What can you do (or still can't do) at level 10?


I’ve always wonder what I can do at level 10,20,30…60. I can’t find much info so I thought I’ll write my own.

I plan to record every milestone 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and of course 60 - so I have records of what I can do at those level, and remember how far I’ve come. Hopefully it encourages you too.


I am self-studying Japanese.

I can speak Cantonese/some Mandarin, but I can’t read/write. It’s more ‘useful’ to learn Chinese where I am, but I am much more interested in studying Japanese. So as I study WaniKani, I also learn the reading in Chinese and put it in the notes section.

I am also studying grammar with Minna No Nihongo, the Handbook of Japanese Verbs, and listening to Miku Sensei/ Japanese Ammo with Misa on Youtube. So I have some understanding of grammar. I think my grammar is at N5 - N4 level (though still very weak).

On top of that, I am collecting kanji/vocab/sentences I see in the wild e.g Youtube/ movies into Anki.

Recently, I bought ‘Common Japanese Collocations: A learner’s guide to frequent word pairing’. Hopefully this helps me construct natural sentences.


The fact is, at level 10 there is still much I cannot do

  1. CAN’T READ COMPLETE TITLES IN NHK News Web Easy I often visit NHK News Web Easy to see what titles I can read. Unfortunately, most of the time I am only able to pick up a few kanji. The only title that I can consistently read on NHK web easy is: 新しいコロナウイルス 気をつけて :laughing:

  2. NOT SURE WHAT SENTENCES MEANS Although I could read some lines in the news or manga, I can guess what it means but I am not exactly sure. I need stronger grammar for that.

  3. CAN’T FORM SENTENCES I am still unable to form sentences/ express my thought in Japanese. Sometimes, I try to translated what I said in English to Japanese. While I could construct some simple sentences at level 10 (due to learning more useful vocab), I still find it hard.

  4. CAN’T READ MY FAVOURITE MANGA I tried reading ドラえもん Doraemon. I thought the drawings will help me understand. Nope. I didn’t know it’s that difficult! Do you know at what level I would be able to understand ドラえもん Doraemon?


But there is also a lot of things that I am beginning to be able to do:

  1. KANJI CONFIDENCE I am no longer blind to/ scared of kanji. When I see kanji, I would think “Hmm. What can I read?” Instead of “Oh, random Japanese alphabets that has nothing to do with me”.

  2. TRY TO READ KANJI INSTEAD OF ROMAJI. When I study Japanese textbook, I normally read it in romaji. But at level 10, I begin to read the examples in kanji instead of the romaji e.g ‘The Handbook of Japanese Verbs’ textbook. I am surprised that I am able to read the full sentence of some examples!

  3. FIGURE OUT JAPANESE FOOD WRAPPER I could read simple instructions on Japanese food wrappers and guess more complicated ones. There was a Japanese gummy where you’re suppose to tear one by one. On it, there is ‘すき’, きらい’, and 占. Then it rang a bell: it’s a fortune telling gummy!

  4. PICK UP MORE WORDS WHILE WATCHING MOVIES I can recognize a lot of words that I learned from WaniKani while watching Japanese dramas/ anime e.g 研究 and 美しい in ‘Atelier’ on Netflix. Before this, many words were meaningless to me.

  5. READ SIMPLE TITLES IN CHINESE NEWSPAPER I am able to pick up simple titles in Chinese e.g 世界最美, ‘world most beautiful’. Even if you can’t read it in Chinese, at level 10, you would know what it means.


SEEING THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY I navigate the world with some kanji knowledge that makes life interesting.

I was at a bento shop and saw: 弁当. The big banner was there forever but it was some kanji I didn’t know. Now, my thoughts go like this: that is ’triceratops’ and ‘wolverine’ - ‘tou’ ‘correct! Then I got it, 弁is probably ‘Ben’. The ’Tou 当’ from ‘Bentou/弁当’ and’ Hontou/本当’ is the same’!

There was also a Japanese speciality food shop called 正直屋. Now I know their motto is honesty!

Which level are you at and what can you do now that you cannot do before?

