Why this is many years in the making

Here I am today coming back to wanikani with a review pile of 728 wondering how the hell I’m ever going to learn anything like this? I’ve been doing this for just over a year now over and over I’m seeing the same pattern.

I do well, taking about 26 days to do a level, stuff like exams come up and I end up dropping it for a while to keep up with them, and I come back to a review pile hundreds of items big, which only gets bigger while I leave it off while I’m still winding down. It takes months to get through and all that time relearning has damaged the flow of it all.

Not only does that slow me down a lot but I also worry it’s making me forget the earlier burned stuff. You only remember by using it after all, and being pretty far behind on grammar to actually use the stuff isn’t making it any better.

Here’s my stats showing how long I’m predicted to learn for and just how bad these breaks are:

It’s not all bad. Each time this happens I learn smarter the next time. I’ve got several scripts to know my learning limits and am keeping myself at a good pace. Guess I’m not quiet good enough yet to see the downfall of exams coming though.

I don’t blame myself for these issues completely. Most of those where because of long crunches to get a game done that realistically don’t leave me time to work on japanese. These come with working on games and I’m still learning to minimize them.

Not to say that’s not of my own making of course, the majority of my troubles can be put down to my awful time management and procrastination.

Hopefully I’ll be able to slow down learning a bit better when I see this coming and keep on top of my work better to give me more time to learn in future. For now though here’s to another few months of working through this pile 50 a day.

I’d love to hear what you think and if any of you can relate. Thanks.

EDIT: Probably good to clarify this. I empty my review pile daily and keep it at a manageable size. I also make sure to priorities reviews over lessons. My problem is hard stops when things like exams come up. Normally I’m doing great but I’m bad at handling reviews while other big things come up. Thanks.


One important thing to do is to never stop coming to Wanikani every day. Even if you can’t do new lessons, you should try to find time to maintain the knowledge you already have and keep up with the reviews. A good trick is figuring out beforehand when life will get busier and to stop doing lessons a few days before.

I also wrote a guide for Wanikani that will help you understand everything. I highly advise you to read it. It is definitely possible to get to the end, no worries :slight_smile:


One suggestion would be to brave those 700 reviews in a short period of time. The more you take to review those, the more demotivated you will be, because the preconception that you are not learning anything new during the period (which is untrue, but I know people tends to feel that way).

Learning new lessons while having a huge pile of reviews isn’t good either, so maybe doing them all in 3 sittings might be a good idea. There is also a 3rd party plugin that can help you fasten it. If a term you can’t remember in 30 seconds, then it will be mark as wrong. Don’t be discouraged by wrong term, because it is exactly how the SRS system works.

Maybe you could make a schedule for everyday. 10 new words and review all words at a set time will help greatly with increasing the speed at which you go.

Though I understand that developing a game is hard, learning Japanese is also not easy. It might do you good to sit down and prioritize what you want to do. As for me, much as I want to learn Machine Learning at the moment, I am postponing it for Japanese.

Last but not least, always remember why you choose to study Japanese. What was the motivation that drive you to the point you currently at?


I heartily recommend resetting to level 2.

I was at level 12 and left WK for about a year. I had around a thousand reviews and as you said could not even remember burned items.

If you do stick at it my suggestion is do the reviews in batches if 10 using the wrap up feature - that way you won’t spend long periods of time without even getting the meaning and reading coming together.

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Thanks. Motivation isn’t an issue, just sometimes it’s a lot easier to put off going through the pile till later than continue on straight from doing exams. I definately try not lot leave it too long though and my ever growing feeling of needing to do something productive helps that.

I actually spend most of my time reviewing over lessons, since I’ve made huge mistakes with letting the pile get too high from doing lesons first. My problem is getting all the reviews done. I find it really hard to think clearly and it doesn’t take long for straining my memory to wear me out till I can’t think at all and have a headache. I think I’ll look up that script you suggested to automatically move on though. That sounds like it could help a fair bit.

Also games is something I’m studying in university, so I can’t exactly put it off. I get what you mean though. I would try learn to draw for example but I know if I do I won’t be able to keep on top of japanese, which matters more to me.

Thanks for the advice!

Thanks. I wouldn’t dream of resetting. At least till I’m sure it doesn’t happen again. Probably a fault of mine that I cling on to progress too tight but hey, I manage. I do make sure to try close a review session though so items actually get finished.

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I do it daily when I can, I just have to stop when things like exams fill my plate too full. I mostly do reviews over lessons because of make the review pile too big before. I’ve already said I’m working on seeing these coming better and handling them though, so hopefully I can keep doing a little each day. At least enough to make the pile smaller when I come back to it after something like an all night crunch on a game.

If you have a headache by the time you are done with reviews, perhaps you are thinking too hard? To me, if I can’t get it in 10-20 seconds i get it wrong, relearn it, and move on. I think it can be more helpful sometimes to do this because if I don’t know a kanji off the bat, I’m not ready to move it up to the next srs level.

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Ye, that’s something that’ll be good for me to work on in the short term. I often try hard to do it because it’s rewarding when I eventually do get it but it might not be worth it if that’s causing such a headache. I can’t say if it’s properly remembering it when it takes so long but with how much harder it makes other reviews it probably isn’t worth it regardless. I was recommended a script that automatically skips after a bit so that should help.

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That’s fine if you keep up with reviews. Difficult terms will drop in SRS and you will eventually learn them that way. It might actually take longer than just resetting back a few levels though, just so you know.

oh, I extremely relate. I started back in 2012… and as you can see, I’m not even level 20 yet.

I really agree both with resetting as well as trying to get into a habit of doing reviews twice a day, three times if you can. I wish I’d read the guide by jprspereira sooner. I found it a few months ago and you can see in my stats how much it helped (level 18 took a long time because of relearning stuff from the overhaul). I didn’t think trying to make more time for this would help, but as it turns out, everything is so much easier to get through, and I haven’t missed a day in a few months. I reset a little over a year ago and it made the whole thing possible again. before that, it was just a huge despair factory, coming here. I’m now finally past the point I got to before I reset, and I am really proud of myself! I have lower accuracy during reviews, but I’m getting them done much much more quickly, so I don’t loathe the time I spend on them, and despite the lower score, I feel like I’m learning a lot more and it’s a lot more enjoyable.

over the years I’ve been dealing with persistent depression, moving across the country a few times, university, jobs, so much stuff. I beat myself up a lot for “not knowing enough” despite studying for a decade now (I’m a strong N4, thereabouts). I’m trying to get better at appreciating my progress instead! I feel like that’s more than half the battle…

all this to say: you can really can do it and maybe changing your approach will help. life gets in the way majorly, and that’s so okay. it’s your own study and your own pace, and even if you’re only making what feels like a minuscule amount of progress every day, you are still way ahead of where you were yesterday. which SOUNDS cheesy, but it’s still true!!


Thanks. Glad to hear your story!

I do make sure to review daily and with scripts I’ve managed to work out how much to learn so I can always empty a review pile daily without pushing myself too far. I might give that guide a review but overall I’m pretty happy with my learning when it’s going well. Just need to learn to cut back when the going gets tough. :wink:

that’s good!!
something I forgot to mention is that I use the anti-burnout lesson script. it’s basically been a japanese lifesaver for me, so I recommend giving it a try!

Cool. What does it do? Not sure if my problem counts as burnout but definitely can’t say no to giving it a go if it works.

essentially it prevents you from doing more lessons if your review queue is going to get too spicy

If you know you are going to be focusing on an exam, you can always use the vacation mode button in settings to stop the reviews piling up while you are focusing on your exams.

During August to October last year I got lazy and stop doing reviews, and then because my review queue was over 1000, I got really demotivated. However, a lot of those were words either about to be burned, or go into enlightenment, which means once I review them, they wont be coming back into my queue for awhile. So even just doing 10 reviews minimum each day can help, and when you find time sit down and smash out 100 reviews. Slowly but surely, you will get that review count down.

Also, I don’t do any new lessons if I notice my review list getting too large, or if I am currently struggling with the current reviews. That way I can be in control of the reviews list, and don’t let it control me.

Lol I’ve done this a couple of times. Just pace yourself and knock out the reviews in chunks. Don’t worry about getting stuff wrong, the SRS will do it’s thing and it’ll come back to you. You can unburn things too, I had to do that to a few items.

Oh, cool. I use a script to show the expected daily reviews and just don’t let that go above 100, but that sounds like a good alternative. I’ll give it a look and see which I like best since I don’t know how exactly mine works it out.

Thanks. I can relate to doing it like that. I really need to get better at knowing when to halt the reviews but ideally I’d not get into the situation in the first place. From what I can figure pausing it makes it much easier to get back into but still causes the same issues with remember it.

Thanks, Glad to see you got through that level 6/7 slump and ended up doing so well after it too. that’s worryingly fast to be clearing levels but if you can keep on top of it good on you. I think I’ll wait to see if I actually need to unburn stuff before doing anything and will try using third party review sites to keep on top of it.