Wanikani "hump"?

It legit might be helpful to have someone who has a professional interest in not scaring me away and some experience working with foreigners so I’m not trying to navigate their shock at the same time as trying to navigate their language.

N-no! >.< It’s n-not like I’ve been on level 9 for 46 days or anything, b-baka!

Lol. There’s nothing especially hard about the levels around 5-10. While it’s true that these levels have the most new radicals to learn, I wouldn’t say it poses any more of a challenge than the rest of the levels on WK. So I’d say the common factor is the typical amount of time into a new resource people give before a certain percentage of them drop out. Kinda similar to how 90% of Japanese learners quit after the first month, or something.

As for getting overwhelmed, it’s certainly possible even at these lower levels. My best advice is to look at your apprentice count and keep it between 50-150, whatever you’re comfortable with. If it’s too high, stop doing lessons for a while, and find the balance that works best for you. Learning a language is a long play and it’s important that you pace yourself. You’ll achieve a lot more with a regular comfortable pace for 2-3 years than you will if you have too fast a pace and burn yourself out in mere months.

The sole reason I’ve been on this level so long is that I haven’t had the time to do more lessons, because of Uni deadlines (in my final year + thesis), so I’ve just been focusing on reviews, but I’m about to get to the point where I can phase back lessons again. It’s important to recognise your own limits and adjust your pace to them.

On a final note, by the time you reach level 30-35, you may have acquired enough kanji to do what you set out to do. It depends on how many kanji you want to know and why you’re learning Japanese. So, the overall aim for everyone is not to reach level 60, but to reach the level they desired, with respect to their kanji knowledge. There’s always more to the statistics than you might think at first glance.


So I read the fluent in 3 months guy’s sales pitch. And there is no need to pay him any money. The “trick” was right in the sales pitch.

“The only way to learn a new language is to not be afraid of making mistakes.”

So yeah, the trick is to use it, even when it’s scary and you screw up all the time. My French went from nothing (after years and years of study) to almost passable in a couple months when I started speaking it. Be brave, and don’t be afraid of mistakes. If others judge you, that’s on them.

I’m actually finding that WaniKani is a great place to “hide”. Spending an hour a day memorizing is just way less terrifying than meeting a stranger and opening my mouth for 5 minutes. Or saying “arigato gozaimasu” to a Japanese co-worker when they hold the door for me. I mean, I KNOW how to say thank you, but I’m still scared to do it.


The first ten or so levels are the slowest due to having to teach all the radicals that lay the groundwork for future levels, so the speed may be discouraging or frustrating for some that they might look for another (faster) resource or just simply give up. They may also just find that WaniKani’s teaching style or review system isn’t for them. Interests may also shift, or people may find they just don’t have the time. There’s a lot of factors at play, so the early levels end up sort of weeding out the people who don’t or can’t have the commitment to do this for multiple years.

If they’re going at a steady pace, this is probably around when enlighteneds and burns start piling up, effectively almost doubling the workload. People who do or did tons or all of their lessons at once are especially susceptible to getting overwhelmed. Review counts start to peak here and become a new standard, so it becomes another test of commitment.

If I recall my personal experience right, the level 20 area is when the kanji themselves start getting harder. There’s less radicals, but the kanji gets more complex now that you know the “main” radicals and mnemonics and are past the easier and more distinct early elementary material.

While I didn’t quit at any point, this reflects how I felt/feel at these points. In the 30s you have the vocabulary to start picking up more intermediate material without looking up every other word, and start to train in other areas of the language. In the 40s I was reading native material pretty fluidly, often picking up bits of kanji and vocab that is taught in later levels. And now in the 50s, I feel very ready to be “done”. I could very well stop here and start putting the time WaniKani takes into consuming more advanced native material and studying the upper levels of other parts of the language without missing too much. The last ten levels feel like bonus material, which makes sense since 50 was the original end point and they were added later in the program’s lifespan.