Oh, I can’t wait till I reach level 20 and share with you more of the things I am able to do. And eventually 60, hopefully :crossed_fingers:

Level 10

What I can’t do

  • read manga, news

What I can do

  • cry
  • keep doing my review
  • Study Grammar
Level 20

What I can’t do

  • read manga, news, playing Japanese games

What I can do

  • cry
  • keep doing my review
  • Study Grammar

Joking aside, I can see my progress clearly but I’m still far from be able to consume any Japanese entertainment with ease. So I will keep studying.

The thing I make me really gladful that I didn’t give up is; Japanese is not an alien langauage or mythical moon rune to me anymore. I feel like I’m an archeologist who is trying to decipher an ancient langauge. It’s kinda fun. :laughing:


I imagine what you need to read Doraemon is not so much more kanji as it is more grammar. Unfortunately, WaniKani won’t teach you the grammar - you’ll need to find an external source for that.


well, you should not really expect to be able to read news/mangas freely at LVL 10-20, even 40.
I think in English I started to feel fluency only when my vocab reached 10k words. And comfortable experience( no longer need to use a dictionary) only at 15k.

What lvl 20+ will give though is the ability to finally dive deep into native content where you gonna start learning new words and phrases in a context very fast compared to your just regular srs/textbook drills. Especially if you use services like animelon- anime with Japanese/English subtitles.

after all 1000+ words in any language cover around 80% of the text. 4000+ around 90%.

p.s i highly reccomend adding another srs that focuses heavily on vocabular- like torii srs. Wanikani vocabular is build with aim to reinforce kanji, not to teach you the most common words.


I suggest you try watching Doraemon with Japanese subtitle first. In this way you brain will recieve 3 ways information ; reading, listening, watching. It’d be significantly easier and if you don’t understand you still could enjoy watching Doraemon anyway. (Don’t watch it with English or your native langauge subtitle. At some point your brain will try to ignore any Japanese dialouge and focus on reading subtitle)

Also if you have enough time try to add vocaburary SRS review to your daily routine like Anki, KameSame, Kitsun, etc. At some point the amount of Kanji you’ve learn on Wanikani will surpass what you need to be able to read Doraemon. However, you still can’t read them because you lacking basic vocab.

I realized this when I was around level 15. So don’t do the same mistake as me. :laughing:

I feel like I’m an archeologist that trying to decipher an ancient langauge.

Can’t say it better!

I’m watching Japanese drama/series that is female centric so I’ll learn to speak naturally. I find that what I learn from anime is not as applicable eg. “死ぬ!”. Though I do watch them for fun, not as a supplementary study material.

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Also if you have enough time try to add vocaburary SRS review to your daily routine like Anki, KameSame, Kitsun, etc. At some point the amount of Kanji you’ve learn on Wanikani will surpass what you need to be able to read Doraemon

Yes I am starting to collect kanji/vocab/sentences in the wild to put in Anki too. Shall work harder on that. Not yet a habit. Thanks for the reminder!

Sigh. Ok. I shall continue to study hard.

Thank you for the insights!

You mean 考古学? ( ・∇・)

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I forgot to mention that I have basic grasp of grammar (edited what I wrote!). For me, it’s more of the vocabulary. So many complicated kanji e.g dinasour fossil 恐竜の化石

そうね! :laughing:

I made some mistakes with this. Thanks for reminding me so that when it come up again next, I won’t forget!

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I think I got pretty confident at reading Japanese after lvl 40-45. This means I’d know most of the common kanji and have to look up just a few new kanji. But even after reaching 60 I look up vocab all the time.

For example, I can read a novel but I look up at least a few words on each page. In some cases I can skip unknown words if they don’t seem important or could be guessed from the context.

But! I was studying grammar with a tutor for the last 2 years. I know most grammar points up to N2 and about half of N1. Grammar makes a huge difference for reading.


You make me look forward to reaching level 40!

You are right re: Grammar makes a huge difference for reading. Now that I am at level 10, I’d spend more time on grammar. I think that’s what Koichi recommended.

At what level did you start studying grammar with a tutor? @d-hermit

I definitely found Doraemon surprisingly difficult for a long time, so you’re not alone!

The problem is that native Japanese kids might not know that many kanji yet, but they’re going to understand tons of casual speech and puns and stuff and Doraemon is filled to the brim with those, but if you’re studying with Wanikani, there’s a good chance your strengths will be just the opposite!

