What am I doing wrong? During my learning journey


I am relatively new/old to Wani Kani as the wkstats screenshot suggests! The reason I decided to write this post actually this morning I received an email from Wani Kani community and someone posted they reached level 60 within 368 days! And I can see I am going really slow according to many other people from my stats which I am ok with it but I was hoping I could at least be able to read absolute beginner books by now!

I started wani kani from scratch again around the new year before I barely passed the 1st level so I wouldn’t even count those as starting just registering to the website! Learning Japanese was one of my long goals but never give enough time and attention to it needed. Since the new year I have spent at least 1 hour every day in Wani Kani/Nativshark and Duolingo(accumulatively) and I was hoping I could at least able to read one of those Absolute beginner book suggestions or Borrow a book from a library for preschoolers and read it! But so far non of them I can even get close to understanding which is getting more frustrating I am sure everybody has these struggles while learning and I went through to read couple posts in here and did a quick google search as well!

For absolute beginner book/manga suggestions, I can read the hiragana but as far as I can see I do not know any of the vocabulary in the book this is the same for preschoolers’ books as well! which is more frustrating because apparently, i do not know 99% of animals or vegetables or any of the body organs(and I know all these sites follow most common vocabulary used in daily life most cases)

Basically, my question is am I, even more, of a beginner than an absolute beginner what am I doing wrong? The reason I am using 3 sources was the hope they would show me different vocabulary, sentence structures etc. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated! I would like to be able to read a manga (any kind of manga) as soon as possible to feel a little progress and self-confidence I really do not want to quit learning again!

Thank you for your time and sorry for asking probably the same question everybody asked millionth of time. And I am sorry for my poor english, english is my second language so there might be many mistakes!


I don’t think you are slow by any stretch of teh imagination, 13 days per level is usually fine. Your reading accuracy is a bit low, it’s usually advised that you try to keep that above 80 most of the time, but this is only for your own sanity later on.

First thing, by level 4, in 2 months, you aren’t expected to be able to fully read any book without a dictionary. Heck, I don’t think you are expected to read any book without a dictionary for quite a bit of time yet. There are a couple of reasons. Languages have this fun rule, that the most common 2000-ish words make up about 80-90% of the language. It will simply take a bunch of time to get that 2000 up. Even then, you’ll have a bunch of mostly uniquely appearing words, that you will have never ever seen before. That’s fine, that’s expected. Also, wk doesn’t really do most common words. A fun example I have of this is that you will learn “fast” on level 10, but you won’t be able to say “slow” until level 37. WK is mainly about kanji study, which is important, but if you want to be able to consume content only using WK, you won’t really be able to for quite a while.

Even after getting to a very high level or even 60. You will most likely read books with a dictionary open in another tab or on another device. Nothing wrong with that, there will be quite a few words you don’t know or don’t know a specific usage of. There are just so many words in the language, or in all languages.

Another thing, that will probably be an obstacle is grammar. I heard someone say before that “It’s never grammar you don’t know, it’s always vocabulary”, but that’s only really true, if you have at least the basics covered. I really don’t know anything about nativshark, but I know wk doesn’t teach any grammar, and duolingo definitely, let’s just say takes its time when teaching it.

A bit about your accuracy. It will most likely go up (and the meaning accuracy will most likely go down) over time as you see the same readings appear over and over again and you get accustomed to Japanese and wanikani. Still, I would recommend trying to nail down what’s causing you to fail the answers, and trying to make it better. This could be as simple as not meeting the recommended intervals (for example by only having one wanikani session a day, and therefore waiting a lot before you do your reviews) or simple inattentiveness, or it can be as difficult as mixing up the shapes of kanji. Whichever it is, there’s probably a way to make it a tad better, which should on one hand help you level up a bit faster, which would in turn get you seeing more vocab, and on the other hand not get you frustrated with later levels.

Now, even if you do all of this, even if you learn all the vocabulary, all the grammar, everything, you still will struggle with your first book. Why? Because reading is a muscle you need to train up. There are reading specific skillsets, such as seeing where words begin and end, putting the meaning together and so on, that you won’t really be experiencing until you pick up a sentence that wasn’t written by an overexcited intern trying to make you stick with their subscription.


