Any non native english speakers here?

I have studied japanese for about 1 year now. All of the material i have used (except for one highschool introduction book) have been on english. I will say i am fluent in english, except for some problems of spelling right. I have realised especially with WaniKani that there are some english words i only know when they are in a context, and there are some words i feel are synonyms, when WaniKani clearly mark them as different english words. I have an especially hard time with some of the verbs, since i often write walk instead of to walk, or words that don’t exist in my native language (even though i know the meaning of the english word it correlates to). There are also some words i have to add my own usual mistakes, since i can write the same spelling mistake multiple times and get a word from master to apprentice since i spell the english word wrong multiple times.

Do anyone here have any experience on learning japanese solely through english even though it is not your native language? Have you had any problems or challenges because of it, or do you just see it as a way to explore both the japanese and english language?



And you can add user synonyms in your native language, those will then be accepted as correct answers!

No worries, many users are not native english speakers! :slight_smile:


A lot. Most, probably, maybe.

And yeah, more learn = good.

Not solely, but mostly. My Japanese classes were in Spanish, but most of the resources we used were either just in Japanese, or in English, iirc.


Same for me! I am a French-speaking Belgian and sometimes, my answers in Wanikani are not accepted because of the “to” in front of the verb. For example, with "引く”, I first wrote “to pull” and it was refused. If I write, “pull”, it is accepted! If I remember properly, it was the same with "止” for which I hesitated between to stop and stop.

For words, I am sometimes getting confused too like for example, with “rice paddy” in the radical section and “rice field” in the kanji section or “kid” and “child”. But as you said, I see it as an opportunity to increase my vocabulary in English and also as a memory training (what does WK expect in this case…).

Talking about confusion, I am also confused with the on’yomi and kun’yomi readings. I thought that in the “vocabulary” section, WK would expect the kun’yomi and in the “kanji” section, the on’yomi one. But it does not seem to be the rule all the time…So sometimes, it adds to the confusion. But again, I see it as a memory training and try to remember what the programme expects! :slight_smile:


I’m not a native speaker, so yeah definitely. Besides WaniKani I also use Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji to study the meanings (about 940 kanji in right now) and that book uses a unique keyword for every kanji, even if they’re pretty much synonymous, so every now and then I’ll come across really obscure words that don’t really get used anymore. Sometimes it feels like I have to keep an English dictionary near me when studying Japanese, which is kind of ironic.Though expanding your English vocabulary can’t hurt, so I won’t complain :smile:

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Keep in mind that singular kanji will never be a verb! Also, verbs will (as far as I know, maybe there are exceptions) always end with an ‘u’ sound as well, so that’s a good way to remember whether you’re dealing with a verb.

Also about the on’yomi and kun’yomi thing, there actually is logic to it, though it’s not uncommon to see that logic thrown out of the window. If a word consists of multiple kanji in a row, it’s very likely that it will use on’yomi readings for those kanji. This generally does not apply for things like names of people and cities, as they’re inherently Japanese (kun’yomi = Japanese reading).

If the word has any hiragana in it, it is very likely it will use kun’yomi reading, these are often verbs as you will soon find out. I hope that helped you a bit :smile:


I know what you mean, i had to use the Oxford dictionary today. I kept typing anybody insted og somebody and was unshure if they ment the same thing so i could use it as a synonym guilt free :grinning:

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Out of curiosity, what’s your native language?

Yes, it happened to me, too.

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Español de mi parte.

I learned English well in my teenage years and have been using it non stop for the past 20 years. I have added some synonyms in Spanish but I mostly stick with the default WaniKani ones.

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I am norwegian :skier:


English is my second language but I feel like I’m on par with native English speakers from being on the internet so much. I haven’t had any problems like the ones you mentioned while using WK. Thanks, The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too Internet!


I only use my native language when speaking with fellow locals, and mostly English everywhere (when speaking in formal presentations or with professors, writing resumes and reports, or when I simply walk in the town, its all in English and not in my local language. Trust me, there’s a lot issue of nationality here, but that’s not the point :sweat_smile: )

So learning Japanese through English, I never had issues. Although when a certain onyomi or kunyomi is very similar on how it is spoken in our local language, I take advantage of it. I never added synonyms based on local language, though.


Spanish and French native speaker here.
I have been studying Japanese for a year as well thru a language school in Mexico City so classes are in Japanese and Spanish.
As it has already been mentioned you can add the equivalent definition in your native language and at your next review it will be accepted as correct.
I do keep a spanish english dictionary around since from time to time I come up with a word I did not know in english. The neat thing is that you can build your own memnomic when the reading of the kanji sounds like a word in your own language.

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Oh yeah, i will use memnomics in norwegian (or sometimes spanish) if i think the english one is too far from the japanese speiling or sound.

I have so far tried to learn the english words insted of using norwegian, and when i have written a norwegian transelation out of frustration i am too stubborn to use it. Lets just say that canope and triceratops took a while

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Maybe we should open another subject to talk about on’yomi and kun’yomi…Just a remark on what you said, PosturelessHobo:

in fact, there is a logic but it looks like it is not always consistent. If you look at level 2, the kanji for "手”. Wanikani expects that we answer to be “te”, which is the kun’yomi, while in the same section for "火”、it does not ask for “hi” but for “ka”. So, from my point of view, this is not logical.

Another example is for "母”、it should be “bo”, if we follow the same logic but it is “haha”. So, I think it is Ok but it is confusing…Either, in a section, you only ask for “kun’yomi” or for “on’yomi” but going from one to the other is confusing, I think.

By the time i started do wanikani and learn japanese, i was comfortable with english for what was it worth it and weren’t striving to learn english specifically, considering such.

Although, i do check dictionary to check defition of words, synonyms, examples to articulate messages more precisily and appealing, now i think about.

And i never practiced talking, although, i feel like i can do this, but, around me, there are nobody who know english at comfortable level as far, as i know with whom i could do some practice. Which is sad, looking now in hindsight, i would probably tremendeously improved my english ability all around at this point if i have some quntity english speaking people around me.

And lyrics of some song could be problematic for me to understand too if i didn’t read text and don’t it infront of me.

Howerer, wanikani have rather rare english words, as far as i can tell for mnemonics(at least older version of mnemonics) - opinion, which was shared between some native english speaking people, from what i saw in their post around here.

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Do you by any chance remember what it was?

Yeah, i am ukrainian, so here i improvе both languages, english and japanese:ocean:

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Oh yeah, if you mean it in the sense of how WaniKani asks for on-/kun’yomi then yeah I can agree that it can be confusing. I think this might have to do with the frequency of a reading compared to the alternate reading, though for kanji like ‘手’ ‘shu’ (on’yomi) is not an uncommon reading either. Maybe it’s just the way WaniKani prefers to structure their lessons, I’m not sure.
Luckily you won’t get it wrong when you enter the on’yomi reading when the kun’yomi reading is being asked, it will let you know which one it is asking. I assume you are aware of this though.

I can’t see it from perspective of native speaker and i don’t use mnemonics very ofter at this point and can’t recall majority of them.

For me though, on the top of my head, “yonder” was the word for some reason not so much familiar to me.