Is the PRICE of WaniKani + Bunpro _really_ worth it for learning Japanese?

If your dad didn’t say that line using Japanese that he taught himself (or learned by some means anyway), he probably has nothing meaningful to add to a discussion about the price of Japanese learning resources.

I’m half joking, but seriously. It was a crummy thing to say.

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Pretty much. That’s what you paying for with bunpro and WK.

Also, something small but important : WK, and Bunpro have lower SRS levels that a calculated in hours, not days. It makes everything so much smoother.

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You can get the same content offered on WK completely free if you want.
I like it because it’s a curated experience where you don’t have to decide what you want to learn.

But for many others, that might not be the case. I’d say if money is tight, it’s probably not worth it.

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I don’t think they’re doing strictly the same thing. WaniKani focuses on kanji at the detriment of useful vocabulary. Anki is just a flashcard app so it’s as useful as the content you put into your decks.

From a meta perspective to me personally learning vocabulary and kanji via vocabulary makes more sense, because some of the patterns like kanji readings and meanings will arise spontaneously without the need to explicitly hammer them into one’s head. Imagine learning the radical 長 and then the kanji 長 and then vocab when you can just learn various permutations of 長 in words and arrive at a similar conclusion as to its possible readings and meanings. From a meta perspective one doesn’t actually need to know 長 means “long” in English for them to know how to use it in Japanese.

The caveat is that this approach might not work for everyone and there is a ton of people who for various reasons feel they would benefit more from a tailored experience like WaniKani.

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I’m going to go on the opposite end here and say that: your father is right. The likelihood of you needing these Japanese study materials and studying Japanese in general is probably zero.

I didn’t need to study Japanese at all, nor buy all the textbooks, lifetime WaniKani, etc. Had I not done any of it, however, I would not have been able to talk to the person I would just so happen to meet, hit it off, and get married to. I wouldn’t have been able to make certain lifelong friends. Was it worth it for me in the end? Absolutely. Have I been able to enjoy a ton of media or have conversations with people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise? Absolutely.

You don’t need Japanese, but your ROI is what you make of it.

On a separate note of Bunpro: I personally found that for grammar and things like that, the Attain videos on Udemy were invaluable to me. They kinda suck for vocab, but WaniKani is better for that anyway. These videos go on sale like every few weeks, so I wouldn’t spend more than like $20 for a course, but I personally felt like I got more out of these than using another SRS. I don’t know about their kanji courses and all that other jazz, but the ones that are specifically aimed at the JLPT are great in my opinion. I own the N4, N3, and N2 ones, and I’ll be getting the N1 one here soon.

https://www.udemy.com/user/online-japanese/

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My approach would be to create a budget plan first. Once you understand all of your income/expenses, you can understand better whether you can afford something. Then you can tell your family you planned out your budget and are going to spend your spare money on things you want. If it’s your money and you have the leeway to spend it, you get to decide what to spend it on, with no shame!

If you end up deciding to spend less money, I would consider getting WK but not bunpro. This comes from my hunch that bunpro will likely not save you as much time in your studies as WK will. For these services, you are basically paying for the convenience of the curated learning experience, and to my eye, WK has spent much more time curating their resources than bunpro. Also, there are many fewer grammar points to learn than there are kanji, so it’s easier to make your own flashcards for grammar.

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Sorry if this is presumptuous, but you seem to be tying spending money on these programs and the worth of learning Japanese together, which is potentially dangerous because it feeds into the idea that the more you spend the more you value your personal commitment to learning Japanese. The question is not the value of your hobby but whether the tools you use to support it are worth it to you. I think the existing comments have weighed in on this better than I could.

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Learning other languages is a great hobby that you won’t regret. However, what you spend needs to fit within your budget. Others have given you great advice here.

If it is within your budget, I think lifetime is worth it for both products - I think most people do not have the focus to complete either within 1 year. Look out for sales. I did not spend that much on either - I just waited for a sale. I think they will prorate the time you have left if you are in the middle of a 1 year plan.

