Random thoughts after 1 year on WaniKani

High level thoughts

I’ve never been someone who is good at learning new languages - but I can do things consistently (I’ve done reviews 366 out of the past 367 days). WaniKani has been super great for me because, if I’m consistent, I can make real progress. I’m still shocked at both how amazing and how cheap this software is. Of course, it’s not all roses and happiness (learning is hard!) but I wanted to just share how the first year has gone for me and what has / hasn’t worked.

Note: I totally recognize that everyone has different learning styles and preferences. Please don’t take anything here as a slight against anyone or anything.

Things I’m grateful for in regards to WaniKani

Things that are rough

  • Most of the mnemonics don’t work for me. I find it difficult when so many words use the exact same ones. For example, the fact that so many words are related to "kou"ichi doesn’t end up helping me (to be clear I totally recognize that everyone has different learning styles).
  • I can’t visualize things in my mind - which has made it especially tricky to try and remember words.
  • Thinking I’ve learned a particular kanji or radical only for a new one to pop into existence that looks almost the same and now instead of knowing 1 word I now don’t know 2 words. This gets worse when there’s many that look the same (I swear one day I’ll remember 矢 vs 失 vs 夫)
  • I’ve been trying a variety of grammar websites and books but I find that none are really “clicking” for me. Also makes me realize how little I know about English grammar ^^;; (like what the heck are adjectives). Makes me worried that I’ll never really be able to “get” this. (But hey at the rate I’m going maybe Eto Eto will be done by the time I finish).
  • I’ve been finding I get less and less things right over time to the point that I felt like I needed to stop doing lessons to really focus on really learning words. It can be hard to stop making forward progress in lessons - but it’s not like I’m not “making progress”.

Personal Stats

I know I’m going super slow compared to most people. Even though I’ve done reviews every day - I’ve only made it through 10 levels in the past year. That being said, at least I’m being consistent and continuing to make progress :slight_smile:


Goals for the upcoming year / things to look forward to

  • I’ve been slowing down recently but my goal for next year is to make it through another 10 levels in a year.
  • I’m starting to be able to recognize words or phrases in things like Tweets or mangas or animes or whatnot and that’s really nifty. I’m looking forward to continuing to expand that and hoping that by the end of next year I’ll be able to understand a few entire phrases.
  • I still find myself happy to jump in and do reviews. I don’t feel this dread or panic of like “URGH I gotta do these and I don’t want to” - and I think that’s pretty swell.
  • I’d like to make more progress on grammar at least to some degree. Maybe not the same level of effort that I put into WaniKani but I want to make an effort to look at that at least once a week or so.
  • After a full year of lurking, I decided to post here and already feel pretty pleased. I’d like to try and participate in more threads / discussions.

Closing Remarks

Anywho - that’s all for my thoughts for this year. Thanks to the people who made / continue to work on such a great website and all the amazing add-ons. I’m grateful for y’all and you’ve really helped me do something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do <3.


#lurKING - get it?


You are doing super-awesome. I have uploaded my heatmap, not to make you feel bad about yourself, but quite the opposite. I myself picked up WK after more than six years Japanese study and even I have struggled with aspects of vocab (namely bloody transitive and intransitive verbs). Even though I know (or recognise/seen before) all of the kanjis until probably level 50 and beyond, I’ve been caught on some of the trickier alternative readings. So don’t beat yourself up about the pace, you are doing really well imo, I think WK is a good thing to stick with everyday it’ll really solidify your knowledge. Maybe try and dip into some native material now that your level 10 and had lots of kanji exposure you can feel more at ease tackling new material and that’ll just make you hit WK harder and be more focussed maybe? I don’t think i’d be able to stick it without prior knowledge, not into the higher levels at least. Good luck with it!


Thanks for the kind words (and cheesy dad joke <3) - I very much appreciate it ^_^. I’ll definitely try and dip into native material at some point.

Also - to be clear - I’m not beating myself up over my pace. I totally recognize that everyone has their own talents, time, etc. I’m actually pretty proud that I’ve managed to stick with it for so long even while never having learned any Japanese prior to this. :smiley:


No worries, I get that, I really meant to say that its not about speed but you already seem to understand that concept. A solid year is awesome, that’s the key to success for sure.


Something that helps me is making up my own mnemonics. I’m the opposite as in, I like having all my mnemonics standardized. So if the reading is ろ it is always going to be “row boat” and if it’s ろう it’s always going to be “roe” for me. A lot of people have pointed out that wanikani uses different words to remember the same readings used in different kanji. That just ends up needlessly confusing me.

Regarding similar looking kanji - I’ve noticed I’m struggling with this as well and what I started to do is specifically studying and write out the differences in a notebook outside of wanikani. Recently this has evolved into every time I learn a new radical, I’ll write out all the kanji and their meanings that that radical shows up in.

