I’ve been learning Japanese for over a year now through English by option. I’m from Portugal, but I wouldn’t want to learn Japanese through Portuguese even if there were enough resources, which there aren’t.
It’s because Japanese has a deep connection with English that it’s hard to see with other languages, and I’m not just talking about Katakana loan words that came from English. It’s the culture itself, by influence of the American occupation since post-WWII, and there’s lots of subtle connections between the two languages that I wouldn’t be able to see if I was studying Japanese through my native language.
As for English, I’ve reached a point now where I can say I’m fluent. I’ve learned it passively over 20 years now and writing on my blog for about 10, has helped me get here, but I’ve learned several new words by using WK. We are always learning, no matter how fluent we get. So, learning Japanese has definitely improved my English.
On another note, I often hear people say: “You can’t be fluent if you don’t speak”. Connections in the brain and what not… Well, I can write in English fairly well, I can understand spoken English without subtitles, I can read an English book without consulting a dictionary, but I guess I’m still not fluent. Even though I never spoke English other than the occasional sentence with friends, I know that If I had to speak it, I could maintain a conversation, just not as good as my writing. Japanese is the same, so don’t let anyone tell you differently.
We don’t get it wrong if we enter the on’yomi when a kun’yomi is asked for but the contrary is refused by the programme. If you enter “chuu” for "中” when “nana” is asked for, you get the red light and go back to “apprentice”. It is the same for "火”。If you enter “ka” instead of “hi”…
That has to do with it being a vocabulary item, they are indicated with a purple background. The rule of entering the wrong reading only applies to kanji (pink) items. If it’s a singular kanji like your example 中 ‘naka’ then it will always be kun’yomi. That’s why it refuses the on’yomi reading as an answer.
There’s a simple rule: when WaniKani asks for Kanji meaning (pink), never write “to”, because a Kanji in itself is not a verb.
When WK asks for Vocabulary meaning (green) and the word is a verb (with hiragana, ending in a “u” sound), you write “to” in front of it.
That’s because the vocab is a verb in dictionary form, which is infinitive in english.
For me, it hasn’t been a huge deal until level 10 or so, especially because my English is fairly consistent. However, since “painful 苦” I often use google translate for translations, but also for definitions for words that are very similar to each other (e.g. “abundant” and “excess”).
Always be very certain of a vocabulary’s meaning, because differentiation is key to learning successfully.
I, too, am not a native speaker. (Sometimes it feels like every second user is Dutch ;D I’m German though.)
However, it seems that Wanikani users, who are not native English speakers, have an above average English skill. I guess that is to be expected since you would have to be quite confident in a language to use it to learn another language.
I have yet to come across an english word I don’t know, but sometimes people are referred to in mnemonics that I haven’t heard of yet, so that sucks a little. It’s the same problem I’ve had when playing with the English cards against humanity deck, where US brands that are probably ubiquitous in the US were used in sentences, but I was like… “what’s fancy feast…?”.
I do sometimes have difficulties with nuances of words. I usually don’t care much about differences between things like “someone” and “somebody”, etc. In most cases they are interchangeable after all. But when distinctions are suddenly important, I too end up looking the words up again and learn something new about them.
german native speaker, but pretty fluent in english.
I learned japanese through a german/japanese teacher and MNN (minna no nihongo). For me wk is a chance to keep my japanese and english up at the same time.
Sometimes I think german <-> japanese isn’t a bad combination to learn. We have a lot of word which can directly translated in the opposite language. In english I need sometimes to circumscribe the japanese word. But I think this will more depands on the fact that I’m not a native british speaker (they have much more words…).
I am relatively good at english but I have the same problems as you sometimes. I tend to forget to write the to before a verb or I don’t know what the english word means so I have to look that up with context. It can be annoying but at least I am improving two languages at the same time.
Edit: I forgot how annoying it is when the english language has only one word for a something that your mother tongue has several for because you differentiate more. You don’t know what exactly the Japanese means now. It is vague like the english word or is there actually a connotation you are unable to see because of the vagueness of the english language.
Have you considered studying with Minna no Nihongo? The main text is only in Japanese, but the study guide is available in many different languages. I don’t know if it would help or hurt to have study materials in multiple languages - it’s an issue I have not previously imagined.
Obviously with WK you’ll be stuck in English. However, even as a native English speaker, WK has taught me a handful of English words and even American cultural references in spite of being American. (I’m sometimes in a bit of a pop culture vacuum)
I am from Spain, and most of the Japanese I learned was from an English point of view. Sometimes it gets fuzzy because I remember the meaning but I don’t remember how it was said in English. I don’t want to use synonyms since it can also be good for English practice (2 in 1, yay! )
Where it gets more difficult, though, is the other way around. I learn Japanese by associating it to English, so when I try to say its meaning in Spanish I’m just lost in translation sometimes.
I have not tried the norwegian verson of many study matherials, but i have found that the english version is usually better in the ones i have looked at, so i always auto-default choose the english verson for better nuance and guide.