Taking way too long to get through lessons

As I break into harder content with less and less words being inherently familiar, I’m really not sure how I should be approaching the speed of my lessons. With earlier levels, it felt like everything came at a speed that was just, well, manageable. But as time goes on, I find that even when I break through a level, there’s suddenly 100+ lessons and I have to take a few weeks just to get to a point where I’m actually hitting the content of the current level. A lot of that has to do with how I approach both my lessons and reviews. I usually do all of the reviews that have piled up over the day relatively soon after I wake up (Sometimes I have to skip a day, but I never wait more than 2) and then I do 5 lessons after I’m done with that. 5 brand new terms while trying to keep all of the previous stuff I’ve learned in my head just seems appropriate. It always felt like if I were to force more, it would just be a net loss for my development. However, I’m starting to wonder if that conservative attitude isn’t just being too afraid to take a plunge. I keep seeing more and more posts on 0/0 upkeep and how so many people are just hammering things out as soon as they get them. I realize that approach isn’t for everyone, but I’m wondering if it’s a better idea to just accept the fact that I’m not going to reliably know everything, but consume it all as soon as I can and let the SRS do its job, or if 5 lessons a day and taking a month or a month and a half to get through every level is just more practical. Basically I just want to hear other people’s experiences, preferably on both ends of the spectrum and see if I can maybe gain some insight as to how I can proceed more efficiently.

Sorry for the essay.

TL;DR Should I burn through every lesson available even if I know I’m not going to be able to retain them immediately or should I focus on trying for consistent retention at the cost of speed?


No, don’t do them all at once.
Most of us do a predetermined batch every day.
I mostly did between 21 and 34 during this year, but the basic recommandation is 15-20.


I try to have less than 100 apprentice before I take on more lessons. So I just have to accept that my ancient brain gets too much wrong to do a level quickly. So I think if you’re keeping your apprentice low enough to cope, then it’s ok to do more lessons. But if you do too many lessons without being able to get them out of apprentice… chaos and burnout might ensue :slight_smile: I just have to accept my levels take 12-15 days at the moment and that’s that I suppose!


Since level 4 I’ve been doing less lessons per day, but spending more time with each item:
I started scribbling the lessons on paper and reading/writing examples. My processing unit has been accepting new content more easily this way.

Shame on that awful calligraphy lol


how many lessons you do every day determines what speed you move through WK. there are people who can handle 20 and more lessons a day, and there’s people for whom 5 is pushing it.

only you can know how many is right for you.

if you think 5 a day is too slow for you, then try increasing the number. otherwise, that’s fine too. with 5 lessons a day finishing WK will take you about 4.5 years.


Ok, but your handwriting in Japanese looks better than my handwriting in English. LMAO


Jisho.org would be proud :smiley:
Really neat handwriting!


I use the reorder script to interleave vocabulary with kanji specifically so that I’m not left with a massive pile of vocabulary at the end of the last, beginning of the new level. This is opposite of what the reorder script gets most publicity for. And I’ll go long stretches without doing lessons, while maintaining my daily review streak. I’m slow that way.


In my experience so far, I’ve been surprised to find common words like だいじょうぶ (大丈夫, 18) continue to appear even as levels increase. That will vary based on your Japanese exposure outside WaniKani, but it’s worth noting that the order we learn radicals and complex kanji isn’t a direct reflection of what is basic or advanced in Japanese conversation, especially if those words are usually written in kana.

Admittedly, I’m accepting that I will continue at a slow pace, but what I found helpful is increasing the number of lesson item for each session (in the setting) to at least 7, and starting a lesson before I do reviews since my mind is more fresh. I also like to do 50 reviews at a time, and then I can fit more lessons between them.

The new lessons that you unlock can definitely be overwhelming (especially vocab), but if you can push through that, it’s really satisfying when you learn a word you encountered before/notice soon after, and there’s a lot of benefits to seeing ways the kanji is used and pronounced to reinforce it in your memory

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I can tell you from experience, that if you “burn through” you will burnout. At some point WK will feel like a chore to you and you might start having doubts if you’re really cut out for this whole 2000 Kanji thing.

My advice, keep it at your pace, do it at your own comfort, reward yourself after each level up, DON’T compare yourself to others who are speeding through! Remember, this whole journey is a marathon. It’s gonna be a long run so keep it steady.
There’s this basic rule of thumb of doing 15 lessons a day, but really its individual!

What I would recommend though, is doing the reviews everyday. You have to stay close to the fire, and you gotta form the habit. If you can cram extra lessons per day, great. Otherwise, don’t force yourself, else your efficiency and motivation will take a hit in the long run.


Hey, that’s amazing! You might enjoy getting a couple brush pens (they’re <$10 USD) and some good paper like Rhodia No.18

Keep up the great work! You’ll be there in no time with this attitude!!!

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You’re plateauing. It’s natural. Happens to all of us. Don’t go faster, because that will just make your issue worse. What’s happening is your brain can only take so many things at once. If you try to cram in more than it can take, then you’re just going to forget most of it and become even more frustrated. I refer to it as my saturation point - where I’ve crammed the most things I can into my brain and adding anything more will just cause things to spill out.

