A humble suggestion - Hint Feature for Reviews

Wanikani does a wonderful job of helping us build up our knowledge of Kanji incrementally. But as the number of Kanji I have mastered grows, I wonder about a problem. Maybe it has been solved by an add-on, but if not, here are my thoughts:

Would it be possible to have a hint feature? My idea would be that during a review if you pressed the hint button, you would get a sentence that used the Kanji about which you are being asked. Excessive use of the hint button could be discouraged by giving only half a credit for having answered correctly after using it. But often I find I actually know a Kanji but seeing it in isolation isn’t enough to prompt me to remember it properly.

I realize such a feature would take time to develop, especially if you wanted to add bells and whistles, such as second and third sentences or phrases that would appear each time you pressed the hint button, each perhaps a little more helpful than the previous. But I think it would help bridge the gap between learning each Kanji somewhat in isolation. And in real life, we can often tell what something means from the context - and Japanese is the ultimate contextual language.

What does half a credit mean? Either you answer both meaning and reading correctly, in which case your item is advanced to the next SRS level, or you get either (or both) wrong, which means the item is knocked back one or two levels. Does half a credit mean the item is only moved half a level forward? What is a half-level?

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Well, there are already context sentences in vocab lessons. Maybe there could be a script that displayed context sentences from the vocabulary with no translation. I’m just spitballing though. :slight_smile:

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Sorry, I don’t know what the acronym SRS stands for. My understanding was that to move a word from one level to the next, you need to answer it correctly a certain number of times. My notion is that if you require a hint to get a meaning or reading correctly, you have to answer it one more time than if you had got it without the hint. Or perhaps, you get no credit at all for answering it correctly but you avoid being sent back a level for getting it wrong.

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I think the context sentences vary quite a bit in how helpful they might be and they often include vocabulary and Kanji we haven’t yet learned. But your idea would improve on what we have now and might make it less necessary to create new more tailored sentences in order to get my idea moving.

It’s not quite so simple. Apprentice and guru each consist of several sub-levels, each causing the timer until the next repetition to increase. For instance these are the four levels collectively called apprentice.

Time until next review per level
1: 4 hours
2: 8 hours
3: 11 hours
4: 47 hours

After this there are levels 5-6 (called guru), 7 (master), 8 (enlightened) and 9 (burned)

Answer an item wrong and it’s taken down two levels, unless it’s one of the apprentice levels in which case it’s only taken down one level.

I guess one way of doing this half-credit would be to neither increase nor decrease the level?

I’m not quite sure if this makes sense from a learning perspective though. If I failed to remember an item without a hint after (say) 2 days, then why would it make sense to expect that I would know it after another 2 days?

The fact that i needed that hint would still indicate to me that the interval needs to be shortened in order to practice.

After all, the intervals are not shortened as punishment for an incorrect answer, they are shortened to give me more practice on the items where I need it the most.


Hmmm… I agree with crihak on that logic. Again just spitballing, but imagine this scenario: you are to define “retrograde inversion”, no context, just those words. You might be inclined to say something relating to astrology and the planets, when in fact I’m referring of course to the 12-tone compositional technique of reversing and inverting the tone row. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: So the case can be made both ways, I imagine!

(unless of course, you are a cool musician :sunglasses:)

Having read the initial post, I see your point about context. I think it has its merits, but I also think there a big benefit in actually knowing the words that much better due to not having to rely on context.

One thing I’ve found helpful though is the way iknow.jp or the core6k/core10k decks read the context sentences to you. This way it sort of etches into your mind for the words you practise a lot.

For instance, when I am unsure whether using is つかっている or つくっている I often recall the appropriate context sentence このパソコンをつかってください / please use this computer.

Same with the word 施設 / facilities. When I hear it it sounds vaguely familiar due to having repeatedly heard the sample sentence このホテルにはレザー施設がたくさんある / this hotel has a lot of leisure facilities.

This sort of drills context clues into your mind I guess, but it of couse does take a bit of extra time for study outside WK… (Or a ton of voice actor money if WK were to implement this…)

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What is the end goal here? Are you concerned about not leveling up quickly enough? If you want to level up as quickly as possible, this feature will not change much. At most you will level up 8 to 16 hours later than the quickest possible time, which is still very quick.

