When will I get good?

Hey tomodachis, I’m nearing level 7 on WK and slowly going through Genki book 1 - I’m only on chapter 2. I read little kids’ books in Japanese and sometimes I get to say “Wow, I kind of understood something in that sentence!”

Sometimes I feel like I will never learn to put together my own sentences or understand what I’m reading.

I guess my question is, how far into this journey will I feel like I’m doing it?

Arigatou in advance.


That’ll depend on what you do outside of WaniKani the most. Around level 15-20 I started to tentatively challenge myself with manga. It was super hard. I had to check jisho.org every other word, had to look up unknown grammar all the time, thanks reddit and Google. Just going through a page was a struggle.

Fast-forward 3-4 years and I can read manga, light novels and even internet articles with little effort. Mind you, I still have to look up words, and I struggle a lot with slang (damn kids with their weird words), but overall it’s not much of an issue.

Now, what I did was follow the ツイ4 account on Twitter and read daily web-manga. Challenging yourself a little every day seems to work. When you find something you don’t know, you look it up, then go back and do it again. They say it takes 10000 hours to master anything. Just put in the time, and you’ll get there eventually.


I studied on and off for 5 years and got no where. (I mean like barely able to read hiragana… no katakana at all… no kanji… and doing 1/4 of a genki lesson at a snails pace with a teacher 1 hour a week on and off for 2 - 3 month periods I was basically a fool for allowing myself to be ‘taught’ like that but i didn’t know any better as a beginner… this was before I started researching about polyglots and how they do things then ajatt and MIA came along recently)

Last year I said “i want this” and so i started wanikani at my own pace (still daily) 5 months later level 11 almost 12 now.

Studying grammar every day (coscom.co.jp)
Reading manga every day (even when i dont understand it)
I listen to Japanese music 24/7… but then i try and participate by learning the lyrics (again… even if i don’t know what they mean)

Now… i wouldn’t say i could produce anything but i can consume content quite easily NHK Easy news i understand 50-60% of what I’m reading.

Manga like Yotsuba I understand 3/5 words, look up 2 - 5 per page but can ‘fully understand whats going on’

I can read and every day i find myself having those moments "Oh i know this word’ “Ohh did he just say ‘Saikin ha ginza de (don’t have jp keyboard atm)’ in that song i know that”

I’m seeing kanji all over the place and having this feeling like I’ve seen that before!! and sometimes 20% of the time i know it!

I think what I’m trying to say is…
Its up to you how fast you go, but be consistent or you’ll spend 5 years and get no where. if you put in hard work even in the times where you cant see the progress (which last for weeks at a time… and are super demotivating) you’ll always look back and say wow I’m better today than I was 2 weeks ago.

I mean ask yourself now, you’ve put in what 2? 3? 4? months so… 2-3-4 months ago, did you know as much as you do today? nope. no way, feel happy in knowing that and take another 2-3-4 month step forward then reflect back.


It took me 2 years to get to this point, but I am now able to read manga, LNs, and VNs pretty easily. I do have to look up some words (or archaic kanji, damn you utawarerumono) or some grammar points but for the most part my experience is pretty smooth.

That said it was 2 years of almost daily wanikani, vocab, and/or grammar practice. Could I have gotten here faster? Maybe, but I don’t think I would have been able to handle that more practice than that. Progress is all dependent on how much work you put in.

Just practice practice practice!

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I will say +1 on that 2 years. Reaching there, been really constant every day and I’m finally finishing my first book series of short stories aimed at kids within the 6-11 year old range. My first novel is my next milestone :star_struck:. Watching shows too, but measuring that it’s much harder.

I’ve also embarked myself recently into an all japanese hobby (Shodo) while in Japan, and it’s serving as a huge incentive to push my level further every time, if only for the sake of understanding the explanations :sweat_smile::sweat_smile: … And all this when I just was starting to feel comfy…:stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

So, like others have said, be constant in your efforts, and then rejoice on the little milestones; look back into where you were 6 months ago and gain confidence about where you could be 6 months from now.:+1::+1:


Hi mate!

You should define what good is :). Good at reading, writing, talking and/or listening?

I know a guy who could “speak” after 2 years living in Japan, but very limited Kanji knowledge. I have another friend who can read manga but with limited conversational skills.

In one of the theories I read (can’t remember the source) they took a “situational approach”. Can you order at a restaurant, can you read a children’s book, can you ask for help when looking for a product, can you explain to a doctor what your problem is, could you give a presentation about the economy…

The married this to the Europeans (A1 to C2 levels) so you could actually know how much you could actually do in the target language.

Setting some goals like in 2 months I want to be able to order food at a restaurant and give a short 3 min introduction about myself. I want to at least cover 4 more chapters in Genki are great ways to “get good”

Good luck!


A lot of people say completing Genki, that is Genki I+II, is around where you’ll have enough knowledge to start dipping into things. I agree with this sentiment, although it’s obviously oversimplifying the matter and dependent on many other factors.

That being said, Genki is 23 chapters, so if you’re going by that measurement, you’re 2/23 of the way there …

In 3 months I’m level 15 here and completely finished Genki I & II but I’m able to speak on a basic level, read short texts and watch anime with Japanese subtitles. I still feel like I’m just beginning.

At the same time I spent 4h30min a day on Japanese since the 1st of January and this is the 4th language I’m learning. How fast and how easily you can digest a new language heavily depends on both your motivation and how much you train your brain to retain information :+1:


Have you considered a class, tutoring or group meetups to practice your speaking and listening skills? Learning solely from WK and Genki in isolation is not gonna be enough. Immersion is going to be the key to not hit a plateau and get stuck there.

I’m doing WK and grammar study on my own and supplementing with an informal weekly class. The interaction with a teacher and other learners helps immensely. Especially being forced to do recall on-the-fly to be able to converse. Plus having interactions with a native speaker to ask questions about culture, nuances, etc. is invaluable. These are all things WK will not teach you.


Sadly I live in a smallish town with fewer resources. There is a college, but no Japanese classes. If I want to converse in Japanese, it will have to be online or with the one guy I know who speaks Japanese (but borrowed some books and so now won’t return my calls.)

Then definitely look into something like iTalki, HelloTalk or HiNative. Or some combination of the three.

ETA: Fixing HelloTalk name. Thanks StarMech.

Just in case that causes whoever to not find it.

To anyone who decides to try it: I’ve been using HelloTalk for a very long time (and am even one of their “Key Point Leaders” people, for whatever that’s worth), and it’s incredibly important to take some of the corrections on there with a grain of salt. Some people just suck at their native language, Japanese being no different than English in that regard. I think the best thing to do is find someone who seems to have a decent grasp on English and become a language partner with them, because they will most likely have a decent grasp on general language arts.

Edit: Does actually look like there’s a HelloChat, but it doesn’t look like it’s a language learning thing, so I’m going to stick with my original assumption that HelloTalk was meant to be said. :stuck_out_tongue:


It is a journey. You will have moments where you feel like you are progressing and moments where you feel like you are stalling. Understanding that it will take years to reach a fluency level is important. Because of that it’s important to be consistent and make sure that even if it doesn’t feel like it, as long as you are retaining what you’ve studied, then you are progressing.

For me I have had these moments of excitement in progress so far:
-being able to read hiragana and katakana even though I didn’t understand most of the words

  • being able to understand some of the words I was reading/hearing
    -being able to understand simple conversations or parts of simple conversations
    -being able to read kanji (in my case I didn’t learn kanji right away)

From that point I have been in this cycle where I don’t see much progress and then suddenly I will read or watch something and understand more than I have in the past. In between all of these moments I had moments that felt like I wasn’t progressing. In the beginning you see the progress because you’re going from zero. As you learn more it starts to blur when you learned something and if you’re progressing. Like I said you just have to stick to it and in time you will have a-ha moments.


Almost two years in, I finished reading the first Harry Potter book in Japanese and now I’m working through Norwegian Wood. Mind, I’m not reading it effortlessly, it’s hard, but doable. There are some passages, especially when it gets into politics or abstract “poetic” language, for which I have to consult the English translation, but when it’s about the protagonist’s daily life, the dialogues, I can usually read for a few pages barely looking up a word or two and that feels great.


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