Suggestions for limiting new lessons

It seems a number of people here have set up some sort of system for limiting how many new lessons they do, for the sake of reviews not piling up really quickly. I’ve heard of the approach of not doing any new lessons while you have X number of apprentice items (the number varies) or simply setting a fixed number of new lessons to do each day while there are lessons to do. Is one approach recommended over the other? Some combination of both, maybe? I’m curious to know what has worked well for others.

I’m trying to get into a good habit of just not binging lessons as soon as they appear, since that seemed to contribute to my review pile growing out of control and driving me to reset all the way back to level 1. Since I’m starting over, I figured now would be the best time to get into better study habits.

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I do two things:

  1. Limit lessons based on number of upcoming reviews in forecast for the next couple days (and try to factor in any non-WK plans I have, like if I know I have a vacation plan coming up and won’t keep up with reviews, I try to plan ahead).
  2. Since I’m REALLY bad at remembering new kanji, but actually pretty good with vocabulary, I also use the WaniKani Lesson Filter userscript to start learning some vocab unlocked ahead of the next kanji. I also use this just after a level up to do the newly unlocked kanji ahead of the vocab from the last level.

So I usually do, say, 5 new kanji, then 10 vocab one day, then depending on if I’m doing well or not on those and how big my backlog of reviews is (which I gauge by the upcoming forecast), I’ll either add more lessons the next day or skip a day and do more lessons the day after.

Definitely in this for the long haul and I already burnt out once and had to come back from a break to thousands of reviews, so trying to keep it slow and steady.

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Personally, I just did a fixed number of lessons per day, because the consistency made it easy to stick with. This ended up naturally keeping my apprentice items around a certain number anyway.

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For me, I Just do 7 lessons in the morning and 7 lessons in the afternoon/evening six days a week. On the seventh day, I just do reviews and no new lessons. I do reviews throughout the day. In general, I always have lessons when I want to do them, but I have run out maybe twice? This pace gives me a level up about every 13-15 days. This is a good pace for me so that I can balance my study time with reading and listening practice.
I’d suggest not going much faster than this unless you have hours and hours to study each day, otherwise, WaniKani will take over your study time and you won’t learn Japanese or reinforce what you’re learning on WaniKani. WaniKani has a level-up system that feels good, but don’t let your level-up trick you into thinking you’re learning Japanese. Learning kanji and vocab are an important step, but if you want to learn to read, listen to, or speak Japanese, you have to practice reading, listening to, and speaking Japanese.
I’ve gone fast once and reset to level 1 at around level 28. I went slow after that and went to about level 28 again when I realized WaniKani wouldn’t move fast enough for me to take the next JLPT level I wanted to take. I stopped WaniKani to cram the last kanji I needed for the test. I passed the test, but then got into a weird stage of life and dropped Japanese for about a year. After that, I restarted again, and now I am in “Hell” for the first time. I like this pace, and it’s the first time my studying has ever felt “balanced.”

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Your situation sounds fairly similar to mine - I reset to level 1 from level 27 after I had accumulated 2000 reviews and just couldn’t muster the motivation to try and catch up.

In my case I work a full time job and my interest in learning Japanese is (so far) limited to just reading, but I’ll still have to fit in grammar learning and reading practice, in addition to other things I have going on. Doing a fixed number of lessons each day sounds like it would help keep it from eating up too much of my time, and it would make it easier to tackle reviews as soon as they come since I hopefully wouldn’t be getting like one or two hundred of them dumped on me all at once. Maybe I can also try setting an apprentice item limit as a sort of backup in case I’m in a situation where I’m bungling a lot of newly learned items in reviews and should probably slow down. I don’t really “need” to learn Japanese for anything critical like a job or travel - so far it’s just been for hobby reasons, so there’s no rush.

@Burger I like consistency. Do you recommend any particular number of lessons per day?

I mostly used seanblue’s lesson filter. I think one of Kumi’s newer scripts might have something similar baked in, but lesson filter was the most straightforward one available when I was focused on WK. I used to use a separate order script while watching the counter in the corner, but occasionally I’d derp out and do the wrong number of batches for one reason or another. Lesson filter made it almost foolproof.

