My journey from N5 to N2 in one year (Level 60 post 🎉)

Oh boy here we go ೭੧(❛▿❛✿)੭೨

It’s finally here, at long last, I’m shiny and golden and it’s time to ask for stickers brag :grin:
My journey was a bit bumpy, but that’s expected. Sometimes I was feeling sick, demotivated, tired or just taking a vacation - it’s totally fine to stop for a couple of days than to burn out completely.

I’m very grateful to have @jprspereira in my life cheering for me this whole time, and I’m not sure I could’ve made it this far without him or this community. My life changed so much since I started learning Japanese again: I found new friends and my other half, started reading again and grew up as a person. So thank you, WaniKani, for all of this :yellow_heart:

How I got here :o

I started learning Japanese when I was just a teen and watched a lot of anime. Buuut Russian textbooks are not that great, so I quickly stopped, unable to go through a whole bunch of linguistic terms. Fast forward to university time when I started learning again in 2017, this time with WaniKani and Genki 1, but burnt out going too quickly and skipping vocab (don’t do that :eyes:)

Then in January 2019, I got very sick and wanted to go back to Japanese, this time taking it seriously. From there on out I started investing more time in grammar. Last time I got to level 20, but even with a third of WK done, I wasn’t able to read almost anything which is usually not a problem with kanji or vocab - it’s grammar.

With WaniKani it was pretty much the same all this time. I followed Jp’s advice and was doing 20 lessons a day, rarely a bit more to do all the kanji, and 40 on fast levels, which did make me tired. What I do recommend is looking up words with Wiktionary, gogen or Goo, etc. for etymology of some words.
Knowing that, for example, (ふで) comes from 手 made that leech disappear immediately. There’s already this cool thread (Special kanji words derived from other words) so you can check it out and contribute too :smile:

Starting to like reading again :open_book:

Seeing all the reading threads here, I got into bookclubs because I wanted to be with everyone :durtle_love: I started with Yotsuba, a popular manga for beginners, and I was struggling sooo much with it xD Only using the vocab list for the first two volumes was I able to get through it, learning a bunch of casual conjugations in the process. But then 時をかける少女 bookclub came :eyes: I was so determined to catch up to it, that I read 2+ hours a day painfully translating almost every single word, and not even once because I would forget xD. After that reading, Yotsuba was a breeze, and I moved to The Promised Neverland, which I read now weekly and absolutely adore :heart_eyes:

But seriously, reading has been a great part of my learning, I was spending around 2 hours every day, sitting with my tablet in one hand and a phone with jisho in the other. This community was a big motivation for me, so I recommend checking out these two threads :smile:: Master List of Book Clubs and 多読/extensive reading challenge. You can stalk people’s progress and participate too :eyes:

My grammar journey, or what you came here for :eyes:

In the beginning, I was rereading the notes that I wrote years ago, recalling N5 grammar (from Genki 1). On January 13th I found BunPro, an SRS tool for grammar, which helped me a ton. I agree that it may not be the best way to learn grammar for some people, but it’s a very good supplementary tool, at least it worked wonders for me. It was a motivation that I lacked, a goal, the number of how many grammar points I needed to reach the next JLPT level. I would pre-learn the grammar of the next chapter of Genki or, later, Tobira on BunPro, and that helped me to go through them much quicker, actually getting the details which I would otherwise miss.

I would recommend doing 2 lessons a day on BP, which was my pace. If you do that every day, that means you can complete N2 in 359 days! Even if you don’t have that much time, learning just 1 grammar point a day means reaching N2 in just under 2 years :scream:

I didn’t mark anything as “known”, so I ended up adding 60 grammar points on the first day, don’t do that xD That came to bite me after some time, many many times :joy: Same with any SRS tool tbh, don’t add too many lessons at the same time, they’re gonna come again in the same batch weeks and months later, when you’re gonna be busy with other, more difficult stuff.

