The Reset: I burnt out at level 60

Hello friends and fellow learners of Japanese. Prepare for a wall of text/internal speech. If you stick around, great. If not, that’s totally fine!

Back in April, my next post was supposed to be my level 60 post. I made to the legendary level 60! …and subsequently burnt out so badly that I never even mustered the energy to write my celebratory post. I haven’t been to the forums too much either except to shamefully peek out from around the corners I’ve been lurking in, waiting until I felt ready to write the post. Except… months passed. And the reviews started piling up.

At first it was just a day where I got off track and only did a few. Still had the review streak, everything was fine. But then somehow they piled up more, until instead of dozens upon dozens, it was hundreds upon hundreds. It kept getting worse and worse – passing my old worst review pileup of ~600 – then doubling it, and today, defeated, I saw that they reached the +1500 mark.

Honestly, it took a few months for this to happen, but as the reviews kept coming, the harder it was to keep up. I even lost my study streak sometime last month. All of the safeguards I had for myself had fallen away, I lost all of my motivation and drive, and really my purpose for studying Japanese in the first place was nowhere to be found.

That’s why I reset today. I only went back to level 53 (for now. I couldn’t get past reseting the burns I had at 52 and before), but I might reset more later. My review queue is still massive, but I needed to stop the sliding. I don’t think I had really retained anything in the last 10 levels – looking at the later levels on the wkstats site confirmed this. Maybe it was just a bad combo of rushing through the last levels mixed with the stress and lack of sleep from ending school around that time. Maybe I could have slogged through all of the reviews, but they would be coming back in before I even got rid of the pile, and to let the SRS do the work would be harder without relearning through a proper lesson (because without that foundation, it would just be rote memorization with fancy timing).

I don’t mean to come off as asking for pity, if I do. If anything, I feel empowered for resetting. I feel like I actually have a chance now, diving back into my studies. I want it to be fun again, so I will be supplementing more with Japanese content (before, I was pretty much exclusively doing just WaniKani, and while knowing so many kanji is great, understanding only an N5 level of grammar really holds you back from doing anything with what you know).

This is also for historical purposes. Hopefully, I can look back at this post as see that reaching level 60 wasn’t where I peaked and that the peak will be much further down the learning road than I ever got before. If you’re in my shoes, you’re not alone. If you’re deeply considering resetting, if you think it will aid you in getting back into it (or whatever purpose, really), do it. You’ll catch back up faster than just sitting there with everything piling up.

I love the metaphor so much: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I had to sit down for awhile, but now I’m ready to get back in the run. It isn’t worth going too fast if you just end up having to sit down for a long time. I’m ready to walk this marathon if that’s what it takes. I just need to keep going.

Edit: I can’t respond to everyone, but thank you so much for the support an encouragement! I love this community, and you all are amazing. Keep up the great work!

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Best of luck to you! As you said, it’s a marathon, not a sprint! I’d personally advice you to not start levelling up again and not taking any new lessons until you feel like your review queue has been at a (to you) acceptable level for a minimum of 10 days or so, to give you a proper chance at reigning everything back in. You can focus more at your other weakpoints like grammar in the meantime (In case you haven’t heard of it yet, I think bunpro is a great tool, especially at your level of grammar).

Either way, you got this! ファイト!

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Thank you!! These reviews don’t stand a chance (there was an accidentally spoiler-y gif here and the new one won’t preview so just use your imagination of a cool anime fight scene)

I’d personally advice you to not start levelling up again and not taking any new lessons until you feel like your review queue has been at a (to you) acceptable level for a minimum of 10 days or so, to give you a proper chance at reigning everything back in.

That’s a great idea. I figured not doing lessons while the review backlog is big is best, but I probably would have just jumped back into the lessons without waiting. I’ll be sure to pace myself!

As for Bunpro, I love it! Getting back into that too, but the review queue is much smaller :wink:

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I feel you. I struggled a while ago and fell off for over a year at level 55. I came back and reset to level 50, cleared the backlog of reviews ( over 1000!) and started learning again, but I have since fell off. I don’t know why I started struggling, but I have very little motivation right now. I’m hanging on by doing some listening most days, but I still feel like I’ve forgotten a lot. Hopefully when I finally get back into it it will come back quickly.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

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first, GG on reaching level 60!

but burnout can happen to anybody. it takes courage to admit that, to oneself and to the world. but recovering from a 1500 review pile isn’t that bad. i’ve already done it twice, it took me a couple of months each time. but in the big picture of learning japanese, a couple of months really isn’t that much.

if this is your first time dealing with such large review piles, i strongly recommend reordering* your reviews. WK now has the option of re-ordering reviews by WK-level, personally i prefer to use a userscript and re-order my reviews by SRS-level (apprentice first). and then just do however many you can reasonably do per day.

