Not only in real life, but also in WaniKani years. Today one year ago I decided to fully commit to study every day using WaniKani. No excuses, not missing a single day. I was already 1 year into studying Japanese (I was and I am still living in Japan) on a language school, but my progress was not as fast as I wanted, and I struggled a lot with vocabulary.
Here are my current stats:
Every single day I did my reviews. Some days I literally had no time to do them all, so I did only some of them, but most of the time I kept them at 0 pending reviews at 11:59pm.
I’m currently level 44, will level up in about 18 hours.
After 1 year of WaniKani I wanted to give my thoughts into it, to maybe improve the situation and maybe find other people who can relate to my complaints, as well as sharing my current level and study plan.
Overall I like their system, and my completionist mind makes me come every day to do my reviews. After lots of time getting on and off of Anki, I noticed that I really struggle doing SRS when I’m the one creating the cards, and especially when the SRS doesn’t have input, but rather thinking and trying to remember on your head without inputting anything other than if you did “Good” or “Bad”. That’s why I was never able to consistently do Anki, while I was able to keep doing WaniKani for a whole year.
On the other hand, there are sooo many things that I really despise about the default WaniKani. To be honest if it wasn’t for the user scripts created by the community I probably would’ve quit long ago, and I’m amazed WaniKani hasn’t implemented some of those features on the base website. A list of the things I hate of default WK:
- You cannot correct a typo. Or even if you write a meaning that represents the same concept, most of the time WK doesn’t recognize it. You add it to the list of synonyms, but by then the answer is already marked as wrong, delaying your level progress.
- You can’t ignore words. This really drives me nuts, there is lots of vocabulary I don’t even use in english or my own language, stop making me waste time trying to learn the JP vocab for it!!! (i’m looking at you baseball vocab)
- You can’t organize your reviews. There were days where I didnt have enough time to do all my reviews, so those days I would prefer for the reviews of the current level to appear first, so I could keep my leveling speed, and leave the Guru/Master/Enlightened reviews for later, but WK doesn’t offer this
- A heatmap. As a completionist I need a visual indication of my progress, something that motivates me to keep going every single day, and a heatmap like the one I showed above does that, but of course that is an user script. I am again surprised WK doesn’t include such a basic feature
- Obscure english words for certain radicals and kanjis. I am not a native English speaker, so sometimes I find myself googling for the absurdly difficult mnemonics that WK decided to use. In general I think WK is not that good for non-native english speakers. Of course I can solve this by adding a mnemonic on my own language, but this brings to another issue, you cant add mnemonics to items you are seeing for the first time, which makes it annoying to deal with the first time you review them
- The time constraints are too strict!! If you want to keep a good leveling pace, you basically have to do WaniKani multiple times during the day. I wish WK allowed us to do reviews, a few hours ahead. For example some days I know I won’t be able to do my reviews from 9 to 11 PM, but have lots of spare time in the morning and afternoon that day, so I would like to do them at that time, but WK says no! If you do them a few hours earlier the SRS won’t work!!! >_>
Overall my impression is that WK is not implementing those changes because the longer an user takes to level up, the longer they pay their subscription. I doubt I’m the first person complaining about these, so I hope the WK team considers also the lots of people they are losing because those annoying points makes them quit WK all together (I considered dropping WK too a few times until I found the user scripts that mostly fixed those points)
My current level and study schedule/method
I didn’t start WK on a blank slate, I was already 1 year into Japanese studies on a language school, so the first 10 levels were kind of boring. Reviews started to get challeging at about level 30. I did my JLPT N2 (and passed it) on december 2020, but WK didn’t help much about it because I was about level 20something back then, so the vocab I was reviewing was very basic.
Currently the way I study is a mix of SRS and immersion. I use WaniKani and Houhou because I like the way the SRS input works on those. On Houhou I add the vocabulary I find during my immersion. I am aware at this point I should be doing sentence cards, but as I mentioned earlier I for the love of god can’t do Anki, I just despise doing reviews there (and even more creating the sentence cards), unlike WK/Houhou where doing reviews feels like a fun game that I don’t mind doing. For immersion I admit I don’t do it every day. I still live and work in Japan so no matter what I get some slight immersion every day just by going out or talking to my house mates, but when it comes to full immersion I’d say I do it 5 to 6 days a week. My main immersion right now is reading light novels, but I also watch netflix shows and anime in JP with JP subs and played some games all in Japanese (yakuza, persona…). My weakest point right now is listening/speaking. When reading I do fine, the kanjis actually help a lot to remember and identify the words, but when listening to regular speech I still struggle a lot (probably because I don’t immerse that much into listening content, and the shows and animes I watch are all JP subtitled, so I end up reading most of the time). That’s something I’m still working on tho.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Overall I would say WK is overall a good software with lots of flaws. My advice would be to not to stick doing something you dont enjoy doing. What I’ve come to learn lately is that there are better and worse methods to learn a language, but what truly matters is picking the method you enjoy the most, not the most efficient one, because no matter what you choose, every single method requires a huge dedication and motivation for it to work, so if you choose the most efficient method but you don’t follow it every single day, you will make little progress and might even make you completely give up on learning Japanese. (this is why I dont do Anki)
Also WK is never a substitution for immersion, and you cannot learn Japanese only with WK (probably this is obvious tho). WK is a good complement to whatever you are doing to learn (hopefully immersion), but you shouldn’t expect to learn the language just with it. Also don’t wait to reach a certain WK level to start immersing, do it NOW, no matter your level. Immersing is without doubt the fastest and most entertaining way to learn. Find content you like and watch/read it in Japanese. It does wonders!