How do I convince my parents to buy Wanikani

I admit I only skimmed the responses so I’m sorry if this has been mentioned.

Can you offer a deal to prove you’re serious?

If they buy 1 or 2 month subscriptions, you can use something like the heat map script to show you’re coming to do your reviews every single day, responsibly and reliably. If you do that for x amount of time, maybe they’ll trust it’s worth a year sub or lifetime.

Basically, lower their investment until they trust you won’t lose interest and throw their money away.

Good luck!


Unpopular opinion: if buying a subscription is not feasible (I mean, it is a bit of money in one go), you could consider alternatives:

For grammar there is the Tae Kim guide to Japanese and Cure Dolly’s videos on YouTube.

For kanji you can download the 2k Anki deck and try to work your way through it with some kanji lookups in Jisho here and there, and practicing writing to make sure you get the strokes right.

The above is definitely not a replacement for WaniKani, but still a somewhat viable option :).

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Good ideas. I’d also try studying japanese for an hour a day for three months minimum before considering to buy a lifetime sub. The vast majority can’t handle WK daily for months, we’re talking about a drop off from japanese at something like 95% or more at the first three months alone.


To OP’s parents:

As a parent of a WaniKani student, and as a WK student myself, I highly recommend WK for a few reasons. First, mastering Japanese is going to require learning its cumbersome writing system. There’s no getting around the need to recognize and know the meaning of about 1,000 distinct characters to read about 90% of characters you would come across, and more than 2,000 to be secure. If your son/daughter is serious about learning Japanese, he/she will need a resource for learning those characters, so that he/she can access native reading materials, not just beginner textbooks.

Second, the quality of the material in WaniKani is superior to anything I’ve found (and tried) for free. The mnemonics and order of presentation are well thought-out, and the integration of character learning with vocabulary does a great job of boosting retention of both. The web software is well-maintained, and the company as a whole is run very professionally and has been around for many years. In this case, you definitely get what you pay for.

Third, learning more than 2,000 characters and more than 6,000 vocabulary words is no easy feat, nor is it very much fun after the novelty of it wears off. More than just teaching Japanese, WK trains you to be persistent, a quality very much needed for success in life, as I’m sure you’re aware. With WK, as with any spaced repetition system, consistency is key. Skip a day and you’re looking at double the work the next day. Not many kids I know have that kind of drive built-in; it was tough for me even. WK may take some amount of parental pushing, but your son/daughter will know the meaning of perseverance when he/she finishes that last level. My daughter is about halfway done after about 18 months of effort. Already, she can read almost all of the characters she comes across.

If you aren’t sure whether your son/daughter is willing to stay committed to WK, I would recommend starting out with a monthly or annual subscription and see what level of effort he/she can sustain. WK, as most systems do, lets you decide how quickly to introduce new items. While I took on the maximum possible, which probably averaged out to about 20 items per day, learning and reviewing took hours of my time every day, at precise review times, for more than a year. For a full-time student, I think a more reasonable pace during the school year, one we set for our daughter, is 40 items per week: 20 on Fridays and 20 on Saturdays. That amounts to about a level every 3-5 weeks, I think. (There are 60 levels total.) During summer and winter break, we usually require 15 every day, 7 days a week. If your son/daughter can maintain this pace over a few months, you might consider upgrading to a lifetime membership to save you in the long run, along with getting a commitment out of him/her to finish the whole program, of course!

Sorry for the long article, but I hope I have given you the right information to help you make your decision.

(edited to fix my math!)


I know my sister sometimes strikes a deal with her kids if they want something expensive. Basically the parents will contribute X, but the rest they need to work for themselves. Depends on your age too obviously, but indicating you’ll pay for part of it yourself - f.i. via paper route or stocking supermarket shelves - doesn’t just bring down the price, it shows you’re serious.
Remember though: if you don’t ask for it, they won’t know you want it - so definitely discuss it!


Christmas wishes approved (by me)
Personally, I can highly recommend learning Japanese using Wanikani together with a proper textbook. Of course, it always strongly depends on your learning personality (style and demands), though. I am not too far through Wanikani yet, but I believe that it will keep me going and learning for quite a while. And what I have learned so far using Wanikani is much more than I ever had.

My first try learning Japanese dates back to 2006(?) and since then, I tried several times to get back at it. But I never managed to climb over the “Japanese Basics” wall and always plummeted back to zero (a.k.a. はじめまして、わたしのなまえは...). Among other problems, the available learning material was kind of lame and not very engaging (German, no internet at home). On the other hand, there were just too many good resources when I finally reached an acceptable command of English. So I started studying a bit here and there using this book and that website, but did not really make any progress - and plummeted back close to zero again. This does not only go for speech and grammar, but especially for kanji (a.k.a. 大 means big and 犬 means dog, mindblower). That was really frustrating (and my self confidence always took big blow).