*when the review pile is much larger than the daily number of reviews you can do, the SRS stops working correctly. so you need some rule to prioritize certain reviews over others, re-ordering allows that.

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[DATA EXPUNGED]

Is this a spoiler?

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:flushed::flushed: OHNO uhhhmmmm you didn’t see anything just like I didn’t see anything when getting the gif uhhhhhhhhhh lemme grab a new one I’m so sorry

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Ha! I’m basically in the exact same boat. I hit level 60, did enough to “clear” the level, but just dropped WaniKani altogether. I’m not even sure when this happened.

I also was mainly doing WaniKani, and though I’d dabbled in Bunpro and did other grammar textbooks, I’d never really tackled native material and so my actual reading ability was shockingly low compared to the number of Kanji (and out of context words) I’d become familiar with.

Well since then I completed all of Treasure Hunter G (a super famicom game I purchased a while ago), started reading The Little Prince (ちっちゃな王子様), and picked up my first Manga ever 天気の子 (Weathering with you), and honestly I’ve totally fallen back in love with learning. I’ve been sentence mining when I need it, and obviously I still need to have a dictionary to look up words, but it’s so much less intimidating to actually read media or games I care about. And in another sense, it’s kind of incredible how little substance actually stuck from WaniKani without reinforcement from actual native material.

I have over 3000 reviews on wanikani and just tried doing 3 of them for shits and giggles, and failed some pretty simple ones easily. But at this point I don’t care, I can much better understand native text in context, and I’ll just re-learn what I need as I go along. It’s not like I’m trying to be a professional translator or something, I just wanted to be able to read fiction and play games.

One thing I will say I’ve noticed having completed Wanikani - looking up new Kanji (or Kanji I’ve forgotten) is so much easier. Just from either guessing pronunciation, or knowing the radicals and what to look up, it’s significantly easier to look something up in a Kanji dictionary.

Maybe someday I’ll reset Wanikani and use it as a passive resource again, but in hindsight I do think the vast majority of the benefit of it came after I finished level 25 or so and that gave me a large enough Kanji bank to read simpler material and muscle through some of those earlier games I tried to play on my own a few years ago.

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It’s pretty interesting reading this stuff from the perspective of someone that cannot possibly relate yet

Even with my own small piles of reviews and early levels, which some days I just dread doing and start checking my phone or jumping into forums or whatever, my advice is … just show up

Show up, get ten wrong in a row, it’s ok. You already know this because you’re high level.

But!

What I think starts to sneak in is some pride of your new learned powers and expectations of what you think you can do, which I caught myself doing. I would secretly think to myself, “I’m so clever, I learned 300 kanji, these reviews should be a breeze now and BOOM no wrong wrong wrong” and it’s such a big dent on my pride armor, then I get discouraged. I cannot let myself do that (to myself).

So my attitude has changed to just show up.

Side note, this strategy also works for parenting. There are good days and bad days, just show up! :slight_smile:

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Mate, just move on from WK. Accumulate some grammar resources, learn how Anki works, and start actually using the language. A few hundred kanji and whatever vocabulary the site thinks you should know is not worth the time taken away from studying the things that actually matter in your situation.

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I have recently also reset from level 60. All the way down to 1. Turns out the ability to read kanji deteriorates rapidly when you don’t use it.

Was pretty confident at recognizing almost all of the kanji on WK, but now I can read maybe a 100 or so. Seeing a kanji that you know you should know, but you don’t is quite a downer.

Hoping to get to level 15-20 this time and spend time reading things on a regular basis.

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Reached level 60 almost four years ago and was on your same situation, then started resetting by 10 levels and it wasn’t getting any better (at lest for me, it works for some folks), so I went back all the way from 30 to 10 and now I’m taking it super slow, learning from my mistakes and actually enjoying it instead of rushing to the goal. Before I also did all the 100 vocab lessons in one go, now I do 20 a day. It really does get better, learn from your mistakes, don’t give it up.

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Well, that’s the scariest thing I’ll read today. Thanks for the advice! I’ll use it or lose it!

