Example sentences too complicated

Could we have less crazy and confusing example sentences and perhaps shorter and more understandable ones? This is an example of what I’m talking about. I’m level 17 and the word is “zoo.”

多くのコアラはコアラレトロウィルスというウイルスを先天的に保持しており、ストレスなどを受けると、リンパ腫など死につながる病気を発症してしまいます。ですので、動物園に行かれた際は、カメラのフラッシュや大声を出すなどしないよう、十分気をつけてください。

Many koala bears have an innate virus called koala retrovirus and it often causes a life-threatening diseases like lymphoma when they get stressed out, so please make sure not to use your camera’s flash or speak loudly when you go to the menagerie.

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There are 3 context sentences for that vocab. The first 2 are short and simple. The 3rd is longer and more complicated (which some people like for a more in depth reading practice). Something for everyone.

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i was literally just wondering what level 17/18 looked like since i should be there in about 10/12 weeks which is a goal for something for me. LOL big yikes. Do you actually know all of the vocab in that sentence though (as insane as it is)??? from wanikani? or is that just for people who happen to know extra on the side

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For the example context sentence in question, all of the kanji used except for 2 have already been seen in previous (or this), levels. One will be seen in a future level and one is not in WK. Part of the reason that the context sentences can be weird/odd/strange is due to the fact that they have been constructed taking this into account, trying to use only kanji already taught plus trying to get as much kanji you have been taught into the sentence for more practice seeing it in context. Of course, another reason is the sense of humour inherent in WK which some people appreciate/love and some people hate. I like it. Learning can be fun too.

A lot of the vocab that is not in kanji are not vocab words taught in WK. But they are in kana, so you will be able to read them and the translation is right there for you see what they word is (so no need to look it up in a dictionary). Another way to pick up additional vocab via reading/immersion, which is exactly what you would be doing if you are reading content elsewhere.

The other value (and perhaps primary one given that they are called “Context Sentences” after all) is that they show the vocab in context so that you can get a feel for typical usage and nuances. One can just look at the English translations for this part, if you want.

Personally I use the Hide Context Sentence user script which grays out the English translation of the context sentence unless I hover over it. I reveal it if I am completely stuck or to see how well I understood the sentence and confirm meanings of vocab I am not sure about.

Also there is another script called Advanced Context Sentences 2 which adds:

  • highlights the kanji in the sentence, colour coding which ones you have already learned
  • hovering over the kanji pops up info showing the WK level, meaning and on/kun readings, and your current SRS level for it
  • adds audio for the context sentence

  • Pink - already seen in WK
  • Shaded out gray - not seen yet OR not in WK
  • Speaker icon - play audio (computer generated so not natural sounding but not bad).

The pop-up details:

image

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Oh, I didn’t know there was a script to hide the translations. Will have to use that, since I’m trying to read all three of them on my own before seeing how I did.

To go back on topic, I’d say the system of two you should know, and one out of reach is ideal. My only issue with the context sentences is that when a word is made of say, two kanji, and only one of those has been in the lessons, it can be really hard to figure out how to read it or where the word starts and stops in a sentence filled with kana. Just as a quick example べん強. Some markup to show this is future kanji that’s omitted might go a long way helping with that. As in, it would be nice if the vanilla site had this.

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No, there si actually a kanji there not taught by wanikani (腫) and I didn’t know 先天的 either. The rest of the sentence is pretty straightforward however, if a bit long.

I think the team has been reworking the example sentences behind the scenes (not sure if they’ve reached level 17) to make them more useful and less overly complicated. Until then they were nearly useless because the level required to understand them was vastly superior to the level they were used in.

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It is a vocab not seen in WK, but all of those kanji have been seen before (levels 4, 2, and 14 respectively). This provides an excellent opportunity to practice being able to try to figure out what a word might be and how it may be pronounced. All (or at least almost all in case there any exceptions to what I am about to say) of the kanji covered by WK are going to appear in lots of vocabulary not covered by WK. Having learned those kanji allows you to have a pretty good idea (given the kanji and the rest of the sentence) of what it is or could be. Which is exactly what one needs to be able to do, and should be doing to increase your vocabulary. That is how reading outside of WK is going to be. I am glad that such context sentences are provided right here in WK. I find them, and that experience, an invaluable learning aid.

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Yeah but I don’t think WK’s implementation of this concept is very good. First you don’t have furigana to check that you guessed the reading correct which sucks. Secondly I dare anybody to guess the meaning of 先天 by kanji alone, there’s a lot of actually niche vocab in these examples, either super bookish stuff or slang (that includes the grammar used too). Lastly there’s really no excuse for using so many high level kanji or even kanji not on the website for low level items. That just guarantees that the sentence is not going to be understandable.

I tried several times through my WK journey to make use of the example sentences, I feel like only now as I’m about to finish with the course I am able to engage with most sentences productively. For anybody below level 30 my advice would be to just ignore them altogether (or only look at the English sentence to get a feel for how the word is used) because it’s just more frustrating than it’s worth.

