Feature Suggestion: Learn the Context Instead of Individual Radicals / Kanji / Vocabulary

People don’t read individual letters, we read the word. When there is an ambiguous word, we read the whole sentence, or the whole paragraph. So, I am suggesting something like:

The system should prioritize showing a word with all the kanji the user had learned previously, but I think it will still be fine if the system was not able to do that.

For vocabulary:

Lower level user may not be able to read the whole sentence, but having know at least one other word in the sentence helps a lot right? Just show the furiganas and word-by-word translation after the user attempted an answer, and then the user can learn how to use the word!

The same thing can also be done for radicals, but I’m not giving example because you get the idea already.

Wikipedia can be used for example sentence extractor – it’s even free for commercial use.
Or create some business proposals, with https://www.kanshudo.com/ for example.

What do you think?


I don’t think it’s a terrible idea, but that the amount of work required on the part of the Tofugu team would be disproportionate to the amount of benefit it would offer. The existing example sentences shown offer the context looking for, honestly.


It’s a good sentiment, and I think more people should be introspective about their learning process; But, in general, context is better off coming from reading practice… as in books (e.g. graded readers), articles (NHK Easy news), social media, etc.

Wanikani’s goal has always been to maximize memorization of kanji (not even vocab, per se) so you can transition to reading faster. Admittedly, they sort of fail at pushing people toward other modes of outside study, though you could argue that they didn’t set out to hand-hold learners on the whole process, but rather just be good at their part of the process.

Anyway, the benefit of WK in its current form is that learning is fast enough to be felt, and I suspect that wading through too much information simultaneously would slow that down, whereas complementing the fast pace with outside reading would be cleaner, and provide truer context.

I’d suggest picking up some graded readers and/or other easy material to start exposing yourself on a daily basis to the kanji that you’ve memorized so far. That will give you lots of the context you’re looking for.


Really? I think it’s a GREAT idea, but also that the amount of work required on the part of the Tofugu team would be disproportionate to the amount of benefit it would offer. Great not in a “instead of the way Wanikani does it” sense, more like in an “in addition to” sense.

It IS reading practice. (a forced, tiny amount of…)

Might work good as an auxiliary site like kaniwani though, if someone wanted to go to all that effort.


I’ma be entirely honest, I mistyped my original comment, was meant to say “I don’t think it’s a terrible idea” and legitimately failed to notice until you quoted me.

I feel somewhat bad now that my comment would have come off somewhat harsh :grimacing:


You’re absolutely right in how people normally read words, but we’re dealing with flashcards here. In general, you want to minimize the information a card has in order to have a simpler 1:1 relation between stimulus and meaning/reading. If you changed Wanikani’s cards to have sentences instead, you’d have to deal with parsing the whole thing and would spend a lot more time dealing with individual cards.

I do use sentences in my anki cards, but those come from a context I’ve already encountered while reading and am familiar with, in that case it’s a good thing because you can tie it to a concrete memory. But that wouldn’t work as well with random sentences on Wanikani.


Sure, but not very good reading practice, and I suspect not very good for kanji / vocab recognition either.

The OP’s point about (paraphrasing) “you read words, not individual letters” is due to the fact that the brain learns by consistency. You couldn’t use the same sentence for each review, otherwise your brain would short-circuit the learning process and do something like: "oh yeah, the sentence about Korean food… that was ‘happiness’ ". You would risk over-relying on the sentence context, to the detriment of remembering the kanji visually.

By the way, there’s already Duendecat.com for sentence practice by WK level, though the sentences are drawn from Tatoeba or something similar, which has a reputation for quality issues. Wanikani’s 4500-sentence pack might be better, though I don’t think it is organized by level.


What you’re describing is JALUP’s system. That app uses sentences of increasing complexity that build on previously learned material in a logical way and Anki style to progress your language learning.

There has been a couple times in the past few months that WK users banded together to get a discount on the JALUP full package.



Yup, I’m one of those people. :smiley:

And while I love Jalup for vocab and J-J cards, I am not a fan of the way they teach Kanji. I only switched to Jalup after I had finished WK and found it much easier to get through as a result because I skipped the Kanji and Beginner decks entirely. Although, the Beginner deck is pretty good around the last half.


Kanji Garden ( https://kanji.garden/ ) tries to teach kanji in this way. The main problem for me with this approach is that, if you only get to learn on 2-3 examples of kanji in most popular words, you may be missing the part of context coming from usage in this kanji in other popular words, omitted by the software designer. If I can’t get the entirety of the context, I feel it’s cleaner to just focus on the kanji.

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Japanese Kanji Study recently added example senteces like that, following the Kanji Learner’s Course sequence. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindtwisted.kanjistudy&hl=en_US&gl=US It doesn’t have an SRS, and I’m not even sure if you can use those sentences in a quiz, but might be worth a look. (Lowest level kanji are free, then it’s a one-off payment. I’m not using the sentences much yet, but can highly recommend the app for writing practice.)

On another note: While I’m absolutely a fan of context, I also noticed that with my Anki vocab deck I often guess vocab correctly based on one kanji, but absolutely don’t remember the second kanji in the word, or the word as a whole. More in a “well so far I’ve only learned one word that contains 無, so it must be this”. But if I were to see the word in a real world context I wouldn’t be able to read it, because there’s a lot of words containing 無 lol. So I do like to have a place to focus on just one kanji/vocab without context as well.


There’s a nice script that does something similar for those who want to try it; though I only tend to read the sentences when I feel like I know something and need to jog my memory. It’s called Show Context Sentence: [Userscript] Simple Show Context Sentence


ah thanks for mentioning duendecat!

for quality issues or “same sentence” problems, that’s why I mentioned Wikipedia, they are completely free to copy-paste, there are “word/text” extractor softwares for free out there.

when mentioned about “WK focused on Kanji, not even vocab”, I just realized once again that the vocab items on WK for me is more for learning the kanji rather than expanding vocab knowledge

There’s also this userscript, which shows a context sentence almost exactly as you described. And this one provides additional context examples.

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