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Hey, I get how you feel about it… Being so passionate about something that you end up burning yourself out over it just to later miss out on so much just because you feel jaded! I had this with art for more than a year or two actually… And now I’m finally also getting into the groove!
It’s a pretty tricky place to be though… Because if you force and wear yourself out too much you’ll be back into burnout and have to experience the painful shit again, but at the same time you kind of know that if you don’t have that push, you (or at least I know) that I’m going to do jack!
Anyways, glad you’re doing better and back in the game!

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Ive managed to get over 3k reviews on wanikani and l.5 k done on kaniwani over the past 2 weeks :sob:
Shit is draining haha

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Sorry to hear about your burnout. I’ve experienced burnout hard in so many areas of life in the past, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. …

… In fact, since I’ve burnt out on so many things in the past, I’ve even adapted the metaphor to something more like: It’s not even a marathon, it’s more like a pleasant stroll in the park!

In other words, if it’s not enjoyable, then maybe I need to slow down even more, reduce the stress factor, and tap into the natural motivation of something just being fun to do!

With that in mind, I found a thread on these forums for like-minded folks called :durtle_hello: Let’s Durtle the Scenic Route :turtle:, and I frequently recommend it (i.e. the ‘philosophy’/idea behind it) for people who are dealing with burnout or just plain old fatigue. Worth checking out, IMHO.

I had a similar burnout/reset story when I reached level 28 some time ago, and I detailed how I came to my decision to reset here: After a long absence, I reset (to level 7), and I’m glad I did. Overall, I think resetting is often a very helpful thing to do, especially if reviews become daunting, overwhelming, or even painful.

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I think I was sort of in the opposite situation, but still similar.

I started doing Japanese studies at university, which included a rather intense language program. After four years, combined with the pressure of other classes and deadlines, I finally had a burn out. I decided to take a gap year during the pandemic, but the result was that I sort of developed anxiety for anything that was even remotely related to Japanese. The longer I didn’t do anything with the language, the more I lost confidence in the skills I’d acquired over the past years.

I’ve only recently gotten back the courage to study Japanese again and Wanikani was perfect for a gentle reintroduction to the language. I was at level 8 when I left Wanikani behind before starting university, so this allowed me to get back into Japanese at a beginner level, without getting overwhelmed. I have JLPT N2 and I would say I was at a decent intermediate level at the time I started my gap year, so the levels I’m doing now are easier than what I’m used to. But that’s exactly what made it possible for me to ease back into it.

My take away from all this is basically that Wanikani works best as a supporting tool, preferably to a more intense method where you actively use and write the kanji and vocabulary you’ve learned, the way I did at university and during my exchange in Japan. It’s a nice thing to have on the side when your “real studies” are a bit too much and you need an easy win. But yeah that only works if you take it easy, because if the reviews keep piling up, that takes away the relaxing aspect.

If you feel like you’re burning out, take it slow and set more achievable, easy goals. Having those little wins will motivate you to keep going and once you recover you energy and mental strength, you can pick up the pace again.

Good luck to anyone who’s struggling with their studies and motivation! It’s not a nice place to be in, I know, so remember to be kind to yourself above all :blue_heart:

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I was rushing a little bit but now I am going a little slow exactly to not burnout right at this level,

I am taking now more than a month to level up and I better be like this than throw away everything I worked hard everyday doing reviews for 1,5 years.

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I’m happy for you that you feel empowered for resetting. Burnout is a real problem, one I’ve feared since the beginning because it’s blown up in my face in the past. Since day 1 of Japanese I’ve been careful to not study too much on any given day and now nearly 3 years later I can confidently say if I hadn’t done this, I’d be a mess right now.

I just started WK a few months ago and wow it is intense. I have great respect for people who have done WK since the beginning of their journey, I’m not sure I could’ve done it.

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Best of luck! I’ve recently reset from level 60 as well, back to level 20 in my case. After taking a whole year off of WaniKani, I realized how much I had forgotten because I wasn’t reading nearly enough. I was really worried before resetting, I was just so proud of my level 60 circle and I was worried that I would give up somewhere along the way and never get it back (kind of a stupid concern, since it doesn’t matter at all) and I was especially worried I would burn out. I was getting pretty tired of daily reviews when I was in the mid to late 50s, especially since I was getting like 500 a day.

I actually found that it wasn’t an issue, at least not yet. I’ve been much more focused since the reset, my accuracy is much higher, I get through piles of reviews much faster and I’ve definitely found a passion for learning that I haven’t felt in a long time. Good luck to you, I hope you have the same experience!

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