Hello there WaniKani community. I feel like it’s a long time coming to admit that my confidence is down and my enjoyment of WaniKani is almost dead. I can’t even convince myself to do lessons and instead have just been cleaning out leeches because of this feeling. Considering I’m only on level 6 after around 2 years that is concerning but also only being on level 6 is probably part of the concern. I haven’t really done anything outside of WaniKani so I was thinking if I could do something to put what I’ve learned into practical use maybe I would get a burst of inspiration again.
As a result, I wanted to reach out to the community to ask if anyone has recommendations. Should I look into learning some more Vocab? Should I attempt to learn some Grammar? Maybe even attempt super low-level reading? Or should I just suck it up push through and hope I can get over this feeling? Any and all advice is appreciated.
The thought that if I stay the course I may go nowhere or even quit scares me as I really want to push myself to keep going. Thank you for reading what is partially just me admitting something to myself to hopefully move forward.
By completing level 5 of WaniKani, you’ll probably recognize about 25% of kanji in anything you try reading. Granted, you won’t know all the words that contain them. But many of the kanji you’ve learned come up often.
Since the goal of learning kanji is to be able to read kanji (and the vocabulary that contains them), the next step may be to jump into reading native material.
The prerequisite for that will be learning at least some basic grammar, then be prepared to keep learning as you actually get into reading native material.
It may be too soon for you to give reading a try just yet, but if you want to give it a go, check out the Absolute Beginner Book Club, which just started reading a manga called ルリドラゴン. You can find a free preview of the first chapter online (linked to in the book club), and you can read through the discussion for week one’s pages.
Another option is to work on learning grammar, then join in with the next ABBC in two or three months.
Once you start reading, you’ll see kanji from WaniKani all over the place, which may help you get back into it.
The worst that can happen is you don’t progress forward, but give it a chance and see how it goes.
It could be that Wanikani is just not the ideal method for you, especially as a solo method. The best would be for you to figure out what works best for you, which is of course a personal journey.
My suggestion: try different resources and see what works for you. This could also depend on your personality. In my case, starting my studies with gramma from a textbook (I used Genki) worked very well because I like having a structured and yet diverse way to learn.
But if you are for example someone social, who likes learning with others, you could try the absolute beginner book club in the WK forums. If you perhaps learn better from audio input, try beginner podcasts! Or if SRS works for you, just not WK much, try anki decks or bunpro.
Just some tips, but shortly, my advice would be: don’t rely only on WK, try to mix in some other resources and figure out what works best for your learning style!
Edit: just saw that @ChristopherFritz was a bit faster on recommending the ABBC! Just adding that everyone from the book club is really friendly and helpful, even if it seems challenging at first, I’d recommend to keep going!
Find Japanese YouTube channels on topics you like, try to pick out words and phrases, and look through the comment section for kanji you recognize.
If you have Netflix, use the Language Reactor extension to watch with both your native language and Japanese subtitles at once. If you have Disney+, set the audio and subs to Japanese and try to read (or sing) along.
Join the ABBC, like people suggested above.
If you have a specific motivation for wanting to learn Japanese in the first place, like a trip coming up, a favorite show or music group, etc., revisit that thing and remind yourself how cool it’ll be once you understand more. The flashcards have a purpose other than torturing you.
Grinding through flashcards is inherently boring. You’re not in any way “wrong” or “strange” for getting tired of that. The only way to justify flashcards is to see them as a somewhat efficient tool in support of your ultimate goal, which is the use of Japanese.
In my own experience, continuing to add new lessons can actually help with burnout. There are few things more tedious than grinding through the same leeches over and over again. Even five lessons a day can help you feel like you’re making progress.
But beyond that, yes do reading, yes work on grammar, yes watch anime, yes do whatever it was that got you interested in Japanese.
The textbook has some exercises in it already, so a lot of people use just that, but the workbook is good if you decide you want extra practice. You can also use Seth Clydesdale’s site to check the answers to the textbook exercises or do them digitally.
I was in the exact same situation. I started in 2019 and the highest level I had gotten to was level 6 until August of last year. Even after that I wasn’t super consistent until just recently (and I’m still not totally there yet).
So you’re definitely not alone in that, the struggle bus never runs out of seats (or gas apparently).
I had fun and looked forward to learning more kanji, and getting things right is a great dopamine hit, so much that I did them while I was working, while in class, and rarely missed days, afair. I only stopped because other studying avenues proved more efficient at that point in learning.
Gamified learning is not inherently boring, though no one would fault you if you think it is.
This is weird one, because in Anki, I might suspend or reset progress, for leeches; while Wanikani forces you to work through it.
Then, on reading of most native materials, not only the amount of vocabularies, but also amount of Kanji known, are important. Perhaps they are important in different ways. (Who cares about Wanikani curriculum design, though?)
I bought the workbook, and then it turned out that I never used it. I’d recommend trying the linked website first (that has the same content as the workbook - though parts might be missing, I never checked), and only if you think “I wish this was a book I could write in instead” buy the workbook.
On the other hand, the textbook is great! (Even better if you have a partner/tutor to do the partner exercises with.)
The most motivated I’ve ever been for Wanikani was when I was playing a videogame (Dragon Quest 11) and would look up unknown words just to discover that they were words I’d learn in 5 or 10 more levels. Knowing that doing WK would help make this interesting thing I loved easier was hugely motivating, and I just about halved my time on each level during that period. Even now when I find I word I just learned in WK in a book, I get a really nice feeling.
Since you haven’t studied a ton of grammar, going straight into native content might be a little painful, but once you get to that point, it creates a really fun feedback loop with WK.
The same thing happened to me about 2 months into my journey and again 3 months ago. I took a month off of core studies. I didn’t do any WaniKani for a month (if I did a bit it was because the feeling to do it hit and not because I had to), no vocabulary, and no grammar. I watched Japanese shows with English subs as well. After the month I committed to getting back into it as by then I missed it. And I found myself actually going harder than before and still enjoying it after these breaks.
I would say vocab, grammar, kana, pronunciation are all more important than kanji at the start especially. Not that kanji isn’t important, but since we all have limited time and can only learn so much per day - maybe let Kanji have the smallest slice at first.
But even a few hundred kanji can help a lot and so let’s say you have WaniKani lifetime already, you can go into setting and change lessons to 1 at a time. Maybe do 1 a day? Do one every other day? If you could do one a day, it would amount to probably 2 levels in a year. Even slow progress is progress. Good luck!