If you’re optimizing what kinds of things you’re doing then I think even max pace only requires like 22 or 23 items a day. For a long time I did 20 on an 8 day/level target and dropped to 15 a day / 10 day per level target which I found to be a decent balance of speed and comfort, but I could totally see the appeal in 10/day.

Edit: complete forgot what I meant to say in the beginning. I’d highly recommend adjusting the apprentice metric relative to your pace. I found it better to evaluate why the count was high. Sometimes there are bad weeks, sometimes there are deeper rooted problems that benefit from a hard stop on lessons for a while. I never bothered say, doing only 7 out 15 lessons because I was just at the line. It was easier to keep my schedule straight by straight skipping days or going slightly over.

The way I actually did it was 21 lessons per day (seven batches of three lessons each), but only for three days a week. I spent the other days of the week focused on grammar, reading, etc. instead of doing new lessons. I found it easier when I could have one main goal for each day.

This schedule usually kept my Apprentice items around 50, and maybe around 100 reviews per day at the worst of it. I typically leveled up every 15 days or so, so it’s not a super fast pace, but it worked well for me when balanced with other areas of study.

In case you’re curious, I wrote up a few more details when I hit level 60, over here.

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My method is, I always do lessons for radicals and kanji ASAP. Those are fundamental so I always want to be learning new radicals and kanji. After that, I try to always stay around 100 apprentice items without going over. At that point, once I start to level stuff up to guru from the previous level, I’ll take on more vocabulary reviews to bring myself back up to 100. I pretty much always am able to make it to a level-up day without ever going over 100 apprentice items with this method, and it keeps my brain from hurting too much in the process

Ah, I see.

I could possibly put a bit more time towards WK than you did since I’m not going for the whole speaking/listening/reading/writing package and my time wouldn’t be split between as many study tasks, but still, around 20 lessons every day sounds like a reasonable starting place and I can always adjust that later if it’s too much. If I were to mimic your approach, I’d also be fitting in watching Cure Dolly grammar videos, studying non-kanji containing vocabulary words using some other resource like an Anki deck or something, and reading practice for each week. I would need to try drumming up a plan for how much time in the evening I could sink into each of those things, but it sounds like it could be manageable enough.

Edit: Really, I need to set up a regular schedule for doing all of my Japanese study tasks and commit to it. I haven’t touched grammar studies or reading practice ever since I fell off the WK wagon, so might as well get into a habit for those things while I’m in the process of hard-resetting myself.

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I use the lesson filter script to do 3 kanji and 9 vocab lessons a day. After I level up, I do all of the radicals on the first day of the new level (if there are less than 10, I’ll do a few kanji as well), and after I run out of kanji at the end of a level, I’ll just do 10 vocab a day until I guru my last kanji and level up.

This results in a pace of leveling up every 12-14 days, with roughly 130 reviews a day (assuming you’re doing at least three WK sessions a day and hitting the 4 hour and 8 hour review intervals for the new items). I’m really happy with this pace, personally. It’s not too exhausting, and it still allows me to progress at a decent clip. I’ve been able to balance kanji, grammar, additional vocab studies, along with immersion, without having too much trouble fitting it all into my life.

I do have a fair amount of free time to put into Japanese, though not as much time as some people, and I personally would not recommend going above the 12-14 day level up speed unless you have more time than I do. I easily spend 1.5-2 hours minimum on Japanese every single day, not even counting immersion.

With the lesson filter (and probably other reorder scripts), you have the option to distribute the kanji lessons throughout the level, and I highly recommend trying this out. It helps with level-up consistency, and I’ve also found it a lot more effective than learning new kanji in huge bursts (my accuracy measurably improved after I started spreading the kanji lessons out), plus personally it’s more motivating to be able to learn kanji throughout the level and not have to spend a week at the beginning/end of the level chewing through a bunch of vocab lessons before you can get to the new level content. If you do try spreading out the kanji lessons, if you aim for a roughly 1:3 ratio of kanji to vocab, you should be fine.

