So... I reached level 60

So,

The very same day I received the confirmation I (barely) passed JLPT N3, I reached lvl 60.

Now I have guru’ed the last kanjis and started the last vocab, so I guess my journey comes to an end…

It has been around two years since I started Wanikani. As I never really introduced myself on the forum I will do it here in this post.

Before going on, I want to say that I was pretty excited writing this post and it is veeeery long, but anyway, so here we go:

**About myself and language learning**

I am a middle-aged French guy living in Spain, for now more than 15 years. One of the most motivating things in life is learning something new. And, as I have interests in languages, I was natural at some point to try to learn new ones.

My native language is French, and I started to learn English at school at the age of 11 and Spanish at the age of 13. A few years after meeting my Spanish wife, we decided to move to Spain.

Even if we live close to Madrid, my wife is from Valencia area, and I learned Valencian (a version of Catalan) by pure immersion (never studied it). I don’t really speak it, mainly because I don’t need to, but I understand it without any problem.

Spanish people are obsessed with learning English. Kids at schools, private academies, private teachers, you name it. Maybe because of that, for many years I told to myself that I couldn’t learn any other language, because my English is far from perfect, and that I should improve my English first.

But also, I noted that, even if I can say whatever I want the way that I want in Spanish, the moment I open my mouth people know that I am not native, so there is a sort of limit (I guess different for every person) that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to go over.

When I translated that to English, my take was that to improve my English I needed: a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort. And that I wasn’t willing to do it.

So back in 2009 where I took the decision to learn a new language, just for the sake of it. I “almost” chose Japanese at that time, but I found it too “popular”, I said to myself: “Too many people are learning Japanese, and most of them because they are weebs and watch anime and read manga all the time, I don’t want to be associated with them”, so I chose another language, more confidential at that time, Korean.

I chose Korean because it was strange and confidential (or I thought), I never had special interest in Korea or so, but it was fun. It lasted around one year, until I started a new job in a Chinese company. At that time, probably half of the people in the Spain office were Chinese, I heard people speaking Chinese every day, I saw Chinese written everywhere, so I gave up Korean and started Chinese instead.

It was very interesting, I learned for around 2 years, passed exams for the A1 level (yeah!), knew a few hundred characters. But I saw that I would never be able to speak Chinese or understand it to a high level. Pronunciation is way too difficult. Also, my workload was too high at work so ultimately, I gave up.

For a few years I didn’t learn any language, until 2019, which brings us to the next section:

**Trip to Japan and first attempt learning Japanese:**

After not choosing Japanese in 2009 I never thought I would learn Japanese. Also, I never thought I would go to Japan, but… In 2019, after seeing an article about the Kumano Kodo, my wife and I got excited about the idea of doing it, and we planned a trip to Japan for summer 2019, 5 days on Kumano Kodo + another 10 days going around (“typical” plan: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Takayama).

I booked the flight before planning the details, so I booked for mid-end of August, only after that I checked the weather for that period of year :blush: Luckily, it is not a bad time, referring to summer.

The second thing I became aware of is that Japanese people don’t speak English, or very little. While in Tokyo it should not be a problem, communicating in English in the Kii peninsula seemed more complicated.

So, I decided to start, maybe 1 or 2 months to study Japanese. I knew from the past language learning about JapanesePod101, and I enjoyed their method for Korean and Chinese, and being Japanese the original one, I decided to use it and I subscribed.

I like it because the lessons are short, easy to listen to and understand, and little by little you make progress. More on that in the next section.

Of course, with 2 months of Japanese I only knew very few words and basic sentence patterns, but still, better than nothing.

About the trip itself, it was the best trip I have made in my life. I really enjoyed the routine of the Kumano Kodo, walking one day, arriving at a ryokan or minshuku, then walking again the next day, visiting shrines, arriving at another place, and so on. For those who have made the “Camino de Santiago” (Way of St James?), it gives a similar sensation, but transposed to Japan/Shintoism. By the way the two routes are kind of associated and you can become a dual pilgrim if you complete both. I haven’t finished (yet!) the Camino de Santiago but my wife did, and she is a dual pilgrim :blush:. The rest of the trip was also great, including climbing Mount Fuji. Maybe the part that was less interesting was Tokyo, not sure if it is common among travelers to Japan, but for me it was the less interesting, also the only time I felt I was out of place was in Akihabara.

Did I speak Japanese? Well… with 3 words you can cover a lot of the daily interactions with Japanese people (konnichiwa, sumimasen, arigatougozaimasu)!

Honestly it was the best trip of my life, and I am glad that we did it in 2019.

