Hiragana and Katakana lessons


#1

So hear me out before you skewer me.

Would it be a bad idea if WK had an optional “prerequisites” component for teaching hiragana and katakana? A level 0, if you will, which new users can pick. When you choose to do it, it works like the rest of the levels, but for kana, except that you unlock regular level 1 once 100% guru’d. Once it’s all guru, the kana items disappear entirely.
In this, the prompts would only be for romaji (yes, I know romaji is the devil, moving on).
I know I would have used it at the start for katakana.

Yes, yes, I know “WK does one thing and does it well, this could be a loss of focus”. To that, I disagree. Justification will be provided if needed.


#2

I don’t think that SRS works well for writing systems that have limited inventory. One could easily make an online kana trainer but to be effective it would need to be fundamentally different from wanikani.

Thinking of a better system off the top of my head: lessons are learned in [aiueo] sets. When you’ve done one lesson set, you practice words containing those characters and other characters that you have already unlocked.

All words are real words but only two things are tested: convert hiragana to romaji and romaji to hiragana. Words aren’t marked wrong, but syllables are. A table keeps track of your overall accuracy and your recent accuracy for all kana (accuracy from previous X sessions).

If you wanted to introduce an SRS-like system, you could, but the inventory is not so large that I would just test all characters every session. After a week or so of this, I think they’d have a solid foundation.
Furthermore, I’d make the review system be an endless system. The user is notified once they’ve tested all unlocked characters (and maybe again once they’ve gotten unlocked characters correct at least once) however they can keep going. New words are generated according to which characters the user has the lowest accuracy for.


#3

Point taken.
Though there probably isn’t a reason it has to be strictly like WK either. Could be as you suggest, but as an optional “course”, if you would, to prepare folks who are brand new to Japanese.


#4

i would suggest kana invaders https://learnjapanesepod.com/kana-invaders/ , drag and drop http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/sheaa/projects/genki/hiragana-timer.html and writing practise to be honest. I think there is already so much out there and, as tmahrt suggested, i’m not sure wanikani SRS is the best for it. They could always include a handy link list though? :slight_smile:


#5

To be fair, in the FAQ they include links to the Ultimate Guide To Hiragana and Ultimate Guide To Katakana.

I didn’t really know katakana when I started WK but thanks to the katakana guide I was a katakana pro in just half a day :slight_smile: I thought it was extremely useful! So I think that’s probably good enough for complete beginners starting WK.


#6

Thats why I think they should have the kanas here. They already made the mnemonics in the ultimate guide, which are PRETTY good. I only signed up for WK because of their guide.


#7

Two of the reasons WK works so well are the mnemonics and the way one item builds upon other items in a logical manner. I don’t think these strengths would apply to kana learning, which is just rote memorisation.

Eh, there could be an option, I suppose, but would it be any better than staring at a printout for two days?


#8

Have you ever looked at their ultimate guides? The mnemonics they have for the KANAS are even better than the ones we have in WK


#9

I used


Worked pretty well. Looks a lot like those ultimate guides above.


#10

I think it’s just me, but visual mnemonics don’t seem to work too well for me. I could never “see” some of the radicals, such as hills and snake. Also,
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#11

Not necessarily the SRS method, but a kana study running alongside level one (maybe optional) might cut back a tad on “why is this so slow?” threads!


#12

Best idea so far. Perhaps a way to completely gamify and digitize their ultimate guides.

I do think it’s incomplete without kana though. I think I feel that way because I don’t think a product that teaches you to read in Japanese (yes, it does, you might not be able to make sense of what you read without grammar, but you’d still be reading) should teach you exactly that, to read. And reading is incomplete without kana.
Add to that the fact that relative to the gargantuan task of teaching kanji, kana is virtually no added effort, it seems like teaching the three scripts in one product would be a natural thing to do. By the end there would be a full textbook with EtoEto and a full script product with WK, fully gamified and immersive.