So yes, the first ten levels tend to make people stop and think about what they want and whether they want to continue, as does a number of other places. But as long as you pace yourself well, you have the time, and you find that WaniKani truly is for you, you may not even feel that big of a hump.


IME, it seems like the big killer is like 15-20. Its pretty apparent too if you look at the user distribution by level from awhile back


I was one of those level 5-7 scrubs…

It began in level 5, all of a sudden wanikani became HARD. 200+ reviews, trying to figure out which verb is transitive/intransitive, not knowing how to schedule items for my convenience, brain still not comfortable with seeing kanji. Making it past these levels was hard on both of my attempts, but after I crossed level 10, something in my brain snapped and all of a sudden it was easy(er).

Edit: Probably not a coincidence that I read this around level 10

1 Like

Things got VERY hard for me around level 40… but at that point I had too much of a time investment to quit. I took one year to get to 27, so my pace resulted in a reasonable workload. A slight amount of burnout started because I started to feel the effects of leeches around level 35 - this got a bit frustrating, but I pushed on through. Leeches will seriously slow your progress and the problems they create sneaks up on you VERY slowly. I think I took a 3 month break from lessons when I hit 50, which helped immensely.

The great thing is that by level 30 the amount of kanji you have is legitimately useful, so if you feel a pinch it is a good point to slow the learning pace. By 40 I was taking a month to do every level. No big deal.


…and even if it is productive, don’t marry the person and expect this to sustain.

Get a tutor or someone not related to you to hold you accountable. I wish I had the budget for it - in spite of having a high salary, teenage kids tend to suck the life blood out of any family budget.

1 Like

This is so similar to how my progression’s been going that it’s super-comforting to know you went through it and still reached 60.

1 Like


I feel like you might be focusing too much on an arbitrary detail of your physical person. If you make it not an issue for yourself, you’ll realise nobody else really cares either. Everybody is wrapped up in their own lives and issues to care too much about your quirks. I used to think everybody hated me for random reasons, such as my appearance / how i behaved/moved / what others had said about me behind my back etc… then when I realised people didn’t care about what I thought was important, it got a lot easier for me.

I think I can get over mistake-making. At least, I get over it ok in German. lol I think I’m over-nervous about having to respond to shock at the same time that I am trying to communicate in a language that I’m not comfortable with in the first place. And I’m a psychiatric nurse so it’s like 1. You CAN’T hide your fight or flight response from me and 2. I feel responsible for helping you manage that response, even if it means removing myself from your presence. And since I don’t have the communication skills to help you navigate that just yet, I default to simply removing myself.

As someone who is halfway through N3 grammar while probably not even knowing 1000 words, this makes me so excited to read.

Level 19 is my current “wall”. I’m keeping current with my reviews, however it is becoming more difficult to be motivated to add new material when I keep missing the same old material over and over again (‘which “kanshin” is this again for the umpteenth time?’, or ‘This kanji’s in my review queue but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it before…oh yeah, it’s that one again.’)

I think some of this might be happening too because as another user suggested, my Japanese isn’t advanced enough for some of the kanji I’m learning.

I don’t think it’s really arbitrary. I mean, short of locking myself in my apartment, I can count on someone commenting on my height any day of the week. Literally, people will stop in middle of the grocery store to ask me questions about it. Worst case was people stalking me around a store with one friend with a camera trying to get a picture of the other friend standing next to me. I KNOW people are going to notice and respond to my height. It’s something I expect and have had to live with pretty much since I was 9 years old.