I love the Japanese language and culture. And I actually love learning new stuff. But I just do not have the will to continue things once started when not being “forced”. Since I kind of lack focus and resilience, my only way to overcome this is to immerse myself into it, so I cannot by swayed or even escape. I force myself into well-chosen, relatively intense, paid classes and stick to a handful learning resources for speech and grammar. For reading, kanji and other vocabulary, to dedicate myself to “gamification” with Wanikani. Sounds kind of horrible self-treatment, but I felt my progress after a while, and this motivation kind of will be invested into learning even more (I do not know if it is not me that is invested, though). After finally having overcome the “Japanese Baiscs” wall, watching news and anime, listening to podcasts and songs, reading manga and short stories and understanding(!) them, autonomously fuels me to do more in this direction (intrinsic motivation - yay, finally).

To make a very long story short for the OP: My greatest motivation is the deadline (unpopular opinion). Wanikani gently puts some deadlines upon me and rewards me for complying (a.k.a. carrot and stick). All these years I tried to learn Japanese brought me to about level 8 kanji. I started using Wanikani in June this year. Even if I dropped out now, I would have learned much more than I would ever had (btw, my accuracy is >98%, so I am not just blindly throwing words during my reviews).


Honestly I wouldn’t even buy a wanikani subscription right now.

Realistically, you’re moving at a pace of like 2.5 months per level and I dont think 2.5 months worth of subscription fee is worth anything remotely close to what a single level has to offer. Buying a lifetime right now doesn’t seem very financially wise either.

I would use one of the infinite free resources out there for the time being until you are more well rooted and are sure japanese is something you wanna dedicate your time to.


Just tell them that the best money investment is in knowledge. And maybe change ur name on wanikani.

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I’m also going to recommend against trying to convince your parents to make a big purchase because the drop out rate on wanikani (actually language learning in general) is huge. Sure if you’re able to follow the system through to the end it’s more economical to buy the lifetime subscription, but maybe only 5% of users will. Try out monthly for now and see if you can stick with it past level 15?


from a parent’s perspective here, i’d say this is not a gift.

if mine make some kind of plan about how they will use an app like this to learn, i just get it for them. it’s like paying for music or sports club.

games and manga or DVDs are gifts. to me, an app to learn is not a gift, it’s part of what i budget for to help my lil ones grow.

so my advice would be that you take time to explain the system well. introduce the app and what it teaches: a systematic SRS based learning path to memorising kanji through radical building blocks with an added benefit of >6000 vocab to get you started on that as well is WK is.

then explain how you’ve worked so far, and maybe even show a session or some stats.

then share your plan for finishing WK: it could be that you plan on doing 10 lessons a day and clear all your reviews. do a bit of math to show how long you’ll need the app for.

explain the xmas sale: it does not look like you’re a speed runner so explain how this sale gives you lifetime for the price of 2 years and that you’ll probably need about 2.5 years to burn everything.

if it were me, i’d pay for the lifetime for you without second thoughts. all in all, this is still much cheaper than many clubs/private lessons for most things.

of course, this is only gonna work if you actually are intent on finishing WK.


This is a very good point; OP’s current pace is not demonstrating a strong commitment.

However, OP’s parents have to consider they ways in which they can enrich OP’s life. If OP is showing a spark of interest in learning Japanese, it may be worth investing in that spark. To develop that spark, OP’s parents may have to do bit of pushing. I’d say that at any given moment, most kids would rather play than work at something that is optional. I didn’t appreciate being made to practice the violin, but while I no longer play that particular instrument, the foundation of musicianship I got from it opened up a world of possibilities for me later in life. Consider also that lifetime WK on sale is about equal to a month of weekly, hour-long music lessons, at least where I live.

Taking advantage of free resources is also a good idea, as long as they don’t contribute to unnecessary frustration. We tried a free but nicely done Anki deck for 1,000 kanji. It shall remain nameless, but its mnemonics were crowd-sourced and heavily “sex themed” (thanks, horny college guys). At that point, I had already done almost exactly half of them in WK. My retention rate after one month for those I had done in WK was about 98%, probably because of the vocabulary, good mnemonics, and better-designed radical meanings, whereas the other deck was somewhere in the range of 50-70%. My daughter quit in less than a month. “Their mnemonics suck,” was how she put it.


That’s pretty good analogy for life in general, isn’t it? You’ve gotta have that 5% mindset to be in that 5% tier in life! :slight_smile:

I recommend the following:
Pay monthly until the Christmas/Holiday sale, and Get the Lifetime Account then if this is something you think you’ll do for at least year or two more.
Consider offering to pay half, either now or later.