If I'm now reading, has WK served its purpose?

So, I haven’t really used WK in the last nine months… but I began last January with the goal of getting more comfortable reading jukugo: Heisig had left me in an awkward spot where I knew basically every kanji I saw, but not how to read it.

I feel comfortable now saying that WK has served that purpose and given me what I wanted; I’m more or less comfortably working through a few books each month – and just recently, even, I’m at a cool point where (as an anthropology student) the books I actually want to read are becoming accessible: 日本思想、人間失格、and stuff like that.

From day one the goal I set for myself was to become literate in Japanese… and now that I’m capable of reading native material without so much strain, I think literacy will come by itself a couple hundred reads down the road. So, if WK is a means to the end that is reading – and I’m reading – do I find myself at an end?

For those of y’all who have gotten further down the track than me/finished – what are your thoughts? Will I miss an unforgivable ton by dropping out of the SRS and just continuing on reading… or does the fact that I’m now reading mean that WK has served its purpose?

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Well, I’m not sure how you managed to learn the readings without finishing, but if you’re reading without strain then there really isn’t any reason to pay for it.

There is no problem with dropping WK until your reading material becomes so difficult that you need to learn more Kanji.

I think trying to use WK to learn anything other than Kanji won’t work.

Oh, of course I don’t know all of the readings – man, I still have to look up so many things every page… but after seeing 頷く、含む、視線系、(random word here) a few dozen times, they seem just to stick. I just mean to say that I’ve crossed the point where reading was “tolerable” to one now where it is “enjoyable”.


That was sort of my point – that at this point, if I’m reading comfortably, I’m assuming that it won’t be a problem to just pick up the rest of the kanji through context as they come up in my readings. But then again, maybe I’m wrong.

I guess, I’m especially interested in the opinions of people who might have quit WK for a long time explicitly to do things like read a lot… but then, despite being a competent reader, decided to come back and offer the crabigator a few more levels.

I think if you don’t yet know all the readings there is value in continuing with WK, even if you just timebox it to do ten minutes a day. By continuing to reinforce the kanji you’ve already studied and making progress with kanji you don’t yet know, you will improve the speed and ease of reading. In practice, if you rely on reading to reinforce the kanji you know, only those that appear most frequently will be reinforced. That may be enough if you just want to get by, but it’ll leave you stuck when you try to read more complex material (which sounds like something you aim to do).

Of course, if you feel it’s not worth it, it’s really your decision. But for five or ten minutes a day, the pay off for continuing seems worthwhile to me.

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This game is about burning turtles and learning about Hard Gay, raptor cage and poop. You can not learn these things if you waste your time reading books.


If you are able to read enjoyable at level 22, more power to you.

If that is your goal – then you have achieved it. If you see little or no benefit to continuing with WK, then I suppose I would at least put it on hold for a while before deciding to discontinue it. But, I am glad to hear you are where you want to be with your language proficiency, or at least feel you can sustain yourself. That’s what it’s all about really, I suppose.

Dunno if you left or not, but if you’re still looking up many things per page, is that really “enjoyable” or “comfortable” reading? I don’t feel comfortable if I have to look up more than maybe 3 things on a page, and those are the “tough” pages.

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Yeah, I’m impressed if reaching the 20s on here was sufficient. I’m only now able to read through manga with ease- nowhere close to novels or other books…

I personally saw a lot of progress around wk level 20-30 with reading and recognizing a lot of what I saw…

However, sometimes I think I am getting more comfortable but then read something of a different genre or different style of writing and am back to looking up a lot of words.

If you are comfortable with studying on your own, than there is no reason to continue, really.

However, in my opinion, wanikani can still easily teach a lot of common things without much effort and if you continue, it will likely be worth it.


For me it’s not an issue because, most of the time, I know what the word means but just need to know how to read it. On the Kindle, all that amounts to is clicking the word – less than one second and I’m on the go again.