I’m surprised by this, over on that other thread you said you were 6’? I’ve known quite a few girls that height or a bit taller, dated one once… It’s not terribly uncommon. Then again I’ve got long hair and a big bushy beard so get called Jesus a lot and get quite a few comments because my look isn’t as common in the UK as it is in Austria/Germany/Norway and other countries where metal music is more popular.
I guess the only thing you can do is own it, take pride in it, it shows good genetics to be tall. Everyone in this world is unique and different, it just so happens that part of you that is unique is easily seen. I know plenty of people in my workplace with unique features, such as a woman who has one eye who prefers an eye-patch to a glass eye, and a man who is over 7ft tall and very broad, and these features are only ever mentioned to let a newbie know who they are or often joked about by closer friends of theirs.
I know how it can feel though, to feel singled out, and I didn’t mean to make light of it by saying it was “arbitrary”, I understand some people will try and make a big deal out of it, usually because they have their own insecurities so they want to put a spotlight on yours.
A drunk girl with her friends tried to do this with me just the other day, mocking me for my messiah like appearance, she asked me if I washed my hair with holy water, and when i told her I used Herbal Essences and she asked me what flavour, I told her generally shampoos have scents, not flavours, but if she likes eating them I won’t stop her… Then her friends were laughing at her and not me.

Anyhows, I’m rambling, you seem like a cool person, even though I’ve not talked to you much, you be you and screw the haters, randoms don’t matter. :slight_smile:

Edit: P.s. I wonder if it’s due to culture too? Are you American, because in Britain we are more reserved and it would look weird to make a big deal out of someone’s size, whether it be height or width.

1 Like

Run like the wind, cover your ears, and don’t look at what’s behind you: :running_man::running_woman::tiger2::leopard::eagle::t_rex::dragon:

Honestly, you have to:

  1. Really want to learn Japanese from the bottom of your heart (this will give you motivation).
  2. Pace yourself properly, based on your own schedule and needs (this will sustain you).
  3. Be incredibly disciplined and stick to a schedule (this will provide a rhythm to carry you forward).

Cherish every mistake, it will only serve to make you better. Challenge yourself by trying to read things even at a low level. Diversify your exposure to the language through grammar, listening, and games–silly apps, music, movies, etc.

Personally I feel the first ten levels are the hardest, because your mind is still learning to process this entirely new language, you’re still learning how to schedule and pace yourself (and maybe biting off more than you can chew), and you still don’t know quite enough to comfortably read and engage with Japanese “in the wild.”

The later levels can be challenging because you are continually packing in more and more information and stretching the limits of your memory. This is also when your reviews will grow, so you have to push harder and spend more time studying. Your commitment and discipline will be tested. However, the reward is higher: with each additional level, you will absolutely see your comprehension skyrocketing. Getting the gist of things is not uncommon. Eventually, you come to real understanding.

Overall, it just takes a lot of work, a lot of love, and absolutely no room for fear.

1 Like

Just a vote for #2… I started WK at the beginning of my Japanese studies (no previous knowledge). Now 10 months later and I’m approaching level 21 but I think I may need to “quit” WK for a while. My speaking, listening, and grammar skills have all been neglected due to spending too much time here. Time management is a struggle and learning Japanese requires a balanced approach over several areas of study. Reading kanji is but a single area of learning.

I’ll bet a lot of people who make it this far simply find other ways to continue their Japanese studies rather than continue to pay a monthly subscription.


It might be an American thing. I really can’t count for you how many times a week I need to account for my sporting history. :laughing: Another piece of it might be that I look even taller than 6’, probably because my legs are about 94cm long and I’m not nearly as broad as the average man, so I just look very vertical. My brother is 6’3” but looks shorter than me if we’re not standing side by side. I also look taller than my husband until we’re next to each other. :woman_shrugging:t3: It is whatever it is but definitely leaves me navigating a very wide range of responses.

I have a few friends who sport the Jesus look. Hahaha I have two in particular that hang out together and I call one Jesus and the other Moses. :laughing: I like to braid their hair. When stupid people try to give them crap I just point out that they’ve kept their hair in far better condition and tell them they’d be better off asking them for pointers. Noted: one uses Herbal Essences, the other uses Tresseme.

Also, sorry for slow replies. Crazy day.

1 Like

That could well be true. But for me, someone who now takes well over a month per level despite never missing a day on WK, level 30 is my ultimate aim. Level 30 is my Level 60. Once I’m there, I’ll consider it job done, and almost certainly hit the re-set button!