Japanese Quest XPNAVI

XP Navi Icon 3

Your Level

World 1

World 3

World 5


Japanese Quest. Your game. Your challenge. You have begun your adventure. Equip yourself. Travel the land. Fight through battles. Conquer bosses. Level Up. Become a Legend. But as with all great games, there is a good system and structure behind them.

The level guide on this site is nice to give you a basic and general path. But it still leaves everything ultimately up to you. You may love an RPG, but if you were told you had to decide how much experience you would get for every enemy killed, every task completed, and how much experience it would take to reach every level, your enjoyment may seriously decline. The fun is in the game, not the mechanics behind it.

You want to play the game. You don’t want to program the game.

Enter XPNAVI. Its sole purpose: make sure that you can focus on the enjoyment of the game. This is a brand new tool which tracks your level, your experience needed to level, and your experience earned for everything you will do on your Japanese journey. It is a simple concept, easy to use, but contains a lot of power behind it. What’s inside?

1. Element Legend

XPNAVI is configured graphically to make it more user-friendly and aesthetically appealing. This legend not only explains what every graphic is, but explains how to figure out what numbers to enter. They vary depending on the element. For example, textbooks are figured out by pages read, while videos are figured out by minutes watched.

Level Guide

Levels are broken down by experience required to reach the next level and total experience earned. This is one of the most important areas of XPNAVI and there was a lot of math that went on behind these numbers trying to figure out how to accurately gauge experience with levels. The numbers I used focused on type of material used with level period (ex. you are more likely to use textbooks in your earlier levels, and more likely to use manga in later levels), average active and passive hours engaged in per day at various points in your studies, average days studied throughout a month, typical breaks/vacations/illness, and variation depending on intensity of studying.

Now obviously this isn’t going to be perfect, as there are plenty of variables I can’t account for. But no RPG is perfect when it comes to leveling and experience points, and in the case of studying Japanese, close really is good enough. But really, the XPNAVI is about motivation and keeping track of your progress in a fun way.

This level guide doesn’t coincide exactly with the general leveling guide on this site, so the two may not exactly match up. There was significantly more time and math used in creating the XPNAVI than the original level guide here, so this should be the most accurate. And while this site’s level guide goes up to 99, XPNAVI currently only goes up to 65, since past this level you probably wouldn’t be using it anyway, and the variables get a little out of control. I may eventually update this to 99 as I work this out.

3. Experience Guide

This is the monthly chart that covers on a daily basis every possible form of Japanese studying that you could possibly be doing. Each element is given a point value modifier depending on its effectiveness, difficulty, and time efficiency.  Every day you insert numbers depending on your progress, use the modifiers, and calculate your daily experience points and your new total experience. Then you glance over to the leveling guide and add your continuing or newly reached level.

Adding the numbers is a fairly easy process that should take no more than a few minutes of minimal effort.

Paper Option (Manual)

I know what you may be thinking. This version is not a program. It is not an app. It is an old fashioned Word File, with the ability to print it out and write on it with an ancient pen or pencil (possibly colored?!) It’s 2013. Why did I decide to go this route?

– The more in your face the XPNAVI is, the more you can’t leave it alone. Leave it blank, and it will taunt you. It won’t let you get away with ignoring it. Spread out the monthly sheets in your room to keep track of your progress. Plaster them on your wall if you want. Staple them together to quickly thumb through where you have been and where you are going.
– It’s easier to view on a full sheet of paper than on a small mobile screen
– The time difference to manually input numbers is so minimal on your part, but allowed the XPNAVI to be created quicker for you and with less resources required. All you are doing is adding a few numbers, multiplying a few more, and then adding them at the end.
– If you don’t like the pen/pencil concept, you can easily just do everything from within the word file without ever printing anything out, as the input is set up just for that. Just enter the numbers with your keyboard, do the simple math, and rock on. You can then even make it your desktop background . . .