You’re comparing your progress to the progress of others, that’s what you’re doing wrong.


Gorbit99 answer is GOLD
A few personal suggestions:

  • use scripts to reorder your lessons:
    You shoul take 15-20 lessons a day, 5 kanji and 10 vocab.
    Of course you can do more and speed up
    You can also do kanji all at once to achieve maximum speed.
    The advantage I see in reorderning lesson is a smoother, more pleasant and rewarding pace.
    Consequently, higher efficiency. And no burn out.

  • after taking a batch of lessons take 3 minutes to go over the items again, from the summary page

  • duolingo is EVIL, please find something else for grammar. Anything, really, please, I beg you

  • children book are also kind of bad. You didn’t read children books. Your parents read it to you. If you think about it, it means that style, vocabulary, kanji (KANJI) are readable by the parent, not the kid.
    I bought a children book in an used book shop in Japan. I passed the N2 I cannot still go over the first page :')

  • DIfferentiating works for later. On the contrary, at the beginning, I think that sticking to one source is better. Basic level books usally repeat the same few things over and over again, to make you soak in it and build one foundation. If you dip into 3 different sources without foundations, well, new concepts have nothing to stick to…


You wanted to read a book after studying for 60 hours? :0


So you are about 50 hours in. This is still ultra beginner territory and you won’t be able to read beginners books or preschooler books for quite a while. Like at least a year, but probably more.

The only thing readable at your current level are probably grader readers level 0, for example here:

About Wanikani, If you do WK once a day, 13 days per level is fairly good I think.


You are doing nothing wrong, and you are not even more of a beginner. An absolute beginner can be someone who just started learning Hiragana today.

If you really think about it, from when you first started, you know significantly more. Rather than comparing to others, why don’t you think about your own improvement? Not everyone can read hiragana.

Keep going at your own pace, as long as you are able to stick with what works for you, you will read the things you want to in due time. By the way, no one was expecting you to read a manga with nothing to search up. That’s how you learn, so if you think you’re motivated enough, go try reading something, even a graded reader is fine, search up what you don’t know, and that’s something new that you learned.


Lots of great responses here, I agree with everyone that you’re not going too slow. Just want to point something out:

It’s important to note that when the book clubs say something is for “Absolute Beginners” they don’t mean absolute beginners at Japanese in general, but Absolute Beginners at reading (after people have been studying for a bit). So don’t feel discouraged if these books are too difficult right now! Also some of the recent picks for that club seem to be on the more difficult side (Hunter x Hunter and Cells at Work), but I haven’t read them so I don’t know for sure.

Graded readers like Tadoku are an easier place to start. I recommend starting with graded readers instead of preschooler books since they’re written specifically for non-native speakers trying to learn how to read. The grammar structures and vocabulary might line up more with what you’re learning.


You’re not doing anything wrong. There’s thousands upon thousands of vocab in any given language, and it takes a long time to learn even the most common. Plus, what’s going to count among “the most common” varies from book to book! I’ve been reading for a year and a half now (and have always cared more about whether something interested me than its relative difficulty) and I’m still coming across common words for the first time just because a) they never had any reason to come up in what I’d read before, or b) the other authors I read just preferred to use different words.

Like, food words are common, right? But a lot of the stuff I read doesn’t mention much food, so I don’t know very many food words and any time a book I’m reading suddenly dumps a bunch on me—most if not all of them unfamiliar to me—my brain just kind of shorts out and I go, “Yup. Those are. words.” In cooking manga of course you’re gonna get a lot of food words, but despite food being something we literally need to survive, you won’t necessarily come across all that many in other genres. With animals, you’ll probably some across the more general words that actually get written in kanji pretty often, but you’re not so likely to come across the more specific words unless you’re reading something about animals… even if those animals and words are still pretty common.

There’s also the fact that children’s books aren’t necessarily easier, at least not for a second-language-learner (or third, etc.). These will all or mostly be words that kids will have heard growing up, and they’ve been exposed to the language for as long as they’ve been alive (several years!) while you’ve only been learning for several months. Kids’ books also have less or no kanji, and while they’ll have no trouble with homonyms, those often trip learners up because we just haven’t had enough exposure yet. Kids might be beginners at reading, but they’re not beginners at the language, while you’re a beginner at both.

