Sudden trouble seeing the curveballs

Hi. I’m hoping some of you have encountered this and can coach me through it. I’m on level 7 and am suddenly getting tripped up on things I had spotted easily to the point (e.g., rendaku, kunyomi instead off onyomi). I’m watching my accuracy numbers drop on wanikani statistics, and want to get back on track. For those who have experienced momentary slumps, do you have any suggestions on what I might do to stop this unwelcome streak of inaccuracy? Thanks in advance.

Learning a language isn’t about “statistics”; I know some people on here like to blitz through all the levels as fast as they can or try and engage in some light-hearted competition to see who can get to x level first. But if you keep messing up, just let the SRS do its thing.

If you’re having a hard time, try writing out the kanji or making a sentence with it. Putting it in some sort of context will help you remember it better!


I recommend the complete opposite of this. Try to ascertain exactly which items are tripping you up (try the marker script for this). Figure out exactly what it is that’s giving you trouble - is there a another similar item, do you keep forgetting the small tsu - and try to think of a way to deal with it (eg coming up with a new mnemonic) and study them outside the SRS.

It’s good that you’re spotting these now. If you let them build up they’ll really start to slow you down in later levels.

This is very good advice.


Yes, the only reason to go quickly is just for empty competition. Oh, there’s already people at level 60? I guess there’s no reason to continue.

Totally agree with this–I found there is often a reason why I confuse certain items. Sometimes it is my fault and sometimes it is a quirk with WK. For example take the kanji 存 which WK calls ‘suppose’. I always got the reading correct but not the meaning. It turns out there are no vocabs meaning ‘suppose’ but there are FOUR vocab words dealing with ‘existence’. So to me 存 now means ‘existence’ and I never have a problem anymore.

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Try using the HelloTalk app. Even if you are very new to Japanese you should be able to form basic sentences on what you like, do, eat etc. Using the words you trip up on (or seeing natives use it) can help you learn it better

I’d also suggest looking up each new vocabulary word in the dictionary too. Sometimes the meaning on Wanikani is a little different. Take 乗る for instance, it means to ride. But you don’t use this word to talk about riding a bike, but rather riding public transport. I’ve made a habit of double checking every word and adding synonyms for those that need it.

People learn at their own pace, sure. I tend to average 13-18 days per level or so. But I don’t get hung up on a level taking too long. I’ll pass it when I pass it. Others see their language learning in a more statistical way: if I do this, this, this, this, I can level up in 8 days. Some use scripts to cut through things they deem to be unnecessary to get to higher levels faster. Again, people learn differently. Maybe they already learned the first couple hundred Kanji elsewhere and don’t want to relearn everything, that’s fine by me. But what I was saying, is that if you start to see language as “how fast can I level up”, I don’t really think it’s a beneficial outlook to take.

I’m not sure what this means, but I feel like maybe you should be a bit careful about ascribing motivations to others.

My reasoning for sticking to as optimal a pace as I could manage was simply to be able to actually read Japanese as quickly as possible. I’m not sure why this would mean that I have a statistical approach to the language as a whole.

乗る is actually the correct verb to use for riding a bike. As in 自転車に乗る.



Where do you hear people saying that? No one advocates skipping content except for a couple random people who mostly aren’t active these days, and they weren’t advocating skipping stuff for the sake of leveling up quickly.

I don’t skip any content, and I have an overall accuracy of 98%.

But I’m not doing WK to have good stats, I’m trying to learn as much as I can so that I can use my knowledge.

Getting back to what you said about everyone’s pace, you seem to be okay with any pace as long as it’s not fast.

Maybe triple-check that one.

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I do two lists using Google Keep. I use one to copy everything I get wrong into to look at again later. Some of these are silly mistakes, some mistypes etc. When trends appear I make another list of common mistakes eg similar kanji I always mistake for each other, vocab I always get the reading/meaning wrong for etc. I tend to review these by looking at other words, looking at individual kanji meanings (the exist one above is a good example) and so on.

Yes the SRS will do its thing but I’d rather know the material sooner rather than later. That said, it’s not the end of the world to get something wrong.

EDIT: I’m a recently new fan of the Leech list here also. A good way to see what I get wrong the most and to put a bit more effort in

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It seems to me that the most common answer to the question “to rendadu or not to rendaku?” is “I just go with what rolls of the tongue the best” and it’s sort of the right answer but it doesn’t help much. It could be the case that until now your vocabulary has contained few enough words that you could handle them individually. But as the vocabulary increases it gets harder and harder and maybe the brain tries to see patterns that aren’t really there and such. So simply powering through with the hope of soon being able to see through the matrix is, in my opinion, a viable strategy.

… That being said, making a list of all the troublemakers is a great idea. See them all together. Figure out why you get precisely those wrong (there is probably no reason, but it might still solidify the memory).

There’s some merit to the competitiveness of it all, I think. I don’t wanna spend the weekend playing The Witcher 3 anymore… I got this new much more awesome game (in other words wanikani) I wanna play instead. So naturally, I want to try beat my personal best level-up time… But of course, it should only be a source of motivation and not the main reason.

When I first joined WaniKani in September 2016, the term “gamification” was used frequently to explain why WaniKani worked. Gamification can be good and can be bad.

For me gamification was the challenge to level up. With this game, there are also statistics. In the API and Third Party Apps board, there are tools for viewing statistics about WaniKani progress. The WaniKani dashboard itself keeps a list of how many items are in each queue. There is even a thread somewhere inviting people to post images of that queue.

The practice of wanting to level up quickly is a motivator. However, if I make the mistake of comparing my performance against someone else’s it can be quickly demotivating.

I like looking at my own stats so that I can assess my own performance. I compare today with seven days ago. I compete with myself.

@GregoryKirk: use the this userscript to help you identify whether kunyomi or onyomi is required. After a while, you won’t even need that prompt.

Use the aforementioned Leech Detector script to work out which items are really giving you frustration.

Use the wanikani to Anki Exporter’s critical items option to drill your least accurate items in Anki.

Here is a shorter list of leech items.

If 人(にん and じん) are giving you problems, go to this thread.


I agree that the gamification aspect is a big boost to motivation for me as well! :slight_smile:

I was mostly reacting to what to me seemed like the notion that studying hard and/or efficiently and advancing quickly was somehow indicative of not actually studying for the sake of actually learning Japanese.

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Dang, my Japanese teacher said you could also use the basic する as well! Thanks for the help!

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It’s possible that at this point the number of reviews is starting to come back to you and your workload is increasing.

I’d recommend doing less lessons per sitting, and also spending more time on your lesson before doing the end-of-lesson quiz.

Finally, if you say the reading before the meaning every time either question comes up, you will increase the links in your brain and your retention.


Your Japanese teacher told you you could use する with 自転車?

I feel like that makes sense… “I’m biking!” Instead of “I’m riding my bike!”. (My English brain sees it that way…) EDIT: I’d love to see a second person say this is okay, though.