What can you do at your current level?

I reset from level 7 to Level 1 on Christmas (yay me!) and I am curious to know what you guys are able do with Japanese at your current level? I am solely focusing on WK right now. because I found that when I was studying grammar I keep getting stuck everytime I didn’t know any of the Kanjis in the sample sentences so I figured I should do the hardest thing first and conquer those Kanjis

At my current level I was able to read Hachino Hanashi with some moot understanding, doubt I can do much just yet but I’m curious to know what life is like at certain levels because it’s hard down here in the bottom!


I started WK for exactly this reason, but I hardly ever studied grammar (or anything other than WK, for that matter) until I hit level 60. For that reason, I can still hardly read anything, lol, but I do know nearly all the kanji I see.

Lesson: don’t neglect grammar, and I do recommend just looking/reading a lot of stuff (see: https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/quantity-not-quality-makes-fluent-japanese/)


@Ncastaneda posted somewhere yesterday that the WK?/Tofugu? advice is to get to lvl10 before you hit the textbooks so that you have enough kanji under you belt to not struggle so much with the content and can focus on the grammar, etc.


I’m currently reading through the first よつばと!book and seem to be grasping it pretty well at this level. I bought it a few levels ago and struggled but now I’m getting a lot better.

I study a bit of grammer on Bunpro but I’ve finding it really hard to stick. I’ve got a few basics but nothing too complicated.

I’m kind of in the same boat in that I found it too hard to concentrate on grammar when I didn’t have the vocab and I couldn’t get the vocab without the kanji either so I’ve not been learning any new grammar at the moment and just review the lessons I’ve already learned.

I can tell that now I’m almost in a place where the vocab and kanji in grammar lessons wont be a problem and my current grammar reviews are a lot less stressful now I can actually read and understand most of the vocab in the sentences!!

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https://www.wanikani.com/guide Bottom of the page!

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:thinking: A bit different from his current recomendation. But I see his point (actually he suggest to start with textbook by level 20), since you will go like a breeze through any text book, focusing really on grammar and nothing else.

Though I guess I’ll find hard to wait that much without knowing the basic structure of sentences :sweat_smile:

This is the mail, I guess many recieved the same one.

How You'll Learn Japanese in 2018

あけおめ、Ncastaneda!I hope 2018 is a good one for you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into the whole New Years resolution thing. But, we humans love nothing more than to attach meaning to patterns (or in today’s case, the breaking and restarting of a pattern known as “the year”). And, since you’re still level 7, I hope that by the end of 2018 you can have another 20 or 30 levels under your belt (and maybe even reach the end of WaniKani?).

But, what does that even mean? How would you change if you got to level 40, 50, or even 60 by the end of the year? What would you be able to do? How do you get there? And what can you do alongside WaniKani to advance your Japanese as a whole?

I’m going to answer all of those questions, using WaniKani levels as a base. Just do your reviews and follow this framework. If you do, you could be at an advanced level of Japanese by year’s end.

Okay, let’s learn how to do this.

(WaniKani) Level 10:

I tend to recommend that people reach at least Level 10 (preferably level 20) before picking up a Japanese textbook. That way, in terms of kanji and vocabulary, you’ll be able to read pretty much everything in any beginner textbook you use. Then you can focus on the grammar instead of looking up the meanings of every other word and kanji. Having to context switch so many times makes it a) so hard to learn grammar, and b) very demoralizing. Students I’ve talked to who do the kanji/vocab first method tend to have a much more positive experience, develop at a faster pace (in the medium and long term), and are way less likely to quit from frustration.

On WaniKani, Level 10 means you know around 89% of the kanji that Japanese second graders know, as well as ~99% of the JLPT N5 kanji and ~75% of the JLPT N4 kanji.

If you’re moving at a moderately-fast speed, getting to Level 10 in three months is quite doable.