From what I can tell they’re actually improving that a lot though, I now they have at least one simple sentence for every word, and maybe one harder sentence for more advanced learners. That’s a good way to do it, although I still think you should be able to toggle furigana to check your work.

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Yes it can. Absolutely. But that is what reading Japanese is all about and what we need to learn to do. We learn by practicing and doing it. When I read something outside of WK it is not going to be magically tailored to my current WK level. Just in the past few minutes I picked up アホ毛 and 酒かす. Neither are words I have seen before but I was able to guess pretty closely as to what they were given the context (and visual cues, I am watching a TV show). Will I remember them in the future, no idea. Although having written about them here will probably help :wink:

I read Shonen Jump weekly, can read manga without furigana, and recently played through FF6 without too much of an issue. All of that is still a lot less of a mess than partial kanji words here.

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I completely agree with you on needing to learn to deal with unknown kanji and vocab in the wild since it’s an invaluable skill, but I still don’t think that the right way to do that is by throwing an out-of-context sentence about koala retroviruses and lymphomas in the face of learners who are still learning elementary Japanese.

Your average level 17 vocabulary are words like “side”, “thin”, “salt”, “nose” and “love”… That’s the level we should be targeting here.

I think these sentences are more likely to frustrate and demotivate than to help. Although again, if it’s only one out of three I think it’s fine.

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I have not noticed any furigana on all the signs I see all day, all the stuff I get in my mail box, menus, any of my bills, municipal paperwork, closed captioning on TV, notes my wife leaves for me, etc. :slight_smile: Serious answer, I do agree that in a learning aid it would be VERY useful, but should be something that can be toggled. Like NHK easy news does.

Yeah, that was not a good one for being able to guess. But more often than not, a lot of vocab can be. But that is what dictionaries are for. I did not always know (and still do not) every word I came across reading English and have had to look things up.

Bring it on I say. I live and work in Japan. Except in formal meetings everyone around me converses is a less than formal manner. They often tell me I sound like a dictionary or thesaurus (and a very old one at that as has been brought up in other threads due to WK having a fair bit of vocab that is rarely, if ever, used in average contexts) and that I need to learn to talk in “normal” Japanese.

Interesting. I did not find this to the case and my advice would be the opposite. At least that is what worked for me. I am on my second run through after a hiatus, but that held during my first run. In fact I use them less now than I did before.

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Yes, some people do like that level of exercise and the process of digging into it to learn new words and practice comprehension capability as part of the process. They should be catered to as well. I think it would be disservice to many to remove or replace them when those that do not want to use them can just… not use them. Generally it is 1 out of 3 so something for both camps.

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Absolutely. Furigana on hover/tap is a great compromise I think.

Personally I often found that example sentences on Jisho were more helpful (and numerous) than WaniKani’s. For instance: 動物園 #sentences - Jisho.org

I find these sentences generally more representative of what a beginner/intermediate learner will want to interact with.

That’s especially true as you get towards the higher WK levels and most words only have one example sentence and it’s really hit-or-miss. There are even a few cases where the example sentence showcases a different meaning than the one taught in the lesson!

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I do not but my wife does. She keeps trying to get me to.

Yes, I also wish they did not do that. I understand why they do, but when it comes to vocab, it is writing a word that is spelled incorrectly IMO. One of the other, but not a mix. I have seen other learning resources that do the same thing as well.

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I think Tofugu is pretty anti-furigana by principle, and that’s why they opted for that solution, but I really think they’re wrong.

I do agree that having furigana by default is a bad idea (even the “smart” furigana some websites have where they sync your WaniKani progress and only show furigana for not-known kanji) but on-demand furigana to check the readings is an amazing feature that has basically no drawbacks IMO.

I think the Tofugu people are just set in this “furigana bad” mindset to the point that they end up with this ridiculous half-kanji “solution” that’s just objectively worse.

I also think another justification for the half-kanji spellings is that it’s apparently often used in Japanese schools for native kids who don’t know enough kanji yet, but I still don’t think it makes sense for us foreigners. Japanese kids already know how to speak the language, so they often know how a word is pronounced but not how it’s spelled, and on top of that they also need to be able to actually handwrite Japanese so these partial-kana words are very natural in this context.

That’s absolutely not true for the average WaniKani user who discovers the vocabulary through kanji for the most part.

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I think this part is key to my issue with this approach. If I know the word already but not how it’s written, I can often piece it together when it shows up like this. But if it’s a new word, then it’s both harder to figure out what the reading of the unknown part is, and to look up the fractured word easily.

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There’s also the fact that I learned a bunch of kanji because they came in a common word paired with a kanji that I already knew.

One that comes to mind is 到着, a rather common word but 到 comes pretty late on WaniKani level 42. 着 is on level 12 however, and 倒 on level 20 (note that it uses 到 as phonetic component) so I could fairly easily familiarize myself with that word, its pronounciation and the kanji long before I reached level 42.

On the other hand if it was spelled とう着 I couldn’t do any of that.

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ooooh i am going to find and install this script right now, thank you for sharing and thanks so much for your insight! I like the silliness of some of the stuff in wanikani as well, but I definitely understand that for some people it can be off-putting or frustrating.