Do you track you kanji knowledge? How? (help me with research)

Hello everyone. I’m (still) working for a company that is making an online tool for learning Japanese. I won’t share any names or links because I don’t want to make this post look like an ad :sweat_smile:

I’m trying to understand people who learn Japanese better. The question I’m interested in now is “Do learners track their kanji knowledge? If so, how?" I hope this community can help me find the answer.

I would be super grateful if you could spare 3 minutes of your time to complete a short survey:

Take a survey and be awesome →

I’m looking forward to your replies!


Are you currently studying kanji?


Why not?

No reason to.

Thank you for taking this survey.

Well that was fast lol


I suppose WK would be the main way for tracking which and how many kanji I know, although it’s not really optimal for me in that regard, for several reasons:

  1. Because of how much I’ve been reading, I can probably recognize about a third of the ~800 kanji I’ve yet to learn with WK. Yet they aren’t properly “studied”. I can merely think of a couple of words including those kanji.
  2. I’ve learned many words using kanji not taught on WK from reading a lot and haven’t been keeping track of that number (mainly because I don’t really see a point in doing that).
  3. It’s hard to tell whether or not you really “know” a kanji, because it’s likely for a word to be out there you don’t know made up of kanji you do know, perhaps even utilizing readings you haven’t learned yet.
  4. I can’t remember all of the kanji I know in handwriting.
  5. Some of the WK kanji I have learned may be a bit blurry in my mind if I haven’t seen them much while reading.

Although, to be fair, I don’t think it’s possible to create a tool that could accurately keep track of one’s kanji knowledge, nor would it be worth the effort to attempt to create one. The way I see it, it’s mainly to track your progress.


Back when I was doing WK I also felt that my knowledge wasn’t tracked properly, but because it said I knew kanji I would never be able to recognize in the wild. The vast majority was like this.

I answered, but indeed it can be difficult to gauge… Because there are depth in everything, not only breadth.

For example, do I know less commonly used readings of lower level Kanji? How many vocabularies can I recognize / build with those? What about telling apart the Kanji, especially out of context? (Think a big few Kanji, on a screen.) What about alternate forms of Kanji? 略字? Handwriting?

The only thing I don’t count for now, is writing them out myself.

The main way of tracking would be self-evaluation, of whether I felt something is missing and should lookup, but that is also questionable.

Anki would be another good way, but flashcards can be difficult to accurately design.

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Tracking is an interesting one because I think that students start off caring a lot about it – fixating on the jouyou kanji set or counting kanji you “know”. But I think the longer you study the more you realize it’s a very fuzzy thing to measure, both in what counts as known (recognize it in one word? know readings for it? can write it?) and in there not being a fixed set you need to know (some jouyou kanji are rare and you’ll almost never encounter them; some non-jouyou turn up quite a bit). So you stop thinking in terms of tracking kanji knowledge and transition to thinking more about what you can or can’t practically do (read a novel; write on a computer; handwrite; etc).


Where I’m at now, I mostly care about tracking kanji in the sense that I want to make sure that I’m adding new kanji that I come across to SRS, either Anki if it’s not in WK, or just waiting to learn it in WK. If I forget a kanji after SRS-ing it, then it’s not one that I use enough to need to remember. My philosophy with letting it run through SRS is that it’ll make it a lot easier for me to remember it if/when I do see it again. Currently, I have Anki set to retire cards once the review interval reaches a year or more (at which point, I’ll let the “natural SRS” of reading and listening to Japanese take over), so there will be kanji that I forget. That’s okay.

I guess my own thinking on tracking kanji has changed a bit. When I started out, I cared a lot more about percentages, like being able to read 50% or 75% or whatever of percent of the kanji in any given article or book. Once I reached an estimated 90%, I think I stopped caring about this, because kanji look-ups were uncommon enough they stopped being a real obstacle for reading comprehension. Before that point, though, that percentage number going up represented a concrete gain in reading ease, so I did fixate it on it a bit.

I’ll eventually reach a point where I stop adding kanji to SRS, and I suspect that’ll be the point where I truly stop caring. I can’t really say a concrete number of kanji that I “know,” but I can give a concrete number of kanji that I’ve learned. Those numbers will probably diverge more and more with time.

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I read books. If I get royally fucked it means I dont know a lot. If its really easy it means I know what I know. xD

Sorry, I know a lot of people track these things but I don’t and it makes itself apparent when I use it in real use cases like reading or playing games.


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