I created this iKnow-WK list over a year ago, so I’ll update about my progress and what I’ve learned.
I originally created this list because I was frustrated learning vocab that I hadn’t learned the kanji for yet, to the point that I wasn’t studying anymore.
Life and a new job ended up killing my WK reviews. Around the same time I started doing iKnow, I quit doing WK (hence my level, I’ve just picked it up again recently and getting back into the flow).
I decided to just focus on vocab for the kanji I knew, and after I caught up to my WK level, I would return and start kanji again. I spent months grinding away at iKnow-WK levels 1-16, and I tried to continue past my WK level to 17 and 18. I tried learning the kanji without WK to see if I really needed it. Although I’m confident I can learn kanji without WK, I really lack the focus and energy after work and hobbies to learn kanji by myself, so that’s why I’m back at WK (very good decision).
On iKnow, my total vocab count for levels 1-16 is 1,765. Obviously I know more words outside of iKnow that aren’t reflected in that total.
But as I’ve hinted, I quit doing iKnow, I took about a 3-4 month break from studying any kanji or vocab at all, and now I’m back at WK.
Why? I started taking very informal 1-on-1 lessons once a week, along with a textbook to discuss in the lesson. I’d studied a lot of basic grammar already, but damn is it hard to actually use any of it on the fly in a conversation. So I started focusing on grammar almost exclusively.
I really don’t read much outside of the textbook. I think the most important step for me now is to use Satori Reader more.
Things I’ve learned from this experience:
I don’t need to know as many words as I thought to have meaningful conversations. Also, I use the same simple words in simple sentences… as complex sentences. What I mean is, I can level up my grammar independently of my vocab. Better grammar is more important than better vocab, IMHO.
So where am I getting my vocab from now?
First, from my 1-on-1 lessons. I can’t stress how important it is to speak with a teacher.
I speak to a lot of Japanese people with the same interests as me, and I’ve discovered in those conversations that I learn words that are really important to me (conversations about the arts). So when I’m fumbling for a word, and someone saves me, I really learn that word because I’m using it all the time with my friends, and now I can (somewhat) smoothly talk about things I care about. My point is: focus on vocab in your “interest sphere”.
My next steps: more reading, and casually doing WK.
Do I recommend iKnow? Yes, but it depends where you’re at in learning. For me, it was great to focus on just iKnow while the rest of my life was happening (and I was getting tired of WK), and the audio sentences slowly leveled up my listening and grammar. My advice is to shift your focus every month or two, otherwise any pattern of studying can burn you out and become inefficient.