*New* Program Option (Automated)

In light of the fact that it is 2013, shortly after the release of the paper option above, two incredibly generous and talented members of JALUP (Ryan Kemp and Benjamin Gillies) decided to automate the system with some advanced excel programming knowledge. Thanks to them, they created an automated version, with an experience point bar, skill point bars, and more (see screenshot 2 below for a better idea.)

Recommended use of both versions

While either the paper or program versions can be used as a standalone based on your preference, I think using them together gives you the best results. The program version makes the experience and leveling calculations easier, but the paper version provides a better layout of your experience progress in all areas daily and monthly, making it easier to set and accomplish goals. The choice is up to you of course.

What’s Actually Inside?

Paper option: the above three sections are contained in a WORD file with a total of 41 pages: this intro repeated (2 Pages), Element Legend (1 Page), Level Guide (2 Pages), and Experience Guide (1 page x 36 months = 36 Pages).

Program option: 1 excel spreadsheet and 1 short instructions file.

Who is this for?

Any Japanese learner, regardless of your level. While the guide starts from level 1, it is designed in a way that it will balance itself out no matter what level you currently are. When using the XPNAVI, everyone starts from level 1 despite their actual real level or length of study time. Due to the exponential growth system of experience required to reach the next level, those who are already an actual higher level going in will blast through the early levels due to speed, ability, and materials used (that gain higher exp. returns). Eventually your own natural level will be reached and your leveling speed will be evened out.

Think of it like this. If you were level 30 in an RPG with all your abilities and stats remaining, yet you had to progress from level 1, how quickly do you think you could easily get back to your real level?


Purchase XPNAVI: 6.99


Didn’t find it to be of use? Not quite what you thought you needed? No worries. Send an e-mail to adshap (at) japaneselevelup (dot) com within 30 days after your purchase date to ask for a 100% refund, no questions asked.


I know. A description with something like this may not exactly be enough. You want to know what it looks like. So I’m including a few small heavily cut screenshots from some of the pages, and blocked out a few parts (ex. bottom screenshot with circles or black space).

Paper Option

Program Option

Ready to begin?

Let the leveling begin. See you on the other side.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Japanese Quest XPNAVI — 61 Comments

  1. I just got it and filled out day 1 in month 1. I advise everyone to buy it. It is really good. I love the exp point system and the fact that you have to start from level 1. I like being able to set my monthly goals and skill points. It actually motivated me. I had a pile of anki reviews that I wasn’t going to do (I was going to limit it down to only 30 when there was 100+). But XPNAVI motivated me to do them all so I could progress quicker. Thanks Adshap for this. Worth every penny.

  2. This was worth it for me; I’m still enjoying tracking my XP after two weeks. Some things I’ve found:

    Of all the things given xp values, there are only a couple where an activity that I think causes me to learn less gives more xp than something that causes me to learn more. But the fact that I also choose more enjoyable things and things that allow me to get more points in the future keeps me from being tempted to choose the less valuable higher point value things. I don’t think these things are necessarily valued wrongly, it’s just a measure of it being impossible to properly represent how everyone learns at every level. I certainly think these are better approximations than I would have come up with on my own (and wouldn’t have ever done that because I’d just spend all my time worrying whether I had it right even if I *did* think they were as good as these values.)

    I don’t have office software so the document didn’t come out looking so nice for me as the screen shots here but I was able to read the text. I made my own spreadsheet in google docs and downloaded their iPhone app and got an app that way.

    I had thought it would be a nuisance to track everything, but almost everything I do can be tracked without much more trouble than remembering to enter the end result. I use an extra bookmark in books to mark where I started that day. I make sure my immersion iPod has enough on it to not repeat, and then look at the total for things played today in iTunes. My 3DS tracks play time of everything.

    I can’t judge whether it works out to leveling at a rate that has a reasonable correlation to what we consider the levels to be until I catch up with my actual level (I am zipping through the early levels as promised.) But even if it doesn’t turn out to work that well it is quite nice to have all the small bits of studying turn into a tangible number.

