How proficient in vocabulary will I be when I am done with Wanikani?

Like in the question, how proficient will I be in Japanese vocabulary and kanji when I am done with wanikani, and what should I do to supplement whatever weaknesses occur from using wanikani? I am currently just using wanikani for vocab and bunpro for grammar until I know more and can start reading new articles or whatnot. I know that I will be missing some words that don’t use kanji, since all wanikani words use kanji, so what should I do to learn those. Thanks for the help in advance! I took about a 6 month break from learning japanese while dealing with a lot in my life so I am starting back from almost square one.


I’m still quite a low level, so I can’t speak for how much vocab you’ll know by the end, but from what I hear you should use something else for vocab that doesn’t use kanji, like Torii. It has vocab lists for the different JLPT levels, and also the Core 10k (the top 10,000 used words, I believe). It should help a good deal with the vocab that WaniKani doesn’t have!


As a random example~ I was using FloFlo to check word lists for two books today. Both had 6 to 7 thousand unique words. FloFlo allows you to filter out WK vocab, and for those two books, that covered around 40-50% of the unique words.

So with just WK, you can’t expect to read comfortably.

I indeed second Anki (free), Torii (free), or Kitsun (paid) to go through the core 10K.

Torii is made by a WK member, and has WK mode - it excludes WK vocab from the core 10K, as well as re-drilling vocab that is kana-only but that WK taught the kanji version of.


Other than the methods listed above

  • Playing computer games in Japanese is an underrated method of learning, I rate it highly.
  • iTalki is an expensive way to boost your knowledge via finding a tutor.

You’ll know a lot of vocabulary but one issue I have with WaniKani is that it doesn’t teach you vocabulary in context.

I’m only on level 4 and there are already quite a few words that according to Japanese coworkers I’ve been asking:

  1. aren’t used or are rarely used and if so, there are better, alternative ways
  2. belong to some kind of specific context you’ll most likely never encounter
  3. similarly to English, some words are only used in writing— and vice versa

As an example of each:

  1. 大いに (all of my coworkers have said that no one uses this anymore)
  2. 公用 (this appears on official documents of government forms, company contracts, etc.)
  3. 用いる (to utilize— much more appropriate in text, don’t you think?)

There are more. I’ve just been adding notes to them as I go.

Also, considering Japanese is a language based on politeness and respect, it’s important to distinguish the difference. I wouldn’t say 休日 with my friends. I could. But 休み is better. Again, it depends on what I’m trying to convey and in what manner.

Overall, I don’t have an issue with it because I see this as useful even if I don’t learn the context. I’m sure that the Internet has all the answers to this with proper research if it’s a big deal to anyone. I’m not too concerned. I just like to know.


I figure that even if only 60-70% of it is useful, that’s still much better than where I am now.


As a kanji resource, WK picks vocab to reinforce kanji, not based on it being the most common or most fittingly polite word to convey that particular concept.

Especially since “commonly used in conversation” and “commonly encountered in novels” are very different. Written language and spoken language differ. That it’s used more in writing than speaking still makes it useful, since it’s safe to assume that students of kanji intend to read. :slight_smile:

So it’s indeed better not to assume all WK vocab is fit for regular conversation, because that’s not what it sets out to teach you.


Native people are very, very bad at knowing when something is used. WK vocab is pretty common all around, except in different contexts – some of them are formal, some are casual, some are used in fiction, others in the news … Just because people don’t use a certain word in their daily life, it doesn’t mean that 1) they don’t know what it means, and 2) that they wouldn’t use it in the appropriate context.

@Facade WK doesn’t teach you production. And to be honest, I don’t think it’s the best tool for learning vocabulary items. What it is amazing at, though, is as a tool that will allow you to easily look up the kanji you know you’ve learnt, but can’t quite recall what it means or how to read it. Looking things up when you know at least 1 reading and/or meaning makes reading much smoother than you’d think.

Signed, me, who constantly looks up words she knows she’s burnt already on WK.


I can confirm this. I used to be a college English professor, and even then, I would always use objective frequency lists to answer questions about how often something is used. Language is too personalized for one person (or a small group of people) to say for sure how often certain words are used.


You will know all the Kanji you’ll ever need (WK doesn’t teach EVERY kanji, but 99% of what you will see in real life)

However you will absolutely not have an adequate vocabulary if you learn only from WK, primarily because WK doesn’t teach any words that don’t have Kanji in them. So you’re missing roughly half the vocabulary.

In just 300 words I added to an SRS in order to read a light novel, I think I’ve already had 5-10 kanji I had never seen before. I’ve only read a few hundred pages of manga, two VN’s, and this is my first proper book, so I’m of course no expert on frequency of certain ones. But my current personal reading experience would indicate I do need to get a bunch more kanji under my belt to comfortably pick up a book.


Well, there’s been more than a few times when I tried to use WK words with natives and they had no idea what I was talking about and had to look it up in the dictionary :slight_smile: The ones I can remember from the top of my head are at least:

説得する (to persuade)
大略 (summary)

i see a lot of people saying that words are not ‘used’ in certain contexts, and while this might be true in terms of frequency and ease (you can certain use easier words in everyday conversation), even in english i would say i don’t necessarily adhere to what’s “commonly used in conversation”, so… i consider all vocabulary useful. obviously, as i’m sure is stated endlessly on wanikani, you don’t want to use it as the end all for your vocabulary input. i feel like learning from context should be much easier after finishing wk.


To second what @Omun said above, I have also used FloFlo to parse words for a novel, and I have already found at least 10 kanji that were not in wanikani (Im not lv 60 but I searched and they arent there at all) in a childrens book !


Its weird how wanikani lists 大略 as summary, when in jisho it is not in the definitions.

I recommend you use RikaiKun which allows you to hover over words and see meanings (I think they come from jisho, because they are the same).
As you can see, no mention of “summary” and I think its good to have a second opinion for meanings anyways!


Yeah I’m using Rikaichamp already (I don’t use Chrome), but didn’t check the meaning with it since I edited them in with my phone. Still haven’t been able to get the Japanese IME work on my work laptop…

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Im about halfway through N3 on Bunpro and nearly lvl 28 WK at the point of this writing.
Im having a blast reading visual novels with the assistance of a texthooker and rikaikun.
Theres massive vocab exposure this way and it doesnt take ages to look things up, but at the same time its not such a crutch that you dont absorb anything, and it gives enough comprehension to enjoy the story.

My real strategy for vocabulary is exposure through reading, so im really just using wk to supplement to reduce the things i need to look up.


I know what you mean and I agree with you. However, the system can be extremely misleading for people who haven’t studied Japanese in depth and think that they can use these words by how WK defines them. There are many users who are using WK solely as their vocabulary/kanji source and it can cause issues if they don’t have other study resources to cross check what they’re learning here.

説得する is pretty common. if your friends didn’t understand that one, there might have been a different problem.

wk does have some obscure, outdated words, but most of it is fine. and even so, understanding them passively might be worth it.


So would you say that WK and Torii together would have me set for vocab for while? Plus whatever I find while I read and add on