Spoiler: Photo below
I’m a novice student attacking level 11, at the moment, realizing that what was working for me in the first ten lessons … is somehow abruptly less effective. More kanji starts to mix into my words and old ones I should know sometimes appear like brand new kanji to me. I need to change up my strategy.
My favorite feature of WaniKani that got me through the first levels was the Recent Mistakes. I’d start there, knowing that these were my weaknesses, and then I’d try reviews before even thinking about Lessons. If I had less than 100 items in my apprentice, I allow myself to do up to six lessons a day maximum, unless I encounter words that I already knew or are redundant from the kanji reading. Even in doing this, I sometimes get stuck for an hour or two despite thinking I could do it in 15 minutes. So I realized that I need even more structure or I’m going to keep forgetting.
My solution to trying to scale up further is a manual air brake – I am stopping myself from touching the computer and touching paper in a more methodical way. Sure, everyone keeps notes! I had always kept notes all the way through, on random scrap paper or a notepad, but never as a formal exercise. I even bought a kanji repetition notebook but I found myself mixing up similar kanji anyway and that wasn’t working for me. I needed something more formal. So I have started something new.
THE BOOK OF SHAME
The book of shame is a nice-looking, bound small notebook that I look forward to filling with as much enthusiasm as I do completing my reviews and lessons. Every single day, seven words go into the book of shame. That means I am stopping my studies after seven mistakes. No longer percentages, sessions, etc. Seven mistakes and I’m out. And those seven mistakes go into the book. It doesn’t matter if I made the same mistake yesterday, it goes into the book. Repeat daily. When the book is filled, the study day is over unless I have nothing else pressing on my schedule.
When I come back to the computer, The Book of Shame is open to yesterday’s page waiting for me. I review my mistakes on my paper first by reading every single thing out loud to make sure I am attacking it to my fullest. I do the Extra Study Mistakes drill, and then my reviews begin. I look at my Apprentice count. Under 100, Lesson time. And on and on.
I love my Book of Shame™. When I manage to get through a day not filling a whole page, or only filling half, that’s very rewarding for me. I hope this exercise in madness helps someone or inspires a similar technique. When you defeat the last boss at Level 60, you can look back on your yearbooks.
Good luck with your studies!
*Bonus Exercise: Can you spot any glaring mistakes in my book of mistakes? Finding the errors/differences is the meta exercise between repeated words across pages!