Also, Doraemon is just very wordy. I found it hard to get through and love a page like this:

… until I was more comfortable reading in general.

So I’d recommend, if you haven’t already, taking a look at the “resources for starting to read Japanese content thread” here:

Some common reading starting places that don’t have the obstacles I mentioned with Doraemon include graded readers, Yotsuba, and Flying Witch.
Grammar, and also just reading practice are going to go a long way, and you can use Doraemon as a motivator for now, and fun thing to read in the future!

Good luck!


Second on Flying Witch - the first two volumes should be free on Bookwalker at the minute if you don’t mind digital

I’ve found it fairly possible to read even being below level 10. Sure there’s plenty of kanji I don’t directly know yet, but having furigana lets me look stuff up in a dictionary much more easily (personally I recommend installing a dictionary app on your phone and using that while you read on pc or something - just makes it easier to look stuff up I find). Over time you’ll find yourself learning some words through repeated exposure

Another option is joining the Absolute Beginner’s Book Club, since they provide a vocabulary list and tend to pick manga that’s not super tough (though that doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult). The next book should be starting in a couple of weeks so that may be a good time to hop on board (plus the manga that’s being read next is also free on Bookwalker currently)

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I think it was around level 10-12. But I finished N5 grammar in Lingodeer before that. And also studied a bit on my own using Tae Kim and other online resources.

great first post, welcome to the wanikani community! :smiley:

what i can do at level 20 (22, actually): i can “read” a manga, if i take the time to look up the words i don’t know. i don’t need furigana for it (except for names). and if i’m okay with a bit of uncertainty.

i can take a running leap at a wikipedia article. still looking up words (but rikaichamp makes that very easy), and sometimes guessing at grammar. with running leap i mean that i can just kind of start reading, and only realise that it’s actually really hard after a paragraph or two :wink:

i can guess new words! as long as they use kanji i know, i have a decent chance of guessing a meaning, and a reading.

i can form simple sentences, and write or even speak them. but i’m sure my grammar is very bad. my pronunciation probably too.

i’m starting to really lag behind on grammar. been telling myself that i need to get back into grammar for a while… …i’ll get to it eventually :smiley:

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Level 30: why are we still here… just to suffer


Every night… I can feel my kanji my hiragana…
Even my katakana…
The time I’ve lost… The friends I’ve lost… won’t stop hurting
It’s like they’re all still there. You feel it too don’t you!?

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I am also level 10! I started from practically nothing last autumn (I’d never formally studied the language before, only picked up small things here and there), and I spent a few weeks learning hiragana and katakana, then found WK in December, but didn’t get serious with studying until March.

My grammar background so far is that I’ve watched more than half of Japanese Ammo with Misa’s absolute beginners playlist, and have completed the first four lessons of Minna no Nihongo.

What I can’t do:

  • Can’t read most sentences, though I can sort of puzzle things out if I know the words (or if I mouse over the text with Yomichan). I technically have the tools to look up most grammar, but I’m not bothering to try that yet, and am spending most of my time studying stuff that is closer to my level of understanding.
  • Can’t understand most spoken Japanese, even if it contains vocabulary and grammar that I know. I often have to pause and replay sentences in order to comprehend them.
  • Can’t really understand almost any media, except for occasional words or kanji.

What I can do:

  • Recognize a lot of kanji in the wild, and I know how to look up individual kanji that I don’t recognize.
  • Read hiragana and katakana fairly easily, and am sometimes even able to read it before it leaves the screen during wrestling shows. Full Japanese subtitles are still too fast for me, though.
  • Read parts of wrestlers’ names, and for names containing kanji that I don’t know, I’m at least able to roughly remember what they look like and recognize them when I see them onscreen. Instead of appearing as incomprehensible lines to me, I look at kanji and see them broken up into radicals and components of other shapes, which makes it possible to distinguish even unfamiliar kanji from each other.
  • Catch occasional words that I can understand while listening to Japanese wrestling commentary and promos. I also hear spoken Japanese now as word-particle, word-particle, word-particle, verb, etc. instead of just hearing it as a blur of sound.
  • Read parts of tweets in Japanese, and even when I can’t read all the text, I’m starting to gain the ability to figure out things that machine translation leaves out or fails to translate correctly.