What is an average / good speed for leveling up?

It’s my personal judgement based on having used both systems 10+ years apart. I did RTK years ago before & during a couple years I lived in Japan. I chose WK to get back into Japanese while filling in gaps in my knowledge.

So I will give a long answer. You are graciously engaging people in your thread, so my apologies that you already know a lot of what I’m about to write!

RTK works brilliantly at doing just one thing. Using it teaches you only the meaning of 2000+ kanji. (Really you’re teaching yourself because after a few hundred levels you’re making your own mnemonics for each kanji.) It was the most elegant, complete solution to the biggest problem in learning Japanese. All the later systems (like WK, Kanji Learner’s Course) build on its achievement.

But RTK depends on two things:

  • (1) It asks you to create mnemonics of your own;
  • (2) it puts the radicals and kanji in a very specific ORDER. Here’s a good example. RTK teaches 凹 and 凸 right away (both level 57 in WK). They are easily-learned kanij that show how kanji work as a system. They are visual, they show stroke order, and they are component graphemes (radicals) that build other kanji that come later. You really can’t skip around.

Of coures, WK uses radicals and mnemonic stories too. Its order frequently overlaps with RTK. They’re similar! But not that similar. You’ll create a lot of mental clutter tackling both at once. You can only do so much.

That said, the biggest difference is that one’s an app and one’s a book. It’s a difference in values.

On the one hand, WK is a total package. You get a huge vocab list, kanji, native-voiced readings, pre-written mnemonics, ready to go. And the SRS gets you 80% of the way there with 20% of the work. You don’t have to think. The computer does a lot of work for you.

On the other hand, RTK is a book that shares a set of instructions. You have to think, a lot. You have to write mnemonic stories. You could use it with flashcards, even an SRS. But it works best if you sit down with each kanji and devote a lot of time to really visualizing it. It’s about quality of engagement, not speed.

RTK was born in the 70s. I imagine Heisig at his Japanese school, skipping class, turning over the kanji in his mind, no distractions, hours and hours every day. Meanwhile, WK was born in the app/internet/smartphone era. Nothing but distractions. WK’s main values are convenience and speed.

Put another way, RTK asks you to spend a half-hour of quality time with each kanji so that you’ll never forget it again. WK asks you to spend five minutes with each kanji, and then 10 seconds with it over and over again spread out over six months. After that you’ll 'burn" it and still eventually forget it, but you’re getting a bunch of vocab and leech training scripts and reading by then too. So you hopefully won’t forget it!

And you probably won’t, since WK really increases as a workload. The reviews are going to come for you. A lot of the quality time RTK would ask for will get eaten into by the piles and piles of SRS flashcards WK is going to lay on you. You can meditate on the kanji in RTK’s mountain hut or you can see them over and over on WK’s express train.

So I strongly suggest not to do RTK at the same time as WK because they do not complement each other. You could do all of RTK first in order to eliminate a lot of WK. I basically did that accidentally. I’ve gone fast because I just skip WK’s radicals and mnemonics. But if you do them both at once, you are repeating work. It’s like digging one hole, then digging another hole, and filling in the first hole with the dirt from the second hole, and then planting a tree.

All you want to do is plant the tree. Either hole will do.


I find this to be a decent pace, but I do all the lessons basically as soon as I can. Means a heck of a review when they come up for the first time, but that some of them stick (or I already had a head start on from previous attempts) and some of them don’t means they spread out after that. But hey, with a Lifetime membership, the only clock I’m up against is the one where I die at the end and then it’s not my problem anyway. Do need to find a way to hammer in the stuff that doesn’t stick, though. Maybe grab a grid notebook and make myself write them out until my wrists give out. :woman_shrugging:

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First, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed answer, really appreciated :pray:

I fully understand what you mean, indeed at some point I will hit a “time” issue. And doing both is no longer as “efficient” as doing only 1. Probably a common life lesson : focus is always key !

Right now I can still afford it as WK doesn’t take me too much time, but I can foresee the reviews will only grow. So in a few days/ weeks I may have to make a hard choice :grimacing:

Nice metaphor :+1: :smile:


I set a Bookmark alarm on this to see how I’d fare after 30 days:

In that time I’ve done a catch-up level to reduce my apprentice and Guru counts. Every 5 levels seems to be the sweet spot for me.

I’m still doing a max of 20 lessons per day at most depending on my counts and with the catchup level I feel that I can keep going like this long term.

Has your method changed or are you still able to keep up? I’d love to hear how it’s working out for you as well.

I’ve really been spending the last 10 levels tweaking my method so it would be great to see a different perspective. :smiley::+1:

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Well, I’m still speeding on actually. I get antsy when reaching the next level-up possibility and usually don’t have more than a couple of apprentice 1-2 items by then, so I’ve steadily just leveled as before.

But I have seen a recent drop in accuracy (0,5-1%-ish), so I have been thinking of using the breaks a bit to consolidate what I now know. Kanji especially (those darn onyomi-readings) still plague me and takes some leeching before I learn them finally. But I also have struggled more with vocab as of late.

