Am I hurting myself putting Genki off and focusing on WK?

Hey all!

tl;dr: Should I slow down WaniKani to focus on Genki or should I just do WK first since it’s easier for me and piece it together later with Genki? Would focusing on WK because I’m more motivated to do it be better? Or would forcing myself to learn Genki asap make my WK lessons faster/more insightful/more helpful?

long post:

I’ve just gotten to level 3 on WK and I kind of had a realization and started losing motivation.

A lot of people said that learning all the Kanji first will help when learning Japanese later but I think I’ve figured out that that means learning to recognize the kanji and probably not so much the readings and vocab to it. That I should probably be prioritizing Genki and supplementing it with WK.

Whenever I look at the vocab on this site it gives example usages which I can’t read at all. I’ve still been able to associate the Kanji/Vocab with the reading and meaning even though I don’t understand why they’re pronounced/written that way or how to use them in a sentence necessarily. I just kind of associate that ‘it’s just this way.’

The benefit of WK is the schedule is all broken down for me so I never have to think, and it has api tools that make that learning even easier. On WK I use the self study api to just drill my new lessons over and over again until it sticks before the first review is ready.

Genki is self motivation and I find myself struggling to even remember the vocab words. With Genki I’ve tried memrise and anki but I haven’t been able to find anything as simple as self study where I can type the kana answers and it just repeats the ones I don’t know over and over again until I get it. (Suggestions?)

Anyway, I’m worried about getting too far ahead on WK before learning Genki/grammar and that’s hurting my motivation. Should that be a concern of mine? Or will I be able to piece in the knowledge I’m learning when I finally learn the grammar?

If I prioritize and drill Genki 1 and 2 and it takes me half a year and but I only do minimal progress on WK would my grammar help me be able to learn WK lessons better and faster? Or lets say it takes me twice as long to learn Genki I and 2 but I’m able to do more WK during that year, would I be ahead just because I was able to do more of what I liked instead during that year even though I slowed progress on Genki to make it a more comfortable pace?

is there a certain level on WK that I should shoot for that would help me understand most of something like NHK News Easy or other beginning readings that I can try to coincide with finishing Genki books to maximize motivation on both?

Thanks for taking your time to read and any insight would be helpful.

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Think of Japanese like a cube. In one dimension, you have speaking and listening. That’s the width of the cube. In another direction, there is grammar. That is the depth of the cube. Finally, you have the height of the cube, and that’s reading and kanji.

Your ability to use Japanese is based on all three dimensions. If you prioritize one dimension over all the others, you will make progress without increasing your ability to use Japanese.

BUT, and here is the big thing, you’re not hurting anything if you focus on one of these dimensions for a period of time. It may not be the quickest path between where you are now and your final language goals, but so what? No one ever said you had to take the quickest path. Better to take the path that appeals to you and keeps you motivated.

So I’d say, give yourself a little while to focus on WK. Then go back to Genki and see if some of that vocabulary is suddenly familiar. See if some of that grammar works better when you have new vocabulary items to put into it.

I’m assuming that you’re learning Japanese for fun as opposed to for school. If so, remember that you’re doing it for fun. So do what you enjoy!

(Standard disclaimer - These are my views. Other members’ views may vary.)


I don’t think you want to put off grammar studies too much to solely do WK, in part because of motivation. You’ll eventually get to a certain level in WK, let’s say 20-30, and you’ll have all this knowledge of common kanji and how to read them… and yet you won’t be able to really apply your knowledge because you know nothing of how words are pieced together. You end up feeling incredibly demotivated since you don’t really have any ability to use or take in the language.

Not that I’m saying it’s wrong to get to say, level 5-10 before increasing the time you spend on grammar studies, but I certainly don’t recommend waiting much longer than that. I think that vocabulary becomes easier to learn as you study grammar, though, because that type of study often consists of repeatedly reading sentences and translations to further your understanding of them. This allows you to more readily pick up words naturally along the way. In other words, it’s easier to learn vocabulary in parallel with your grammar studies where you see examples of their usage, rather than in a vacuum.

Your study routine is going to largely depend on how much time you’re willing/able to devote to Japanese on a daily basis. If you have adequate time for both WK and grammar, then I see no reason to put it off much longer, since it will allow you to put your skills to use sooner and gain valuable reading practice. Reading practice is critical for retention of vocab and grammar points, as well.

You also need to consider how you’re studying Genki. Do you have issues with just the vocabulary, or with learning and remembering the grammar points, too? Do you use the workbook? Do you take notes?

Since you’re still pretty new to the language, it’s perfectly normal to need time like this to analyze and refactor your study routine. People often try several methods before they determine exactly what’s right for them.


I had been studying some grammar and vocabulary before I found WK. I have found that when I see the Kanji for words I already know, it helps me with the Kanji’s meanings and readings so much.