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You don’t need to spend any money to learn a language as long as you have an active internet connection. That being said, some language resources will help accelerate that process…

And IMO WK and Bunpro aren’t among them. They’re “edutainment”. They give you the warm and fuzzy study feelings without accomplishing anything that you could do much faster for free.

You don’t learn Japanese by studying Kanji radicals and making mnemonics. You don’t even really learn Kanji doing those things. You learn about radicals and mnemonics when you study radicals and mnemonics. WK isn’t for learning Japanese. It’s for learning facts about Kanji that are fun for some.

You also don’t learn Japanese by having weirdly worded SRS grammar cards that aren’t intuitive and that you have to acclimate to the system’s weird and overly long method of wording things to try (and not succeed) at understanding the example in-context. Bunpro doesn’t teach Japanese. It’s also edutainment.

If you aren’t learning Japanese from free resources, funneling money into something probably won’t inject any actual knowledge into your brain. A full change in your study resources, methods and routines should be attempted before paying a dime for anything IMO.

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I think it sounds like you know what you want to do, and what you need to do it. Everything else–other peoples’ opinions, approval from others–is just useless noise.

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Thank you guys all so much for your advice! I read everything and you guys all had great input.

I think I will adjust my plans a bit and only purchase the lifetime subscription of WaniKani and stick with a monthly (and then potentially yearly) subscription to Bunpro to make sure it’s worth the price before buying. Once I start using Bunpro for grammar I will check out other grammar resources and compare them all to see what works best for me. I haven’t been able to try out as many grammar resources as I’d like to up until now because my vocabulary has been too far behind.

The main thing I’ve found myself enjoying about WaniKani and Bunpro is exactly like you all pointed out: I enjoy that they’re curated. When I try to venture off and learn on my own I always feel like I’m just spinning my wheels, wasting time learning things that won’t actually benefit me. But when I sit down and put a few hours into WaniKani, I’m left feeling like I just made tangible, meaningful progress. It feels way better and way more motivating for me. After using Bunpro for a little while (I wasn’t able to use it as much as I want due to lack of vocab like I mentioned before) I noticed that it was very similar to WaniKani in the way it taught, and I especially liked the SRS system. I took a scroll through all the grammar points listed there and thought it would offer me a very similarly rewarding experience to what WaniKani has provided me with.

But after hearing what you guys all shared, I will take some more time to make sure Bunpro is really worth it to me before buying. Like @GustavMahler said, Bunpro is probably an easier resource to go without than WaniKani is because of how relatively few grammar points there are to learn compared to the thousands of Kanji and vocabulary.

The reason I’ve decided to still go for the lifetime subscription to WaniKani is because I definitely still see myself using the app a year from now, and even if I stop using it before then, I think I will still appreciate the ability to periodically come back to it every few weeks/months for various reasons (and not just be locked out entirely). I calculate that, at my current speed, I will most likely reach somewhere around level 30 after a one-year subscription would expire, and I have heard that WaniKani is primarily useful up until level 30, and drops off in usefulness in the next 30 levels. I think I will want to use WaniKani at least some ways past level 30, so I feel I’ll likely end up buying more than one year’s subscription anyway. I could just buy two years, or one year and then a few months, but I’m afraid I’ll just regret not buying the lifetime sooner, because I’ll know that as soon as I stop paying I’ll be locked out of what has been by far the most valuable resource in my learning journey so far, and most likely (hopefully) still will be one year from now.

Thank you guys all again for your input and your time, and please feel free to critique this new plan and continue to give me insights and guidance however you see fit.

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Yeah I didn’t mean to dissuade you entirely. Only you can decide if a resource is helping you or not, and if you are enjoying a resource, there’s no harm in spending money on it and helping the creators. I can see the appeal and fun that some people have using it. And I can see how it can be beneficial because of the structure it provides.

