Personal study log for every 10 levels

Hi, what’s up durtles. I thought it would be fun to make a little post that I can update every 10 levels to help keep myself on track.

As a little intro, I started studying Japanese when I took two semesters of it in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. I mostly took it because this filled my entire nontech requirement, but I’ve also been interested in learning another language for a while and thought that Japanese is a language that I could see myself regularly engaging with for fun. Although it was a ton of work my Japanese class was one of my favorites that I took, so I wanted to continue studying it afterwards.

So naturally I did absolutely nothing for a year after classes ended :no_mouth:

But now that I finally graduated, I’m jumping back into it!!! I’ve really liked WaniKani a lot so far, since the way we learned kanji in school was “write it out 10 times, write every reading all at once, write the meaning, have one (1) quiz on it, and then magically remember all of them for the final”. Unfortunately I had no magic and only remembered about 15/200 of the kanji we learned, so I knew I’d have to start from square one with learning them again. WaniKani has been a solid amount of work every day, but I feel much better about reading all the kanji I’ve learned pretty reliably, so it’s been worth it. Kanji honestly made absolutely no sense to me during school even though we “learned” >200 of them, so it feels good to have really learned (how to read) even more than that at this point now.

Anyways, I’ll put each update in its own tab so this post can feel at least somewhat organized.

Levels 1-10

Just finished my last vocab lesson of level 10 so I can finally post this! I took the summer off after I graduated, so I thought I’d try building new habits and this is one of them. I started off going pretty quickly and doing 25ish lessons every day that I could, and I tore through the first few levels this way, but I started to get a bit tired around when I started level 5 material, and dropped down to limiting myself to 10 lessons per day.

I’ve consistently done 10 lessons every day since then, which I’m pretty proud of. I’ll do all of my radical lessons at once since I find them a bit simpler though. I’ve also been able to stick to a schedule that works for me even after I started working full time, which has been good! I dedicate my mornings to only doing my 10 lessons around 6am, then I’ll come back around 10am to do my first reviews, and then I’ll ideally do all of the rest of my reviews after work when they come in at 6pm. This lets me advance all my items through the srs quickly even though I’m not doing a ton of lessons each day, and conveniently lines up almost all of my reviews in the evening. They’ll be a little scattered since the higher srs levels take an hour off and my lessons on the weekend are usually a bit later, but I think it’s nice having the bulk of my reviews fall within the same ~4ish hours every day. If I get something in apprentice wrong it might come back out of schedule, but I’ll usually just leave those until my afternoon or night reviews and that works fine for me. I’ll ignore any reviews that I have in the morning since I am NOT very motivated right after waking up, and this lets them line up nicely with my regular review times.

I think I’ve been spending around 45min-1hr each day on WaniKani, which isn’t too much but it still takes up an appreciable chunk of time, which I seem to have less of now :cry:. Between this and my work schedule, I don’t have much energy left to take on more studying during the day, so I might ease up on WK to make time for other practice / hobbies. But its really not that bad so we’ll see. I know that I’ll be hit with lots of reviews once I start burning in December since I started pretty quick, so I will probably ease up on lessons when that comes and then try to reallocate how I’m spending my study time once that dies down from there. I did the first 34 or so chapters of Minna no Nihongo in college, which I believe probably puts me halfway between N5 and N4, so my kanji knowledge is probably caught up to everything else I learned in school now. So I should probably find ways to practice / learn grammar, speaking, and listening to make sure that I’m not falling behind in other areas.

