Reach level 60 -> ? -> Profit

ハロー・ワールド [Greetings, reader!]

Since I reached level 60 around 3 weeks ago and raised the last few kanjis to guru status last week, my time has come to make my grand debut on this wonderful forum for the obligatory level 60 celebration post. I have indeed been a proud member of the silent masses up to now even though I’ve already spent a substantial amount of (counter) productive time browsing the poll, memes or shower thoughts threads. Below this introductory paragraph you’ll find a short self-introduction, a quick summary of my japanese-learning journey, what my experience with WaniKani was like, and what I plan to do from here on.

A word about me

As you might have guessed from my unnatural and over-dramatic english, I’m French. In my free time I like running, climbing, hiking, playing Souls games (if I’m alone) or board games (if my friends are available), watching anime, reading books, and of course learning japanese.

Motivations for learning japanese

I’ve had an interest in the japanese language and culture since I started watching an unhealthy amount of anime as a teenager, but I only started learning japanese four years ago at school. Two years later, with a diploma in hand, I got a bit frightened that I wouldn’t be learning anything anymore apart from the occasional C++ library (I work as a developer), so I figured studying japanese would be a great use of my free time. I see with hindsight that my fears were unfounded (my job is very stimulating as I learn new things all the time), but I don’t regret my decision a single bit.

Even though my initial motivation of keeping my brain active still remains, my list of objectives has since expanded and now roughly boils down to (in decreasing order of priority):

  • Understanding written japanese (manga, visual novels, light novels);
  • Understanding spoken japanese (anime, Youtube videos and films);
  • Gaining some conversational skills for an hypothetical trip to Japan which I have yet to plan out.

Since my first aim was to consume japanese media and not to speak japanese, and since I already knew that I liked learning chinese characters (I studied mandarin chinese during highschool), I didn’t hesitate for long before subscribing when I read about WaniKani on the Tofugu website.

My opinion on WaniKani and some stats

In my opinion Wanikani is an incredible resource for learning kanjis. I love the SRS system, the simple-yet-efficient web interface, and the level up system that has helped keeping me invested for more than two years. WaniKani has also led me to improve my daily routine on two aspects:

  • I sleep longer than I used to since my accuracy plummets as my lack of sleep increases (please ignore the fact that I’m writing this at 3AM);
  • I wake up earlier in the morning to do around 50 reviews before going to work.

It took me 2 years and 1 month to reach level 60 (766.875 days to be exact), which I’m content about as doing my lessons and reviews remained challenging but not unbearable up to the end. Here are my accuracy and level up charts as provided by wkstats:
rejemy-wanikani-accuracy-table

Recommendations for WK users

I didn’t use any userscript for a number of good and bad reasons (fear of abusing the undo button, satisfaction with the tool as is, and maybe a tiny bit of misplaced pride and masochism). I can however give some recommendations to anyone trying to reach level 60 with his sanity intact:

  • Doing multiple review sessions each day greatly improves accuracy and long-term memorization. I only did one session a day up to level 45 and started struggling a lot because of it. Afterwards I added a session right after waking up in the morning, which made my reviews a lot easier;
  • Remaining calm and concentrated is a must even when one’s accuracy drops. I found reviews which contained many items ready to be burnt particularly difficult and at times frustrating;
  • I know this is not the case for everyone but learning mnemonics has been essential to me, especially for new kanjis. The ones provided by WaniKani worked for me most of the time, except for the last 5 or 10 levels;
  • For non-native english speakers like me, adding user synonyms for unknown or rarely used english words can be helpful. Be careful not adding wrong synonyms though;
  • The forum is your best friend, and posting duplicate posts to complain about the extreme slowness of the level-up system is always greatly appreciated.

Lastly, I wanted to add a warning regarding the addictive nature of WaniKani: since it is presented as a game with a level up / unlockable content system, some people may feel compelled to go as fast as possible (which is bad for long-term memorization and can lead to burn-outs) or to 100% complete it before moving to other learning resources and exposing oneself to real-world japanese. To illustrate this second pitfall, I personally first told myself that I would leave WaniKani after reaching level 60, then upon reaching it I decided to guru the level 60 kanjis, and once that was done I seriously considered the idea to guru all the items that had since dropped back to apprentice status, and maybe even to burn every single item. Tonight I finally had the courage to recognize that what I was doing was highly counterproductive and that I should move on.

Next steps

In parallel to WaniKani I’ve been studying grammar with Bunpro and at some point the Cure Dolly Youtube channel.
I also read my first manga in japanese earlier this year (ドラえもん) and I purchased the first tomes of よつばと!and 薬屋のひとりごと for future reading. Reading in japanese has both been very exciting and fulfilling (but also difficult), so I’m looking forward to my next book, hopefully with one of the WaniKani book clubs this time (and less frequent word lookups on jisho). I also plan to give a go to the ダンガンロンパ franchise (visual novels) which I’ve been saving up for a long time now.

Thank you to anyone who had the patience to read up to this point. Enjoy your day, and have fun learning japanese! 頑張ってください!

35 Likes

I want to see a study of the venn diagram between software developers and people learning Japanese. You are one, I am one, and I’ve seen many others with similar situations, and it makes me wonder how big the overlap really is.

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What about double certifications?
When I started in 2014/2015 I was holding a medical degree.
Now I also hold a Software Developer degree. xD

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That counts as well, so you’re also a part of the DevJPs (name pending) :wink:

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Haha I thought the same. I am one too.

And congrats OP! I have all the same hobbies as you, come from the same country and have the exact same motivations haha.
Though our learning strategies differ a bit, I’ve engaged a bit more in grammar through textbooks and have been reading mangas for about 3 months now.
Join us for the Beginner Book Club starting this Saturday!

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One more here.

That’s an interesting question, maybe software developers as a population tend to like games and puzzles, and therefore would be naturally drawn towards tools like WaniKani if they decide to learn Japanese. A significant number of my colleagues enjoy video games and board games regardless of their age.

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Thank you for your kind words and congratulations for your first reads! I’ll definitely check out the Absolute Beginner and Beginner Book Clubs to see if I’m interested in the next books that will be discussed.

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Hey Rejemy! This is fantastic news. おめでとう on getting to the top of kanji mountain! Also, a big thank you for imparting some advice to other learners who are still on their journey. You get some cake just for doing that, let alone getting to level 60!

cakechop

Good luck with your studies moving forward. Don’t be a stranger!

-Nick at WK

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