kanji may help you remembering kana and kanji better
  • “production” exercises (answering questions, writing short paragraphs, etc.) are definitely worth going through properly
  • double-check vocab with a dictionary; some translations are not entirely correct
  • don’t shy away from using kanji outside of the recommended set, even if Genki doesn’t do it :slight_smile: ; however, check with a dictionary which words are “kana-only” to avoid using too much kanji

Other than the usual topics, is a great place to flex your budding grammar skills. You’ll definitely get feedback and maybe strike some related grammar/vocab discussions with the usual lurkers :slight_smile: .


Great ideas, thank you!

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What works for me with Minna no Nihongo is making sure that I get a little bit done every single day to progress through the lesson. With MNN, the lessons are roughly a two-step process for me, where the first half of it I focus on learning the vocab for the lesson (I learn how to write any unfamiliar kanji and take some physical notes on the new words, then run through an Anki deck of the vocab each day until I feel comfortable with it). After I’ve learned the vocab, I work through the textbook, do the exercises, and do my workbooks. It ends up being roughly two weeks per lesson, which some people might find slow, but I like being thorough enough to really learn the material.

I think if you’re having trouble getting started, it might be a good idea to break each chapter down into concrete steps? That way, you’ll know what exactly to aim for getting done each day. I’d suggest trying to pre-learn the vocab before you read the chapter, because it’s much easier to decipher grammar if you know all the words in a sentence! If you’re going super fast, you could potentially learn the vocab for the next chapter as you’re working through the exercises of the previous one, but that would also be a lot of work!

With MNN at least, my daily workload varies a fair amount day to day. Learning to write kanji and taking physical notes takes a lot longer, for example, then just running through an Anki deck. And some days I’ll get through 40 minutes of textbook exercises, and other days it’ll only be 20. But I’m not too worried about it as long as I get at least something done every day. It’s really helpful to have the process broken down into steps, because then I know exactly what to work on at any given time.

My other advice is something you might not like, haha, but if you’re having trouble fitting other Japanese study around WK, it’s probably a good idea to reduce your WK workload and go a little slower. I’m currently leveling about every two weeks, while also getting through one MNN lesson about every two weeks, and it’s not uncommon for me to spend two hours a day just on studying Japanese. And that’s a lot! I don’t have a job at the moment, but I might be getting one soon, so I’m very conscious of how that will affect my studying. I’m hoping to start reading once I complete the first MNN book (I think I’ll be about level 30 in WK), so I want to leave some time in my schedule for that.


Cool! Finding pace (and schedule) is not always easy and we have quite a few threads from durtles looking for advice. So, I’m super happy to read that you found some that works for you.

I can’t say much about “Genki” but we do have a couple of study group threads in here. If you like, check in with them whether there are some people interested in going through it together. Sometimes, going through it together can do the trick :slight_smile:

Awesome. If you like check out the [Graded readers thread]. Have a look into the different free or paid options and feel free to ask any questions about content, vocab or grammar.

Another option is our Absolute Beginner Book Clubs (ABBC). I think, they just started a new book recently.

And ~ what a coincidence ~ we have a casual Q&A style of “book club” for the NHK Easy articles as well :smirk:

Well, everyone has their own entry points that work for them.

If you like, have a look into the introductions sub-folder where new durtles can introduce themselves. Personally, I think it feels super nice if an introduction receives some replies either with colorful pictures, helpful links or some personal message. And it doesn’t take that much time or effort either to reply to those posts, I think.

Another option would be to have a look into the level specific sub-forums. You’re joining us in the death levels soon, so feel free to have a look into the Death 2021 group once you finished level 20. It is run by a very friendly “sleepy” raccoon :raccoon:

And in case you go for one of the book clubs it might happen automatically anyways :blush:


I really like this! I think I do feel overwhelmed thinking about lessons/chapters as a whole, but breaking things into chunks as you mentioned and tackling a little bit each day sounds like a great way to make it into a habit and keep with it. I will definitely be trying this!

Yeah, I think you may be right. I spend about two hours a day on WaniKani alone, and trying to juggle that with my job and also trying to learn how to program is a lot. It may be worthwhile to cut the WaniKani workload a bit to allow more time for other Japanese-related learning.

Thank you. :slight_smile: Looking into this and other threads is a great way to tackle both grammar and community interaction, so I will start doing that!