Also as a little update, I applied for a job to Sony in Tokyo sort of on a whim and I’ll hear back about it next week. I really have no idea what I’d want to do if I actually get it, but I hear back next week so we’ll see what happens haha. Anyways, here’s a bunch of screenshots of my stats:

Level one was tough, but I made it through!!! (or maybe I forgot about my account for a year and a half, who’s to say)

Most of the kanji is new to me, but I knew a good amount of the words already so my accuracy has been high so far. Will probably go down as I see new words

Levels 11-20 (Update 7/9/23)


Sorry I needed to get that out of my system. So I guess good news first, I did 10 more levels! It’s nice seeing the numbers go up for how many Kanji I can recognize, and I can probably make an honest effort to start reading NHK now that I’m supposed to know roughly 85% of its kanji. And the other good news is that I have more time to get comfortable learning Japanese since I didn’t get accepted to work for Sony in Japan, haha.

But the main theme I was feeling past maybe level 15 was burnout and pain lol. Once I started getting to my burn reviews (around December/January), I dropped from my 10 lessons a day to 5 lessons a day to make sure I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the additional reviews, especially since I started with 20-30 lessons/day for the first few levels. I was able to get through those relatively ok, and picked the pace back up to 10/day since taking about 4 weeks for a level felt too slow. I kept up on 10/day for a while, sometimes dropping to 5 on weeks that I thought I felt a bit overwhelmed.

Around level 18 though, I was getting really tired of this. I was getting about 80 reviews every night, which I usually planned to do around 6 or 7pm. I could spend over 30 minutes focusing on them every night, but instead I’d usually try to mix in doing them while I’m taking care of other things after work, like cooking dinner or working out. This would result in me spending over an hour thinking about them most days, and it kinda stunk having to constantly pick them up and down in between other things I’m doing, and I’d generally feel worse about myself for every review that I got wrong.

I was pretty strict on doing all my reviews around 6 or 7pm since I didn’t want to have to worry about them later at night, and really didn’t want to have to spend time on the leftovers during my midday review the next day. Which got really tiring to keep up since I’d be pretty tired after work, and if I’m going out to do something that night which would get in the way of my reviews, I’d stress out a bit over it, and probably still try to do them in the middle of whatever I’m doing with much less effectiveness.

Once I finished level 20, I just stopped doing reviews completely, in order to get my reviews back down / take care of my leeches / recover from burnout. I’m down to only about 15-30 reviews a day now, but still feel pretty wiped so it might be a while before I get back to lessons. On the bright side I have a lifetime subscription, so there’s no rush to finish at least. I’m thinking about just trying to relax on learning Japanese until I’m feeling good on most of my leeches, and then maybe try pivoting to learning outside of WaniKani to try and have some fun with learning. I think for now I’m just reeaally burnt out with the consistency that’s enforced by SRS since it makes me afraid to fall behind, so it might be better to study at my own pace for a bit.

When I start this up again I’ll probably have to find some other strategy for doing my reviews. I kept up the pretty disciplined schedule from levels 1-10 to go at a good pace and cycle my reviews through their levels as quickly as possible, but when I restart I won’t stress it as much. I’d stress about my review times because I wanted to make sure my mid-day reviews were only my apprentice 1’s from the morning in order to make sure that was a quick session, but I think I’d feel much more relaxed if I just opt for doing all my lessons by the end of the day, whichever way I’m most comfortable with. This might look like just doing all my reviews when I have a chunk of free time once per day, which will mean that I won’t be progressing new items as quickly as possible, but this is probably fine since you don’t really need to worry about running out of lessons unless you’re going max speed.

Anyways, here’s where I’d put the heatmap if I didn’t break it and wanted to figure out how to fix it. I’ve been doing all my studying from the Tsurukame app (HUGE shout out to them), so my scripts on my laptop have all just been slowly falling apart lol. I promise I’ve been doing my reviews every day, so imagine that it shows a full streak for… over a year. Just realizing it’s been a year as a typed that, oh boy

And heres some level-up stats. Going at 10 lessons/day averaged me around 17 days per level up, which isn’t too bad. The places where I took longer are where I switches to 5/day, and turns out that I’ve been floundering on level 21 for about 2 months now while I wait for this burnout to go away haha. It’s been taking a while since my brain feels like it wants to reject anything that isn’t easily understood at the moment, so I have my hands full trying to force feed it even just the things that it needs. That’s probably just burnout hopefully, but any advice for getting the brain to work good is welcome ofc

I’m mostly just posting this for some self-accountability, but if you read this I appreciate you :slight_smile:


That’s the reason I keep doubting wether to take Japanese class or not. I have already learned how to read about 800 kanji and doesn’t really have any interest in handwriting. I also have studied grammar up until N3 level, but since i don’t know how to write they’ll probably would put me in a N4 level class or upper-beginner class.

