The first fall & standing back up

Hello everyone. I didn’t quite mean to compare myself to Jesus in terms of the difficulties I’m having at the moment, just aware that challenges and a sense of burnout is part of the learning process.

Since hitting the 20s I’ve come to realize my sprinting strategy toward learning wasn’t going to work. Life got in the way for awhile, and I was concerned that my Japanese learning process was too wanikani-heavy and I was neglecting other things. I live in Japan which has its own advantages and disadvantages as motivation goes, but I work full-time. I’m reasonably conversational in Japanese – I can talk to my teacher for an hour without issue – but I’d been shy and lacking in confidence outside of my online lessons. So my focus on kanji partially seemed like a crutch to avoid conversation. I decided to take a break from wanikani to focus on that.

…Big mistake. My Japanese in general didn’t improve, and now I’m trying to rework my strategy. I’m doing the N4 exam this summer, but if I was better prepared and more systemic I could’ve been working toward N3. It is what it is, and I’m eager to escape the slump.

So! I have about 500-600 reviews due everyday, and lately I’ve only found the time to do 200, on a good day. I managed to burn around 900 words so far, and the rest of my stats are:
Enlightened – 1572
Master – 320
Guru – 394
Apprentice – 270

But I have no idea if those stats are “good” or not.

I feel deep in the swamp and the kanji and vocabulary from at least level 18 to now, 22, is extremely shaky, so I make a lot of mistakes. Any advice or just general kind words on getting back on track would be appreciated. I’m blessed to be living in Japan now but I won’t be here forever and I won’t be fluent before I leave, but I absolutely don’t want to stop learning, so I need to change up my learning strategy to prepare for the days I won’t be surrounded by kanji and spoken Japanese at every corner. Anyone experience a similar problem?

1 Like

I’m also facing problems right now so you can take my advice with a pinch of salt.

Firstly, do not do any new lessons until you complete your review pile and do bring that apprentice items to guru. Only after you do this, should you start doing more lessons.

Second, please focus on Grammar. There are many textbooks out there, I wouldn’t recommend Bunpro but go with Genki or Minna no Nihongo.

Third, slow down! Levelling up fast doesn’t have many benefits.

Fourth, stay away from the ultimate Reorder Script unless you are absolutely sure you will do the vocab lessons too.

Fifth, Welcome to the community! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I assume you must have read the ultimate guide to Wanikani by @jprspereira , if you haven’t here it is!.


I second most of this. To clarify, bunpro should be used in tandem with another grammar source. I don’t know why Bunpro seems to get a bad deal on the boards sometimes. Anyway, I find LingoDeer to be a good app version of something very similar to Genki I and II, but pocket sized.

As a person who is also living in Japan, I totally get the feeling I don’t want to mess up, but at the same time you should embrace just trying to see what sticks. Japanese people in general won’t correct you on poorly used Japanese, so the worst thing you’ll get back is a head tilt or a “わかりません” if you’re incomprehensible. Remember, at the end of the day, the reason you learn a language is to convey comprehensible messages. Don’t develop bad habits, but do develop the courage of trying to be heard. I talk to my co-workers all the time in absolutely garbage Japanese and will use a dictonary, or if it’s really bad, Google Translate, as a crutch, but you’ll be surprised at what stories you can string together with simple words and sentences.

Yesterday, I talked to one of the teachers who knows very little English about worker shortage and low wages for fast food workers in America. It came up when he mentioned “ストライク” or a strike as a joke, which I am not sure if it is true 外来語 or he was using the katakana-ized English word, but it was a nice cultural exchange conversation regardless of if it was completely in Japanese or not.


Step 1: Stop lessons. Immediately.

If you can’t do the review load then you need to get the review load to a place that’s manageable.

To do that, once you’ve stopped lessons, do whatever reviews you can until you get that Apprentice number to under 100.

Once you’ve gotten Apprentice under 100, then start lessons again with the following rules:

  1. No more than 100 Apprentice items. If you have 95 apprentice items you only do 5 lessons that day.
  2. 20 lessons per day maximum.

