Guardrails in WaniKani

Hi all,

I want to start out by saying that WaniKani has grown on me really quickly and I find it to be a great tool to facilitate my kanji learning and Japanese studies in general.

That said, I’ve a number of frustrations that I have to get off my chest. I feel like it’s extremely easy to get something “wrong” in WaniKani if you aren’t paying close attention.

  • Example 1: I am given the radical 一, I accidentally put the kanji meaning “one” (not ground)
  • Example 2: I am given the kanji 一, I accidentally put the the kanji reading “ichi” when it asks for the definition (“one”)
  • Example 3: I am given the vocab 木, I accidentally put the kanji reading “moku” (not “ki”)
  • Example 4: I am given the kanji 入, so I answer “to enter”, but that’s the answer for the vocab (“enter” is the correct answer)

I could go on and on. I just wish WaniKani would do the “We’re looking for X” (like they do with onyomi vs. kunyomi) and not count it as wrong.

My issue is that the answer essentially depends not on my understanding of Kanji, but my ability to associate the color of the screen with what WK is looking for. It makes me feel like I’m fighting with WaniKani when I should be expending mental resources on learning.

Anyone else struggled with this? Any tips?

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I mean, besides the colored backgrounds it does tell you exactly what it’s looking for during reviews

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Taking an extra moment to confirm what an item is looking for can help prevent a lot of mistakes moving forward, but for any mistakes you absolutely did know, you could install something like the Override Script to ignore the wrong answer and give yourself another chance to input (but be careful not to abuse)

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It can be incredibly frustrating can’t it !

BUT - to me the colour system is pretty clear, and it states whether is wants a kanji reading or vocab reading - maybe it will just take a little longer to get used to it ? you are after all still in the early days of your wanikani journey.

alternatively if you don’t think you will get used to it - you could install a script such as ‘the ignore script’. this allows you to ignore a wrong answer. I personally wouldn’t recommended this, as it can be easy to misuse and convince yourself you knew the answer.

Also, take your time in reviews, if you rush through them you will inevitably make mistakes.

When they do that, the reason is because you weren’t actually wrong. So of course they aren’t going to penalize you. These other times you were wrong. even if you’re arguing that the question wasn’t clear.

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There is a script that allows you to ignore your wrong answer. I use this in those cases, as I don’t got it wrong in my opinion, rather misunderstood the question.

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I agree, I’m not contesting that what it’s telling you is unambiguous.

My complaint is that when I am doing a string of 100 reviews, it can be really easy to accidentally put in a kanji meaning rather than a vocab, or put in a reading rather than a meaning, etc.

Like when a vocab comes up and asks me for the meaning, if I accidentally put in the reading instead, I obviously misunderstood the question (which is why I would prefer there were more guard rails for such a situation). If I answer the meaning of 木 is ki, I obviously don’t think it means “ki”, I just accidentally put in the reading.

Thanks Ddjross, I’m avoiding scripts for exactly that reason. I’d rather overpractice than erroneously convince myself I know something when i don’t.

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Well in that case I’m not sure what exactly you wanted as a solution. The only way to fix mistakes is with scripts, so if you don’t want to use them then you’ll just have to be more careful.

I would say also that the precision matters and becomes more important as time goes on. It gets easy to mix up on’, kun’, and vocab readings as you see more and more “exceptions” to the readings.

I totally get the frustration, but you will very quickly reach a stage where you subconsciously pick up on reading / meaning, kanji / vocab etc. I don’t even remember the last time I got something wrong because of that issue.

The question bar actually changes colour as well, depending on whether it’s asking for reading or meaning, and I clearly started picking up on that without even realising it was a thing.

For your radical issue, I would just add the kanji meaning as a synonym for any radicals where they don’t match.

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I was skeptical about it but I like double check a lot now. It removes a lot of the frustration for me. Things like missing synonyms, verbs that have or don’t have “to”, confusing kanji and vocab, etc. (Override is a bit too much like cheating even for me.)
It all just doesn’t matter so much now since I can just try again.
Sometimes it’s even that I entered the completely wrong answer which is obviously wrong and it’s just a bit of a wakeup call that I should pay closer attention.

And yes a lot of this is more emotional than rational but I can’t help myself. Doing Wanikani every day requires it to be reasonably not-frustrating for me, even if it means defying the perfect strategy devised by the wise Crabigator.

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Just use this script then: WaniKani Review Order - (Radical/Kanji/Vocab order) Userscript Extension

It allows you to order your reviews so that WK will always ask for the meaning first and then for the reading. It makes your life so much easier.

I very strongly second this. I set my reviews to always be 1x1 mode with Reading→Meaning a very long time ago and have never looked back.

