Hello there, fellow turtle arsonists!
Today’s the day that I finally hit level 60! やった！
It was an absolute emotional rush! Earlier in the day I thought it would be just like any other level up and it didn’t really feel like a special day, but the moment that I guru’d the last Kanji I needed to level up I started jumping around my room in excitement. I was very delighted and hyped until I settled down and read the final level-up mail from Koichi. Without spoiling anything, it made me realize that this momentous occasion had finally been reached, and I started crying from a mix of joy over the achievement and sorrow over the fact that this journey is about to come to an end. Well, there are still turtles to burn!
Whilst it kind of feels like the end of a journey, it’s really just a small step on the long road of learning Japanese.
The Journey Thus Far
I started seriously learning Japanese back in late August 2021. I had previously used Duolingo to learn a few characters and words a couple of years prior, but I really didn’t know much at that point. I was playing through the game Persona 5, which takes place in Tokyo, and was happy to recognize a few hiragana here and there as I was walking through the virtual streets. At some point during the game, I thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be fun to learn all the Hiragana, Katakana and a couple of words so that I can recognize more things in the game? I won’t learn the whole language, but learning a little bit sounds like fun!” I think I might have overshot my original goal ever so slightly…
After learning the Hiragana and Katakana as well as some basic grammar and words from Genki 1, I stumbled upon Wanikani and started using it on September 13 2021. Since then, I’ve also used Human Japanse (basic and intermediate) to learn some grammar and vocab, Satori Reader for more grammar and reading practice, and Anime and Nihongo con Teppei for listening practice. I’ve also done a bit of manga reading, with everything from Yotsubato and One Piece to Spy x Family and Death Note. Oh, and I may also have ever so slightly fallen down the infinite rabbit hole that is Vtubers. It’s for Japanese practice, I swear!
Even though I’ve spent a lot of time on the language, I still have a very long way left to go. There are a lot of things that I can understand, but unless it’s a topic with vocab that I am familiar with or I am able to look things up a lot still goes over my head. Sometimes I listen to a conversation and have no idea what they’re talking about, and sometimes I understand it perfectly well. Going through WaniKani has not made me a master of Japanese, nor will it make you one, but it has provided me with a very good framework from which to continue building my skills!
The Next Step of the Journey
Of course, I plan on finishing the last couple of lessons here on WaniKani and then proceeding to BURN THE TURTLES! As the amount of daily reviews decreases, I want to put more focus on reading. I’ve done a fair bit of it already, but not nearly enough. I used to read a chapter of manga a day but fell off a while ago. That’s a habit I’d like to pick up again in order to see more kanji and vocab in the wild. I also want to interact more with other kinds of media, such as playing games in Japanese and reading novels/light novels/visual novels. I might also try doing some vocab/sentence mining with Anki at some point and I’m mildly interested in trying this Bunpro thing that I keep hearing whispers about here on the forums. Other than that I’d like to start doing semiregular italki lessons and I also plan on doing a lot of Vtuber watchi… listening practice.
It’s hard to say exactly where the road will lead, but somehow or other I will become ペラペラ, no matter how long the road may be.
I think my only real tip is to make sure that you have fun with the language! Find some interesting books to read, movies to watch or games to play. It may be hard at first, but the more you do it the better you will get at understanding the language. If you have things that you enjoy using the language for, it will motivate you to get better so that you can understand those things better. In the beginning, when you can’t understand much, it’s good to have something that can be fun even if you barely understand anything. Maybe that’s music, an anime that can be understood mainly through the visuals, or a Youtuber or streamer that you can vibe with without fully understanding what they are saying. Over time, you will come to understand more and more. Only using textbooks and SRS systems to study won’t be enjoyable for most people, and it’s important to interact with the language as it is used in the wild. (Of course, using textbooks and SRS is good too! Only using immersion isn’t viable in the beginning, and may not be optimal until you’re already at a very high level.) As long as you can find your own way of making the process of learning the language enjoyable, you will continue to show up day after day and will gradually get better as a result!
That’s about it from me! Maybe I’ll see you around here on the forums. I wish you all good luck with your language studies, wherever on this long road you may be! 皆さん、お疲れ様です！