If you’re not worried about time, then this hint feature won’t really do anything different than just opening the item info and reading the example sentence again or looking the item up in a dictionary.

I am not trying to level up. I actually don’t care about levels or the intricacies of the Wanikani algorithms, bless them. What I am looking for is the best way to learn and retain and the best, real life way to test if I know something.

In the real world, I will almost never have the need to know single Kanjis in isolation. I will need to know them because they are in sentences or phrases – perhaps items as short as signs or menus but very rarely all by themselves.

I believe (and I am surely not alone in this) that learning a list of things is not as effective as learning about things in context. Kanji is tough enough. Wanikani brings to bear several tools to help us learn, which is why I like it and paid a fair amount of money for a lifetime subscription – tools such as breaking down Kanji into radicals, building up vocabulary by teaching a Kanji and then teaching words that use the Kanji, providing mnemonics and the ability to use your own mnemonics, providing synonyms and the ability to add your own, etc. But it chooses to test our learning and retention not through the use of the Kanji and the vocabulary in context but only all by themselves.

I don’t dispute that if you can learn and remember without context, that’s good. But the true test in the real world will be when the Kanji is surrounded by other words, i.e., in context. So why not test us that way or at least prompt us?


Well that’s what the vocabs are there for. You’re correct that a kanji in isolation can often mean many things. This is why WK doesn’t teach only kanji, but also vocabs where those kanji are used.

Sometimes I look at a kanji in isolation and wonder what the heck is it. If I see the same kanji in a real word, I know it straight away.

At the end of a (pink background) kanji lesson, there is a display of (purple background) vocabulary examples. It would be nice to have access to those in the review (without any English translation).

SRS = Spaced Repetition System. It is explained in the WaniKani User Guide under the heading “Hold on, I have to WAIT?”

This would be a step in the right direction. And thanks for the acronym primer.


The benefit of learning the kanji by themselves is that it makes it more likely that you’ll recognize it in a word you don’t know. Even if that doesn’t help you guess the meaning of the word, it’ll likely be easier to look it up if you know the reading. Certainly less tedious than finding it by radical or handwriting.

Certainly don’t disagree concerning the benefit of learning individual Kanji. Wanikani is designed to teach both the individual Kanjis and the words - as the splash page says, 2000 kanji, 6000 vocabulary words.

What my suggestion was designed to do is to deal with the fact that our ability to recognize both words and the kanji that make them up is enhanced by context and that context is what it’s like in the real world. My view is that the best test of whether I have learned a kanji or a word is – if I see it in context, do I know it? By all means, test us on whether we recognize it out of context. But if we don’t, the underlying assumption at present is that we don’t know it. I am suggesting that we may in fact know it with a little prompt from seeing it in the real world.


I can see how a hint feature might work for a meaning (maybe it could tell you the synonym or definition of the word it’s looking for).
But how would you do it for a kanji reading? Would it tell you it’s the same reading as a kanji you learned already? (Ex. if I’m learning 交 (こう) and click on a reading hint, would it tell me it’s the same reading as 公 (こう)?)
I guess reading hints could work better for vocab because you could have the hint tell you if it’s a jukugo word, rendaku’d somewhere, or if it’s just a crazy weird reading (like 上手 (じょうず))

My idea is that the same hint would work for both meaning and reading because often, perhaps even almost always, if I know the meaning, I will also know the reading (and the converse as well).

To take your example, suppose I don’t remember 交 by itself, but the hint was 高校生は、18さいです。That would remind me right away of the reading.

Or, here’s an example of a Kanji for which I personally have a bit of a mental block - 配 (ハイ, meaning “distribute”). If I see it by itself, I find it difficult to remember the reading. But suppose you gave me just 心配する or perhaps, more helpfully. 16歳子供がよく家に帰らないで私は心配している, I’d remember right away both what it meant and how it reads.

Like this one? :slight_smile:


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Thank you! But I can’t get it to work… hmmm I don’t know really how all these userscripts work together. Do some not play nicely with others?

Edit: Ah, I see! It only does it for vocab reviews. I swear, I need some more patience sometimes… haha sorry!

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