A shift in the way of attention

I’m close to finishing level 5, with radicals, kanji, and vocabulary.

In one of yesterday’s review sessions, I noticed something new in how it feels to be doing reviews.

So far, when I get an answer correct, I’ve noticed two ways that this happens:

  • I read the kanji by its radicals, and use this to get into the story or scene, and the logic of the story gives me the meaning or reading
  • I look at the kanji or vocabulary word, and through the effort of attention somehow, I realize what it is or how it sounds

I was super excited yesterday, because something different happened for a few kanji and words:

  • The kanji or word appeared on the screen, and it just looked like what it means and sounds like. There was no attention or thinking involved… it was almost like it’s an english word. There was no effort… in fact I couldn’t avoid seeing it in this way unless I looked away.

The whole experience was unexpected and pretty amazing, and I’m looking forward to having more words make this shift.

Is this familiar to anyone else out there? I’ve not studied a foreign language in this way before, so perhaps this is just how it works!


Wow, just wow.

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Yup, that’s how it works :wink:


Sounds like your brain is adapting to thinking in Japanese :smiley: Next, see if you can read kanji or kana upside-down. I bet it’ll be easier than you expect :grin:


I remember when I had this moment. At some point, without any conscious effort on my part, I became able to recognize the kanji without having to look at the radicals and go through the mnemonic. Now, when I see a kanji I’ve learned, its reading just pops into my head when I look at it without effort.

Grats :grin: and good luck in your studies!


I know exactly what you’re talking about! There will be also a lot of words a level later which I believe are really hard to master without this “intuitive recalling”, namely the -日 and -月 vocab, explicitly the readings. Recalling these with mnemonics is not really possible, I believe. At some point you need that intuitive recalling if you want to burn them. I mean you can always guess but that will bring you inconsistent results.

Does anyone have any tips in dealing with vocab words like these?


Awesome-sauce! Yeah it’s a thing that happens.
I honestly dislike it because it freaks me out and I have no idea how I got to that answer. But :woman_shrugging: it’s kind of a given when learning.


Yeah, it’s great when it happens. Keep at it and it’ll happen more/more consistently. Seeing the kanji/vocab in more places (ie, outside WK) will also improve this effect.

For words that I ‘just know’ like this, I add the reading as a synonym for the English. The more directly you can link what you’re learning to the non-verbal concepts, the better. For me visualizing the object or action rather than going for the English meaning helps this effect, but often means my WK percentage drops, because I’ll no longer remember the meaning WK wants. I add synonyms as needed for that.


That’s how it works for me…

Then there is KaniWani - a whole other experience


Yes. Initially there are a few that you just make the connection. Others I will have to rely on the mnemonic to remember. Then after awhile you jump ahead of the mnemonic and just have a correlation.

What is currently happening to me is that some of the troublesome ones will be in the limbo stage wherein I got them a right a few times that I jumped away from the mnemonic but the correlation wasn’t fully solidified so I get them back to guru level. This is fine for me though. Just shows that I need to keep seeing them more to make those connections in the brain.

All the best! This is a great feeling and I want you to remember this. There might come a point when most won’t stick, I do hope it doesn’t happen but YMMV so :man_shrugging:, so go back to this feeling to tell you how it was and how it could be.

:nerd_face::steam_locomotive: choo-choo, keep on chuggin’ along!


That’s an awesome idea…

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Changing fonts (using Jitai, for example) and trying to read vertical text can also be useful for solidifying your recall as well. Anything to make your brain generalize.


I started Wani Kani after quite a few classroom learning hours, so I was having this moment from the get go. For me it was mostly involving meaning rather than pronunciation, like saying 形is形because it’s 形 of course. I feel like it’s a bit of a blessing and a curse. Because I never went through the stages of learning the radicals and how they fit into kanji before, I’ll often be able to write new kanji freehand better than old ones because I understand the general idea and shape of the kanji rather than what it’s full and true reality is. Those stories really help with handwriting, and I wish that I put the effort in to learn radicals before I did lol.

that’s just the beginning. when you read a sentence and it sounds like “language”, not japanese, or when you try to come up with words, and the first thing that comes to mind is in japanese, that’s more milestones down the road.


Very good advice. I still struggle sometimes when trying to read vertically. It’s hard to get used to.

I know exactly what you mean. Was just reading a graded reader (level 4) the other day and able to effortlessly comprehend every other sentence! After months of hard work it finally seems to bear fruits…
Guess it´s time to move to more challenging stuff :stuck_out_tongue:

Learn them in a list, just like you learned the months and days of the week in your native language. And repeat them ad nauseam.

Also, I found this song that covers all the exceptions and time related words:


Thanks for your suggestion, this sounds like a good idea.
And looks like I watch this video in an obsessive manner until I can sing it myself.

I love this and I could actually keep up with it… well, almost.

Thanks for posting it

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Your brain is adapting. Keep up the good stuff !