Has Wanikani accelerated your ability to understand spoken Japanese?

Obviously, learning Kanji and vocabulary is going to help a lot with reading. But I’m curious to know the extent to which it also helps with listening and speaking skills.

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It’s really hard to say. It hasn’t hurt anything, but knowing words will help listening, but it didn’t explicitly help my listening comprehension.

I noticed that words that I used to hear quite often in anime and j dramas I now recognise more often (as in they stand out more to me and I know what they mean). I had very little experience of studying Japanese before WK though so whether this would translate to native speak I’m not sure.

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It has indirectly affected my listening and speaking skills; first of all because I’m aware of vocabulary that I’ve read before, I’m more likely to notice it in conversation–this isn’t a sure-fire thing, though. There have been many times someone has said something to me that I didn’t understand only to have them write it down and realize that I’ve studied that word before.

Speaking-wise, the more words you learn through reading, the more words you can use in conversation. The huge caveat is that there’s a gap between words I know that are more commonly used in conversation and words I know from the material I read.

Another aspect WK has helped is through meeting people online to have conversations; when people understood that I could read their messages, they were more likely to open up to me. This has resulted in me meeting far more people through the internet to have a language exchange than people in the town that I live in Japan.

In other words, WK has made it easier for me to improve my other language skills because I am able to read the kanji in many of the things I come across. Has it accelerated my listening and speaking skills? I’m not sure, but being able to read makes other aspects of learning easier.


It’s almost the same for me.

The issue with vocabulary is context. I try not to use “new words” without asking my Japanese friends the context in which the words are used. For example, Is it polite? More frequently used by men or women? Can you give me some sample sentences?

For example, しつこい means “persistent” as well as “insistent” or “obstinate” in English. “Persistent” and to a lesser degree “insistent” are not always bad things in English, but they can be. But しつこい in Japanese, according to my Japanese friends and teacher, always connotes something negative in Japanese.

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WaniKani helps with my recognition and reading skills, but my listening comprehension has not greatly improved. I take Japanese class at my high school, and sometimes we will come across words that I’ve learned from WaniKani, but cannot recognize in spoken context. Oh well, so it goes. I hope to be able to find more ways to use my new vocabulary in conversation and learn to recognize it without searching for radicals to remind me.

My listening has greatly improved from WK. I’m picking out words that I learned on WK in anime, etc pretty often. But then, I’m an auditory learner… I learn the kanji and whatnot by speaking it to myself and listening to it, not by using mnemonics, so that probably helps a lot.

Speaking as a beginner, it’s definitely helped me!
I listen to JP101 podcasts and can pick up most of the context from the beginning dialogue simply because of my vocab knowledge, which makes it much easier to focus on the grammar points.

It’s hard to isolate WK’s effect on my speaking ability, because I started WK just before I started living in Japan, and while I’ve been in Japan I’ve made sure to expose myself to tons of speaking opportunities. Those have a far greater impact on my speaking ability than anything else could, obviously. But WK has accelerated my reading ability, as it should, which in turn accelerates my ability to absorb native material in a general sense, so I’m sure speaking gets a small indirect boost.

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It’s had a huge impact on my literacy. It’s not an understatement to say wanikani is the sole reason I’m even somewhat literate in Japanese. As far as speaking/listening goes, it’s helped to the extent that I know more vocabulary, which is obviously important, but unless you have a very strong grammar base you won’t be able to keep up with natural speed Japanese.

If you’re trying to gauge whether or not to continue Wanikani I say continue. Wanikani has definitely allowed me to have actual conversations with Japanese people.

At the end of the day though Wanikani is a kanji learning system. There are much faster ways to pick up vocab.


I’m committed to Wanikani. I’m not even considering giving up. I’m just curious where my burgeoning knowledge of Kanji and vocabulary fit in within the larger picture.

Also, I think there is a significant difference between being able to recognize a word after seeing it and being able to recognize the same word after hearing it.

I’ve been picking out a lot of words that I learned in WK and I’m the same level as you, so you can use that as a benchmark. Are you picking words out of Japanese shows that you only learned in WK? If not, then it may not be a big contributor in your ability to understand spoken Japanese.

From my personal experience it helps a lot with reading but not so much at listening.

I’m studying in Japan right now and feeling really grateful that I’ve been using wanikani all this time. It helps you a lot when you’re reading Japanese stuff since you can catch the overall meaning quite easily if you know Kanji even if you didn’t understand the grammar sometimes.

Listening though is the whole different issues. Even if you know kanji you wouldn’t understand which one they’re using because Japanese has a ton of homonyms (not quite sure is it the right word). You need to understand the grammar and also be able to follow their speed which is the hardest part. Oh and also those slangs they’re using…

Keep in mind meaning of spoken words is largely derived from context, which is obvious in movies, shows, or real spoken situations. The only time you can’t derive ANY context from a situation is when you’re listening to podcast/radio or anything else without any visuals.

*My point being, I partially agree, but also want to qualify that you can still find ways of picking words out of conversations or shows and knowing what their actual meanings are to a high degree of certainty.

Given that my understanding of spoken Japanese is minimal – the experience here has helped me pick out words or phrases from spoken Japanese that I would not have otherwise (or yet) recognized. As I become more competent in understanding the spoken language I expect any “boost” from here will be coincidental, which is to say … yes, it has helped me.

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Not at all. I’m terrible at listening. I can hear a spoken sentence and end up completely lost. Show me the same sentence written and I suddenly understand everything.

You have a good point. I might have used the wrong reason for it. However for me even I knew the context of the conversation it’s still difficult to catch those words. If I have them speak the word I didn’t understand again I get it, but if it comes as a sentence it’s really hard to recall in that exact moment. It’s a problem of getting used to it i guess. So I still stand by my answer that it didn’t help me with listening that much (unless there’s person willing to repeat the word I didn’t catch everytime).

Also would like to add, if real people speak clearly like how seiyuu in anime does i’d be a lot happier person right now. Just put a bit more effort in it please!

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If there just would be audio kaniwani with just sounds to recall vocabulary. Would be nice.


Every level on Wanikani makes listening to anime a little easier. I mean, I’m still lightyears away from watching without subtitles, but I recognise more and more words as I progress on here.

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