On the first day of the new year, I wrapped up the last few Kanji covered by WaniKani. My journey with WaniKani up until now has lasted at least 31 months, which is five months short of my third anniversary. In that time, I have been introduced to 2034 kanji and 6432 words.
In a little over seven months since my last write-up, I finished the last 25% of the WaniKani program. I think that without experiencing burnout, the WaniKani program can be completed in about 28 months by someone with full-time employment, and other responsibilities and interests. I do not remember taking a break from WaniKani, but I do remember how challenging levels 25 and 26 were for me. Maybe this was the time that many of the early items were being reviewed, and it was challenging to push through the levels because of the large amount of scheduled reviews for the earlier items and re-reviews of items missed.
My accuracy on the meaning and reading of kanji and words is around 85%. When working through the levels, I tried to keep close to 200 Apprentice items, but it had sometimes fluctuated to over 300 items when I made mistakes on Guru items. Mistakes on a spaced repetition system (SRS), such as WaniKani, are what drive the functionality and motivation of those systems. Items answered incorrectly are reviewed more frequently. Items answered correctly are reviewed less frequently after longer durations to reinforce recollection.
With 33 of 31 kanji needed to pass to the next level, the WaniKani dashboard shows that I would be on the 61st level, if such a level existed. There is still a good percentage of WaniKani content for me to review and Burn. One item that has stuck around since June 2021 is 名人, or “expert.” I have mistook the reading as みょうにん (“myounin”), みょうじん (“myoujin”), and めいにん (“meinin”). It is read めいじん (“meijin”). It is still a Guru item for me, so looking it up before my next review in two days is not cheating. ;)
I really appreciated the automated email messages that are sent out when a level is completed. They were like small celebrations of accomplishments. And, I looked forward to receiving them when I leveled up. I saved all of them, because they were encouraging and contained funny tidbits. I included the last of these emails to me below:
You just got to Level 60, Steve.
I don’t even have a gif deserving enough of your accomplishment.
Not many people get to this point, so what you did was really special.
I know this is an automatic email, but I’m seriously, actually really proud of what you’ve done.
I really hope it takes you places in life, work, or school. Knowledge truly is a powerful thing, and I hope you go out there and use it as much as you can. New doors are opening for you.
Speaking of which, it’s time to start thinking about leaving the WaniKani nest. You know how mother birds push their baby birds out of the tree to teach them how to fly, and sometimes they do but sometimes they don’t? That’s what needs to happen here. Although I’d love for you to use and pay for WaniKani forever, there’s a time where it’s better for you to go out into the real world, and that time is now. Feel free to finish this level and burn out previous items, but get out there and read Japanese! That’s why we’re doing this, after all.
Anyways, such a good job. You worked really hard. I know it’s tough. I’m really proud of what you’ve done, Steve.
Koichi & the WaniKani Team
I am really proud of completing this program without third-party tools, aside from wkstats.com. WaniKani has helped build a solid foundation for me to continue with intermediate-level language textbooks and native content. As suggested by the above email, I will leave the WaniKani nest and graduate away from using it as my primary learning resource.
Ruby Switch is a web browser plugin that I developed to make toggling the visibility of ruby text such as furigana more convenient. To further my study of the Japanese language, I frequently visit Internet sites for language learners or young native speakers. These sites typically show how vocabulary using kanji is read. Sites, such as NHK‘s site, feature news written in simple Japanese and make it easy to toggle between showing or hiding how to read kanji. Other sites do not offer that feature, and toggling ruby text requires going into a web browser’s development tools to modify the CSS.
The following image shows Ruby Switch pinned to the Mozilla Firefox toolbar and renderings with and without ruby text of a page on Mainichi Newspaper for elementary school students.
Ruby Switch allows practice in reading Japanese. This simple plugin allows language learners to conveniently toggle the visibility of furigana to allow reinforcing vocabulary that is recognizable while also allowing them to confirm their readings when there is uncertainty.
The following is a sampling of sites that work with Ruby Switch:
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.