Personally, I’ve had pretty good success tying my WK progress to my other study tasks by aiming for getting one Minna no Nihongo lesson done every WK level. That keeps me constantly pushing forward with the textbook, which is providing most of my grammar and additional vocab (I pre-learn the vocab for each lesson before starting to read it).

I’ve also had good success with the read every day challenge, which has pushed me to do a lot more reading. Just make sure that if you are going to be using Anki, don’t overwhelm yourself by adding too many cards. When I first started using it, I only used it for textbook vocab. I only started mining vocab from native media this year, after I’d been using Anki for months and it was pretty ingrained in my schedule.

Basically, I’d start with getting your WK schedule figured out, then work on integrating other study habits slowly. Especially if your plans involve using more SRS. I’d also recommend adding a consistent number of lessons each day instead of going by apprentice counts, because adding a consistent number will result in more consistent review counts, and that consistency will be your friend if you add in another SRS like Anki and have to juggle reviews for both.

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Yeah I had pondered playing around with the lesson filter script to see if I could get progression with a better rhythm than just doing all radicals → all kanji → all vocabulary for each level. I like the idea of getting all the radical lessons done and then once those have been guru’d, staggering the subsequent kanji and vocabulary. I can see that helping with reducing vocabulary lesson fatigue, since I remember I would get a lot of vocab lessons unlocked at once if I guru’d all the kanji at the same time, and it was a slog to get through before going on to new level content.

As for working through a textbook alongside WK, I’ve considered trying out the 80/20 Japanese book. I tried Genki I before, but I only made it a few lessons in before I decided I wanted something that lays down the fundamental structure of the language right at the start before introducing specific grammar concepts, which I didn’t really feel like I was getting with Genki. (Edit: there was also the issue of how Genki is designed for a classroom setting and I’m self-studying alone) I had initially found that in Cure Dolly, but I still haven’t quite settled on what I want to use outside of WK. I like the idea of having a single source that I can use for grammar and additional vocabulary instead of those things being split between 2 or more sources, since that might help simplify my study schedule. I could start out trying out a given WK schedule (like the one you mentioned) and get into the groove of that before integrating another study goal like getting through a lesson/chapter in a textbook within the span of each WK level.

Haven’t heard of the read every day challenge, could you direct me to more info on that?

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It’s a recurring challenge that people have organized on the forum. It’s held seasonally, four times a year, each challenge lasting two months with one off month. It’s a nice way to motivate yourself and also have a community to talk about your reading with.

The spring challenge just finished, though many people are still continuing it through June. Here is the thread to give you an example of what it’s typically like:

I’d also recommend joining the absolute beginner book club here if you want motivation and a schedule to help keep you on track.

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Thank you!

Ah yeah, I had tried doing a beginner book club session before, but I kinda silently dropped out early on since I just didn’t have the time to commit to reading at the time. :sweat_smile: Maybe I’ll try again once I get a study schedule going and have a better sense of how much time I can allocate for reading.

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If you think about it, the main goal of all these strategies is to provide a consistent and manageable daily workload over the long term, so they all kind of work hand-in-hand.

For me, the optimal daily workload was:

  • 1 hour per day total
  • split into 3 x 20 minute sessions: morning, noon, evening
  • 150-200 reviews per day

To achieve this, I did the following:

  • Limit Apprentice to 100 and Guru to around 500, I was less strict on Guru than Apprentice
  • Do 20 lessons per day max as long as the above was true. Around levels 45-50 I actually lowered that to 10-15 lessons.
  • Have fast review sessions: if I didn’t recall the answer to a review item within a few seconds, I entered something and just got it wrong. I was fine with items coming back around for review and I trained myself to get better at faster recall.
  • Spend some time on the review results page and go over missed items: this helped keep accuracy up with the fast review sessions.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

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@alo Do you happen to know if there’s a userscript that can halt doing new lessons if you have a certain amount of Apprentice items? The third-party mobile app I use for WK (Tsurukame) has an Apprentice limit feature but I can’t do lesson filtering with it.

I already do this. If I draw a blank, I just enter a single character like う since there’s no “I forgot” button. The ConfusionGuesser script gives some amusing guesses when I answer like this, lmao.