At the same time, those stats are fine. :woman_shrugging: Like I said, toward the end of each level I usually don’t have more than a couple of Apprentice 1-2 items, all others are moving up, and usually do even if I level. So, I probably will level again in a couple of days.

The items I haven’t learned well enough gets leeched between Guru-Apprentice a bit, but they then all end up Master thus far. I’m not worried enough about the recent accuracy drop to stop moving forward. But that might change! I’m keeping an eye on things right now! :eye:


Impressive job, I’m struggling a bit at the moment, the fun factor is really wearing off and I need to force myself. I guess I do need a clearer goal.

If you often don’t have time to do all your reviews in one session, maybe this script can be useful for you. It will prioritize the most urgent ones.

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Yes! Finding some concrete goal you want to accomplish for your Japanese is very useful. For me it’s been my love of Japanese audio dramas (where you obviously need a lot of vocab to follow by listening only), but just being able to buy manga is a goal for me (because most manga will never get translated). So, there’s so much I could read if only I were better at kanji.

So, just ask yourself what you enjoy? I doesn’t have anything to do with Japanese culture even! It could just be Western music and try to find info about that in Japanese (like Japanese fans stuff). I’m sure you can come up with a goal that works for you! Good luck!


ok so I finally level up to Level 5, yeah !!!
I say “finally” because it was painful… it took me 23 days versus 12 days for completing level 3 :grimacing:
Too bad I can’t install on my laptop some of the scripts mentioned, it would probably help.
I only have the laptop from the company I work for, and scripts are blocked by my Security :disappointed:
Anyway, still making progress, so I’ll try not to focus on the speed but rather the process of learning :grinning:

That’s good to hear! Your script situation is indeed unfortunate, but on the bright side you know that you can’t cheat yourself using them. It’s just as you said, ultimately it’s about learning something new, not how fast you do it. So keep chugging along, I wish you all the best.

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That’s awesome. I think the most impressive part is the consistent leveling speed. I’ll see you at 60 :smiley::wink:

Yeah Level 10 is about where you realize that there really is some commitment involved. This is also a good time to start doing grammar or reading so that you can see the fruit of all that work so far when you see Kanji you can recognize our in the wild.

As long as you’re making progress you’re good. I’ve been doing this for over a year and I’m still tweaking my method so it’s definitely something you’ll keep improving as you go.


I can understand that. One option that might work for you is the mobile app. I use flaming durtles.

I find it very useful when on the go or when not in front of my computer. It is Android only though. It has a lot of the more useful scripts built in. I know there is an app for iOS

but I haven’t used it before so I don’t know what features it has. I hope this will be helpful to you.


I’ve used Tsurukame since I started WK and it’s been great.

Rather than list all the features, here’s the settings page to give you an idea:


Tx !
Yes, I use the iPhone version - my mobile is from the company I work for, and guess what, the app is not blocked :grinning:

Tx !
I am using it too, but to be honest I never investigated the options.
I’ll try to play with the some of them to see if it helps me.

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The ones I use are:

  • Lesson order - I like having it in the order WK uses for the levels: Radical, Kanji, Vocab
  • Review order - I tried a few of the options, and Random order was the one where I had the best recall.
  • Reveal answer automatically - Every time an item comes up, I will try to answer both reading meaning in my head no matter which one it asks for. If I get either wrong, I get the item wrong and review both.
  • Allow cheating - This one is a misnomer. Typing on my phone keyboard is hard enough that getting something wrong because of a typo is too much of a penalty. I’ve been using this since the beginning so I’ve become used to being very strict in using this.
  • Show old mnemonics - Sometimes the older ones stick better.
  • Use katakana for onyomi readings - I turned this on to get better and reading katakana and it’s helped a lot.
  • Show all kanji readings - I usually only memorize the primary one, but I do like to see all the readings WK has listed.
  • Play audio automatically - This one really helps with cementing the word in my head. The one issue I have is that it will randomly play either the Kenichi or Kyoko audio. You can’t set it to one or the other or pick which one to listen to without playing it over and over.
  • Offline audio - This is almost a necessity IMO. Having the audio offline means that it play back quickly and I don’t have to worry about an internet connection to go through and listen.
  • Particle explosion, level up popup, +1 - Fancy stuff that looks nice :wink:

OMG this is so helpful :pray: :+1:
I never thought about the audio - I was not even aware it was available…
Yes indeed it can only help to retain !
Tx a million, I’ve just switched it on and tried it on 先日 , it works :grinning:

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I don’t know about slowest.

For real, everyone is different, but it does get significantly harder than it is at level 6. You get way more vocabulary, some of the kanji start look similar to ones you’ve already learned, the meanings get more abstract, plus there are lots of synonyms and homonyms, which makes everything harder to remember. All in all, you should probably expect to slow down. Even at one level per month, you are learning way more vocabulary than in a traditional class.

I level up about every 10 days, but I’m corunemployed, so I can devote several hours to study a day. I would never stay motivated to keep at it if I didn’t love reading, and, even at level 27, I can read Japanese so much more easily than I could 6 months ago! Do it at whatever pace you can, but I recommend saving some of your study time for reading once you get past level 10 or so. There are lots of book clubs on here, and they are awesome!

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