So, I just wanted to drop a journal here to share my experience with WK and what method has worked best for me in hopes that maybe it will help others too. I have used Wanikani for at least a few years now, with many many months off as well. I’ve been off and on and haven’t remained consistent with it. Much of this was due to life events that threw me out of the Japan study loop for a while and then it took me forever to fight the inertia and get back in.
However, I’ve also recently realized that the pacing and the study method I was using with WK was probably a big hindrance to my progress. I was getting really racked up review queues that were just so intimidating and time-consuming, it was making me spend too much time on this platform as opposed to my other Japanese studies (not good when you are a true beginner and really need to get in some good listening/speaking/grammar time to understand how the language works). It was making me hate kanji learning. I managed to climb to level 10 and then recently reset to 1 after forgetting a ton of kanji b/c the pandemic year threw me for a loop and I didn’t study for several months. This is my second reset, in fact, since I started using the platform.
Somewhere on this forum a while back I picked up various tips from other people about different ways to structure your lessons and worked up a new format for myself, and it has changed my feelings about WK dramatically, as well as made it way easier for me to use it.
What I USED to do:
New lessons at 9AM, reviews at 1PM, then second reviews at 9PM, a format a lot of users seem to follow. I actually don’t remember how many items I was taking on but I was basing it on one of those “Ultimate guides to wanikani” you see people post on here, that usually focus on speed and efficiency, so I was mostly trying to advance levels quickly by taking on the new kanji as quickly as possible so I’d Guru them and level up. This often meant I was backlogged on vocab lessons, eventually in the hundreds, and I’d see new vocab words from several levels back, forcing me to revisit kanji that were already mastered or burned and getting fuzzy in my memory, a good and a bad thing at once, but frankly it was weird and slowed me down and didn’t help me retain stuff well.
What I do NOW is this:
Reviews at 9AM - This truly enables me to “start the day easy”, as I am NOT a morning person and my brain works way better later in the day. Doing just reviews to start the day helps me not feel overwhelmed and move on to other important work projects quickly after.
New lessons at 5PM - Now that I’m fully awake and my day is in full swing, I can truly think and give my full bodily focus and attention to learning new kanji. I usually knock out my review queue again at this time before starting the lessons, as it tends to be a lot fewer than at 9AM.
When it comes to lessons, I do:
Radicals - All of them, as soon as they are available
Kanji - 5 per day
Vocab - 10 per day
If there are not enough of one type (kanji or vocab) to do those amounts (say only 2 kanji lessons available), I either just treat myself to doing less of that type that day or I just pick up extra from the other type so I am still doing 15 new items between kanji and vocab. You could figure out your own amounts here, and if I find this pace is too slow or too fast at some point I’ll adjust it later on.
If you wanna get technical, you learn about 2000 kanji and about 6000 vocab in WK so it might make more sense to keep a 1:3 ratio and do 5 kanji and 15 vocab per day, or 4k12v or something like that, if they’re available. You might stay more evenly paced that way.
Reviews at 9PM - This allows me to do the first review of new lessons on the same day I learned them. I think there is a strong argument to be made for the method I used to do, because having the reviews come back twice in one day makes it way easier to remember them tomorrow, but I have found that even just having your reviews for new items one time on the same day, late in the evening, is enough to prime my brain to remember them the next morning.
So that’s it. This is not a pacing that maximizes speed, but rather is meant to take things at what feels like a steady and reasonable pace to me. I do not study WK on Saturday or Sunday b/c I am always so busy on the weekends. If it gets too slow though I’ll try to make one of those days have time for it.
You have to use WK reorder or whatever script to select the amounts of each item type you want for your lessons.
With this pacing I find myself not forgetting things, not feeling overwhelmed, not avoiding WK, and rarely ever having an enormous landslide of reviews. It’s often the case that when I do my 15 items for the day my lesson queue is back to zero, and it is SO motivating to me to see this. To me, backlogged reviews = mental clutter and OCD nightmares and I lock up a bit. I’m sure those available lessons piles will get bigger as I go through more levels, but so far this feels like a sustainable pace where I won’t crash and burn out, and I may be able to take on more vocab items per day if they start to pile up. Those of you who have had failed attempts at a more brisk pace with WK, this new pace has been working well for me and something like it could be more suited to your learning style.
I really don’t care if it takes me 5 years to finish Wanikani, if I am actually retaining it better because I am not avalanched with kanji, and 5 years to finish is better than never finishing, or spending 10 years off and on b/c I burn out. I’m sure Koichi et. al. don’t mind either since I’m on a subscription plan , though I do have plans to get lifetime one of these days, hopefully next new year.
Any other users take things at a slower pace, and what have you found helps you? What is your daily method?