Benefits of Doing Vocab before Radicals/Kanji

Hi guys,

Is there anyone who does ‘vocab first’ and if so, how does it help you?

I have read about others warning against using the script to put radicals and kanji first because it makes all the vocab pile up - what happens when it’s the other way round ie. vocabulary first - are there any advantages in doing vocab first?

Does it really mean vocab first, or only vocab based on old kanji before new radicals and kanji appear?

Many thanks!


You can’t unlock the vocabulary for kanji until you guru the kanji and have also learned the radicals. In this case, doing vocabulary lessons first only means those from the previous level. As such, the only disadvantage is indeed letting them build up. They’re there to reinforce learned kanji and also teach new readings you don’t learn in lessons, so avoiding them will only cause pain in the long run.

On the other hand, there are advantages to prioritising reviewing radicals/kanji over vocabulary, as I am sure my dear friend @jprspereira is about to tell you. :wink:


By learning vocabulary right after learning the kanji (and not skipping to radicals, more kanji), you’ll learn them closer in time to one another and form a better association between the kanji themselves and the vocabulary that reinforces the readings.

So if you’re not in a hurry to level up, it makes sense to follow the traditional order of WK :slight_smile:


It wasn’t



TRAITOR! :joy:. But yes I agree with JP, the traditional order is best in the long term.

1 Like

When you level up, there’s a first batch of vocab that’s unlocked with the new kanji and radicals (that belongs to the new level but that depends on previous levels’ kanji). I use the reorder script to do that before radicals and kanji because it takes me a while to get through kanji (I only do 5 lessons a day) and vocab is easier, I can do it all at once or sometimes I’ll take a couple of days to get through it, so when I finish kanji I don’t have so much vocab waiting for me, and it also makes me anxious to see so many lessons just hanging in there for so long. For me this helps to maintain a suitable workload.
But yeah @espaguete , if you meant doing vocab before the kanji associated with it, that is not possible.


Thank you @Krispy, @jprspereira and @dianarz for your informative replies!

I think I’ll only use it therefore when levelling up to get the vocab based on the previous level out of the way.

@dianarz Can I ask, how did you manage to get to level 39 when only doing 5 kanji a day? Have you done that 5 kanji from the very start?

I was at level 12 but reset at Christmas to level 2 so need a new plan to make it work better this time! Many thanks!


Take a look at my guide for WK :grin:


I have just perused your guide @jprspereira very useful - many thanks!

1 Like

Are you sure that’s the case? Before I level up I always have 20-30 words or so from my level that won’t be unlocked until I finish the level or just guru those last kanji, and then I might want to do those at the start of a new level. They don’t belong to the new level as far as I’m aware because they’re sorted differently on the vocabulary page. But, I could be wrong :sleeping:

1 Like

There are some vocab dependent on the kanji yet to guru that unlock when you level up, of course, but every new level also has its own vocab that unlocks immediately after level up (so not unlocked by same level kanji)


I do both. When I reach a new level, I use the reorder script to lean the new radicals/kanji, and part of the vocab that got unlocked by the last kanji going Guru. 6-12 new radicals/kanji and 6-12 old vocab.

Like JP said; it helps me cement the last level’s kanji by using them in the vocab, and it spreads out the learning of the new kanji. As the spread kanji proceeds to guru, it also unlocks the new level’s vocab piecemeal.

This way, I’m doing predominantly 7 day levels, while also hitting 0/0 at least once per level. So even with reordering, you can avoid those giant piles of vocab unlocking if you plan things out.

I really like the filter instead of the reorder script for lessons. That way you can easily do e.g. 1 radical, 1 kanji and 4 vocabulary items in each lesson. This helps to prevent being hit with a huge scary batch of lessons all at once:

Hi @Omon, how do you specify these 6-12 in your reviews. Sorry, I’m a bit confused how you use the re-order script for new radicals/kanji and old vocab, can you elaborate on that…?

You could use the script I linked above to do this easily. With the reorder script I’m assuming it is more of a hassle and involves mutliple lesson sessions, one for each type.

Ah, I always forget that six isn’t the standard lesson batch size. ^-^ That’s where the six and 12 is coming from. 24 is about the max I can comfortably retain from one lesson session.

With the Wanikani Reorder Ultimate 2 script, I can choose if I’m doing kanji or vocab, and I can choose what level I’m prioritising. When I level up, I pull the radicals forward and do all of them, adding new kanji to round out the session if necessary. Then, on the next batch of 6 or 12 lessons (while keeping close to 100 Apprentice items max), I reorder to make sure I do some of the last level’s vocab.

Hope that’s less vague. ^-^

I usually like to finish the remaining vocab from the previous level, to really round it off. It gives me a feeling of completion. Usually I do all my old vocab and new rad and kanji, sometimes also the vocab of the new level. It really takes a while, so the reviews will be kind of spread out anyway. But I imagine that if you were to do only like 10 levels at a time or something, that focussing on rad and kanji would the first way to go. Depends on whatever someone prefers.

How are things going @espaguete? :slight_smile:

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.