  3. I would like to have your opinion on how to grade some activities which haven’t been explicitly addressed in the xpnavi, namely Visual novels, Shadowing and karaoke (or singing). These all have something in common: they fall under several categories. For now I’ve been putting VN:s into TV category, but especially Shadowing, which is quite a heavy language learning technique, might require some special attention.

    • I would think:

      Visual novels: Video game (like a heavy text rpg). Though I’ve never used a visual novel, so if there is a lot more listening than reading involved, I think video is fine for this.
      Karaoke/shadowing: speaking (since both require strong speaking output)

      • Thanks! I’m hoping to get there ASAP. Another quick question. Does video, music, and podcasts count always? Aka do I get the xp even if I don’t understand much of anything? So for those at very early levels. I would assume so?

        Thanks again!

        • I would imagine so, on the condition that you are engaging with the material in question (passive listening is sort of an exception, but even then you do still want to follow along, just without giving it a huge chunk of your focus). If you’re paying attention, then you are bound to pick up even just one word or phrase or intonation or whatever. Waiting until you understand pretty much everything would mean waiting pretty much forever.

          The problem lies in the fact that the less you understand of the media in question, the harder it is going to be for you to keep paying attention. Music, in particular, is harder to really listen to than you might think (for me, anyway). If you start becoming distracted from or seriously frustrated with what you’re watching or listening to you should probably ease it up a bit and look for something you find engaging.

  4. You are correct about quickly going through levels if your “true level” is already high, but you just got the XPNAVI. I bought this simply to add a new spark to my learning (I’m somewhere around level 50 according to your tests) and I just entered in day one and immediately reached level 5 almost 6 (and its been slow day japanese wise haha). Wouldn’t be surprised if the next time I input my numbers I pass level 10.

  5. The one thing I’m wondering is how do you guys keep track of the thigns you do? Do you just go about your day and then estimate how much you’ve done of each thing? Or do you try to update it everytime you do something? Pretty much, how do you guys use it? I was trying to go too precisely I think, I had a smartplaylist on itunes that would put every podcast that’S been listened to in the past day so taht I can calculate how much passive listening I had done, except that didnt work since itunes automatically deletes my podcasts, and I spent a while trying to figure out how to have both work at the same time but it never worked and I don’t want to keep a bunch of podcasts on my PC… and after a while I just stopped using XPNAVI because of that. But I really like it and it’S really well made, so trying to get other ideas on how to use it without causing myself to much trouble in trying to calculate how much I have done X or Y things haha.

    • With passive listening, and really anything measured in minutes, I generally just sort of guess. As Cayenne mentions above, physical books can be tracked by using two bookmarks, and with internet surfing (I <3 Ameba) I find it simplest to just copy/paste everything I read in a day into one text file, and use the word count tool – 400 characters is about a page worth of text.

      I update XPnavi every evening before bed, which works fine in my experience. For me XPnavi is just a (fun) extra tool to track my progress and reduce the "I am accomplishing nothing" feeling that comes with being an intermediate-level language learner.

      Honestly, I bought XPnavi solely so that I could say I paid money for one of the nerdiest study aids ever devised, but having a constant reminder that yes, I really am making progress is more useful to me motivation-wise than I expected.

  6. Holy cow! Watching videos is awesome XP! I just watched Avatar in Japanese. I didn’t even finish it, and I gained 240 XP! Level 5 now, about 300 Kanji in. That seriously is epic.
    Anyway one more question! Will XP Navi work for other languages as well? Perhaps say Korean, or maybe even Chinese?

    • One thing to remember about XP NAVI is, it is just a tool. It just gives you something to help quantify all your effort into something you can physically see.

      For example, you could watch videos in Japanese all day everyday for a week and input it into XPNAVI. XPNAVI will tell you that you are level 20 or something. Grats!

      But your not really level 20.

      You’ll notice there are 4 ratio bars at the bottom of XPNAVI. Each one represents a skill set, reading, listening, writing, speaking.

      These bars are a ratio calculated from your total XP.

      So, in order to get a true indication of your current XP level, you should try to keep all of these bars as balanced as possible. And even then, it is just a guide.

      And of course it would work with any other language.

