Vote Charlie!

Getting back into WaniKani

Posted at age 27.

I began studying Japanese vocab and characters through WaniKani in May 2014, a few months after I moved to Japan. After five months, I wrote about my struggles to get caught up with the program due to intentionally advancing through the levels as quickly as possible to maximize my benefit while actually living in Japan. Had I kept at it, I could have finished the entire thing by summer 2015, at which point I expected I would still be living in Japan.

Were I always caught up on my journaling, I would have already written about the whole Japan situation and how I abruptly had to move back to America due to the rapidly falling yen and some company politics. I’m not sure I ever wrote about it, though, so instead of referencing a post, I’ll just summarize: Toward the end of 2014, I was realizing I might not stay in Tokyo as long as I expected. This lowered my enthusiasm for torturing myself through hours of studying every day, and thus I fell further behind in WaniKani. I intended to keep at it, just less intensely.

Well, I left Japan more than a year ago now (though I’ve been back several times since) and my WaniKani status has been stagnant. I tried to do it a few times, but it was horrible. For many of the characters I supposedly burned into my memory, the neuronal pathways were much too degraded to be useful. I did remember more than I expected, but I found myself constantly frustrated, feeling I needed to start over and review the earliest characters before continuing.

Tim mentioned I should be able to ask Koichi and friends to reset my account, and I considered this, but wanted to give catching up a few more pushes before giving up. A few more months passed before I finally looked into this, while I was planning to try a 12 week year. I found you could not only ask to reset your account, but you could ask to be moved back to a certain level! So I arbitrarily asked to be moved from my then current level 23 back down to level 10. And it was so.

I still had hundreds of words and characters in my reviews queue, and hundreds in my lessons queue, but it was much more manageable. And I perhaps should have gone back even earlier, for still I’ve needed to review some of the characters from earlier levels. But I think I’m at a point I can selectively fill gaps and just stick with it now.

I’ve been focusing on the reviews queue, and only added 20 new items from the lessons queue. Once my reviews get closer to zero, I’ll resume progressing as normal. It’s interesting, of the vocabulary I did add from level 10, many of them I was certain I hadn’t seen before. Somehow in my reordering lessons in the past, I managed to get all the characters done through level 23 while not even getting all the vocab from level 10. Clearly I was making things more difficult for myself by not being exposed to the characters in context of vocabulary at anywhere near the same time.

In the past six weeks I have spent 18 hours on WaniKani. I guess that’s nowhere near the number of hours I was spending in the past, but I do feel it’s been well worth it considering all the characters I barely remembered (but did remember) and now feel more comfortable with. I’m finding things coming to mind nearly instantly much more than before, though there are still plenty of simple words and characters I consistently get wrong. I’ll focus on these more once I’ve plucked all the low hanging fruit.