An example using the radical “easy” 易

湯 “it’s easy to have hot water with a tsunami
場 “it’s easy to find a location if you have ground
陽 “it’s easy to feel the sunshine when you’re on a building
傷 “it’s easy to wound the leader if you have a gun
揚 “it’s easy to hoist stuff if you have fingers
腸 “it’s easy to lose your intestines on the moon


Those are great suggestions! I personally find it difficult to come up with my own mnemonics but perhaps I should spend more time thinking ^.^ As far as the writing thing goes - that’s a good idea to write out those full sentences. I’ll definitely give that a shot. Cheers :smiley:


Are you me? :joy: I have always been terrible at grammar theory, be it in English or my native language. So I really struggled when a lot of grammar resources assumed a certain level of comfort with English grammar terms.

For me, the youtube channel KawaJappa CureDolly finally opened up grammar. ^^ I followed that up with BunPro and have noticed a huge difference.

Hopefully you’ll also find that grammar combination that is just right for you!

Keep up the good work! :muscle:


Haha well I hope I’m not you or I’d be talking to myself which wouldn’t be too great <__<;;; (but ya I feel you tremendously about any type of grammar).

Seriously, though, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll give that YouTube channel a look and see if it helps - cheers ^_^.


This stuff is great! Recently I am making so much mistakes for some burnable stuff because they have similar kanji in my apprentice list like that. Thanks for this :smiley:


Congratulations on your first year of WKing! Your goals for next year are totally do-able.

Yep… English is my first language and I can’t tell you how long it took me to realize that particles and participles were different creatures. What has been working for me is to “forget” I know English and just learn Japanese grammar on its own. Trying to make 1:1 connections was a huge road bock. As for resources… I mix it up with online classes and you tube. More than one SRS in my life is too much.


Thanks for the kind words and tips ^_^! I’ve noticed as well that doing more than one SRS system can be challenging / draining so I’ll definitely be taking a look at some YouTube channels. Also, I don’t really know anything around English grammar so I have nothing to forget :smiley: - that’s good right >__>;? (I’ll keep in mind to try not to think about what works in English and project it to Japanese)

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You may want to try this youtube channel: Cure Dolly.

Sound quality of the early videos especially may not be the best


Thanks for the rec! Omun mentioned that channel as well ^.^ - I watched an episode or two and it’s fascinating because it’s both kind of creepy and weird, but I also felt like a lot of things made sense and I learned some things. :slight_smile:

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I’m also a fan of Cure Dolly. I also think her explanation on the basic structure of Japanese sentence makes the most sense compared to any textbook or websites I’ve seen. The が and は distinction is one of the most puzzling matter for me before, and she was able to explain it in one video.


Wow…thanks for sharing! Our journeys sound very similar…we started at the same time and we’re both at the same level! Technically I’ve graduated to Level 11 but I haven’t finished doing the vocab lessons for Level 10 yet.

As for me, after reading some posts I got very disheartened because I felt I was so slow…so I really focussed on lessons around June/July but that was a mistake as I then became totally overwhelmed but all the information! I almost gave up, thinking it was beyond me to learn another language but instead I stopped doing lessons and just focussed on reviews so I could conquer some of my leeches!

I didn’t know about the heat map but I’ve downloaded it and below are my screen shots for reviews and lessons!

And funnily enough my aims for 2020 are the same as yours…another 10 levels and start doing some grammar to put all the vocab I’ve learnt into action…I just don’t know where to start as there are so many options!

Thanks again for posting…I don’t feel so alone knowing there’s someone else out there with a similar journey and timeline as me!! :slight_smile: :grin:

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Aw that makes me really happy <3 - I’m glad I could help by sharing the slowpoke speed I’m going lol. Nice job sticking it out through those tough times. I definitely relate to that feeling of, “this may be beyond me.” I still am unsure if I’ll ever really be able to learn Japanese (to the point that I could read or speak it) - but I do think we’re making progress regardless!

I’ve been really working on those leeches lately, too. The self-study script has been really awesome at making it so I can target apprentice and guru items from levels far gone.

As an fyi - if you want to make sure you finish vocab before going on, there’s a script that can re-order your lessons so that you do vocab words first. I like doing that so that when I finish all the kanji I’m basically done with the level and I don’t level up in weird ways.

Anywho - keep it up! Hope to see you still here in a year ^.^

i don’t think you have to actually use all of the vocab. in some cases, it might be difficult to find a context for them, and a number of them are rather obscure and would make you sound like an old fart from the countryside. they’re all good to at least passively know though.

Sorry if it was mentioned…but where is the heat map from? Is it from wkstats?

Edit: btw- 1st post :slightly_smiling_face: (only took 10 levels)


Hello hello, welcome!

It’s one of the scripts from the OP. ^^