Where that point is depends on a lot of things - how fast you’re going, how often you’re reviewing, how much sleep you’ve had, etc. I have days like today where I can do 20 lessons easy and I have other days where I do 0. It all depends on the day. You’ll know you’ve reached the point when you are struggling on your lessons and your enthusiasm for more starts going away.

As long as you feel this way, stop new lessons. Just do your reviews and consider upping your review frequency to 2-3x a day if you’re below that. Give your brain time to have things sink in and review the material you already learned. You’ll know when you’re ready for more lessons, because you’ll have a much stronger desire for them. You’ll get past it. Give yourself the time you need to get there.


Some levels or blocks of levels will be harder than others. Just the nature of how it goes. Don’t get too discouraged with it - at some point you’ll come across content that feels more intuitive again.

So always just once a day? Any chance you could do twice a day - once in the morning, once in the evening?

I’d start incrementally increasing how many lessons you take. I bet you can easily do more than 5. Try 10 a day for a week or so. Then try 15 or 20.

I’d say usually most people have a target number for # of Apprentice cards, since that largely dictates workload. IMO 100 is a good target. 100-150 totally doable.

If you’re not taking many lesson cards but still have a high Apprentice count that would point to leeches or not having content stick and needing to maybe rethink some memory retention.


I usually do 5 lessons a day except for Saturday and Sunday. I do reviews as often as I can with my busy schedule (usually around four times per day) and still only manage to get between 65%-80% correct on average.

I work full time, take Japanese class at night, read a NHK article everyday, BUNPRO reviews every day, workout, spend time with my wife, generally have a life etc. so this is what has worked for me. Everyone is different.

I think my 65%-80% rate is already not to great so for me personally adding more lessons doesn’t make sense for retention.


Is there any specific pen you recommend? I’ve looked into it before but there’s so much to consider I ended up not buying it.

I was thinking about the Pilot Hi Tec C. 0.5 or 0.7mm.
Not sure about the paper though: Rhodia is quite expensive where I live.

It’s not awful at all! It looks very nice actually :slight_smile: . Mine’s gotten a little worse when I started using an automatic pencil due to kanji complexity.

That’s completely normal. Even if you ace most of the lessons, you still get a solid pile of 50+ items per level. Perhaps a few weeks is a little long, though.

For me personally studying in the morning works the best. Both for lessons and reviews. I think you kind of need to gauge your memory capacity. I usually rely very heavily on SRS doing its job and giving me those reviews when I need them so I plow through lessons as they appear after a level-up (same day or day after). That’s definitely not an approach that will work for everyone, but for me it gives solid results after a couple of days and when I’m close to finishing the level 7 days later, I do already remember the vocab and kanji fairly well. So if you want to do more than 5 lessons per day, of course you can :slight_smile: .

One thing to be careful about, however, is that you don’t mix memorization with recall too much, because that might screw up your memory. When you’re learning new items, focus on that, but perhaps try to do it in a non-forceful way, simply through repeated, spaced exposition.

Absolutely don’t mind the 0/0 posts, though! :smiley: You should find a pace that feels more comfortable for you and gives you good long-term results. If you don’t remember an item well during review or completely forgot it, don’t worry at all. WaniKani will do its SRS magic and give it to you when needed.

Practicing calligraphy with pencil and paper is a good idea, too. Writing example sentences, etc. Anything to get those brain cogs movin.


It sounds like slowing down and absorbing the material in your rotation is the answer for you.

I’m hitting a similar point. What’s worked for me so far is to try consciously to slow down through the initial lesson.

I do something a lot like what @Letho up there does: every time I see a new kanji, I practice writing it eight or so times. You know that first page for each kanji & vocab lesson where it asks if you think you could remember or guess the meaning? I’ve been forcing myself to stop, read that page like it was the first time, and answer those questions in my head. I’ve also been copy-pasting the example sentences into OJAD and reading along with them.

Basically, I’ve found that the more work I do upfront, the better the item sticks.

It sounds counterintuitive, but you might consider adding on some non-WaniKani Japanese practice, like Japanese books or video games. The stuff you see here sticks a lot better once you’ve seen it in the wild. That can make a lot of things feel like fewer things, thereby freeing up some brain space.

Most importantly, if you feel like you suck, give yourself permission to suck. Learning any skill is about sitting with that feeling and continuing through it.

Something that’s worked really well for me is the Zen Brush app on my iPad. My executive functioning sucks, so I don’t like using a lot of physical paper. With that app, I can just draw and erase as much as I want without cluttering up my physical space. Plus it starts to feel meditative after a while!


What sorcery is that OJAD website? o.o Pretty cool that it gives you pitch info for a whole phrase.

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That’s how I reacted when I first found it too! I throw everything in there now!

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I’ve got some tombow fudenosuke pens of a few different hardness levels, I really like them. They cost about $2.50 USD each. I guess the paper is sort of expensive? A pad of rhodia is about $10, but it’s also my favorite paper, of all paper I’ve ever used so… idk :slight_smile:

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