Plus, reading is a skill in and of itself. Even if you’re very good at reading in other languages, you’re not going to be very good at reading in a language you’ve never read anything beyond example sentences in before. You’ll get there, it just takes time, and a ton of practice—and probably even more patience (especially patience for looking up the same word multiple times until it finally sticks, and patience with yourself for not knowing things yet).

If you want to learn more… not necessarily specialized, but thematic? vocabulary and you don’t mind having another app to work into your schedule (even if it’s not necessarily every day), Drops is a good one. Like Duo, it’s both a mobile app and a webapp. In the free version, you get one 5-min session every 10 hrs. They have a lot of topics in different categories that teach ~15 words each, and it’s pretty customizable. It mainly uses images to teach vocab, and you can toggle on or off the translation during reviews, and you can toggle between kanji + kana or kana only. There are also several languages (like, 30+ I think?) it’s possible to have as the language it teaches from, so you can probably learn from your native language. There’s also no preset order, so if you want to jump between categories rather than working through a whole one before moving to the next, you can, and it allows you to mark items as known. There are ones where it’s pretty clear that they just have the same topics and words for every language which doesn’t always necessarily work (like they kept the singular they item in the queer topic and teach it as 彼ら, when it’s. not.) but it’s still a pretty good app for beginners to pick up targeted vocab.


I’m not sure I’m on the same page as this. Reordering, especially too early on can lead to a huge lesson pileup. First I’d suggest actually feeling the system out and after decide if you want to go faster or anything like that.

Depends, duolingo is a tool (even if some like to argue that the users are instead), it can be used well, ot can be used incorrectly, and it can definitely be used incorrectly while thinking you use it correctly. It’s a habit builder, if you don’t take it more seriously than that and eventually leave the nest, then it’s fine.

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I definitely read my first absolute beginner book club pick when I was about half a year into my studies. You can most likely. It will be hard regardless.

For reference, I have been reading for about a year, I definitely have the most common 2000-4000 words under my belt and I still read with a dictionary open.


Thank you so much I will pay more attention to my reading I realized later it was caused most of the time because of my keyboard, for example, i write shi as an answer but I realize after pressing enter actually it converted to hi instead of shi ( which I assume I am trying to rush my reviews and it is the reason probably)

I will pay attention more and try to have multiple sessions in a day thank you again

and yes I am aware duolingo is very slow source but it is relatively easy to jump in time to time Nativshark has more grammar lessons that was the reason I tried to combine both

Yes actually I tried to read Doraemon which is relatively easy and have more Hiragana/katakana but still tiring

What are you doing your reviews on? If on a keyboard, well, muscle memory is a great thing, so over time you can learn to write japanese characters faster without really thinking about it. If one a phone however, you should most likely try using a 12 key flick keyboard. They are great, because for example I definitely have sausages instead of fingers, and i can’t for the life of me type on a regular sized keyboard, but I’m quite accurate on a flick.

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My man. :sunglasses:

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Books for kids =/= easy books.


Thank you so much
I will try going through Summary pages more often
I am aware of how weird and different Duolingo is on many subjects especially for Japanese. I use it more like a reminder for small things and there is random vocabulary it shows earlier than wani kani or nativshark like cat and dog etc. and As gorbit sad i try to use it more of a habit building/support reason

I will be more careful about children’s books as well thank you for the clarification I didn’t think that way

I mostly use my old laptop which doesn’t have any other distractions but has a weird keyboard or desktop

correction looks like my main issue is I forget onyomi or kunyomi of a character only 1 reading of a character stays in my mind and it causes problems often, especially when it is in a vocabulary i will pay more attention thank you for pointing out again

Thank you I will take a look at the website yeah I guess Japanese is more difficult than any other language using Latin alphabet as writing system

Thank you That is the reason I was confused with the title of absolute beginner since i assumed i am a beginner but i guess not beginner enough :smiley:

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