      • Also remember, you have to manually input the days where you do nothing as zero entries, otherwise it will not take into account ‘XP degradation’.

  7. When I did the test, I got level 8, more or less. With XPNavi, I input all the songs I’ve listened through the last two months (I’ve updated it in the first day with everyhing I’ve been doing), and suddenly I got to level 15 (with today’s effort, I got to 16).

    I really understand the ratio thing, it’s obvious that my level of listening is way ahead of the others, and the bars show it. But I’m also happy to be gaining levels. It’s one of the motivational tools I was needing, A challenge.

    I have three doubts though:

    1- When I listen to music doing other things, that counts as passive listening or as music?

    2- I’ll never be able to make them completely level, since I listen to music and to dramas and movies sounds way more than the other competences. Is that a problem?

    3- How many lines can be considered a paragraph and how many characters can be considered a line? Because I sometimes write some one or two lines entries on Lang-8, and whenever I’m learning Kanjis, I write them out three times, as a means of memorization, how many do I need to join together to consider a paragraph. Also, when I have meetings at the school, I take notes in Katakana of everything that’s said (and Kanji when I can, but my the grammar is almost never good – I haven’t studied many of it yet). The question about lines and paragraphs is repeated here.

    Sorry for the bother and thanks for this awesome thing!

    • When you start using XPNAVI you shouldn’t input all the back studying you think you did. Start fresh from the day you start using it (it is designed to catch up fast).

      XPNAVI’s XP gain is designed to follow a typical path of a Japanese learner. Which means if you skew significantly from the path (for example, listen to 6 hours of Japanese music a day from day 1), it won’t be accurate in the beginning. It assumes that most Japanese learners start of with textbooks, classes, ipods, beginner type materials, then slowly work there way to media, and towards immersion. Which is why the XP required becomes increasingly harder to level as you progress, since it assumes that you will be spending a lot more time on media, which is easy to rack up experience.

      1. Counts as music.
      2. It’s not a big deal about having them be level. It is a bigger deal that your actually studying is more level (especially in the beginning).
      3. A paragraph is usually between 3-5 lines.

      • Thanks for the info. I’ve deleted everything I put into it from the days before I started, and counted yesterday as day 01. It’s interesting that now I’m feeling even more motivated than before, just because I want to get at level 15 again (and then up, of course, but 15 is my first objective, as it was the level I was before deleting previous data and getting back to level 4).

        Interesting though, is that considering only yesterday, my reading is way higher than the others. That was completely unexpected, since spend almost the whole day listening to songs and videos in Japanese (I have the Pokémon and GTO’s first episodes and the Lion King’s audios loaded into it and mixed with the songs).

      • This question may be considered stupid, but do you count the time you listen while sleeping? If so, how do I count it?

        • No I wouldn’t count it. People that I know who do leave Japanese on while they sleep say it’s mainly for having the feeling of ending and starting a day with Japanese. I’m not going to question the existence of benefits, but there is too much science that goes against sleep learning.

          • On the other hand, if I’m actively listening to the music, trying to get their lyrics, I should input that time as podcasts, right?

            And BTW, thank you ever so much for this program, it’s amazingly motivating.

            • If you are actually sitting down and trying to transcribe the lyrics (or looking them up, and studying with them), yes I would bump up the point level.

  8. So, I purchased this and really, really like the look of the spreadsheet…but I don’t use Office so it looks all weird and the Level system doesn’t work. Does anyone have an advice for translating it/editing it so it works in LibreOffice or Google Docs?

    • Yeah, the spreadsheet part of the xpnavi was meant for Microsoft Office (though it will also work in the free Open Office program as well). If anyone knows how to get it to work with LibreOffice or Google Docs, it would be great if you could chime in here.

      StereotypeA: If you can’t get it working, let me know and I’ll definitely refund your purchase.

        • The one error which I’ve learned recently is that the Open Office program doesn’t accept more than 30 arguments in a CHOOSE forumula, which would limit the level effectively to 30. I’m not sure if this is causing your specific problem.