After catching up with Genki 1, I started doing the second part. I would finish one chapter per day, including the workbook, which took me around 4-6 hours to do it all. I finished it after a bit over a month (from January 18th to February 28th). In March I studied with Tobira, doing 1 chapter per week. That was reeeally tiring. On one day I would read the texts, the next I would study half of the grammar (it was like ~15 in one chapter :scream:), then the second half, do grammar exercises and spend a whole lot of time struggling with vocab which I didn’t know at that point (I was just level 12 on WaniKani).

So I stopped after the 4th chapter, finishing the 5th one only one month after, but still not enjoying it very much. Because I registered for N3 in summer, I went full-on watching 日本語の森 N3 playlists. After passing it and being almost done with N2 grammar on BP, I, of course, registered for N2 in winter :eyes: I finished Tobira in September, but I just made notes of grammar, not reading any texts - it was too boring for me and too time-consuming. I continued with 日本語の森 N2 playlists, did a little bit of Shin Kanzen Master for N2, but I burnt out doing so much every day. I luckily passed it, but more about that in the next part /o/

JLPT and Vocabulary :fox_face:

I was so lucky to pass N2, honestly, and I barely did. N3 was at least possible, but I lacked a lot of things for N2. I never did any mock tests and I probably should have. My grammar knowledge wasn’t deep at all for N3 and was even worse for N2. I’ve been working on that after December, going through Shin Kanzen Master N3, which I highly recommend.

For N2 I had to prepare much more than I did before. I calculated the number of words I needed to learn and divided it by amount of days I had left. It was around 15 more words a day, not counting WaniKani, which seemed doable.

I cannot praise Kitsun enough, I’ve used it since almost the very beginning and I love it. Core 10k deck on it has listening/reading questions which helped me a ton with my listening skills, and also with understanding the word usage in context. Even normal word cards can have audio questions that are equally amazing.

You can add words to the front of the queue and that’s what I did before N2 using WK vs JLPT spreadsheet. Words that I got from exposure or from 日本語の森 onomatopoeia playlist I added to my deck. Not to mention the Portuguese deck that I’ve made for myself, but that’s the other language :eyes: :yellow_heart: Katakana deck helped with a lot with not so obvious words and with general katakana recognition. I plan to use Kitsun for years to come and it’s been a lifesaver for me already :heart_eyes:

What’s next :tada:

As you may have guessed by this point, I registered for N1 in summer :eyes: Not sure if it’s going to be held, but I just love shooting for the stars.

So for grammar, I plan to use 日本語の森 videos for N1 and also N2 ones that they are posting right now. I’m close to finishing Shin Kanzen Master for N3, deepening my knowledge, and I’m going to do the same thing with N2 and N1 books, taking a slower pace with them. Hopefully, BunPro adds more N1 lessons soon, that would help a lot :smile:

On Kitsun I have recently added words that contain new kanji not on WK so that I can be done with that. After that, I want to keep learning new words from N2-N1 lists so that’s gonna take some time. I do want to finish Katakana deck and do 50% of 10k this year, so that’s something to keep me motivated :muscle:

I plan on reading more about etymology and phonetics too. I really liked 国語 playlist on youtube (don’t get scared by a wall of text) and I love things like that :heart_eyes:

For me, learning a language is meant to last my entire life, I’m not going to stop any time soon. I have so many games to play, so many anime shows to watch, so many mangas to read, even classics, you name it. I have big goals for Japanese and for language learning in general (looking at you, Portuguese), and I’m happy with my progress so far :triumph: Thank you, everyone who was there for me and will be, I’m so lucky to have you all in my life :yellow_heart: Let’s eat the cake now \o/ :partying_face:


You’ve finally reached level 60 and I couldn’t be any more proud of you :yellow_heart::yellow_heart::yellow_heart::yellow_heart:

I had the privilege to see you doing amazing things this year. Your fearless attitude to take action, your consistency with working on your goals every single day, and your resilience even when things are tough are all things I admire about you :3