Level 20:

Ideally, this is where you pick up your first Japanese textbook. And actually, because of your kanji and vocabulary knowledge, it’s going to matter less which textbook you end up choosing. Without the distraction and difficulty that not knowing kanji/vocabulary creates, you should find that learning grammar is quite a bit easier! Don’t let up on your WaniKani studies, but between Levels 20 and 30 see if you can get all the way through a beginner level textbook of Japanese so you can start intermediate level grammar on Level 30.

By Level 20, you will actually be able to read ~75% of the kanji that appears in Japanese news websites! Not all kanji are created equal, after all. The kanji you’re learning in the early levels are the kanji you’re going to see the most of.

Once again, moving at a moderately-fast you can finish levels 10-20 in about three months.

Level 30:

You’re halfway there. At this point, you’ve finished your beginner’s Japanese textbook. And, you’ve learned a lot of kanji/vocabulary. You know ~89% of the JLPT N3 kanji. You can read ~86.5% of the kanji in Japanese Wikipedia articles. And, at least when it comes to kanji, you’re finishing up with Japanese fourth grade. It took those dumb kids four years to get here, but you can do it just this year, if you want to.

Between Levels 30-40, you should pick up an intermediate level textbook and try to work all the way through it. Once again, you’re going to know almost all of the kanji already because of your WaniKani level. Go ahead and focus in on the grammar.

I think you’ve figured out the pattern by now. You can get these levels done in about three months.

Level 40:

Okay, now you’re getting pretty good at Japanese. At this point, textbooks aren’t going to help you a lot. It’s just you, the open road, and some reference books to help you out. You need to go out and find materials for yourself, and see a lot of Japanese. Your goal is to find things that you already know 80%, then teach yourself that last 20%. Repeat. Over and over again.

One way to do this is to study with Japanese sentences. In this article we make some suggestions on where you can get sentences as well as how to go about this study method. One of those sentence resources, the 4,500 Sentences ebook, is currently 75% off in the Tofugu Store for New Years, fyi. Just like WaniKani, you need to figure out how to make this kind of study part of your daily ritual. If you do, you’ll notice your Japanese doing a sudden level up (it will feel this way, anyways) every three months or so.

When you reach Level 40, you will know around 83% of the JLPT N2 kanji, around 87% of the kanji found in a Japanese novel, and you will be near the end of your sixth grade school year in Japan.

If you started at Level 1 at the beginning of this year, it’s possible for you to end up here, even not at the fastest-ffastest pace. If you started at a later level, or you’re moving at a fast speed, there’s more for you to do before 2018 is over!

Level 50:

At this point, you’re going to be quite proficient in Japanese. You will be able to read 98% of the kanji found on Japanese news sites and 96% of the kanji found on Japanese Twitter, and know a bit more than half the kanji required for JLPT N1, the highest JLPT level! Getting N1 or N2 is often a requirement for working or going to school in Japan.

In terms of your other reading studies, keep studying with sentences on a daily basis. As you get better, your definition for “knowing 80% of the sentence on your first read” will include more and more difficult sentences, though it shouldn’t feel more difficult to you. You still know 80%.

As sentences become easier, consider integrating articles, books, manga, news, etc., into your studies. Same rule applies, though. You should be able to understand about 80% of anything you use on your first read through. Otherwise, it’s too far above your level, and using another resource that matches the 80% rule will be more efficient for your overall speed.

For someone who puts in a lot of effort this year, reaching Level 50 is not impossible. It’s a good goal for those of you who are feeling extra ambitious.

Level 60:

You’re at about a Japanese 9th grader’s level in terms of kanji now. The best thing you can do for your Japanese is to read. Like, a lot more. Good news, though. You should be able to read 99.21% of the kanji found in Japanese novels. That last 0.79% actually contains a lot of kanji, but at this point you should be really good at learning kanji, right? You don’t need ol’ WaniKani anymore.