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I take the approach like WK is Anki in that if I do X number of lessons, expect Y number of reviews on average. I do 0 or 5 lessons if I am just not in the mood, 10 if I’m feeling ok, 15 if I am motivated.

How that plays out is I do 2 sessions a day usually and try to keep things around 75 in Apprentice. Reviews wise I never do more than 100 reviews in a single session (so far) and I don’t get burnt out.

I tried to speed run WK before and it broke me, so I reset and have been moderating my lessons this way for a couple months with no issues.

I only do lessons when my apprentice if below 90, sometimes I spend days without any lesson, only today after 5 days I did 10 because it dropped to 80 items,

around this lvl too much simialr kanji and also doing N2 on bunpro, my mind gets confused day by day :sweat_smile:

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I keep apprentice around 100, and as soon as guru gets over 500 I stop all lessons until I get apprentice + guru < 300. During the no lesson time, I usually add more new grammar on bunpro or focus on grammar or reading in some other way. The thinning period wasn’t really necessary before I started getting a ton of burns. I find when the lesson freeze is over and I start learning the first new batch kanji, everything sticks super well too.

Also, I got a puppy and had some family health issues a little over a month ago, so I just extended my last lesson freeze, but I still do all my reviews every day, usually in a couple shorter sessions during the day. Watching my guru pile shrink down to around 100, and having a couple days with apprentice = 0 has honestly been pretty fun, but I’m looking forward to getting back at it.

All that to say, I think the best thing you can do is monitor your apprentice and guru counts as you go, and no matter what do your reviews religiously… When you start to feel the workload get too much, make a note of your current counts, and stop lessons for a week or however long until you feel comfortable resuming… but ALWAYS stay the heck on top off your lessons.

Agreed with this. Though the nice thing about going by a consistent number of daily lessons is that you don’t have to worry about calculating apprentice/guru or anything. You can just show up, do your daily lessons, then do your reviews. For me, that takes a lot of pressure off. I’d rather just be consistently operating under my maximum workload limit without having to worry about it, rather than doing the start and stop thing, which I don’t think actually equates to faster progress anyway, and which results in a more uneven review schedule down the line.

Another thing to keep in mind is your overall accuracy. Your accuracy directly determines how many reviews you have to deal with, so if your accuracy starts dipping, you’ll see an increase in workload. Personally, it’s easier for me to learn 12 items in one day than it is for me to learn 20, so it’s more efficient for me to learn fewer things well than it is for me to learn a greater number of things poorly, which would just end up bouncing around in my reviews for a longer period of time, taking up time and not helping me progress.

It does depend on the person, though, so you can see how you feel about things as you go. Just, with WK, you have to keep in mind that decisions that you make today will come back to bite you six months later. You won’t experience your full workload until then, so be careful with taking on too much work in the early stages.

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I don’t really feel like having to constantly monitor my stats and frequently do fine adjustments to my lesson schedule, so I like a plan along the line of “simply do X number of each kind of lesson each day” if that works. It’s simple and easy to consistently follow, but I’m still willing to slow down or pause on lessons if I notice I’m really slipping on review accuracy.

I’m planning on going at a less-than-breakneck pace this time around. I might try the suggestion of taking care of radical lessons first at the start of each level, then after that, doing a mix of a small handful of kanji and vocabulary lessons each day until the level is finished and you get new radical lessons. Sounds like a nice approach for handling lessons that gives it a bit more variety, as opposed to before where I would follow the default lesson order of only radicals, only kanji, then lastly all the vocabulary.

I reset from level 27 so it’s not like I’m starting with zero knowledge of anything. So far a lot of things in the early levels are ones that I still confidently remember or can recall after some light memory jogging, but I’m trying to keep that from tempting me to plow through lessons since that’ll come back to haunt me later and I think that was part of what drove me to reset in the first place.

I just took care of the radical lessons for level 2 today, so tomorrow I’ll do a few of the kanji and vocabulary lessons I have available, probably no more than 15 lessons or so total. I’ll play it by ear as I go. Hopefully going slow and steady now will prepare me for when I get caught up to where I was and I’m actually learning all brand new material.

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