How do you like to learn new items?

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how many new lessons to do every day and such, but I wanted to ask how everyone actually learns the new items. So, no matter if you learn one new item a year or every lesson as soon as it’s available, what’s your strategy to actually working through the lessons? Do you make your own mnemonics? Do you do lessons a few times without doing the quiz?

Personally, I used to just go through the lessons screen until I reached the quiz, and hope that the info had stuck. But recently I’ve started a new approach:

As soon as I go to the lesson screen, I look at the new items at the bottom of the screen and before I actually do any of the lessons I try to guess what the items are- their meaning and their pronunciation (if applicable). For radicals, I try to see what other radicals it might be linked to. For kanji, I will try to identify at least the radicals if I can’t work out the meaning. For vocab, I’ll try to identify the kanji and guess pronunciation. Obviously with this approach I won’t be able to identify any vocab pronunciations that we weren’t taught with the Kanji, like with 形, unless I’ve already come across that kanji elsewhere. But even then, I still find it useful as it helps me predict where I might try to use the on’yomi rather than the kun’yomi reading or I’ve mistaken a kanji for a smiliar one or something like that.

I’ll then make my way through the lesson screens where I’ll mostly rely on WaniKani’s mnemonics, though I sometimes add my own.

Then when I’ve been through all the lessons screens but before I do the quiz, I’ll look again to the series of items at the bottom of the screen that I’ve just learned and I’ll go through the meaning and pronunciation to myself. If there’s any that haven’t stuck in my brain, I’ll take another look at before I move on to the quiz.

For the most part, this approach seems to be working well for me so far. What’s your approach?


Early on I would pay a lot of attention to the provided mnemonics, explanations and examples.

As I got further into the course I stopped looking at them unless I felt like I was really struggling with an item. The main reason being that I prefer using mnemonics that build on top of existing Japanese vocab and not the English based mnemonics WK loves so much.

For instance my mnemonic for 林 (はやし) is based on 早+死. I prefer that because it reinforces several items at once and doesn’t really on some very approximate English pronunciation.

I also spent a lot of time practicing kanji drawing which helped a lot distinguishing similar looking kanji.

I also recommend using the keisei/phono-semantic script to identify kanji sharing a phonetic component, it becomes more useful the more kanji you know.


I do the same thing with looking through the items at the bottom!
I also try and remember any phonetic-semantic composition used by the kanji, because for some reason it really helps me later on (possibly because I feel so smug about remembering it’s a thing).

My learning style is a bit more ‘ramming against a brick wall’, though - even taking care to learn properly at the quiz stage, I almost universally fail at least a few Apprentice every time I learn some, and stuff drops out of Enlightened down to Guru constantly, but usually I get annoyed enough at any obvious leeches that I’ll remember them out of spite alone.
I’m pretty comfortable with this, though, because if I’m not learning something through exposure elsewhere then I’ll probably just forget it again even if it went to Burned flawlessly. If something’s staying in my pool of items, then it’s more likely I just need to read something memorable which can put it in context.

I’ll also second the poster above’s recommendation on writing the kanji out! It really helps with visually-similar ones.


Just to preface: I burned through WK pretty quickly (a year and a half or so I think? Maybe a bit faster? I can’t remember…) and ended up with not the greatest accuracy on WKstats (I think it was around the low-mid 90s when I finished). What I mean to say by this is that this technique led to me moving through levels pretty quickly, with good retention for most kanji and vocab, and pretty bad retention for others. It also meant that I had maybe 200 apprentice items by the end, and was averaging probably 300 to 350 reviews a day for levels 50-60. So, follow this “advice” if you want to finish fast and don’t mind being wrong very often and spending a huge amount of time per day on reviews.

I would do all my lessons the instant I finished my reviews and leveled up, and I would glance at the meaning and reading and move on to the next item immediatly. I would spam through the lessons and go straight for the quiz to get the items in my SRS queue. I would frequently get stuff wrong in the quiz and have to look at it again, and I would very often get items wrong in the first review. Each time I got an item wrong, I would go back to the item page and then look at the mnemonic and try a little harder to commit it to memory, but that’s about it.

My thought process here (believe it or not, there was one, and not just “full speed ahead”) was that I would pretty often get a kanji or vocab in a lesson that for whatever reason just “clicked” and I wouldn’t get it wrong at all, even though I didn’t spend any time actively trying to memorize it. So my logic was: why commit extra time to memorizing all the kanji and vocab in the lessons when that would be a waste of time for half of them that I’ll somehow get right anyway? It didn’t bother me that I was getting others wrong more often - especially early on in the SRS stages, there’s hardly any penalty for getting a new item wrong. So, I’ll have more reviews because I’ll get half of them wrong once right away, then I’ll try to memorize those trickier ones, and the ones that are easy I spent basically no time learning other than the 3 seconds I glanced at them in the quiz.

Plus, the SRS system is great! You benefit from it whether you’re getting things right 100% of the time or not! So it didn’t feel so bad when I took an extra 8 or 12 hours to move an item out of apprentice. The only time it feels bad to get wrong is when you’re going to burn it and realize you’ve forgotten it, lol. Basically, I shifted the “learning” phase from the lessons+quiz into the first couple review sessions in the SRS, only dedicating the time to memorizing things if I needed to. It worked for me (7600 burned items so far!), but I certainly wouldn’t recommend this method for everyone. :sweat_smile:


I took 3 years to finish wk. Never did any speedrunning like many people here do.

I just tried to balance as much as possible doing 5 lessons per day and it the apprentice levels were below 100 items, I would do new 5 lessons the next day, otherwise I spent days only doing reviews. Retention was key for me, my memory is not good for memorizing.

The goal is to learn and burn to your long term memory and not to finish as quickly as possible. I enjoyed the journey here and I really wish there were at least 10 more levels.

When you get used to doing something everyday not missing a single day, it and you were having fun in the process, that’s what I miss since last december.


When I level up, I do all the radicals first. Those are easy for me. Then I just go with the flow, do my reviews every day as they come up, and if I fail I know they will come back. Some I get right away, so burn them easily. Others I have to see probably a hundred times before I learn them. As I do each lesson, I write the kanji in a notebook with the meanings and pronunciations. That helps. I don’t stress out about it, and I don’t speed through. That would never work for me!

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When learning kanji I would always check which vocab is using those. Quite often I’d heard the word already, which makes it easier to remember the kanji reading and occasionally meaning.