Are mnemonics bad?

Hi, I’m writing this because I’ve heard from some natives to avoid using wanikani due to its mnemonics. They say while it does help you remember vocabulary better, it will ruin your accent. And a big problem with me too is that I still remember every single mnemonic for kanji and vocab, so whenever I see adult I think of oh toner, which worsens my accent. What should I do?


I’m a fan of them, they wedge new information in quicker for me.

Some WK mnemonic sounds are definitely a stretch, but you have to just keep in mind they exist only to jog your memory towards the direct sounds. If you haven’t, then you just need to take the time to get at least a basic understanding of how Japanese sounds work. If you have done that, well, don’t literally say/subvocalize it as “oh toner” because that’s not the word, haha. It’s a step on the way to the word, but you’re also not likely to be using many words in conversation that you need that much help recalling. Also check out WK’s audio recordings of course, if you haven’t been. You can even set them to autoplay when you get correct answers, which you might want.

A crucial point is pretty much everyone here will tell you that over a longer time period, the majority of your mnemonics will fall away on their own. Right now you need your memory jogged. When you’ve heard/read おとな thousands of times, your brain will make the connection more instant and efficient.


are these natives also selling Japanese learning programs?


As long as you don’t try to pronounce the words literally based on the mnemonics you should be fine. They are hints for the reading (spelling) of the word and nothing more. If you’re still worried, then try listening to a lot of Japanese (even just anime would be fine) so you get used to how the words are supposed to sound.


More likely that you’ll give up instead because it’ll far more tedious to do it without them. I don’t know how helpful that will be compared to having a scuffed accent that will suck anyway.


What does that have to do with it?

Also the natives are skeptical of wanikani because a がいじん made it.


We’re reaching new levels of gatekeeping I thought were unimaginable.

You’re just teaching your brain to make these connections to things you already know. I doesn’t matter who it is made by if it is successful in improving people’s reading comprehension.


Theres a Japanese Youtuber that famously dunked on learning Japanese from Textbooks but was trying to sell his program at the same time… so it was a little on the nose for why he would promote an idea like that.


They say some things are wrong. For example, in lesson 4 wanikani says うつ means “to hit”. However, the native speakers say that it only means to strike and you wouldn’t say ジョンを打つ.

One native speaker doesn’t speak for them all, remember that as well.


I’d say 3 are a somewhat reliable source of information, as 2 of them have lived in Japan for over 75 years.

Maybe you’re really early on your journey and I am excited for you to learn this but there are many ways to express the same ideas in Japanese. WaniKani doesn’t teach you japanese it teaches you vocab, their meanings, and how to read them. But just as a recommendation WaniKani is a supplement for study not a core resource on how to express things. Theres a lot of words and phrases WK teaches but there are lots of alternatives to those words.


Here’s the thing: before Wanikani, I was stuck at ~100 kanji and couldn’t seem to progress further. I’ve since made it to level 45 before resetting, and can read quite well. It’s about finding what works for you. No, mnemonics aren’t bad. I guarantee Japanese people use them as well, just in their own language.


There are plenty of natives who are excellent teachers, but as a general rule for any language, in my view:

If you want the best possible answer about what is most natural and the like, natives are a fantastic resource.

If you want help learning the basics of a language, people who actually had to consciously learn the language are a fantastic resource.

When you start learning a language, especially one far from your native, you are going to learn many rough approximations of words. Often they’ll have the wrong nuance, sometimes you might completely mess it up. These understandings will be vague and tied to another language which they really have no relation to. Few terms map 1:1 between English and Japanese especially.

How you counter this is not by researching and learning every word perfectly from step one. It’s by accumulating a TON of those vague impressions, then listening and reading for literal thousands of hours. In that time, you’ll figure out what the words REALLY mean.


Can you please explain to me the difference between “to hit” and “to strike”…

It seems like you’re splitting hairs.


What’s the difference between “to hit” and “to strike”? This is of course not counting common other usage, for example using 打つ when talking about injections


Jinx! Loll


They meant you could only use hit in that sort of context, like to strike a ball, or to strike metal, and like punch or hit a person. I got genki and they said that I should probably just stick to genki. I’m currently on lesson 9.

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Genki is great for learning grammar, but it’s not gonna teach you much kanji. They’re two different resources. But in the end, again, it’s about finding what works for YOU, screw what anyone else says, us and your native friends included.


Sure but we say “hit” for baseball. So “hit” is not wrong and “strike” is not the only possible gloss. That’s all I’m saying. It’s just a weird nitpick by them.