Or a separate product for free. It doesn’t have to be complicated or heavy-duty. Free stuff buys a ton of goodwill and is likely to be good for marketing if people like it. A simple: “now that you’re a Kana Samurai, how about sacrificing yourself to the Crabigator with WaniKani and be reborn as an ultimate Kanji Ninja?” Would get me riled up in a second.

@rodrigowaick, I definitely agree that kana can be learned in two days, but I think the effectiveness of gamification lies in 1) the methodology employed, and 2) the excitement it generates (which is more important, I feel). With this is mind, I think gamifying anything which requires more than a few minutes is a good idea as the excitement generated can extend beyond the time spent in-game. For example: Every time I have reviews, I’m excited. When I leave WK after them, I’m still super stoked for ages, because I’m thrilled that it even exists, let alone how well (allegedly) I am doing on it.


#13

While I see your point, the WK team already works full time on improving WaniKani and they are working on things that are much bigger and better than a kana learning system. Maybe eventually they could implement something like this, but I doubt it will ever become a priority. I’d rather they keep improving the kanji learning system than implementing something you can already get for free in multiple places elsewhere. Especially when they tell you that learning the kana is a prerequisite for starting here.

That sounds dangerous. I don’t think I want to experience that. :laughing::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#14

Sorry, don’t see it at all, to be honest. SRS is a poor system for kana learning, there are many different tools, most free, out there for learning kana, and you’re just not ready to worry about learning all the important kanji, in the first place, until you have already mastered reading in at least hiragana, anyway.

WK is for learning kanji, it does that well, and should not engage in mission creep.


#15

I personally couldn’t learn Katakana on Memrise, so I was forced to do it like I had done with Hiragana: writing them down on a notebook xD


#16

That’s not a bad idea


#17

It’s not? I think the people who parrot the “romaji is evil” philosophy are narrow minded and foolish. Romaji has plenty of reasonable usages and is highly appropriate in this situation. Rather than just hiragana & katakana having a level 0 would also be a good situation to train new users in the IME, which also causes a lot of grief among new users (にゆう vs にゅう, how to type small characters in general, ect).

It’s a good idea to have this built in. Tofugu actually has a pretty good article on learning kana, so they already have plenty of material that could go into making a short course. Like the others, I do believe SRS is a little inappropriate. However, new Japanese learners probably might not be in a situation to encounter the full gamut of those systems enough to reinforce them passively.

I don’t actually think this a problem. Kana & IME usage are short, easy topics to learn that are necessary to the service. Perhaps the bigger issue would be the precedent set by having an optional level 0. Given the number of impatient people who ask to skip levels having an optional tutorial that appears as part of the main levels would open the floodgates to a lot of complaints.

Rather than treating this stuff as a Level 0 topic I think it might be better to just have them as part of a free tutorial somewhere on the site. It would generate traffic from people looking to learn kana and introduce them to WK while also leaving the door open for veteran users to easily redo/relearn them if they take a break or something.


#18

Agree with this.


#19

I don’t really think kana are suited to WK’s system at all. The point of an SRS is so you can learn large amounts of information in the most efficient way possible. In the case of kanji, you may not see the items you’re learning ‘in the wild’ for long intervals and so SRS is perfect for helping you memorize them.

With kana this is not the case. There’s no reason to force yourself onto WK’s intervals when you only have a relatively small number of items to learn - instead of saving yourself time by waiting hours to see them again, you’re wasting it by not drilling them yourself. Also, you’re going to be seeing the kana all the time no matter how you study.

A lot of people learn the kana in a couple of days by writing them out over and over, reading words written exclusively using those characters etc. I guess using an SRS alongside that wouldn’t hurt, but I don’t see any particularly large benefit.

I agree with @ccookf’s suggestion that a tutorial somewhere would be a better idea - although personally I wouldn’t recommend WK to anyone who’s a total beginner anyway.