I always want both parts of a review together and in the same order. That eliminates a lot of the mental jumble of everything being randomized. I know for some people that randomness helps (or is supposed to anyway) them remember better, but I just found it really confusing and a whole lot slower. It’s not like I’m going to read something in the wild and only care about one half of the equation, after all.

Putting reading first also encourages me to “think in Japanese” and prioritize that over English as well, which is really what you’re trying to get to with learning another language. When I’m reading manga in Japanese, the less English words that enter my head, the better things are going.

The wonderful Ignore script addresses all the other problems, as many have noted.

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I’m only level 08, and this is hardly a problem for me anymore, but at level 04 and 05 I was still having difficulty. It’ll pass quickly and before you know it you’ll be sailing through reviews without needing to think so hard about which you’re being asked for.

I myself use the ignore script, but I have a lot of self control with it so I feel I can use it safely. I only ignore wrong answers if they were genuine typos or if I knew the correct reading for a vocab word but accidentally entered the meaning instead, or visa versa. However as I’ve said, this is less of a problem now than before.

Although it’s difficult to compartmentalize in your mind the difference between radicals, kanji, and vocab at first, this too gets much easier, and it’s important that you can differentiate their purpose for future learning. Like any skill, it gets easier with practice. I had awful trouble with the radical and kanji 一 at first, but with newer radicals, kanji, and vocab, I have a much better grasp of what I need to enter. Who knows, I’ll probably fail 一 when it comes time to burn it.

Ultimately, I appreciate what you’re experiencing, but these are only very small bumps in the road of a journey that has far more bounty than peril. If Japanese is something you’re passionate about, and you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll be able to overlook these now minor inconveniences, and before you know it, you’ll be looking back thinking “wow, how did I find that so hard?” :rofl:

I hope that despite this you’re still willing to give WK a try. It is by far one of the best kanji learning methods I’ve come across in my years learning Japanese. I tried everything. Nothing else worked.

Best of luck!

Besides the colors, and the text, It helped me a lot check my input before entering. For example if WK is asking for Kanji and I’m trying to enter the meaning, I’ll see string of nonsense Hiragana and Roumaji on the screen. So if you’re not too quick on the button, you’ve really got three guardrails to check yourself against.

When doing reviews, it’s easy to get into a rhythm of answer->hit enter->answer…, and that is where the danger lies. I would recommend getting into the habit of actually taking your finger off the enter key until you are ready to submit so you have chance to proof read for simple errors.

The double check script is pretty useful. Mainly because if you do get something wrong it prevents you from double clicking enter and skipping it so you don’t know why you got it wrong.
There are many times I make simple typos even though I knew the right answer so the retype option comes useful there

I use the reorder script so I do radicals/kanji/vocab in groups (i.e. never mixed) which I find a bit easier to process. I’ve been tempted to use 1x1 mode but I think it’s good to keep on your toes and have things random.

I reset recently (21 down to 1 :smile: ) and this time I trying things a little bit differently. I originally was focused on levelling up as fast as I could, and by the time I reached the high teens I was getting totally smashed with reviews. I was also guilty of leaving my vocab until last and sometimes having vocab from the previous level in my lessons. Because I was focused on levelling, I got frustrated when I made mistakes. Eventually I didn’t really care - I just slowed down whenever that happened and tried not to do it again! WK is definitely a marathon, try not to get hung up over mistakes (you’ll eventually get used to the UI and stop making silly mistakes anyway). The early levels are very forgiving with mistakes - that’s where you want to make them.

This time, I’m trying to do the vocab first (before any new radicals/kanji!) with an emphasis on learning the pitch accent. This means my lessons sit there for a bit longer, and I no doubt will take longer per level, but I’m hoping it relieves the pressure in the later levels. No idea how it will go, but wish me luck!

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On a side note, I think it’s absolutely correct for wanikani to accept only a certain answer for vocabulary. 入 on its own as a kanji does not mean “to enter”, that implies an action and that meaning is correctly tied to the verb 入る. Accepting じょ as the reading for 女 as a vocabulary reading also makes no sense, because when using that word in isolation as vocabulary it’s reading is not じょ but おんな。Accepting both readings for the kanji, as wanikani does (but might ask specifically for the on or kun after a screen shake) is fine.

I think wanikani is pretty good and most of these gripes come down to “be more careful”. Don’t view a wrong answer as some sort of failed test; you just get to see that kanji a couple more times and it will be better solidified.

That said getting 反 wrong as a radical because it is introduced as the kanji first (anti) and then the radical later (devil) can be frustrating. At the end of the day though a wrong answer isn’t the end of the world and scripts really aren’t necessary imo. If you want to use them, cool; but you don’t need them. I don’t really know how you could mistakenly enter a reading as a meaning and vice versa since one will get converted to kana before you hit enter. :woman_shrugging:

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