          Obviously because of this Open Office really isn’t the best option for this. If you can’t get it to work, you can contact me for a refund.

          I think XPNavi just needs to be an app to solve all problems…

          • An app would be great! I’ll have to use the paper version I suppose. Thanks for the tip. It was some weird error in the total area, could be due to more than 30 variables. I prefer paper anyways lol. Thanks for the great items!

    • Yes, it works perfectly fine for any other language. Some of the people on this site have been using it for languages outside of Japanese.

  9. I have the XPNavi Excel Spreadsheet and I would like to know if it is possible to restart the levels back to zero again. Thanks

    • I’m assuming your original download link already expired?

      There should be a way, but I’m not that familiar with the Excel side of this, so just email me with your paypal receipt and I’ll send you a new fresh copy.

  10. Hi, I love the XP approach to language learning, it’s really cool :) I have a question about: Would you guys count XP from cards that you get somewhere else and import directly into Anki? Or the XP for that activity is only meant for cards that you create yourself?


    • When you use a deck you didn’t make, every time you review a new card, you count it as an add new card. This is due to the fact that it takes more time to do a new card for the first time. After that they are just normal review points.

      Merely importing it and counting those numbers would skew your stats a bit (since you may not have even started the deck yet)

  11. I just bought the Xpnavi and when I open it in my excel, it comes up as a grey sheet. I’m enabling the macros, so I’m not sure why its not working. Maybe its because I’m using a mac?

    • When I updated the XPNavi in 8/9/2013 (as shown above) with the cell shift, I saved it in the spot of the sheet where the space was removed. This is the grey space of the sheet, and I just realized this is where it opens for someone opening it for the first time.

      So simply stated, you are all the way on the right side of the excel file. Scroll to the left (it should start from A, B, C, D on the top left).

      Obviously this can be confusing, so I will fix this on the next update. Sorry about that!

  12. I’m really enjoying tracking my progress through XPNAVI, it helps keep me motivated and is just an easy way to keep track of things. I agree with the rough points distribution (though I’m only a level 10 so not very qualified to say), but Adshap, I was wondering about your thoughts on conversations. I’m a little surprised that they’re only worth 1 point a minute. I feel like they should be worth more (definitely feel more beneficial than watching a Japanese movie to me). Of course, that’s assuming you’re having somewhat interesting conversations, not the ones where it takes you an entire minute to come up with one sentence like mine currently do :)

    • Your very last sentence touches on why the point ranking for conversations is low. A lot of a conversation is “downtime,” especially in your earlier levels. As opposed to watching a video, where it is always going full speed ahead.

  13. I’m debating where to log things like homework/worksheets as well as RTK writing practice on the XPNavi. Based on the categories given, my best thought is considering them as textbook pages (1 per worksheet or page in RTK), but I was wondering if anybody might have better input here?

    • It depends on what kind of homework worksheet. If a lot of writing is involved, I would put it under writing, which gives you higher points since it takes more time (figure how many paragraphs on the page)

      For RTK writing practice (I’m assuming you mean just writing the kanji over and over again rather than just one at a time?), I would do the same thing under Writing.

      Or if you are just writing out each one as you review it, you might want to just count that as an Anki review (even if not done in Anki).

  14. Hey Adam, I bought XPNavi previously on my laptop but that was stolen and I didn’t back it up to my PC. Is there a way I can get it again. I can send you a screenshot of my online bank statement as evidence.

  15. Hi everyone,

    I know it’s pretty straight forward, but I didn’t quite understand how I should do deductions in XPNavi, I need further help…

  16. Quick question before I buy this-

    I was scrolling through the comments and saw that some people had problems using this on Libre Office. That was a while ago though, so does anyone know if that problem is fixed? I don’t have microsoft office on my computer. Can I still use the computer version of the XP Navi on Libre Office or Google Docs? Thanks to anyone who knows!

    • Unfortunately, I still think it only works with regular Excel. The problem is that something like Libre Office or Google Docs doesn’t support the advanced macros that it uses.

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