**Properly starting learning Japanese:**

After that I didn’t go on with the Japanese learning. But… 2020 happened, and for some reason I happened to be stuck alone during the pandemic, my wife, before the lock down, went to her parent’s home with the kids and after that I was unable to go there for the next 4 months.

So, I started to spend more time watching movies and so on, and I started to watch more anime, as some details remembered me Japan, for instance the sound of the semi.

I also noted that I was still understanding some words and short sentences.

This is when I said to myself: understanding Japanese is possible!

This is very motivational and helps you with your goal (seeing them possible). For instance, with the Chinese, this same goal seemed impossible.

As I still had my subscription for JapanesePod101, I retook the lessons there, with more consistency.

I don’t see a lot of people talking about JapanesePod101 here, I guess because it is an “old” platform, and they have an annoying aggressive marketing. But the method itself is very nice. You have paths per level of around 100 lessons. Each lesson is composed of a Japanese dialogue, and then the two podcast hosts (one Japanese and one whose mother tongue is English, but speaks Japanese) discussed about the dialogue, have a small chat (in English for the lowest level), discuss the vocabulary and focus on one or two grammar points. One lesson is around 10-15 minutes. And by doing one or two a day you can make fast progress. It also has lessons notes in PDF and a simple SRS for vocabulary.

This method can bring you with not so much effort at a – not quite but close – N4 level, just by completing the absolute beginner and beginner courses. Up to this level it is good, for higher level, I thought I wasn’t learning enough, so I needed to add more material for my learning.

So, I started to look for look for other resources, and this is when I discovered Wanikani and its wonderful community. Thanks to the forum I found extra ressources and a lot of advice, like Bunpro, that I use also on a daily basis, podcasts, youtube channel, etc. recommendation for 1 to 1 lessons, mangas for beginner, book clubs, etc. It helped me a lot with my studies and my motivation, so I want to thank everybody for this wonderful community.

Also, the community gave me the motivation to pass JLPT, and during those 2 years I passed N5, N4 and (barely) N3. Also, I read 18 mangas during that time.

**Wanikani experience and stats:**

WK is a great tool for learning Kanji, the mnemonics, the SRS, the level and “gaming” structure, etc. It was a great experience. Of course not everything is perfect, but overall it is really worth it.

The community is the best, a lot of useful information, always nice, always gives motivation, the book clubs are great when you start reading, it makes it easier. I have always used them afterwards (long after they were created), but they are still very useful.

However, I never quite understood that POLL thing. The first time I clicked on a POLL thread I only saw steaks, bacon and coelacanth and I said to myself WTF! Sorry guys.

Stats and tools:
wkstats accuracy

As you can see, my journey was made in different steps:

From lvl1 to lvl19: full speed, I already new some kanji and some vocab and was eager to learn as much as possible. I gave priority to radicals and kanjis for new lessons to go as fast as possible

From lvl19 to 30: almost full speed, I stopped reordering, because I had too many lessons and couldn’t keep up with all the vocab, so I reduced a little bit the speed

From lvl31 to 60: well, I hit a wall at lvl31, I was swamped in reviews and couldn’t remember anything anymore, I had around 700 Gurus at that time and they kept coming and I kept failing them. So I decided to wait until the Gurus go down to 500 and then I limited myself to 75 apprentice at a time. Result of this is 12-15 day per level, but it suited me better that way.

Also, I felt that sometimes the new kanji and new vocab is less important in the higher level and I was filling my brain with “not so important” “too advanced” Japanese. I really felt that for lvl 34 and lvl 57, I was in those levels just before my N4 and N3 tests, and I just felt “I don’t need this for the tests, my should I fill my brain with that now?”, so those levels are the longest I have.

Other stat:

I find this stat interesting because it shows you accuracy by SRS stage. First you can see that the accuracy is not calculated the same way as WKstats, and that this one is lower. Second, I wanted to confirm one feeling that I had: my accuracy is decreasing with higher SRS stages and my “burning rate” is only around 62% for Kanji and 67% for vocab.

Tools:

The only tool I used and without which I wouldn’t have made it is… Flaming Durtles, the absolute best tool for WK. I made maybe 99% of my reviews on mobile, and WK website is not very mobile-friendly. It is also difficult to install script for mobile. Flaming Durtles has it all: very mobile friendly, a lot of built-in scripts, offline reviews,…

I used the reordering tool and Undo button of FD. The undo because of the many typo you can do by writing with a phone.

**Cake:**

To celebrate it, I made some Dorayakis. I made my own anko with akuza beans. I was able to make a few photos and save one for myself before the kids ate them all.

