Requisite Level 60 Post - The Journey of 1182 Days

I started WK on 11 July 2020. This was approximately 18 years after I had decided, yes, I WILL learn Japanese. Those first 18 years were 18 years spent learning the kana in and out. Watching Anime. J-Dramas. Listening to Japanese music. I can understand a lot of spoken Japanese. Couldn’t read much properly and almost zero speaking ability.

And 18 years of absolutely hard-core Kanji avoidance. My Kanji avoidance stat was probably 6200 (6570 days in 18 years, 6000 or more of which I avoided Kanji as if my life depended on it).

11 July 2020 I decided mid lockdown, wasting my days sleeping and vegging out was stupid and I needed to get on this dang Kanji train already.

I had known of WaniKani for a while, I just didn’t want to do it. Learning is hard. Committing to something is hard. I did it anyway. I had a schedule planned and everything for learning reading, writing, and speaking. I followed that diligently for… 3 months then I got lazy with everything but WK.

One thing I never got lazy about was WaniKani. Of the 1185 days since I started WK, I have studied 1185 days. By study I mean I have completed 97% of all of my days since starting by going to bed with 0 Kanji in my review pile. Every day, at least once a day, I have checked in and done at least one set of reviews.

So what is my advice for getting to Level 60? Don’t make Level 60 your target. But slerched, that’s stupid! You made it to 60! I will write this and may be torched by people, but if Level 60 in WK is your goal, you are learning wrong.

Your goal needs to be Japanese language related and your WK goal needs to support THAT goal; your goal isn’t to know 12000 vocabulary in a vacuum. You came to the Kanji party because learning Japanese is your goal.

So your WK goal should be, I will learn X amount of vocab a day/week/month/year to be able to read “name of a starter book you are interested in” by day X or something like that.

By saying don’t make Level 60 your goal, what I am saying is, you won’t know anything other than Kanji if your only goal in Japanese is WK Level 60. The end. That is all I mean by this.

What I think is my most valuable recommendation would be,(after telling you, don’t quit… in the immortal words of Bob Ross, you can do it, because you can do it) get to Level 15-20 in WaniKani in as short a time as you are comfortable. Once you have that, focus less on WK and instead focus on grammar, reading, and speaking. Do not learn grammar by itself without being able to put it to practice with reading and/or speaking either. You’ll have a big brain of knowledge you can’t use.

Learning Kanji on its own is useless for the short term, and going too far with WK and just knowing Kanji might deflate you because when you finally go to read, 3 months into knowing 500 Kanji w/ WK, you will look at a page, be able to read it aloud but have zero understanding of what it means. Probably. (Everyone is different, so I am generalizing, sorry).

What advice do I have for using WaniKani?

Figure out user scripts ASAP. You want to get something like the Double Check if nothing else, as making a mistake because you fat fingered the keyboard is frustrating, especially when you fat finger a Burn and it kicks you back months in the click of a keyboard even though you knew the kanji.

That said, use them responsibly. Yes, you can double check everything. You can 100% ever review. You can be done in record time doing so. But you won’t be retaining any of it. So use them sparingly, within reason, and be true and honest with yourself as to whether you should just let that vocab slip back to guru because you really didn’t know it like you thought you did.

My process for lessons – do 10-30 lessons, depending on Apprentice (if less than 100, do no more than to bring that number to 100) levels. Learn them now. In 2 hours, practice them. At hour 4, get in there and move that SRS meter. Make sure you hit it again 8 hours later. For me, the first and second days of SRS seemed to really determine if I would pass it to Guru on day 4 or it would slip back. If I didn’t get that 2 hour session in, I was guaranteed to miss at least a couple of the new words but if I got that session in, I was getting close to 100% to guru in 4 days.

My recommendation is to never have more than 100 Apprentice items. These are the painful ones. They haunt you because you miss one and you get to go through the process again, and again. For good reason. Because these are the ones you see frequently, getting that number to 200 can make for some grueling study session. Of course, if you want to do 200 or more, go ahead but just remember, anything you learn today will come back months later and will flood you with that many more reviews. I race horsed through the first bunch of levels, would learn 50 or more new vocab/Kanji a day and getting everything done in a day when the avalanche of burn ready words popped up, I was getting 300 or more reviews a day which is time consuming. If you want a life, limit yourself to a reasonable level.