Speaking of which, go ahead and keep doing your WaniKani reviews so you can burn those last items, but it’s really time for you to spread your wings and I push you out of the next, whoops. Get out of here. Go read.

If you’re working towards JLPT N1, you’re about 79% of the way there in terms of kanji. But it’s a tough test, so I hope you’ve been reading your fair share of Japanese books, articles, etc. Those are going to give your brain a sort of statistical framework it can work from. Your brain will identify patterns and connections. But, it needs you to input an insane amount of data. Reading will do this, and much more. Although we haven’t talked about it much, reading is a necessary part of advancing your speaking and listening abilities to and beyond fluency, too.

If you’re serious about getting this done in 2018, WaniKani Lifetime Memberships are currently $100 off for the new year. Depending on your speed and level, this may be a good deal for you. Plus, you never know how life will get in the way. Anyways, I’m so excited to see what you can accomplish in 2018. Let me know how you did in 2017, too. We’ll work hard and get there, little by little, every day.


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here at 22 WK is starting to get pretty tough for me, in a good way though. I ended up not being able to spend as much time around the holidays as I normally do on it, so I got backed up to like 700 reviews (still have 160 to go in order to catch up, also burns started rolling in at the same time) BUT I’m actually pretty thankful because I’ve started to broaden my perspective a little, I’ve been… well not even studying grammar more, but I’ve spent the last couple weeks setting myself up to study grammar more (in a way that I think will work for me), plus I finally broke down and got anki on my phone so I’ve been getting some other things going there too.
(more on that: WK is super good for recognition, but it’s not like you’ll be able to just recall and reproduce all of the vocab you learn in WK, so adding another SRS lets me take words I like or think that I will use, and create more of a recollection type of system to augment WK and maybe actually be able to speak some Japanese one day lol)
(even more on that: when I have a word that I have a lot of trouble with in WK (or just don’t really get how it would be used) I’ll pop over to Jisho and search the word plus “#sentences” and then find an easy sentence I fully understand and add it to anki. It’s been pretty sweet, and it feels good to have a deck full of sentences I can read, makes me feel powerful. Also anki’ing a grammar book (Japanese The Manga Way) by taking a page and putting the example sentences as the front of the flashcard and a picture of the whole page as the back. So hopefully as I start to learn and recognize more grammar through that, my example sentences will get more and more complex. And eventually I’ll make another deck with the english sentence on the front and I’ll have to produce the whole sentence in Japanese for the back.)
Long story short… I can’t do much at all, but I can do more and more everyday (one step at a time)

At level 45, I can easily take any native material… and weep when I realize I still can’t understand a thing.

Well, truth be told, I can read, or at least understand the gist of, some easy manga like Card Captor Sakura, Magic Knight Rayearth and Otouto no Otto. And other easy stuff like NHK News Easy is for the most part no trouble at all. But I really thought that at this stage I would be able to understand more stuff, like normal news, game reviews, and books. I mean, even in Dragon Ball Super manga I can’t understand like more than half of it.

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what percent of your total japanese study would you say WK makes up?
thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Eh, kinda skewed as I know well over 1000 words from outside of wk and a handful of kanji, but oh well.

Of 3 visual novels, aimed at highschool jap bois, I have tried to read, all of them could be understood at my level. Now what do I mean by understood? I know whats going on and why its happening, and thats all I promise. There are still a lot of words I dont know, as well as grammar, so I cant fully comprehend 100% of the material. There are times when I can, but that 100% comprehension rate never lasts for long.

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I’d say around… 50%?

Sometimes, like when I took a month of practical conversation course, or the month before the JLPT test, I only did WK enough to not let reviews pile up too much. On normal days I do WK enough to bring my reviews to zero, and use the rest of my time on things like Satori Reader, trying to read native content, and maybe a few study material like Udemy or some textbooks I bought. But on the days when I’m specially lazy to study, I end up only doing some WK.