That should get you to a place where you’ll consistently have 150-200 reviews per day and a leveling pace of 11-13 days depending on your accuracy.

Once you’ve got that down, you can experiment with the lesson and apprentice maximum if you want. That will have a small effect on your speed. You’ll cut it down to maybe 9 days with an extra 10 lessons per day.

I did the stuff I mentioned above and averaged only about an hour a day on WK.

Want more speed?

If you want to go faster, then you need to:

  • Split your time into 3 sessions per day: e.g. 9am, 1pm, 9pm
  • The time interval between sessions is crucial to catch the first two Apprentice intervals. That’s the key to speed.

For more info:

My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ) - #2 by jprspereira

Yup. Had massive problems at the same level as you.


I feel this! I was around level 24 when I moved to Japan after sprinting through WK, got very busy with life/everything/corona, and just dropped off.

I would really recommend downloading a reorder script, and working backwards through the levels (start at the lowest and move higher). If you a hit a point where your accuracy for items of a certain level is under 50%, then I’d recommend resetting to that level (or focusing on those items separately).

If it’s just a general situation of having too many reviews: stop doing lessons. Take some time to lower your apprentice count to under 150.

Anyway, I feel like you’re me from a year ago, so please keep working at it and don’t give up. At around your level, I’d also say you should start trying to find easy native material to consume. WK is great for kanji, but that’s about it lol. The people I know in Japan who are the best at Japanese read or speak it everyday on top of actively studying.

270 apprentice = bad stats if you ask me. Most likely means you’re biting off more than you can chew. If you can’t bring your reviews to 0 every day, your pace is too fast for you probably. I’d totally quit wk if I were in your shoes… At least for the time being. I always say that nothing beats Immersion, and using Japanese in Japan is as good as it gets immersionwise. Feeling comfortable when using a language doesn’t necessarily require being good at it, but rather just using it. I’d say the biggest opportunity you are missing out on is natural language usage. You can have online lessons, wk, watch and read stuff whenever you want.

Been there. Done that. Thought very similar things about wk for a bit.

For me- wk is still not a means to much of an end. I do reviews and lessons and stopped sprinting. In order to catch up in a way that didn’t overwhelm me-
I did 100 reviews a day. Period. I didn’t get caught up on reviews for a while but that was ok. I failed many cards many times and ruined my stats on lots of cards. But I didn’t really care. It eventually sorted itself out; I didn’t lose motivation, and I spent the rest of my day reading manga, watching japanese television, and talking with my tutor and generally not caring if I actually ever caught up.

Now, my reviews are back under control, I do regular lessons instead of sprinting (I determine mine on a sliding scale based on what reviews I have the next day. Eg tomorrow I have 100 reviews waiting for me so no lessons today as opposed to 50 reviews waiting for me so I’ll do 10-20 lessons. )

1 Like

I understand your feelings. I sprinted for about 5 months before life got in the way(namely, preparing to move to Japan). Then I’ve struggled to stay on the WK path. I keep coming back and pushing forward. Just go at your own pace and try your best to balance all of your learning. Like others said, try to keep your Apprentice items down before you take on new lessons (I assume you haven’t been doing lessons lately anyways). Also pay attention to the amount of upcoming reviews. This will help you see how many reviews you have coming over the next week. A lot of those enlightened items will come up and cause damage. As for the reviews themselves, if you do 200 a day you will slowly work through the reviews. It just takes time. I’ve fallen behind a couple of times and it can take weeks to catch up. It is quite satisfying once you get there.

I also live in Japan now. I thought moving here would have a drastic impact on learning Japanese, but the reality was not the case (granted a part of that is the impact of covid-19). It’s great if you can easily have conversations with your teacher at N4 level. I’m hitting N3 level and I struggle with conversations. I also understand the struggle of balancing everything and wanting to go fast, but also deal with the reality of working full time, taking care of responsibilities, having a fulfilling social life and needing time to decompress. I’m also trying to work on my health. All you can do is set realistic goals for yourself and go at a pace that you can manage. Best of luck to you.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.