DO NOT be afraid to slow down. You will see my worst level up was 84 days. Am I proud of it? YES! Why? Two reasons. I did it. And slowing down helped me learn things properly instead of pushing ahead in a fog.

OK slerched, then what tools do you recommend to enhance your Japanese goals?

Find a grammar learning process that works for you. I really like BunPro, but you need to supplement it with practicing reading and hopefully speaking using what you learn there. If you don’t, you will again just memorize rules and not actually learn how to use what you are learning. Big brain full of knowledge you can’t use.

I tried NativShark. I liked it because it got me reading daily. But what I don’t like about it is it’s boring and repetitive. Painfully so. I also had set a super unrealistic goal for myself on it. It’s also expensive long term and their lifetime subscription is painfully high cost and ridiculous. I don’t recommend them for more than a year and only then if you commit to hitting it every day.

Next up is Kanshudo. I find this to be the most useful comprehensive learning tool I’ve tried. It has flashcards, you learn grammar in context, it has quizzes/games where you have to finish sentences which helps build, for me at least, those pathways needed to put it all together. The biggest issue I have found with it is, it’s ugly. NativShark is the super model you love to look at; Kanshudo is the normal person you end up falling in love with for their wit, intelligence, and thoughtfulness. (I am not implying a model can’t fit all those things but most likely most people aren’t going to be marrying a super model). I hate the robotic reading you get with Kanshudo, but based on the price it’s probably not unexpected they aren’t paying pro voice actors for it, sadly. Hopefully one day they get the traction and funds to do it through.

Pimsleur, for speaking, has been a great SRS style speaking tool. It’s stupid expensive. I got work to pay for my lifetime Japanese 5 level course. I haven’t found any free tools that come close to this for SRS speaking repetition. Native speakers and shadowing makes it a pretty great tool. The biggest issue without, besides cost, is the relatively small amount you learn per lesson; the knowledge density per level is a bit lacking but if you can make it through 3 levels (30 lessons per level) it should get you fairly confident on pronunciation, etc. But it isn’t for everyone.

The last tool I will mention, that I believe is indispensable, is Satori Reader. The Nutshell Grammar lessons are amazing for you to read, understand, and work through. Worst case scenario, nab a year when it’s on sale and just go through Nutshell Grammar and it will be worth the price of admission. You can Satori Reader into your WK progress as well, so you won’t see furigana on the kanji Satori Reader sees you know from WK. The other stories included in Satori are also quite well done and well worth reading. Having the ability to click a line and hear it spoken, have it show you furigana, makes learning to read a little easier.

If you can find a class that follows GENKI or other reputable book series, try it. I have found even at my current level, starting a Japanese course at the beginning and working through the book properly helps further cement learning. It also makes it so I have to get out of my painful introvert rock shell and ****ing SPEAK TO PEOPLE (gasp!). If anyone is looking for an online option, I live in the US east coast and the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia offers a series of courses similar to college levels (101, 102…204…etc) and I recommend them if you have the means to do so. I am sure there are other similar online courses that you can find as well. Or use iTalki or one of those tools to find a tutor that will help you through and save a couple dollars (or yen, pesos, pound, etc your local currency is).

Other than those, Netflix. If you have a sub, set up a second profile, set the language to Japanese and watch everything you can in Japanese with Japanese subtitles. This will help you get up to reading speed. You can do the same with Disney+ and it’s great because every show they have is available in Japanese with subtitles (almost).

So where to now? Well I have Level 60 left to complete. I have 200 or so lessons to learn (then however many learning the Level 60 kanji nets me). I will still be checking into WK to finish these up.

I will focus on Satori Reader, Pimsleur, my current 104 level class, and watching things in Japanese with Japanese subtitles.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me over the years here. Thanks to everyone who disparaged me over the years as well; sometimes that negative feedback feeds you to do better to prove people wrong. :smiley: (Honestly though, no one hear ever disparaged me).

I don’t check the forums often because I sank so much time into it that I should have been using it to help myself, but sometimes helping others is the motivation you need to help yourself.

This is a great community and having this makes learning Japanese that much more fun.

As stated in my wall of text, Bob Ross said it best when he said “you can do it, because you can do it.” Don’t give up. If you hit a wall, visit this forum and you will find someone who has hit the same wall you have and likely find advice for ways to break the wall, climb the wall, or tunnel under it.

You can do it. Don’t give up.


Great job and congrats! :tada: