SRS learning for how long?

Hello everyone, (almost) halfway WK crisis over here, thought you might give me some perspective.

After almost a year of learning japanese (It’s been that long to my surprise) I’ve gotten to a point where my setup for learning it’s (as perceived by me) pretty solid, as I can see improvement been made, and a clear path for keep improving by doing the same more or less.

Problem is that after some time I’m actually able to enjoy japanese content (finally!!) specially while reading, both graded readers intended for learners, and now recently graded series for kids going thought the 1st until 6th grade. This little achievement has made me question my routine, basically in terms of how sustainable is in the long run. I mean, I spend hours (at least 2-3) daily doing WK, Vocab reviews and sentence mining. And it’s a routine that while it’s enjoyable in the sense of achievement of having this many kanji under my belt and thousands of known words that I’m able to identify, it’s not something I aspired to be doing.

Now while reading, the sense of achievement and the actual fun of the activity it’s much more, but I’m getting into the situation when finishing the whole SRS routine leaves not so much time for calmly reading.
For now I’ve decided to stop any new lesson in any SRS system and deal only with reviews for a while. This has given me the extra time to read and enjoy a book like I would do in my native language, not so much in the context of “I’m learning japanese”, but in the mindset of reading a book with a coffee and just been a pleasurable activity.

This whole mindset switch has made me question how long does people rely on SRS based systems for learning. When learning japanese becomes more about doing things in japanese and not so much on learning about it?.

What do you think? Specially people that are done with yojo kanji (which I understand given the frequent use is an entering ticket to lots of native aimed content).
How long are your planning to keep SRS apps and sites been part of your japanese routine?

I’m by now means quitting WK; there’s much to be done with a learning routine so far, but given I unconsciously ended up doing a level every 7-8 days, and also striving to the more effective path in the rest of my studies, well, I think I bumped into the “somewhat burnt zone”. For now I think slowing down (or actually just balancing activities to the more pleasurable side of the spectrum) will be enough, but given there’s a cool SRS way to get japanese into your head for almost any aspect of the language, I think It’s good to mention that they serve a purpose and most likely have a limited use…


The answer is forever. You just adjust the pace to whatever you’re comfortable with. I do a lot less than I used to, but I still do something every day, even if it is just reviews and no new content.

In addition, the more words you learn, the less likely new words are to just come up out of the blue. For example, I learned 下水道 recently. Perhaps a common word if you are living in Japan, but for someone who isn’t, I don’t exactly have the opportunity to come across, or even use it.


You should begin reading native content at around the early level 20s and gradually increase the amount of reading vs SRS over time. I think the point when you can sort of almost abandon new SRS learning is around 9000 words. Then just read a variety of topics and pick up kanji and words as you read more.

You’re probably entering a somewhat frustrating time in your Japanese. It’s from like 5000 to 8500 wordsish where you know enough to experience native content, but you still need to study some N2 grammar and kanji still. I wouldn’t give up WaniKani or similar routines however, as doing so will just cause pain in the long run.


Studying is how you learn. Doing things is the reward.

Think about driving or something. You might drive all day every day and still be a crappy driver. It’s only when you take time out of your day to actually study it and make improvements that you actually get better. Doing stuff just makes whatever skill level you’re doing it at automatic.

Anyway, you do srs stuff until the end of time or until you decide that you’re fine with your current skill level.


Kind of would just like to say that I disagree with this. You can read native content whenever you want but you have to remember that it’s just not as efficient as studying and it’s very time consuming. I read my first novel when I was a level 40. The only native things I’d read at that point was two volumes of manga. I then waited a year and did zero reading, just WK and text books, and then read a second novel perfectly without much difficulty.

I had a period maybe half a year after that where I read like five novels in a month and abandoned all SRS work and textbooks in the mean time. Although my reading speed greatly improved, that was all that I felt changed. I actually felt like my Japanese had gotten worse.

Native material can draw from a huge pool of words, and unless you’re reading a single author or genre, none of it transfers over that well.

Anyway, that’s just my personal experience.


If this was true, I would not have understood your sentence. Reading not only teach you advanced grammar points you would have never bothered learning but also help you get implicite nuances. At least that’s how I learned english. I didn’t even learn present perfect, I just picked it up.


I don’t see how reverse-engineering an advanced grammar point from a text would be quicker than just picking it up by reading it in a textbook. I know I’ll always have a hipster opinion on this though.


I disagree. Reading can be as efficient as SRS, but you have to be reading a sufficient amount. If you are reading a ton of different things spaced out apart from one another, then you are probably going to have trouble retaining the information. You need to read, just read stuff that is similar to one another and you’ll get the vocab naturally.

Also reading can do things that SRS simply cannot. Faster recall of words, usages of words, and connotation are very much helped with reading and experience raw Japanese.

No, you still need to study grammar outside of reading. Yeah reading gives you a better understanding, but actually acquiring it in the first place requires outside studying. Like, you knew enough about the present perfect to know the name, is that not correct?

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I agree but knowing a grammar point is not the point, using it efficiently is. When you learn from a textbook, it’s quicker but you then have to practice and in the meantime you will have to actively think about the grammar of your sentence which is very strenuous. With a passive approach, you’re kind of doing two in one. You realize you know the rule when you realize you are already using it

Nope learned that in class later. I know this can be counter intuitive but I swear it works. It’s the duolingo&co approach by the way so Im’ not the only one saying it works (even though I don’t like duolingo).

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Alternatively, you constantly use and understand it wrong but have no way of knowing that you’ve actually been fucking the entire thing up.


Just like any other tool, SRS is but one way to support your studies. Perhaps it was how you phrased your initial post, but no matter how you look at it, you constantly learning in life. From the way it sounds, you don’t want to spend some much time in explicit study mode. Instead you’d like to learn more implicitly. In your case you don’t spend a lot of time learning from SRS, instead you’re opting for a more implicit form of study. Think this is a point that many who get increasingly literate deal with when going through WK; they would prefer reading and enjoying act of reading and picking up new stuff (kanji, vocabulary, etc.) along the way rather than be chained to the SRS.

I feel that as I spent more time reading, my time (and speed) on WK has decreased.


I’m sure this varies from person to person, but it’s nearly impossible for me to learn something effectively “in the wild”. Unless I’ve been exposed to it over and over for years, the only way I’m really holding onto kanji and vocabulary right now is via SRS like Wanikani.

I’m definitely with Raionus on the “reading is the reward, not the learning” idea, at least for non-native speakers like us who are still in the early stages of language acquisition. I read manga almost exclusively in Japanese now, and WK has made that possible, but the reading itself is not teaching me much in and of itself.

When I encounter a word I haven’t seen in WK, I will look it up… and then promptly forget it, because I’m only looking it up to get through a speech bubble and move on, I’m not actually doing anything to reinforce it. Sure, if it comes up over and over and over it’ll eventually get into my head through brute force, but that’s rare. And it’s just about as common that I’ll end up reinforcing a mistake as learning something new.

On the other hand, if I learn a word through WK, I often find myself recognizing it in the next thing I read almost immediately. And that’s a fantastic way to reinforce the the learning.

So I wouldn’t let up on SRS at all, even if it does indeed take time away from reading. A lot of my potential manga reading time ends up becoming WK time, and sure that feeling sucks sometimes. But when I do read and see how much more smoothly it’s going compared to even the month before, I know it’s worth it.

The speed at which WK is improving my reading is vastly higher than the speed at which the reading itself is improving it, so I’m just sticking with WK all the way through to the end before I adjust the balance at all. I feel pretty strongly like the early stages of learning Japanese are more “quantity over quality” because the more kanji and vocab I know the better my baseline is to reinforce it via reading later.


Haven’t finished the Yojo kanji yet but thought I’d still reply.

I am planning on SRSing sort of forever, or at least until I feel like it isn’t necessary any more (probably wont happen in a looooong time).
However, the amount of new items will definitely decrease as time passes. After finishing WaniKani, the rest of the Joyo kanji and “A Dictionary Of Basic Japanese Grammar” I think I’ll be more or less done with out of context learning and switch to only SRSing +1 sentences from native material. I always think of how my 1h Anki session a day will further increase the pleasure of consuming native material.

I don’t intend to use SRS to learn Japanese after I’m done with WK. Over the past 6 months, I have read a lot of native material and learned tons of kanji and vocab that I still haven’t come across here. Usually, a batch of 5 kanji lessons includes 1 or 2 kanji I’m familiar with from reading, and there’s a lot of vocab I’ve already encountered in lessons as well. That in itself is enough evidence for me to trust the power of learning through reading.

Exactly, I never explicitly studied English grammar. My whole English knowledge comes from reading as well (I’m not a native speaker, of course). But I also do believe that Japanese grammar requires some degree of dedicated study due to just how different it is from western languages. At some point, though, you can just look it up as you encounter it in the wild, just like vocab.

I guess I could do reading + SRSing stuff I find while reading, but considering how much I read nowadays that would only result in a review workload I’m not interested in dealing with. Looking it up a few times usually does the trick anyway.

TL;DR: I don’t think SRS is necessary on the long run. I just think it’s an easier way to get started.


Thanks for the multiple comments. I’ll continue with the SRS routine as I’m sure it’s helping me a lot , so I won’t neglect my reviews.

After saying this I must say that not having new workload after a couple of days really changes everything. These last days have been a total pleasure in terms of free time.

Probably for now I will enjoy the reward of actually understanding the still too basic, but yet enjoyable stories I can read for now.

Kanji wise I’m pretty covered for the 3rd-4th graded stories in the series, this is a great motivator to keep learning kanji, as I know more material will be accessible as I progress. So, I’ll do so check up on grammar as well, as I’m sure it’s the thing that will trip me the most. Eventually I’ll slowly resume the new kanji / vocab routine in the end, but will give it a bit thought in terms of the actual load to do dailly (I was doing 55 new lessons a day :crazy_face: )

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