I find that in the beginning of a book I have to look up a lot of things - but after a third of the book or so I get used to the author’s writing style and things get much smoother. I personally like that there are a lot of unknown words because I think they’re freebies – more common words come up so many times that I eventually just remember them… and if the word only came up once in the book, I’m okay with not remembering it.

I guess it just goes back to what you want to call reading…

You say “I’m reading” and “has WK served its purpose” but if you want to define what you’re describing as “reading” then WK effectively has no purpose. Unless of course you want to read anything that isn’t on your kindle.

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Granted, I’ve lived in Japan for two years so I’m perfectly comfortable speaking Japanese // it is once in a blue moon I see a grammar point or 話し言葉 that I don’t understand. That means that the only thing actually impeding my from understanding what I’m reading is that I don’t always know how to read the kanji I’m looking at.

Then, before beginning HK, I completed Heisig. That means that I have an idea of what most of the kanji I see mean… and can often guess what a word means, even if I can’t read it. So maybe I should have clarified that the only reason I joined WK was to get more comfortable with kanji readings.

Let’s say you’re dedicated to fully learning Japanese. You’ll need to know the readings at some point.

The kindle can act as a tool to help you learn kanji. If you’re regularly reading on the kindle, eventually you’ll learn all of the readings of kanji.

However, if you want to play games, read signs or anything on paper, you won’t have access to the readings.

Really, this isn’t a question for us. It’s a question for you. If you feel you’re learning the readings as you go and you’re comfortable with the pace, why pay for wanikani? If the readings are causing you problems, you should invest in some sort of resource–wanikani being one of many.

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Yeah. For now I’m perfectly comfortable reading only on the kindle because I have a few dozen books ready to read on it – and as I’m also leaving Japan in three months, I’m probably not going to have the opportunity to read something not on the Kindle/computer for awhile, anyhow.

An implicit assumption with my decision is that after indeed reading 30 or 40 books in Japanese, I’ll have filled in enough gaps in my onyomi/kunyomi that I’ll be able to move on to normal books if I feel so inclined (but I prefer having a library in my pocket, anyhow).

While reading I also mine sentences… so from this last 300 page novel I picked out ~140 dialogues/sentences/expressions/whatnot that I found interesting, and I’ve added them to an anki deck. At that pace I’ll pick out what, around 5,000? sentences to learn through the course of my readings, anyhow, over the next year or so.

5,000 new things is basically the same as WK, except they’re from things that are relevant to me.

(is the underlying theory behind my decision, here).

I wish this were as easy as you make it sound. Unfortunately things like 土木, 目盛り, 逆上 and plenty of other words with very loose or simply unrelated meanings exist, so I feel like you can’t trust your instincts even if you think you can guess the meaning. Never mind things like reversible kanji combos that prove just knowing the individual meanings isn’t enough since the word-level meaning can change based on the order.

Yes, “learning the readings eventually, naturally, by reading” was the assumption I was shooting for here.

I realize it’s a question for me – the point of the post was more in the hopes that someone else had invested time into reading extensively in Japanese for a similar purpose, and I was specifically looking for their input on what reading dozens of books “didn’t” do for them – if after doing all that, they felt they still had a need for something like WK.

Of course it’s not always that easy, but I feel like it is for the vast majority of words.

The rare words that don’t fit their kanji get a special entry with a nice sentence and mnemonic into anki, and cool beans.

I don’t think anyone here will be able to answer that question because everyone on wanikani does not have an alternative to wanikani (otherwise they wouldn’t be on wanikani). [EDIT: I’m not sure whether anyone did part of WK, left, and then came back and stuck with it.]

That said! There is at least one person who lived in Japan and was on wanikani but left because they found that they were at a point where they could learn new kanji better using resources available in Japan than using wanikani. So yes, I think you can totally learn kanji through immersion–particularly, if you’re taking notes and keeping track of what you’re struggling with. And I believe it can be more potent than wanikani since it is personalized and context-rich.

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