But I think everyone is different and you have to find your own best way.


+1 this so much.

On top of that, it’s actually recommended (by the almighty Koichi様 himself) to focus on vocab until about Level 10 (at least) or Level 20 (preferably) before you dive into books such as Genki. This head start in vocabulary will make it significantly easier to focus on grammar instead of wasting time by looking up words every sentence.


I think ShawnPCooke made a very elegant analogy and a good point. I don’t see how it would harm if you know more kanji than you know grammar. It will just mean that you might not understand as much as you want/think.

In language, or anything that’s very hard to master, you have to safeguard your motivation. If you’re enjoying WK right now, it’s fine not to overtax yourself by adding many things. If you worry that genki or anki will break down your resolve to continue, maybe it’s not for the best at this time.

Be sure to search around the forums here and check out the many (free or paid) resources that people discuss. Perhaps there are things that befit your grammar learning style more. Duolingo? LingoDeer? Memrise?

Good luck pondering how you wish to proceed!


I’m just starting with Genki now and I’m kinda glad, because I already know some words, so I don’t have to waste time memorizing vocabulary (without kanji, I think it’s much more difficult if you have just hiragana as you don’t see what the word is made out of) and I can just focus on grammar and listening.

I think it’s a good idea to know a bit of vocabulary before you dig too deep, but maybe instead mix it and just take grammar slower than vocab


I guess it depends on why you’re learning japanese. If you want to visit Japan and speak to natives, then yes you’re “hurting” yourself. You should try and find some other learning tool that works best for you. If you’re bored with textbooks I think Human Japanese might work for you.

If you have interest in reading manga then I’d say go ahead, focus on WK and ditch Genki. Of course, if you want to read manga, you’ll need some grammar! (Also I must say I completely disagree that learning one dimension doesn’t increase overall skill. )

My point is: if you only want to be able to read, then focus on that. Learning a language is a long term project, and the way you keep yourself motivated is by doing what you think is fun!!


I will second this.Try to find a balance between the different aspects that works for you.

In general, I would say Genki should take up more of your focus, but that might just be my own bias, since I finished 1 & 2 before I started WK. It also depends on what you personally want to get out of learning Japanese; what you plan to use it for. In any case, I don’t see why you can’t do both simultaneously. WK isn’t all that time consuming. But if you just don’t have the time, I would prefer Genki, as I said.


What I did is I balanced both as much as I can. However, I mostly focused on Genki because it was more fun for me but I also did Wanikani on the side (like maybe a few reviews everyday here and there). It wasn’t an efficient use of their services because I spend a lot more time each level. Then when I felt that I had enough grammar under my belt. I focused my attention in Wanikani.

If you’re losing motivation on how you’re currently studying right now, try and change things up.

Follow what ShawnPCooke said, focus on grammar if that’s what you’re really motivated to do. Then after Genki, maybe, focus on WK and do Tobira or Integrated Japanese on the side. Right now, I’m doing Tobira and I felt like my motivation was nearing 0 so I decided to focus on my reading and bought “Contemporary Short Japanese Tales” (I think that’s the name).

It’s all about you and where you’re comfortable with




Nice description with the cube


I’m thinking the other way around, I don’t have a lot of time so for now I only do WK. And I’m afraid to be behind in term of kanji when I will learn grammar.

I advice you to focus first on WK and then on Genki, why? Because the past of WK is limited at 7 days as the fastest, so you might find yourself stuck and that’s when you complete your japanese with Genki!


I have to say, I’m now a couple of days from reaching Lv20 and that recommendation has been holding up. I once tried to dive into grammar books headfirst, but having to handle grammar at the same time as the book threw a bunch of words at me each chapter proved impossible. This is especially true since japanese words are very similar to one another (kanji are what make the difference).

Nowadays, it’s way easier to understand grammar since I don’t have to look words up as much, and with kanji knowledge, words that seemed alike are not so much anymore. That said, before you get into kanji, It’s good to have some knowledge of basic sentence structure and such, so you won’t be too lost.


All that follows is purely my opinion:

It depends on your short and medium term goals. In the long term, if you want to be proficient in japanese you will need to know way more grammar than genki and way more vocab than WK.

It might be helpful to be more specific with what you are trying to do visavis grammar. You will be “learning” grammar forever (you are still learning grammar in your native language).

Doing something like going through a chapter of Genki a week and putting the example sentences in an anki deck and reviewing them isn’t really a large time investment (1 or 2 hours a week) that will pay big dividends in your eventual ability to read japanese.

So whereas it might not matter in the end (if you continue studying longterm), it seems to me a very stong investment to devote 15min a day to grammar study. You will have to do it eventually.