Anyway good luck with Wanikani! And good luck with the job in Tokyo!


I remember trying a Japanese class a long time ago in college and the class had a very high drop out rate. There was barely anyone left by the time I dropped the way. I was overwhelmed, bored, and frustrated. Using WaniKani I feel like I can read way more than I ever would have through a class. As for grammar Bunpro has grammar based off JLPT and textbooks like the one you used. I plan on trying out Bunpro once the game Nihongo Quest N5 comes out. Also there is an app called J-crosswords which has vocabulary crossword puzzles based off of textbooks and the JLPT N5-N1 so that may be something fun you can do. :smile_cat:


Oh yeah when I took a Japanese class is was very heavy on the writing. My hands would be physically in pain from writing so much in and outside of the classroom for homework. I had a hard time finishing the homework as I had all these other classes on top of it. I don’t know how people can do their classes and Japanese class at the same time. Would get marked off points if the kana I wrote was too big, too small, too wide, etc. I didn’t touch Japanese for years after that as it was just awful.

I’ve been much happier studying on my own using resources like WK. I don’t practice writing at all. Just reading I feel has improved my Japanese way more than just writing. I feel writing just dramatically slows down on learning. It’s way faster for me to just look at the kanji and see the ON, KUN, and English meaning visually. Plus if I am practicing talking to Japanese Natives I’m not writing I’m typing!!!


Yeah I feel like most Japanese classes in college can be pretty rough. It was definitely a lot of work for me, but my professor was an absolute saint, so it wasn’t too bad. School was remote because of COVID when I took it, which made it a bit harder to interact with classmates, but my teacher didn’t take off any points for late assignments because of that which made it a lot more doable. I think I almost fell 2 weeks behind at one point, but I was able to catch up eventually :slight_smile:

Learning to write was mostly left to quizzes and homework so class time was mostly dedicated to learning grammar patterns and practicing speaking, so I think classes can still be great if you can find one that meets your goals. It is definitely nice being able to learn on your own without spending time on writing though haha

Thanks for the kind words and the recommendations by the way! Will make sure to check them out!

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You’re teacher sounds so nice. I unfortunately had the strictest Japanese 101 teacher. She would ask the students if we did all our homework and must of us answered that we only did half before she would go over the answers. We’d do some speaking practice in class, but I felt I never really had time to practice it outside of class with everything else going on and feeling super burned out.

Well my goal is reading comprehension (reading manga and otome games) and I don’t need a class for that. Lots of app choices, Crystal Hunters manga that teaches Japanese, and Japanese language learning video games in development that are coming out next year. I have loved learning on my own as I don’t have to worry about falling behind, grades, homework, etc. There is no homework, it’s just me having fun learning the language.

Yes of course more than happy to help! :smile_cat:


I think it’s really great you managed to find a pace that works for you so early on. Consistency and avoiding burn out is a huge thing to consider. Hope to see your level 20 update soon! :slight_smile:

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You don’t know how to write hiragana and katakana? Writing kanji is usually not a requirement, I think. Plus it’s not like you can’t write it if you see it in a question or whatever.

Also depends on the class, not every class gives the same focus to everything. Some don’t write kanji, some don’t talk, etc.

Hi friends, just updated with some thoughts on levels 11-20. Only took me 2 months to type this out after finishing 20 haha.

I think I can just comment here instead of making a new post? Hope you’re all doing well :slight_smile:

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