Anyone else feel like the order we learn vocab is... interesting?

Hi everyone! I just reached level 8 (yeehaw!). I know Im still an extreme beginner, and I am also taking 1-on-1 lessons with a teacher twice a week~ Does anyone else feel like the vocab in WaniKani is… interesting? My teacher has asked “why do you know that kanji” with a laughing tone more than once :stuck_out_tongue:

I sometimes wish there was an easier way to learn the nuances of a word or how to use the word (or maybe I just dont know enough grammar to understand the sample sentences as well as I should…)

I feel like Im being a little unclear, so heres an example from my lesson today:
Im going to buy a ticket before riding the train.



I asked “Could I use 以前 here instead of 前に/予め? Dont they both mean before?” My teacher replied that you could use it this way:


…with the nuance of How stupid , I can’t buy ticket because of I forget money

And now Im more confused than ever :frowning: Has anyone else gone through this? What ways do you all ingest extra vocab outside WK??

I hope yall have a wonderful day!


That seems a little strange to me. None of the kanji in the first 10 levels, for sure, are uncommon at all.


I didnt think so either! But I think it is more “why are you using this word” when there is different/more common vocabulary? I probably worded it poorly, but a recent example is we were talking about engineering and I said “Oh! 工学!” and she said “Oh we say エンジニア, but what you said is correct, we just dont say it” or, "里心” she laughed and said that was a really old fashioned word. I probably worded my post poorly, sorry!


Ah, yeah, that’s normal for people heavily focusing on kanji vocabulary. It’s a natural consequence since kanji vocab skews toward formal and literary vocab. The answer is to supplement your WK studies with other sources that have a more well-rounded vocab set. The focus here is just being able to read the kanji.


Good to know. I thought 工学 would be fairly common even conversationally, but it seems I was wrong. Still, if you go to university websites, you’ll see that engineering courses are usually listed under 工学 and not エンジニアリング, even if the University of Tokyo’s master’s in bioengineering course is called バイオエンジニアリング. Formal vs informal vocabulary, I guess.


It might help to keep in mind that common words used in conversation tend to be either native Japanese words (stuff with kunyomi readings and/or okurigana at the end) or English loan words. Chinese-derived words have a more formal / literary / scientific / “big word” feeling to them, similar to Latin-derived words in English.

For example, a word like “exultation” is a word that most native English speakers will know (especially those with christian backgrounds), and it’s appropriate in certain situations and is found in books. But it’s not really something you’d use in an ordinary conversation - you’d probably say “celebration” or something along those lines. Words like 里心 are similar in that it’s not like the word is never used, but it’s not something you’d expect to hear in an everyday setting.

Of course there are some onyomi words that are very common and natural to use, similar to how words like “communication” are latin-derived and a bit “big word”-ish but nevertheless are very commonly used in everyday speech. Learning when words are appropriate can be tough, it’s kinda one of those things you often have to learn from experience. It can pay off to listen or watch for the word in media and see what kind of contexts it gets used in.


Here’s what I think it is important to understand about WaniKani: Its purpose is not to teach you how to speak or write Japanese, only how to read and understand a portion of Japanese, specifically Kanji. It’s not even really to teach us to read it. The vocabulary is there to help you remember the different pronunciations, it’s way too scattershot to form a solid basis even for reading. (This is something that I feel the WK developers have sometimes forgotten too; I curse their lack of focus every time I get transitive/intransitive verbs mixed up - that’s not why I’m using your site!)

That’s a large part of why I slowed way down on leveling up here: if WK is too large a part of my Japanese studies, then I’m not really studying Japanese anymore. So I’ve pushed it aside a bit in order to add in grammar and reading practice, which are the things that will actually teach me to understand the language. WK is brilliant for letting me glide through sentences that previously would have had me reaching for a kanji dictionary ten times, which greatly improves my flow of thought and lets me focus on the things that I need to be learning.

I do think that a reordering of the kanji would be good, though, but it’s still not going to teach us more than it intends to. (As an aside, I think they ought to let us completely reshuffle the teaching order ourselves; maybe let us pick some goal kanji, figure out what radicals we need to learn first to get there quickly, and let the vocab fall where it may. But that’s another post…)


This is amazing info everyone, thank you so much!! Yeah, I was/am using WK to memorize vocab and then I try to utilize what I learned when I have lessons, but I think I need to think of it differently. Learning about the way kanji is used kinda blew my mind- I feel like I should have realized it but it never clicked haha. Thank you guys so much!!


斤 and 又 and 了 are apparently Joyo 9+ kanji. I just looked at a syllabus for a top university and they only expect you to know 17 kanji by the end of the first semester and 350 by the 4th (so 2 years). I find it a bit hard to believe that’s true, but it’s what the syllabus says and why a teacher would think it’s weird to know that.

Also I can’t find the button to reply, or to make a post. I have to use a keyboard shortcut?


I figured it out I guess, but you have to hide your preview? That was really counter intuitive.

Bottom left of the screen? Are you on mobile or desktop? The button should be there. Maybe zoom or something cut it out of the screen…

Kanji are taught really slow in University courses. How many Kanji are in Genki 1 and 2? I think like 300-400? Not really many, to be sure.

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Happened to me too when I used 一本気、米国. My teacher was shocked for a moment.
Quickly followed by a “どうやって知っていますか”

I kinda troubled him a lot asking for nuances like 経験, 体験 etc.

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Yeah, as the OP explained, it was about the words, not specifically the kanji.


Easy, in RPGs it’s always 経験。Where else would you need these words :yum:


Dude. I have never played a Japanese games before. But this sounds cool. Can’t wait to try.
I have seen 経験 used like this.


“I experienced (something) for the first time yesterday”

I just started in WK, after 30 years in Japan. I’m verbally functional, but practically illiterate. Already, in level one, I came across a word I had never heard it before: “たいした”. So I asked my Japanese wife about it and she was mystified. She said she has never heard anyone use that word before. I’m not sure why it would be taught in level one, if no one uses it.


I’ve only just started, literally on my first round of Kanji but i’ve been using Duolingo since the beginning of this year to make an effort to learn japanese along with other sources but what I found most weird was seeing 下 and 上 again and yet being told they’re pronounced differently. On duo and a japanese video I watched on youtube, 下 is pronounced した but wanikani says か and 上 is pronounced しょう instead of うえ like i’ve been taught. same with 大 being たい or だい when i’ve been told its おお。I’m sure its just other readings but i feel like the way i learned them previously was more useful than how i’m learning them now? Idk if the pronounciations on wanikani are just less specific than the ones on duo, but its hard to untrain my brain for sure.

Sounds pretty impossible. Natives are often really not good at judging how common words are. You definitely hear especially 大したことじゃない quite often. It’s also marked a common word on Jisho. Not to mention it gets a ton of results on example sentences on


My favorite vocab where i always shake my head in disbelieve is 飴細工. I mean i really cant think of a situation that would realistically happen in which i would use that word