My Experience & Advice: For Those In No Hurry

How’d I End Up Here?
I started May 2022 and hit 60 February 2024. I’ll be using the app until mostly everything hits Master then I’ll be signing out, never to be seen again around these parts! I burned out around level 35, took 2 months to catch up on reviews because I was moving too fast, then paced myself far better for the second half.

My motivation was mundane. Video games, anime, the usual. Ohio isn’t exactly a hub of activity, and my work is lucrative but fairly boring. I had tons of free time, especially in a post-covid and post-girlfriend era. But I’m happy I stuck with it because the adjacent cultural and entertainment elements have been very entertaining and interesting. I can’t say I’d ever want to live in Japan, but I’ll be making several trips in the years to come.

How Good Am I at Japanese?
I feel confident I could pass the N4 test and will work toward N2 proficiency by the end of year. I may take the test to put it on my resume, but don’t really have a need for it. If I had to give myself stats (at N4 level):

Vocab: A | Reading/Grammar: B | Listening: D | Writing: Kana Only | Typing: A

What Other Tools?
Just Bunpro for grammar. I’m through N4, though I haven’t started the SRS for all of it and have been using it more like a textbook since the previously mentioned burnout. Probably will add more reviews to it now that I’m done with WK to help with listening, reading and grammar and press on to N3/N2.

There’s a lot of ad hoc stuff I could recommend depending on what you need, so feel free to ask.

Advice for Those on the Grind
Here’s some advice to those who come after me. If you’re like me and move quickly, but aren’t rushing for the finish line, I think you’ll find it helpful.

1 - There’s a lot of bad advice out there. I wish I didn’t listen to a lot of it early on, but I feel I lucked out by believing in the https://www.tofugu.com/learn-japanese/ post. After sending it to several others in real life, some who had given up after trying earlier, I feel even stronger about it. In short, get to level 10, then start grammar.

2 - Most of the bad advice comes from Youtube, and much of it from Japanese natives teaching Japanese. Do not learn like a Japanese baby / elementary school kid. You’re an adult. You’re bigger, faster, stronger than a child. For example, for me personally, hiragana only reading was a huge waste of time. It just came naturally after learning more vocab.

3 - Don’t overthink things. Do your reviews. You’re not going to become a professional learner, so no need to dive into pedagogy. Instead of spending those 15 minutes looking up SRS “cheat codes”, just do the SRS.

4 - Can’t finish your reviews? Stop learning more. Do your reviews. I burned out one time during my 60 levels of WK. Took 2 months to recover both mentally and to start learning new stuff again.

5 - Stop learning new things 1-2 weeks before major life events. This is my personal apology to level 47 which I had to relearn a couple times.

6 - Writing… so… yeah… Kanji is unnecessary for the most part, but I would recommend learning to write hiragana and katakana. It’s actually quite helpful for reading speed and getting over the シ ツ ソ ン confusion early among other common mix ups between similar looking characters.

My Message to WK
Most of my feedback for WK is positive, but I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest that you find a way to get N5, N4 and Kana Vocab into your app. The beauty of WK is in the structure and pacing. I find myself struggling to set a good pace learning grammar in Bunpro because there’s always a “learn 3 more!” button available to click. Knowing what an average pace is would be very helpful. It’s too late for me to use it, but I’m sure others like me would appreciate it!

What’s Next?
As mentioned above - Bunpro N3/N2 and maybe the N2 test. In addition, I’ll be looking for a tutor to practice speaking and listening. My next book is 本を守ろうとする猫の話.

If this thread resonated with you for some reason, I’m happy to answer questions here. If not, well…

さよなら

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Thanks for posting. There is some good advice in here. As someone who has been doing SRS systems to learn all kinds of things for a very long time (most of my adult life), I 100% agree with the bit about not overwhelming yourself and, most importantly, to stop doing new lessons and do your reviews when they start piling up too much. SRS is genuinely an incredible tool for retention, but it can’t magically dispense with reality. This is probably the most important thing to understand in order to maintain doing it long term.

I see so many posts all over (here, anki forums, etc) from people who are constantly complaining about reviews piling up when life happens and they don’t do reviews for a while for whatever reason and then wanting to cheat reality by not having the SRS give them so many reviews. Unfortunately, you don’t magically stop forgetting things just because you went on vacation or had other life commitments.

When that happens, just tackle the reviews in a methodical manner as follows:

  1. Stop doing new lessons/cards until your backlog is caught up
  2. Do about 25-35% more reviews per day than the number of reviews you were doing prior to accumulating the backlog while ensuring that you’re doing enough for your daily reviews to trend down. It might even take a slightly higher percentage for the first few days depending on just how long the backlog has been accumulating (and hence how much you’ve forgotten).
  3. For the ones that you can almost remember, don’t really worry about studying them again too much, since you’ll very likely be able to recall them on the next SRS without too much issue.
  4. For the ones that seem to be completely gone as if you had never even seen them to begin with, take the time to study them a bit, as if you were redoing the lesson.

You will eventually catch up the backlog and can resume learning new material.

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Congrats on level 60! Good luck for the rest of your studies :tada: :tada:

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Thank you for writing! I have also found that writing the kanjis helps me a lot with retention.

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I actually recently hit 13 and decided just to do reviews only and once those get low enough do x amount of burned items per day. Beta Testing Nihongo Quest N5 so really focused on learning my grammar from there and adding those grammar points to MaruMori’s grammar SRS. Any vocabulary I feel iffy on/don’t know/not on WK I put on MaruMori’s vocabulary/kanji SRS list.

Excited for the full release of Koe and Shujinkou to continue my language learning journey (particularly with learning grammar the fun way). I’m hoping Wagotabi becomes well know and successful as it gets into immersion of reading Japanese only very quickly. Their current plan is just N5-N4, but if success they will go up to N1. :tada:

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Congratulations on reaching level 60! :partying_face: It’s a big achievement to get this far, and we will miss you when you get those items to Master and then leave us forever!! :sob:

Good luck with the next stage of your Japanese journey!

-Nick at WK