Wow, this took way longer than I wanted it to. When I started Japanese, I only wanted to speak it. My commute to work at the time was tortuous and I didn’t want to sit there wasting it every day. About a year into that, I realized I could get better at speaking by reading. 3.5 years later and here we are.
I took a lot of long breaks along the way, but never reset. That led to some really tortuous buildups of reviews, but I think I can recommend that it’s worth it to forge on vs reset. At the end of the day, you can always unburn things if you want to go back and re-review things. I’m preparing to do just that at some point. Basically I’m going to go to the pages for each level and quiz myself. If I fail, I’ll unburn.
I didn’t do nearly a good enough job of studying outside of Wanikani, but for me I am starting to enjoy reading / grammar a lot more now that I’m not stumbling on alphabet / basics. So if you’re like me and are limited in time, I wouldn’t worry too much about not studying a lot outside Wanikani. With a fulltime job and other things in life, I think it’s perfectly acceptable / even admirable to tackle something like Wanikani on it’s own. My plans now are to try and read at least 30 minutes a day, and go through the lessons in Bunpro.
The speaking studying I did before Wanikani was all Pimsleur, and I highly recommend it as a great way to get comfortable speaking. It won’t be the end all be all, but it’s great for pronunciation and getting confident. If you can, speak with natives. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Melbourne which has a crazy number of natives going there for working holidays. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s the only way you get better. Make some friends!
If I had to make a recommendation for you, try to stick to a schedule. My Wanikani progress went way better at the end for a simple reason, I could do one level a week (because of the decrease of gating).
My wishlist for Wanikani updates / changes based on my experience:
- Make it easier to do one level a week. It will help folks stay on the wheel surprisingly enough. If it seems too hard given the amount of content, maybe spread the levels out more? I think a lot of folks would be happy to take 2 years to finish, which means you could make it 100ish levels. At that split, I think it becomes a lot more manageable to do a level a week.
Honestly, that’s it My other ideas are a bit more crazy / time consuming so I’ll separate them.
- Vocab paths. I’d love if there were optional vocabulary paths that let you build towards vocabulary in a specific area, whether that be business vocab, vocab specific to a book, or even slang.
- Speaking lessons for each level’s vocab. I love Pimsleur a lot, and I think using that method to teach vocab would help users get the vocab to stick, and hammer in how it’s used. It’d be very useful, but I also realize this is a crazy big undertaking.
My biggest advice to new users would be to never give up. Keep at it and you’ll reach the end. Some days you’re going to think it’s useless (sleep is important!), other days you’re going to be surprised at what you remember. Stay positive, see failures as an opportunity to improve, and remember to take care of your physical and mental health. Now go out there and make a fool of yourself, it’s more fun that way!