Am I learning correctly? Should I add anything?

I’ve been using WaniKani for the past few weeks, and have managed to hit level 3.

So far I’ve just been doing every lesson as they become available, doing my reviews twice a day (once in the morning, once before bed). I’m getting a lot more correct than I thought I would, and I’m surprised at how much kanji I can remember.
I haven’t really been paying attention to the mnemonics, instead choosing to rely on image/shape recognition to remember kanji, and basically rote memory for remembering readings. Will this bite me in the long run?

And since I’ve only been doing these WaniKani flashcards twice a day, I’m wondering if this is enough for me to be focusing on for now. I’ve been looking into Tae Kim’s grammar guide, but I’m not sure what else might be good to add.
My goals are mainly being able to read and write.

For example, if I continued with only WaniKani, are there any vital skills / knowledge that I would be missing?

Eventually, you will want to start learning the pneumonics-- especially for the more complicated ones-- so it wouldn’t hurt to get in the habit of them now. It’s kind of what makes WaniKani unique anyway (that and the SRS).

I would definitely do some grammar too, and Tae Kim’s guide is a great way to start. Textfugu is also great, if you have the money for it. If you do buy it, you get half off your monthly or yearly WaniKani subscription, which is cool. You’d also get EtoEto once that’s out!

At least not soon. If it works for you, great. However, in the later levels there will be Kanji that might have similar shapes but different radical compositions. As soon as you start confusing Kanji even though they are made from different radicals, you should perhaps change your strategy.

A popular beginner textbook is Genki.

Yeah, I’ve been eyeing some of the more complicated / detailed kanji and I was suspecting it might become a bit of a bother eventually.

Thanks for that Textfugu tip, I will definitely look into it.

I’ve been learning with mnemonics since the beginning but lately (after coming back from a one year hiatus at level 40 to be precise) I’ve been skipping them too and I don’t see any side effect or problem so far. Maybe the SRS is that good and it works for me even without mnemonics. Dunno, it might be a valid way of learning…

Ahh, okay, that’s a good point. I will definitely reconsider my strategy, thinking about it that way.

Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll look into it.

It’s all down to how you learn. I personally consider the mnemonics to be the worst part of WaniKani. >.> I am a terrible visual learner and extreme audio learner, so the “incorrect” mnemonics that WaniKani uses more often cause me to get things wrong than right (for example, 作 is さく but is given the mnemonic SUCK [instead of SOCK], while 足, pronounced そく, is given SOCK [instead of, say SOAK], resulting in my constantly typing さく when I first came across it since I only knew the reading あし at the time). Someone who is much less reliant on audio likely wouldn’t be so stuck on those issues like I was.

Having now been living in Japan, I’m finding using radicals and shapes to be much more useful a skill when trying to learn Kanji outside of Wanikani. When I receive my electric bill filled with a ton of kanji WaniKani isn’t going to teach me for likely more than 30 levels from where I currently am, being able to identify radicals and use to look up the Kanji is significantly more useful. Unfortunately, as a pictographic language, mnemonics will only get you so far, especially as more and more kanji start revealing additional readings that the WaniKani system just throws on you after you’ve drilled on reading for several levels and tens of vocabulary.

I think the most important detail of your original post was your intention to learn how to WRITE, the skill most non-native Japanese speakers lack the most. I think your approach to using radical and shape identification will be very useful for that. Use Jisho and Wiktionary to learn the stroke order of the radicals you learn while you are waiting on reviews and your visual memory will easily be able to keep up with the SRS (at least to level 10). I still feel like the SRS is way too slow.

As for what you’ll be missing if you only use WaniKani: grammar. No matter how many characters you learn to read and write, I can guarantee speaking at any reasonable pace will be a serious pain if you don’t use some type of grammar supplement. As for what you use, I won’t give a learning supplement recommendation, as I think all of them (Genki, Tae Kim’s guide, etc) are all equal, as they all fail to provide any worthwhile method of grammar application in the listening/speaking department, and, with proper attention to listening/speaking exercise, they all cover what you need to know. Whether they are “boring” or not all comes down to your personal learning style and how much investment you have in learning the language (learning for fun vs learning because you like the language vs learning to be able to read manga/light novels/watch anime raw vs learning in order to work and live in Japan without difficulty).

Whatever reference material you decide to use for grammar, definitely try to regularly expose yourself to native Japanese speech (anime doesn’t count for this, as grammar is either textbook or anime, and speech is intentionally more articulate and rhythmic) such as Japanese radio stations, TV shows (the ones with spokesman and conversations, not dramas and such for same reason as anime), and do your best to try to recite to yourself what you hear. That way you can get some “muscle memory” when speaking and get a feel for how native speakers positions words, phrases, and pauses.


Thank you for the very informative reply.
I really appreciate getting your perspective as someone who lives in Japan, as well.

I find Bilingual News is my go to listening when I’m busy, language burnt out, or when I want to engage with content that interests me. The english segments give you the context to better understand the japanese segments.

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