Do you aim for instant-recognition or reinforcing mnemonic each time?

When I’m going through my reviews, I’m conflicted on what approach I should use for the best long-term results. Let’s say 飲み放題 (nomihoudai / “all you can drink”) pops up. I can either:

a. Recognize the word automatically (unconsciously? instantly? just by the sight of
it, I mean) and type the answer quickly, or;

b. Say to myself “Ok, eat + lack = drink, the direction of winter is release, the geoduck under the sun determines the topic, so drink + release topic is nomihoudai, all you can drink.”

When a word is still relatively new, I always go with option B. Usually I need to, because I don’t know the word. But once I do (nomihoudai is a word I have known very well for years without knowing the kanji), I’m conflicted. The ultimate goal is to be able to see written Japanese and read it naturally, without having to parse out the elements of each character. But not every word is like nomihoudai for me, and I’m worried that something I think I know right now will look totally unfamiliar the next time I see it on NHK Easy News or the next review. Being able to build to the answer by using the radicals / mnemonics is how I figure things out that I don’t recognize instantly…

Does anyone else feel this conflict when you have 100 reviews and you want to move quickly through them but you think it’s “better” to talk them all out in your head?


I feel the same. I try to go from B to A as I go through the SRS levels. I’ve noticed with enlightened items it’s very black and white. Either I remember immediately or I have to labour through the story in my head. I imagine the same happens with burns. must depend on how common the word is, how likely it is to be seen in the wild…

I think it’s better to have the A option unless you know it’s a fluke because you just learned it and remember but won’t in a week or two.


With Wanikani it’s all about speed, because you want to be able to read fast. If I don’t recall within a couple of seconds I fail it and move on. I try to finish 100 items in about 10 minutes.

With other stuff (on Anki) I am more lenient, as it is not usually relevant to have to be able to recall instantly.


The useful step with SRS is remembering what the thing is. If I feel like I should remember a kanji/vocab item, I’ll spend a bit more time thinking about it (or even sometimes take a break to see if it comes to me). If I immediately feel I won’t remember then I immediately put in a wrong answer then move on.

Being able to read stuff fast will come with repeated exposure anyway…




I only use method B if I fail an item multiple times. I try for instant recognition.


I try instant recognition first and then I go through the vocab components and the story to reinforce them as well. If I don’t have much time and instant recognition happens, I skip the story.

I always go for this approach except for newly learned kanji/vocab.

I don’t know if this is any consolation to you, but I’m reading really a lot of native material right now and I still forgot the reading/meaning of some words from time to time. Especially for those words you don’t really see a lot. My way of thinking is that this is okay – after all, WK should not be your sole tool in reinforcing your kanji and vocabulary core.


I do it the other way around. I fail quickly while an item is in the apprentice stages, but I’ll let myself think through the mnemonic when it comes up for Master and later.

Yup, it’s the same for me. A word I could instantly know in WK looks different in sentence context somehow.


Same for me. I really don’t know why too. Probably due to font differences? (I use that font randomizer script so that this doesn’t happen but it still happens)


Isn’t it strange how that works? I do that all the time when I’m reading Japanese subtitles. Sometimes it drives me crazy.


Yeah, I don’t think it’s the font so much as not really understanding the important shapes. Seeing handwriting is probably the best since you see exactly what shapes are emphasized.

Aye. It’s infuriating but also rewarding once you do recognize it. :wink:


Enable lightening mode and strap in!


Learning tends to be way more specific to learning conditions than people realise. Basically you need to relearn everything for the new situation (reading as part of a text). Thankfully you already know the stuff at that point, so it’s just a matter of making the associations to stuff that’s already in your head.


I’m sure you’re right.

*crosses all available fingers and toes for good luck


I just recently started on this approach of “Move fast & Break Things” on my reviews and I love it. I am only averaging maybe 80-90% scores during my reviews but it’s so much better than agonizing over each answer.

After about 20 seconds If I don’t have an answer I guess and am happy to take the L. If I didn’t know it in 20 seconds I don’t deserve to get it right and am happy for it to go back down to apprentice or Guru.

Really enjoy WK a lot more since I’ve been doing reviews this way.


I try not to rely on English too much, so when I first learn a word, I always try to conjure up some kind of image in my head. Thus, everytime I see the word, I train myself to associate that word to the image. In your example, 飲み放題, I would simply picture an all you can drink bar. For a lot of Chinese words, a lot of which are used to describe more abstract concepts, I simply rely on my knowledge of Mandarin (native speaker), so I can recognize the meaning instantly when I see the characters (予約、孤独 etc.).

Learning the pronunciation is a different story, since I can’t rely too much on Chinese, especially for kunyomi words (every verb, for example). However, while the onyomi words usually sound nothing like its Mandarin counterpart, I treat it as if it were words in other Chinese dialects, which, for some unknown reason, makes the pronunciation easy to remember. For kunyomi, I try to rely on Wanikani’s mnemonics as little as possible, although I have to use it quite a lot in the beginning of learning each word. About halfway through apprentice, I usually remember the pronunciation well enough such that I can (more or less) instantly recall the pronunciation, except for complicated ones like 予め(あらかじめ).

1 Like

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