**My goals from now on:**

To be honest I have gone far beyond my initial goal, but the road to master Japanese is still very long, so here goes a list of future goals:

  • Read my first novel
  • Read my second novel
  • Continue reading in general
  • Try to use jpdb.io as SRS tool (I tried anki before and… I couldn’t do it)
  • Improve listening, by watching more shows and anime
  • Continue grammar with Bunpro (see if I can go through N2 grammar)
  • Continue with weekly lessons with my teacher
  • Go back to Japan and do the Shikoku henro

If you have read up to this point, thank you for reading.

76 Likes

Congratulations on reaching level 60 (and N3)! I really enjoyed reading your story. I always find it especially interesting to hear from people who didn’t (at least initially) start learning Japanese for the anime and manga side of things. Good luck with your future goals!

3 Likes

Congrats on reaching level 60! :cake:

1 Like

Weeb. :eyes:

10 Likes

Congrats on reaching level 60! :partying_face:
Your story was amazing to read, didn’t even stop once.
Good luck on your future journey!

3 Likes

Congrats! You’ve persevered and you made it! :heart_on_fire:

1 Like

Félicitations!

2 Likes

おめでとうございます🎉

Great read! You are a legit polyglot

Also, happy cake day :cake:

2 Likes

Hahaha!:smile:
Actually I bought my first mangas while learning japanese, and now I have around 20, so… I guess I am one now?:thinking:

5 Likes

Thanks!

Actually what a coincidence! I prepared the post a few days ago, but this morning I started the final vocab lessons, that’s why I only published it today.

And it is exactly 2 years after I started WK!

3 Likes

“Too many people are learning Japanese, and most of them because they are weebs and watch anime and read manga all the time, I don’t want to be associated with them”

I almost stopped reading there :rage:… but I didn’t and I am glad I didn’t :smiley:. Very nice story and a truly amaznig achievement! Inspiring, to say the least!

Cheers to you! :tada: Respect to you! :bowing_woman:

PS: I am not a “weeb”, as I have and will always refuse lables, any of them. I am just someone who has sacrificed much, much time and effort to get closer to enojying manga and anime fully and will ocntinue to do so for many years to come. That is all :wink:

2 Likes

That dorayaki looks delicious! :yum: Big congratulations on making it to lv 60! :piñata: :tada: :champagne:

I’m gonna counter with posting a French cake! ^>^

2 Likes

Chgandさん、共有してありがとう御座います。
Congratulations on finishing level 60. Reading about what you’ve shared made me confident that it is possible to complete all 60 levels in 2 years. Our purpose for learning a different language (other than English) might differ. Still, the way to process and progress is very similar. Having a common ground in communication with a learned language is essential. I’m very selective and careful about filtering what to read and/or watch in Japanese manga, anime, movies, and TV dramas. There is way too much junk to waste away one’s precious time.

However, as you’ve mentioned, the WaniKani community is excellent for finding helpful information. If you’re interested in reading in Japanese, I’d recommend becoming a member of the Satori Reader (Satori Reader | Series). This is one website where one can learn a lot about common/proper Japanese and save time. Obviously, I’ve also known about Satori Reader from the Wanikani community. Furthermore, I’ve learned about online zoom lessons from iTalki to actually speaking with a native Japanese speaker. JapanesePod101 is suitable for self-study, but the lack of face-to-face makes it less practical. Lastly, thank you for sharing your Kumano Kodo experience. Hopefully, someday I’ll make that journey before my bones are too brittle. Best wishes. =)

4 Likes

12 Likes

Nice. I did a two-day mini-Kumano visit in 2017 - spent two nights in Yunomine Onsen, on the full day in between I caught the bus to Humano Hongu Taisha and walked back to Yunonime (then spent the afternoon trying out all the onsen, including the Tsuboyu), then after checking out of the minshuku I caught the bus to Nachi and walked up the Daimonzaka to the waterfall. Wouldn’t mind going back someday to walk the entire thing.

どうも, どうぞ and すみまぜん. You can use them in the same sorts of situations, but they’re much more versatile. :slightly_smiling_face:

That one’s also on the list of things I’d like to do. Someday…

5 Likes

Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend anyone with that comment.:slightly_smiling_face: My point is that I didn’t start to learn Japanese at that time for some silly reasons.

2 Likes

This is the best thing I have read all day :joy: :joy:

6 Likes

If people want to learn Japanese to watch anime, that’s still not a silly reason…

But anyway, congratulations. I enjoyed reading about your journey (except for the weeb part).

3 Likes

I think they meant that their reasons for not learning Japanese were silly, that is, because they didn’t want to be associated with the stereotypical Japan fan.

3 Likes

I have the same reaction every time I press on a POLL thread

3 Likes