Reaching lvl 30 soon, but I need WaniKani advice on how to move forward

Hi all,

Context:

WaniKani has been a fantastic learning experience for me. In just 8 months I have learned over 900 Kanji, almost 2900 vocabulary (real words) and much more. It also gave me the context I craved and found nowhere else: “why does this kanji mean this, vs that?”

However, this has required a 2-3 hours per day effort, -every single day- at minimum.

When I started my mission to learn Japanese, I was juggling grammar, hiragana, katakana (thankfully those were very fast) and Kanji. Kanji was extremely alien to me, so WaniKani was what I needed in order to solve my main problem. But I had to make a decision, I work full time, I even work extra most nights, I need to take care of my body (exercise) + family time, etc. so I had to cut everything else off just to guarantee those 2-3 hours per day.

I resumed my grammar studies last week (Minna No Nihongo, Anki with N5 and N4 grammar) and once again realized I didnt have enough time for that + my current WaniKani approach (although I inmediatly saw the bennefit of having gone through the Kanji here in WK, I already know most words, and pretty much all Kanji in the earlier levels, so everything has gone smoothly, compared to the mess when I started 8 months ago)

Request for help:

How should I move forward? I have the following 2 scenarios as baseline, what would yo recommend? I appreciate in advance any and all context/feedback.

  • Scenario 1: Keep going as is. Effort = 2-3 hours per day, level up in 8-9 days, reach lvl 60 in 8 months. Impact = not enough time for anything else, grammar and other Japanese endeavors would remain paused

  • Scenario 2: Slow down WK a bit. Effort = 1 hour per day, level up in 14 days, reach lvl 60 in (I dont want to think about it). Impact = This would free me 1-2 extra hours per day to advance with grammar, more Anki, trying to actually read a book/manga/novel in Japanese (no time now to attempt, look for answers, etc.). However: Kanji would lag behind, and I do appreciate the fact that I can figure out 900 Kanji, I would really like to have the expected 2000 ASAP.

Sorry to bring you all my persona dilema, I just want to make sure that whatever decision I end up taking, considers your best recommendations.

Thanks!

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I would definitely recommend scenario 2 because reading real books/manga in Japanese is more fun than doing flashcards nonstop. :slight_smile:

Perhaps try starting with one of the book clubs. Beginner book club is starting a new manga relatively soon as well, so the timing might work well for you.

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Thank you for the quick reply. I did read the main thread on the Book Club, but the logistic behind it confused me a bit. I live in Costa Rica and physical books may be problematic to get (not sure if possible with the Corona thing at the moment). I really wish there was something like:

“Top 3 books you could try to read if you are level” = 10/20/30/40/50/60

Right now it seems there is a long list, but I don’t know the expected complexity compared to my level, and if I would really like the subject enough (if I’m actually able to get a copy).

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Just to start, I’m genuinely curious as to how you’re spending 2-3 hours per day on WK alone. I’m leveling up fairly fast and pretty close to you, but I usually only spend up to maybe an hour a day. Perhaps it’s more and I don’t even realize it?

That said, I’m glad that you’re seeing the benefits of WK when you’re doing other study. Kanji is a huge hurdle, and being able to understand it makes other studies far easier in my opinion.

As for advice, I’m curious if you’re on a time frame? Currently, I’m leveling as fast as possible because I have the time but also because I’m planning on going to Japan in around 6 months. However, if you aren’t in a rush, I don’t see there being any reason to neglect other areas of study. Kanji is great and quite fun in my opinion, and WK does a great job of teaching it. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Best of luck to you in your studies!

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Definitely slow down on WK, which im also currently in the process of doing, since the return on investment gets smaller the closer you get to that 60.
(Let’s not forget that lvl 60 was never really the end goal for anyone)

I always suggest more native consumption, so i guess you can figure out where this is going :sweat_smile: And honestly the best way to get going is just to make a habit of reading something every day, not necessarily having to understand it fully. Just getting the general gist of things can go a long way.
I use a kindle to read which is super helpful as i can look up (most) words and also if im really lost i can highlight and get something resembling a google translate just to get a general idea of whats going on.
Im still surprising myself with my progress tho, since im already having a laugh at some of the jokes and scenarios.
Sometimes i get a whole page where im completely lost and then the next page it feels like im already fluent.

The native consumption does a few things (ill just stick with written content here)

  • Imprints speech and narration patterns in your subconscious mind
  • Reinforces kanji and grammar
  • Teaches you new (often useful) words that WK will never teach you
  • tells you which parts you actually struggle with (so you can direct your time towards something productive)

EDIT:(The kindle e-reader app exists, and is free in case you dont want to invest in a physical one, but it still needs to be set up with amazon where you would get the books from either way)

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Thank you for your reply!

Yes I’m on a timeframe. I wanted to be able to read and communicate in around 2 years (started 8 months ago). Kanji felt like the hardest thing so I decided to tackle it first, and yes, it has proven very beneficial because all the grammar and Kanji I see now “makes sense”, before it was fine with Hiragana but as soon as I saw a Kanji = FULL STOP.

This is why the decision is so hard, WaniKani DOES work, and I’m not sure the other grammar efforts would pay as greatly.

I spend around 1 hour at noon (during my lunch) and 1-2 hours at night (before bed). I don’t use any reordering script, and I hate level ups because I have to go thorough 40 vocabulary lessons before reaching new radicals and Kanji, but I prefer it that way, reorders may impact my retention.

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Gotcha. I don’t know if it’s possible, but maybe span your reviews throughout the day as they come up? I find pacing myself works far better than crushing them all in one go. That said, sometimes I forget and have to crush them.

I think having a solid base in kanji is a huge help, and makes things easier, but you’ll find as you immerse more in the language, be it through studying grammar sentences or just exposing yourself to native material, that you’ll encounter the kanji you’ve learned and it only serves to reenforce what you’ve already learned.

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I’m the opposite of you. I spent all of my time learning basic grammar (stopping with my completion of N2) and listening/speaking. I’d say I can recognize probably around 800 kanji now - some have slipped - which was enough for me to get N2 about 8 years ago (when, having reached my goal, I took a several year break).

However, reading is painful. After trying to read a novel, and having spent more than half of that time looking up words and writing them in the margins, I threw in the towel and started reading English translations of the books I wanted to read.

Then I discovered this platform. Through wanikani and kamesame I hope to bring up that part of myself which I neglected, and aim at N1 within 2 years.

It’s good that you aren’t going to stop WK, but just plan to slow down a little. You can get there eventually without facing a giant review pile and giving up on your kanji study.

If I were in your shoes, I would try to keep up my progress with WK as much as possible and start investing some time in listening/repeating. If you can find a way to mirror your progress in WK with production practice (which is why I like kaniwani and kamesame), you should be able to sharpen both sides of the sword at the same time.

Kanji and Vocab – let WK drive this for now, and then transition to other sources as you progress further
Listening – you definitely need this to function in society
Grammar – if you look up grammar points you encounter through listening, you should slowly start to fill up this bucket

Not sure if this is helpful, but that’s my opinion, in any case :slight_smile:

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Have you read any non-textbook materials yet? You know a lot of kanji already (maybe around 3rd or 4th grade level?), and I think some N5-N4 grammar too. So you could try something out before committing to a new schedule, to see how you feel about scenario 2 :blush:

Have you tried buying ebooks? I have a few physical books in Japanese, but honestly I find it easier to read Japanese books on a reader or tablet for now (built-in dictionaries are helpful).

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I have not tried it. I attempted The Little Prince but it was hiragana only and actually MORE complicated than if it used actual Kanji.

I don’t know what particular “easy” book to purchase in e-book from Amazon, hopefully with the required mix of Kanji and grammar-hiragana that would help me…

Maybe this is easier than what I’m making it up to be, but the actual action of getting a book has been complicated.

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Also:Thank you @namazurider, @Emiloow for your point of views and context!

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The bookclub picks should be able to help you out. The ones in the Absolute Beginner Bookclub have simpler grammar but tend to have a lot of words written in hiragana (because little kids are still learning too). But the books in the Beginner Bookclub would probably suit you well.

I’m reading Flying Witch with the beginner club at the moment and it’s quite accessible for someone with N4-ish grammar! (And it has furigana, so any kanji you don’t already know are easy to look up)
Someone told me that Aria and Girls Last Tour are at about the same difficulty level as Flying Witch. And from the comments I’ve read around here, The Mysterious Sweet Shop is one of the beginner club’s easier non-manga books…

The にゃんにゃん/わんわん books are also nice! I’m reading the first Kitty one while waiting for the new Dog club to start.

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Such a list can’t exist because there are so many other factor, like grammar, vocab, and general experience with the language. There are level 60 people who can’t read anything and level 10 people who are conversationally fluent.

It’s actually pretty simple. Buy the manga set to start in a month (digitally if you have to). Read one chapter a week with the club. Read the thread throughout the week to see what questions people are asking and ask questions yourself if you need to.

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I’d recommend you go slower. I’m close to finishing WK now and I can tell you that the further you go past level 30, the more specific kanji become, meaning they’re not as useful or as relevant for general communication.

I know of some people who even deliberately stop using WK after level 30 because they’ve already learned the most important kanji.

Leaving WK at level 30 or slowing down after that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never learn the kanji from advanced levels. As you probably already know, you can learn the rest through direct practice and immersion (reading, listening, etc).

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seanblue and the others have already killed it.

Me? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Something about cake at the end, pretty sure that’s a lie, though.

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The part about being synced with the rest is the strange one (logistic-wise). I may not like the book subject, I may no be up to the required level, I may not be able to acquire the book etc. Entry barrier seems a bit more cumbersome than a list. For example: “these are the books you COULD read if you fall under the lvl 20 kanji + N5 grammar criteria” (because the list would be curated by users that know the levels and grammar details, and would know what could fit under each scenario-criteria)

I know this doesn’t exist.

I will definitely check Flying Witch as recommended by @skymaiden, I will figure out the logistics to get the book

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You will not like every book you try to read. Your options are always to continue anyway for practice or drop it. Good luck finding what you’re looking for.

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You can always follow behind. The threads are open. I have pretty limited time for Japanese but a few of my new daily words are from the Aria book club vocab list. I intend to chip away at it little by little and then attempt to read the volume when I’m done with the list.

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There’s something similar to what you want. @Radish8 has made a thread reviewing past picks from the beginner (and intermediate) book clubs, discussing their difficulty. I would give a link but I’m on my phone right now, so it’s a bit annoying. Hopefully someone can provide it, otherwise I’ll edit this post tonight.

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Hiragana-only texts seem to be pretty much a nightmare for any non-native speakers

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