For this reason, tofugu and WK overlords typically say to start grammar at around level 10. I am level 6, and I can read Tae Kim’s beginner material ok, but not completely. [EDIT: I’d like to clarify here, that I enjoy his book, and felt like I learned a lot, even at a lowly level 6. If I could go back and do it all over, I’d start his book right about now, and skip some of the other resources I’ve used entirely.] My advice, if you must wait until lvl 10, start at level 10.

I, with the help of a few hours of grammar study behind me, and a dictionary at the ready, can read basic, declarative sentences. I found a Japanese children’s book about a Japanese grammar concept (counting with 本). I find that I can work through it slowly, but so slowly it doesn’t feel like “reading” yet.

I watched Dad of Light on Netflix with Japanese subtitles. I understood most of the dialogue about the game FFXIV but got lost when the main character is at work or out with coworkers. After watching the episode with Japanese subtitles I would watch it again with English subtitles to see what I missed. It was a fun way to test my understanding for sure.

If you’re in the United States there are a surprising number of shows on Netflix with Japanese subtitles, which helps a lot when you recognize Kanji :smiley:

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Tae kim gives a list of some of the words he uses. Those are pretty common/useful words, so you might as well memorize them before you get them on here.

Just my opinion, but not being able to do something when it comes to language learning is all the more reason to do it. Everything has to get done eventually, so there’s no reason to bottleneck yourself. You’d be surprised how easily you pick up common words.

I completed playing through my first game completely in Japanese at the end of last year (I started it when I was around WK25 or so and when I finished it I was around WK30). It was a fantasy RPG with a big crafting element called Totori no Atelier, and I think I understood most of it. It was fully voiced, and between that and the displayed dialogue, it wasn’t too bad. There were (as always!) a few characters whose dialogue I struggled with (Sterk, ugh), but they were mostly the overly formal noble types.

Some of the item taxonomy and nomenclature was also a bit of a struggle, but that’s kind of expected to be honest. It was also a bit touch and go trying to figure out bits deep in the system: what some of the material bonuses and item characteristics do, that sort of thing, but at least the normal ending and character endings are pretty achievable regardless, so…

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I used his vocab guide to study when I needed it, but I recognized some of the ones in there (and in the book I’m reading) as ones that are coming up very soon for me anyways. I was trying to do a good balance of WK and Anki decks of supplemental stuff, but right now I only have time to one of those, and I’ve chosen WK. It’s not like I’m choosing not to study things because of discomfort, on the contrary, I was saying that I could read his material and enjoyed it.

Ok, just making sure. One of my bigger regrets is not starting with that stuff sooner and thinking that just because WK told me to wait, I should. I had the misconception that if something was above your level, you couldn’t learn from it. If time is bottlenecking, however, welp…仕方がない

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Only because I’m dealing with a nightmare client right now, combined with the holidays. My goal is to read 1 japanese book per month, and to continue grammar stuff. Just… after this project.


If your grammar resources are using kanji that you don’t know, I’d suggest trying some other resources. There are plenty that don’t use kanji in the beginning, or that use furigana on the kanji (Genki, for example). Japanese grammar is so different from English, so I think it’s really important to start studying it early on. Otherwise, you’ll just look at a sentence and think, “ok, I know most of these words, but I have no idea what this is trying to say.”

As for where I am (not much further that you were before), I studied Japanese in high school and college, and then took a long break from Japanese. If I look up words then I can get the gist of most NHK Easy News articles.

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At level 35, half of N2 grammar studied and some about 5,200 words memorized I can understand most daily conversations. I also understand most simple explanations and sentences you find in blogs and dictionaries (though I accidentally skim words unconsciously. Need to get used to reading more). However I still have trouble with more sophisticated somewhat uncommon daily words like 愚弄 or 紛らわしい. Also, when talking about a specific topic in depth I get completely lost. I remember in a story hearing about someone’s sleep patterns and I felt like I was hearing jibberish at some point. Same with when they were talking about basic science stuff like gravity and efficiency.