The power of Wanikani: a testimonial

Exactly a year ago, I set out to learn Japanese, starting from nothing. In my research, Wanikani frequently came up recommended, so I gave it a try, and over the course of the year, it came to dominant my study time, practically defining my life by the SRS schedules.

I’ve dabbled in many things, but apart from WK, I’ve spent by far the most time watching anime and listening to Japanese podcasts and music in the background. I’ve tried to practice reading, but it’s so hard and frustrating and boring that I always quickly give up, even with stuff like NHK News Easy or Yotsuba.

Initially WK was exciting, as I learned all the common kanji and words required to understand anything. But towards the end, when it was all obscure words and kanij you’ll never see, and as I banged my head against 150+ review piles late at night with a 70% accuracy rate on a good day, I really started to question my sanity. I wondered whether there was even any point in doing the higher levels of WK, especially without high level reading to reinforce the material.

However, today everything changed. Yesterday and today, I did a bunch of practice JLPT tests to try to gauge my progress over the year objectively. I took the 2012 N5 and N4 tests here, as well as small parts of the N3, N2, and N1 tests.

There’s sadly no score scaling information provided, but I’d guess that overall, the highest level I could pass right now is N4. Grammar appears to my weakest point, and I struggled even with the grammar questions on the N5 test.

However, I also took the first section of the N3 test (Language Knowledge) just for fun, and despite having to guess a lot, I managed to get 21/33 right, including 13/14 of the kanji knowledge questions and 8/19 of the vocab questions.

To further assess my kanji skills, I also answered the kanji questions on the N2 and N1 tests for fun. Despite having no idea what the sentences even meant, I managed to get 9/10 of the N2 kanji questions and 5/6 of the N1 kanji questions. It was almost magical, seeing all those seemingly useless words and kanji of the last few months suddenly reappear on the JLPT practice exam.

Admittedly, I probably got a bit lucky there, since WK doesn’t cover everything, and as my 74% review accuracy rate shows, I’ve forgotten much of what WK does cover. But it was still cool to finally see all those leeches actually be good for something. Even on the N1 exam, all the kanji and readings they were asking about looked familiar to me.


Congrats! Always nice to be reminded that what we’re all doing will show results.

As for your woes, I’d recommend starting with Japanese Ammo with Misa or Organic Japanese with Cure Dolly. Things are really daunting at the start, and I think resources like these are pretty cool because they start from the bottom of bottoms.
Reading is, I think, an even bigger hurdle. The best I can come up with on that front is reading along with Absolute Beginners Book Club. It helps with motivation to have someone willing to help you out with anything (and people are like that here!)
Other than that, all I can tell you is that it’s gonna be hard and frustrating at the start and there’s really no way around it. You just gotta grit your teeth and power through it. Suddenly, one day, it’s gonna feel different and great, and while still challenging, not as frustrating as at first.


The more grammar you acquire, the less frustrating and more fun is to read. When I reached lvl 60 I was at Genki chapter 10 and felt like you but after chapter 19, reading is becoming more fun. What is the point of learning Kanji if we are not going to read?

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Oh, you will… :smirk:

Anyway, congratulations!!! I took 4 years to finish wanikani and, in the last JLPT (N2, awaiting results), I can say that I did ALL the kanji questions consciously, without study for the test. My advice is to read a lot. Reading will increase your vocabulary and grammar skills dramatically.


Congratulations, as a beginner at minna no Nihongo ch 16, i can definitely agree that grammar makes up a huge chunk of the language (every language does). And try doing and finishing books, use minna no nihongo. I would advise you to just stick with the full japanese minna no Nihongo and use the english one as the explanation for grammar and vocabulary. Trust me, seeing no romaji and english works wonders. I also was a bit clunky at first, even though i am a beginner but anyways, congratulations once again.

You are essentially the opposite of me in every way.

I started (seriously) learning Japanese about a year ago. However, I loved the grammar and found it much easier than the repetitive kanji and vocabulary memorising. I’d say that my grammar is at least N3 level now, whilst my kanji and vocabulary is really weird with me not knowing all the N5 vocabulary, but also knowing the odd one from N2 :joy:. Also, I enjoy reading and don’t enjoy listening as much.

Anyway, this isn’t about me. With regards to your grammar, I have a project that may be able to help you out (more on that in the coming weeks and months). In the mean time, I would recommend Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide, Imabi, Maggie Sensei and, of course, Tofugu. I’ve also heard others like Cure Dolly and Nihongo no Mori are useful, however, I prefer written guides and get creeped out by Cure Dolly too much, so I can’t vouch for them from personal use.

Finally, let me congratulate you on reaching level 60, you’re the first person I’ve heard of who has actually completed it in under a year; very impressive.

Hope this helped.


I second this; reading is pivotal to successfully grasping grammar patterns.

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先輩! C-Congratulations!
bow hinata haikyu

Please enjoy your cake, lovingly designed by Nakiri Alice.
congratulations alice

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This is how I felt :rofl: I’ll give her another chance, maybe, but for now I’m staying away…

I couldn’t stand Cure Dolly either.

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