I’ve heard from various peeps in the community, fail though I may to find their posts again, that Wanikani starts tapering off in usefulness around level 40-50ish.
For a while, I’ve had the plan to reach an intermediate stage in Japanese, then start learning Bengali (my mother tongue, which I never learnt) alongside it. I have a deadline of approximately two years, because that’s one of the only times in my life I’ll actually be going back to Bengal.
And therein lies my problem. The longer I spend reaching a pretty good/okay level in Japanese, the less time I have to learn Bengali. Which sucks, because I’m equally interested in learning both.
My plan is to half the amount of vocab I learn a day to give me time to do Bengali instead, so I’ll be continuing either way, but level 40 is looming and it’s time I figure out exactly what level I’ll choose to be the cut-off point.
So fellow crabigator disciples, what are your thoughts? Has wanikani already peaked, or does the usefulness extend all the way to level 60?
To me. There’s isn’t “useless” level but there are less useful levels people say first 30 levels >last 30 levels. That in term of kanji common use. So technically you are already surpassed that. I have no idea how long bengali should take to learn but if it takes same/more than japanese then maybe you can stop doing lessons and only do review (to not forget what you already learned). Once you reach comfortable level in bengali you can hop back in with no problems.
I’d say level 51 onwards there’s somewhat less “useful” kanji. That said, in the last week or so, I think I remember seeing around 13 of the 35 level 51 kanji as opposed to around 11 of the 35 level 50 kanji, so I guess it depends a lot on what you read.
Edit: and here’s the rest of the 50s levels with how many kanji I’m pretty sure I remember reading last week (there might have been more that I forgot… in fact, I’m pretty sure there were):
One thing I know for sure is that the more kanji you know, the easier the reading gets, and that didn’t really stop even after I “finished” level 60.
Still plenty of use. I just slowed down some more as I also had to use my time on other studies. I think that’s really the difference. You know the song and dance, so you can adjust better.
I originally stopped at level 42 and found it a good place to pause things for a while as I focused more on reading and grammar. But eventually the difficulty of reading material increased to the point where I felt my kanji abilities were still quite lacking. So while I think you can definitely get pretty far by level 40, the remaining 20 levels still have value, particularly if you intend to read increasingly difficult texts. As long as you keep up with reading Japanese on a consistent basis though, your overall kanji knowledge shouldn’t diminish much so you can come back when you’re able to (I say this as someone who has been very off and on with Wanikani for the past 6 years).
Most of my analyses show levels 40 to 45 gets you to about 90% recognition of the overall kanji appearing in a work. That means you’ll still be looking up 1 in 10 of the kanji that you come across.
Once you’re through roughly levels 45 to 55, you reach the 95% recognition range, where you’re only looking up about 1 in 20 of the kanji you encounter.
This will depend on what you’re reading, of course.
It depends on your goals, but to me it has never felt like wanikani became less useful. Partly because I came to wanikani with prior study, so the lower levels were often review, while the higher levels are extremely useful because they include more stuff I’ve never seen. At this point, every level seems crucial to me.
It will depend on what you want to do with your Japanese: for example, level 50 kanji won’t show up as often in shonen manga, but might be crucial sometimes reading a novel or newspaper. What counts as intermediate for you?
I’d say there is no level that’s not useful to learn on WK. What is less useful is burning 100% of all items. If you reach 85% - 90% of items burned, that´s plenty probably. The rest you might still wanna learn, but you likely need to approach them differently anyway (as they’re likely leeches). So, that’s when you can probably just focus more on immersion learning, grammar, and other vocab resources as it will give you a better overall gain (which you, btw, should have been doing all along as well. WK teaches you kanji, not Japanese).
It’s not something I would worry about being precise about and would just slow down at 45 or around there.
I don’t think there’s really a not useful level on WK. I have come across Kanji from all 60 levels ever since I started reading seriously. Yes, I would say that Kanji from level 50+ are less common, but they still pop up.
Indeed a pretty good suggestion, level 45 is actually pretty much when this graph flattens out a lot (wkstats Reading Coverage, turned into a graph by @chaswrig)
Thanks for pointing me towards that graph! I can make a much more informed decision now
Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind!
Will you keep up the bengali going forward or just doing it for vanity reasons? That is probably one of the better questions. It’s kind of a waste of time to learn a language you’ll never use and then forget. How much bengali content is there even? I would say that it’s kind of lacking, might be wrong. Japanese however there is endless content and something that I would use far more than my mother tongue if it’s not something that I’d use on a near daily basis. Besides, do you need to be fluent? Do you have to give up wanikani all together? Do you have a spare hour every day for wanikani? Probably. Don’t have to give up japanese all together. Just some thoughts, no idea how often you’ll actually use bengali, seems like a waste to put japanese totally on the backburner and forget a large portion of your progress for vanity reasons.
Lmao, Bengali is the 5th largest language by number of native speakers, because it’s the second largest language in India. Not to mention it’s OP’s mother tongue. That can’t really be called a “vanity project”, it’s not like learning Klingon. Relearning a mother tongue also tends to go much faster because you probably might still have some of the instinctive intuitions buried deeply. Being able to speak with family members is, to many people, more important than understanding manga.
It’s a large language, sure, but how useful will it be? He/she doesn’t live there and he/she said in the topic that it might be only time even visiting there. So how will he/she keep up with the language? Don’t know how much he/she will even use the language in every day life, if it’s next to nothing it’s a waste of time imo. Nothing has stopped him/her from learning the language until now, but it will somehow change once the foot is in Bengal. It totally gives me vanity vibes, but I don’t know him/her family situation and how much he/she is around the language in every day life, if it was quite a lot he/she would probably try to learn it sooner.
Wait okay so I used ‘mother tongue’ incorrectly. My mom speaks Bengali. I thought that made it my mother tongue.
But yes you’re right, it’ll definitely be a challenge with how little learning material there is, but as I strive to become a polyglot I come to realise increasingly so that allowing the language that half of my family spoke for generations to die out with me would be quite ironic. Besides, Japanese isn’t going away entirely. As I said, I’d half the amount of lessons i do each day, not cast wanikani off a cliff and not look back
I will not tell you what you want to hear, just what I think that you need to hear. If it’s a language that you’ll actually use, then sure go for it, but if that was the case then you’d probably learn it sooner. You understand where I am coming from? How will you keep up the language? Have some limited discussions from time to time will probably not be sufficient, I might be wrong. The hardest part is probably not to learn it, it’ll be to maintain it in your case, in the long run. It’s not like it’s a whole lot of content in bengali that is (atleast to me) very suitable, might be for you, I have no idea. You probably know best, I don’t know your situation, but would seem like something you’d regret in the future, to give up your progress in japanese to talk about weather in bengali.
For a lot of people, learning language is not about how useful it will be it. It’s about feeling connected to your culture and roots, even if you are you not going to use it all the time.
I don’t want to make too many assumptions about where you are coming from, but for a lot of monolingual anglophone, I think they have trouble understanding this concept partially because English is soooo dominate culturally around the globe, that it doesn’t really feel connected to culture. But especially if you are in a minority situation, language is a clear connection to your history and family.
I am natively bilingual (English and French) and I can tell you that if I lost my French, I would be really sad. Even if all I use it for at the moment is “talking about the weather” to my mom once a week. It’s a part of who I am.
edit to add
All that to say @SisterSunny , if you feel that you want to learn Bengali, do it! I don’t think you will regret it
“You’re going to regret learning a language your mom speaks” seems pretty heavily off-base to me.
And even aside from that, it’s entirely possible to get something out of learning a language with no reason at all and no expectation it will be maintained. Schools have students take language classes without assuming everyone’s going to go out and be bilingual.