My primary critique is that I don’t believe in SRS systems in isolation or combined with mnemonics as a tool for acquiring language. Yes, repeating information enough times will make some things stick, just like throwing darts blindfolded in the general direction of a dartboard will cause some of them to stick. But for people that haven’t been able to get anything to stick and haven’t learned how to take off the blindfold, instructions on making blind throws are probably a life saver. WK provides a good set of instructions on making blind throws.

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When I first started using Bunpro, I also struggled with unknown vocabulary. If you do not already, I suggest using Yomichan to look up words during reviews. I previously thought this was “cheating”, but now I believe this helps me to focus on the grammar point instead of worrying about vocabulary.

[Edit: To clarify, I don’t look up the fill-in-the-blank answer; I only look up the other unknown words in the sentence.]

Also, if I lookup the unknown words in Yomichan, I no longer need the full sentence hint (4/4 hint bubbles). I answer the question using the nuance + short hint (3/4 hint bubbles), so I can try translating/understanding the full sentence before viewing Bunpro’s translation.

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That’s great advice, thank you! I will definitely give that a try.

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Was this intended to be condescending toward anyone who found WK helpful? Or did it just sound like it was.

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I think I am exactly that sort of person, lol. I tried flashcards (real and online) in college, and things just never stuck. As much as learning that 長 means “long” might make the process longer (pun not intended), it does tend to stick better in my brain.

But that’s why both resources exist! It’s nice to have so many different options available to us.

I’d have to disagree with you quite strongly, here: for me, wanikani has actually been the most effective kanji-studying system I’ve found. Of course that doesn’t mean it works for everyone! I know for plenty of people, flashcards (re: the anki discussion up above), writing them repeatedly, studying them in vocab, or any of a hundred different methods might be a lot more effective. But I don’t think wanikani’s system of learning the radicals is just “facts about kanji”. It’s just a matter of whether it works best for someone’s particular style of learning.

I think that sounds like a great plan! I bought the lifetime a couple years back because kanji has been a very slow-and-steady process for me. Also, having the lifetime takes off a lot of pressure to go fast because otherwise I’m wasting my subscription/money. I hope you have a good time using it :slight_smile:

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Sounded slightly condescending to me.

As to OP, there are people who pay literally thousands of dollars for 3 month courses at language schools that cater to people on tourist visas in Japan. Those people are also likely hobbyists. The non-hobbyist Japanese students are likely on a student visa at the same school paying many more thousands of dollars.

The point of which is, hobbies are things we spend money on. Some hobbies we spend LOTS of money on. One of my hobbies is cycling and I spent a amount I won’t disclose on my bicycle. Was it a waste of money? Absolutely not. Another hobby is Japanese language. I’m a better cyclist, for the record. :slight_smile: One exercises the body the other exercises the mind. Both are worthwhile things to spend money on.

If you can afford the cost, have nobody else dependent upon you who it would adversely impact, then it’s entirely your decision.

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I pay WK annualy and bunpro I used it for a year from n5 to n1 and it helped me quite a bit to understand some basic grammar to start immersion with anime.

I am not into books, so SRS was the way to go for grammar in my case.

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Probably not as much as it sounded. There’s good reason for WK being one of the most well-known and oft-mentioned Japanese language services. It’s not just better than nothing; it’s better than quite a few resources.

I just argue that the SRS timings are not even close to optimal, and the material doesn’t encourage or prompt the type of multi-order thinking necessary to transfer info from short-term memory into long-term efficiently. Also, the SRS lacks any type of load balancing, so it punishes users later down the line for feeling like they want to have “more productive” days and push ahead with more reviews than normal.

In fact, if WK’s SRS timings could be adjusted by the end user such that the maximum time to get through the material was reduced by 60%, I would go so far as to say WK was a vital resource.

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I guess that sounds better than what sounded like “it’s like blindfolding yourself and then paying someone to help you instead of just taking the blindfold off.”

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