Best way to recall Wanikani Vocab for speaking?

Hi All! As I start to get more seriously into the beast that is Wanikani (enlightened my first item today, yay!) and spend a bit of time in the forums, I’m noticing a couple things.

First, that there seem to be two different groups of people using WK- those with decent previous Japanese knowledge, and those without. I feel like the learning strategies might differ slightly between those two groups, as those with previous knowledge are trying to fill gaps and line symbols up with words they already know, while the second group are trying to combine unknown symbols to new sounds. I’m definitely in the second category (should have seen me this morning, dancing around my kitchen singing Cha-Cha-Cha! at the top of my lungs so I can remember the sound for 茶…)

So I think there is an additional challenge that everyone faces, but especially those of us with no Japanese verbal background, in trying to recognize and recall words in conversation. Even at level 7, I can now mostly recognize the better part of ~1000 symbols or words. But ask me to say a word without the kanji to guide me? I’m like a deer in the headlights.

So I’m wondering what strategies other folks are using. I looked at Kamesame and at first it seemed great, but it asks for the Kanji solution each time! It means that instead of focusing on listening and recognizing, I’m spending 9/10 of my time flipping through a list of “see more options” kanji until I see the one I recognize. Which isn’t the verbal focus I want.

Does anyone know of a way (script, different program, whatever) to make Kamesame or something similar hiragana only so I can focus on recognizing and recalling sounds?



“Passive” vs “active” vocabulary is a thing in any language, including your native one. Generally we know more words passively and can recognize them, but words we don’t use often are difficult to recall.

I think the trick is just actually using them. No other way around it. Maybe in the “Japanese Only” section of this forum. Maybe on an app like HelloTalk. It will be rough sledding at first with a lot of time spent looking up words. But it gets easier with time.

I would probably advise against a “hiragana only” approach, even at an early level. Just my opinion, does’t feel like the right way of going about it.


The questions from WK don’t really help you for remembering the words without seeing the kanji, so looking at other tools that go from English to Kana, or something where you have to fill the gap in a sentence, is a good idea. You can try, maybe you like it more than kamesame. But they are very similar.

Other than that, you can try writing sentences you want to say and look up the words. It is natural to be super-slow in the beginning, you are basically starting from zero because WK doesn’t really help.

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After coming to Japan I’ve realized a lot of the vocab Wanikani teaches is very weird or just plainly is never used (Yeah, yeah, it IS kanji reading practice. That’s fine.). Personally I would look at some other resources to increase your speaking vocab, where you are sure you are getting useful words. Especially at the level where you probably lack the essential vocab for daily life. Wanikani doesn’t do a very good job of teaching those early.

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I use, Japanese. It has speaking, reading, writing, listening, culture, and LOTS of fun practice. It’s a paid site, but worth every penny in my opinion. It is easy to learn words and conversations.

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My strategy for active recall of words is twofold.

First, I will put the English translation or a target language definition (or sample sentence with the target word deleted) onto the front of a card in an Anki deck. This is my standard Anki approach, actually.

Then, I will attempt to use the words I am studying in conversation.

Anki gets the word into my head and keeps me from forgetting it, and practice makes the word stick in my mind in a more natural way. This method has worked well for me for other languages. It is a completely separate issue from learning to read, and I really believe that reading and active recall have to be practiced separately.

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Try !
There’s courses for different levels, free materials and vocablists. You’ll learn a lot of grammar and vocab and practise speaking.
I use Marugoto materials with my online teacher who is Japanese and she highly recommends them for speaking. I trust her, she has been proven right more than once!
Also, be sure to go to . Many things to read and listen, good stuff!


It’s a minor thing but you can switch on “Autoplay audio in reviews”.

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I’m exactly the same and I live din Japan for a year back in the day. Just stick at it and don’t let it deter you.

A minor thing, that makes a huge difference! :slight_smile:

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