For the past year, you’ve been my inspiration to do better and better. Now with this post, I’m sure a lot more people will feel inspired by your story and feel much better guided when it comes to tackling this enourmous journey that it is to learn Japanese :heart_eyes:

Congratulations on reaching this big milestone :yellow_heart: I cannot wait to see up close all your future successes and accomplishments that you’ll be showing the world :couple::yellow_heart:


Congratulations! :smiley: :cake: :tada: :crabigator:


YAAAAAAY FLAMY YOU DID IT!!! :partying_face:


I’ll come out of lurking to say congrats! It’s inspiring pretty inspiring to see someone that reset their level about when I started here make it all the way through everything with such dedicated work ethic and motivation (with extra motivation from a quality cheerleader in jp :sunglasses:). Now I just need to swing back into doing lessons/grammar, and not just my reviews…

You can reward yourself with some quality Xenoblade in 2 months! :ok_hand:


Omg yes yes cannot wait :heart_eyes: so soon gosh I’m too busy with animal crossing now


Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story and what has worked for you. I’m definitely going to be adding in some of your routine into mine in preparation for the JLPT this summer. Best of luck with the N1!


Congratulations. Wow compared to the amazing things you are doing. I am not doing any of that. I only working through wanikani and little grammer on the side. I think i will keep on what i am doing for a while and see what i will come up with.
Edit: little progress better than nothing
Edit2: i start learning grammer and vocabulary. As for 30 july 2020


Congratulations and great tips! Please save me a slice!!!
P.S. what stickers??? are there special lv 60 stickers?


Nope, they are usually for people finishing level 3, but I refused to ask for them until I reach 60 xD

I will!! :heart_eyes:


Do you mean the textbook from Стругова and Шефтелевич 1st and 2nd volumes? Or did you try some others?


Ohh, never heard of those :o also hi :wave: :eyes:
I used Нечаева’s first volume, and even though I can see it being good with a professor at university, it’s really hard to follow on your own imo.

I didn’t really like comparisons between Russian cases and Japanese particles, that made me think in Russian first and try to get which conjugation that would even be in the first place xD


I understand, happens. Though having russian and english point of view at the same time on the same material is better because it gives you better angle and understanding. Like, the more languages you know, the better you can get into another one.


Congrats Flamy :partying_face: I’m glad you found a method that works for you! Out of curiosity, how much time would you typically spend per day on this?


I think I study non stop xD

In the morning I would do my lessons on WK, Kitsun and BP (now only WK/Kitsun), so around an hour or two, then doing reviews, plus maybe one more hour. I probably would have lunch around that time, then studying for 2+ hours with textbooks, or maybe watching videos on youtube. And then in the evening I would read, so plus 1-2 more hours. It can change depending on the day and my mood, of course, like today I spent 10 hours writing this post and haven’t done anything :joy:

But in summary, I think I have at least a full time day studying Japanese, which sounds like a dream job xD
And thank you! :heart_eyes:


Ahhhhh congratulations Flamy!!! Great job :heart:


Congratulations! :smiley:

Honestly, I feel really inspired reading your story. German and Japanese are two languages that I want to learn but I gave up along the way. I studied German for two years and then I decided to quit after a rough semester in college… Japanese I only studied through WaniKani so I guess it doesn’t count :sweat_smile:

As a brazilian, I’m happy to see someone studying portuguese! xD good luck!
I hope you continue to improve yourself more and more!


Congratulations on getting to level 60! Extra brownie points if that gif is from Yuru yuri! :laughing:


Wow, it’s great that you have so much opportunity to study! I really miss being able to spend a whole day on Japanese. Dream job indeed! Are you speaking with people in Japanese too or mostly focused on reading and listening?


Man, I am almost out of cake! People need to stop hitting level 60 before me so much.

Congratulations! :slight_smile: