Two Years with WaniKani

After almost two decades after taking two years of college classes on the Japanese language, I have been using for the last two years a tool that is helping me overcome a major obstacle on the path toward language proficiency. Up until this second anniversary, WaniKani has helped me recognize and read more than 2,657 words composed of kanji.

It has taken me about two years to reach level 45 out of 60 offered by WaniKani. I did not expect to experience burnout, but I did at levels 20 through 23. I needed more than half a year, or 25% of my time with WaniKani, for just those four levels. If I maintain an average of 17 days per level going forward, I will have been exposed to all review items in eight months. It is possible to rush through the last 15 levels in four months, but my experience with burnout is encouraging me to enjoy the process and continue at a moderate pace.

I am pleased with my accuracy and the balance of items between various SRS stages. A review item requires six months to transition from “enlightened” to “burned.” To become burned, an enlightened review item’s meaning and reading must be remembered correctly after it has not been reviewed for six months. A review item is demoted to a lower SRS stage, if it is not remembered correctly. In theory, 3,773 burned items have become part of my long-term memory. Remembering these items is reinforced by studying higher level textbooks and consuming native material. For example, music videos for anime songs provide lyrics containing kanji. Reading anime song lyrics reinforces my ability to recognize and read those kanji.

WaniKani has made studying intermediate textbooks and consuming native material more enjoyable for me. Less time is spent looking up common words in a dictionary. This has allowed me to focus on the actual content of the media. I have no regrets signing up for a lifetime WaniKani membership, and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning Japanese.

Questions, comments, and responses are welcomed and appreciated.

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