On slow progress and musings

Hi everybody,

I’d just like to share some of my own (slightly despondent) feelings, and ask you how your experiences have been as well.

I joined WaniKani sometime around May-June this year, knowing that I had to get as far ahead with it as possible during my summer vacations, because after that I’d be busy again. I’m a university student (pre-med), and I always accepted the fact that a huge time commitment like learning Japanese was something that I would either not be able to stick to at all, or take much longer than the average dedicated learner to accomplish. Life is stressful and I take stress easily, so sticking to the kind of daily commitment that WK demands is something I knew I likely wouldn’t be able to achieve. Knowing that, I decided that I’d do my best with a monthly subscription at WK during the summers, and then pause until the annual WK sale in the winters, during which I would re-evaluate whether I could and whether I even wanted to continue with WK with a lifetime subscription.

And I did just that. I chugged through 6 levels over the first half of the summer (got busy again after that), dropped to level 3 with the expiration of my subscription, and returned just a couple days ago to about ~350 reviews (not too bad, but this doesn’t include levels 4-6 of course). At the moment I’m just trying to clear all the reviews, warm up my WK muscles, and then I probably will buy lifetime subscription at the end of it.

The experience of returning is kind of…happy and sad at the same time. I’ve genuinely missed learning Japanese, and specifically learning kanji, since I left a couple months ago. I recognized that WK actually did provide me with some reading skills that I could apply even with whatever limited amount of kanji I learned, and most amazingly, I actually still remembered it. My reviews aren’t going great these days and my percentage correctness is expectedly low (50-70%), but it’s so cool how I still remember a lot of kanji anyway. I typically either remember the meaning or the reading for a kanji, which is annoying, since you need to get both right to be able to bump it up. I even burned my first two turtles.

Essentially, I decided to write this post for two reasons: one is just to share both my pleasure for learning here as well as my disappointment over not being able to commit more consistently. My time away has allowed me to recognize that I truly DO want to learn, but life makes it unfairly difficult to make real progress. My second reason ties in with the first, in that I see most people here say it takes 2-3 years to get to level 60. I know that I won’t be able to finish it this quickly, and I know that others are in the same boat as me, but I haven’t hear from people who’ve stuck around for longer than the usual, regardless of whether they’re still on the journey or have finally completed it. So I wanted to ask: how are your experiences, fellow slow progressers? How long have you been learning, or how long did you take to get to level 60 (especially if more than 3 years)? What slowed you down? How was the journey? What brought you back again and again and again? I’d love to hear from you.

And finally, for those of who read through my whole soliloquy, thank you so much. I hope you manage to make your WaniKani/Japanese-learning dream come true <3


Some threads that may interest you

There are plenty of people who need to plan around life, but slow progress is still progress!


Hang in there.

I had early burnout in Sept 2019 as you can see from the graph below. I bought the lifetime in December 2019 and then restarted with a reset to level 2 in Feb. Lifetime was a game changer as it took any pressure to go faster to save money off. I’ve decided it will take 3 to 4 years for me to finish. Mostly because my brain likes items to churn in the middle levels before they dry out enough to get burned. I heavily rate limit lessons and that keeps the review pile manageable. One could get through WK on 20 minutes a day if they kept Apprentice + Guru counts in the 200s. I keep mine in the 400s and it runs about 40 minutes a day with right about 100 reviews per day.

Real progress is relative and you may define it any way you like. The only thing that is no progress is quitting.


Right now I don’t feel like I can ever learn this language (even though other people obviously have) which makes it hard to make myself study, which means I study less, which means I progress less, which makes my feeling a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m still not at the point where I can read native material or understand native speech most of the time.

Nasty rut to be in. The usual advice people in this situation get is “remember why you started!” or “consume something you like!” which don’t help me much. I got started because I thought learning Japanese would be neat - so, not exactly life-or-death - and there’s no particular native content I’m super-interested in.

Maybe I should quit, LOL.

I persist with WK anyway. Why? Because it’s easy - and supposing I don’t quit, there’s no getting around kanji, you gotta learn them somehow.

Eventually, I’m going to have to buckle down and beat my face against that comprehension wall. But for now, this is what I can do.


And that… is good enough. :heart:


hey similar experience her. I joined Wanikani during the lockdown and passed the first 3 lvls rather quickly, like most people. I thought this is fun and bought an anual membership. I regreted that because shortly after my purchase I got busy in university and didn’t touch wanikani at all during that time.
When I got back in Summer it was discouraging see all touse reviews and not to recognise most of it. I decidet to restart level 3 again and it whent fine for my month of summer vacation. Passed levl 3 again and levl4 then the next seamester started and again I could not focus on my japanses studies. Now in December in return again to 400+ reviews. Big numbers like this are intimidating and in 3 days I got my reviews slowly back to 0. I burned a lot of stuff during those 3days. Now I have more stuff burned then enlightend I dont think thats normal at such a low lvl XD.
I bought the lifetime now during the sale and i thinks thats the right desition for me.
Getting to lvl 60in 2 years seem s impossible for me. It will take me most likely closer to 5+ years.
I returned twice now after a break of 2-3 months and I can say that wanikani is working for me.


I feel like i’m in the same position. I joined around the same time as you, made it to level 10, then September rolled around and I started my final year of getting my accounting degree. School became too hectic, I had to set Wani on vacation mode and decided to just reset everything back to level 1. With school starting again next week, I know that i’ll once again have to put studying Japanese back on hold, which is saddening. What it has shown me though is that I truly do want to learn Japanese and it isn’t just some fad, so I know in 5 or so months when school is over with that I’ll finally be able to give Japanese the full attention it requires.


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