I think when it comes to language proficiency, time is your friend. You get good by doing a little bit everyday for a LOT of days. It may be marginally more efficent to wait a little bit, but I think you are probably kidding yourself if you think your grammar studies are going to go significantly (like 2x or something) faster by waiting till you know more kanji.

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Well…I’m level 52 and I have yet to finish a Genki book, so…I guess we know what path I chose to pursue xD Like you, I was (and still am) much more motivated to make progress with WK than get through Genki.
If I had told myself that I couldn’t progress on WK until I finished Genki, I would be absolutely nowhere with Japanese, period. Personally, I think it’s probably best to do both at the same time if you can, but getting a little ahead on WK won’t hurt you, if WK is more motivating to you. I guess the bottom line is, you can say you’ll prioritize one or the other, but what do you think you’ll realistically have the motivation to do, and be able to stick with consistently? If you say you’ll focus on finishing Genki first, will you actually get it done, or will you procrastinate on the language as a whole because Genki doesn’t motivate you and end up not making progress on any aspect of Japanese?

I don’t recommend that you put off Genki to the extent that I did xD But even just having gotten through ~3/4 of Genki I, I can work my way through some basic manga, largely thanks to the fact that I can recognize most of the words and piece together a lot from context. Basically, my overall reading skill is not as terrible as it should be, because knowing all the kanji and vocab from WK gives you a big leg up if you’re slightly masochistic like me and you want to try to read without a lot of intensive grammar study. It kind of depends on your personal study style, too, though. I find it more interesting to do the bare minimum grammar study and look up/pick up more things as I need them in context. That may be frustrating to other people, or their threshold for “bare minimum grammar study necessary to try reading” might be different from mine. Personally, I don’t think grammar study has much bearing on success with WK lessons at all (I’ve ignored the example sentences since day 1), but WK study definitely helps with grammar study/doing actual fun things like reading. Another thing to consider is what your primary goals are. Do you just want to read above all else? Or is production/communication a higher priority for you? My reading/passive vocabulary is pretty ok, but my production skills are pretty poor, and if your goal is to be able to actively use all the words you learn, a textbook would definitely be a better first priority than WK.


I feel the same, you are my goal :smirk:


I think you should not give up Genki, because 1) with WK alone you won’t make much sense of Japanese, you’ll just feel overwhelmed with words that have no context, and can’t be used to put together a sentence 2) everything you learn on Genki will be useful sooner of later with WK.

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I’ve been struggling to really get going with Genki as well. I took two semester of Japanese in college and we used Genki. So I am quite familiar with it. However, I haven’t touched it much since finishing those classes. I’ve been so focused on getting back on track with Wanikani. The way I look at it, it is better than nothing. At least I am progressing in some way. Though I definitely would like to study grammar once in awhile.

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Yes and no, grammar is a HUGE part of learning Japanese. Wanikani does help with vocabulary somewhat, but I highly recommend learning grammar alongside your kanji lessons. After level 10 you should start a grammar class or textbook as soon as possible. 20-30 you should take a second level Japanese course or continue on to intermediate grammar concepts in a text book. 30-60 you should be finishing an intermediate textbook and/or taking a 3rd to fourth grammar course, as well as conversing with Japanese language exchange partners and reading childrens books in japanese as much as possible. Kanji will help you a lot with getting the gist of sentences but grammar and reading are very important to understanding context and nuance of sentences, as well as constructing your own.

Furthermore, I would recommend against self studying until you have taken a course or two with a teacher that’s a native speaker. For English speakers Japanese is classified as one of the hardest languages to learn, having a native speaker help you out in your initial studies is crucial for setting yourself on a good foundation.

May the crabigator bless you on your journey…


Hey there,

I’m kinda in the same situation as you are. I purchased both GENKI 1 and 2 a few months ago, and began working my way through the first book right from the bat. I had some japanese lessons a few years ago, so I went quickly through the first half-dozen lessons before slowing down. I discovered WK when I was at Lesson 9, and slowed down GENKI dramatically, as I was more “motivated” by WK at that time. I still kept on doing the Genki lessons, but way more slowly, as I just finished the first book (the last is lesson 12) a few days ago.

To the question :

" Am I hurting myself putting Genki off and focusing on WK? "

The answer for me is no.

Is it the best approach in term of efficiency ? Maybe not, but as long as you keep on studying japanese, and enjoying it (important !), it will not hurt you, if “putting off” Genki is temporary, i.e., you’re taking a breather from grammar and focusing on kanji for a while.

What I did, while I was doing WK, was re-reading the genki lessons I went through. It’s easy work, really passive, and you’re reminding yourself of what you just learned.

Of course, I still plan to go back to grammar with the second book soon, but changing your routine from time to time is good, at least, it is for someone like me who tend to have ups and down in motivation.