Kanji knowledge overtaking grammar

First I finished Genki I and II. And I was upset, because I couldn’t read a whole lot due to not knowing enough kanji, which is why I started with WK.
But now I realize it is the exact opposite. When I read something on NHK easy news, I usually don’t understand a sentence, because of grammar rather than Kanji. Which of course is great on one hand, because WK is working really well, but this time it is not as easy to just shift my focus. I bought a year subscription so I feel like I would “lose money” if I didn’t keep up with WK, also I’m afraid I may not come back to WK if I pause now and I will need to learn the kanji sometimes anyway. So maybe I should just finish WK and then start seriously studying grammar?

Doing grammer AND WK at the same time is really hard, since I’m also a university student. So all my free time usually get eaten up by WK.

Any recommendations?

  • Go slower on WK.
  • Learn grammar in a slower pace than before


EDIT: You can’t just drop 1 thing over the other or you’ll hurt your Japanese learning. The trick is to balance your time between the different skills needed, even if you have to go on a slower pace.

If you’re worried about money, don’t. I know, it’s hard to gain money :slight_smile: Don’t get me wrong. However, you should realize that taking a little bit more time with WK and investing in your weak points is worth it. The final goal is to learn Japanese, not to finish WK as fast as possible ^^ Do it your own way.


Learning a language is hard work. Doing a little bit of all of it at once is better than getting to level 60 in a rush and finding out you can barely understand Japanese.


I am still bad at grammar, but…

Studying vocab, non-Kanji related, in context, may help. And I find vocab easier to SRS than grammar, anyway.

Make sure your non-Kanji related vocab repertoire is as large as Kanji-related vocab.

Honestly Ive ditched studying grammar for the most part. I still ‘look up grammar’, but im no longer actively studying it.

I find a grammar point, put a few sentences demonstrating said grammar point into Anki and then revise daily. Its quicker, I learn the grammar faster and in a more coherent way and I can always add more sentences if I have to. If you think about it, its how we learned grammar growing up as a kid so it makes sense that contexual based learning is more efficient (for me). Wait, that is still studying grammar i guess…

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What helps me study grammar is actually writing something in Japanese. Most of my sentences are pretty boring, like describing something I ate earlier or whatever. However, being able to quickly and easily conjugate verbs and think of the proper particles I need helps when it comes to reading. Maybe you could try forming a sentence with the kanji/vocab you learn in WaniKani, to study both at the same time.

I also second studying vocabulary in kana as well. Sometimes I get confused with a sentence because I don’t realize where a word starts or ends.


I find that I’m in the same situation. I really like WK and it works great for me, but on the bad side I’m much less willing and excited to study grammar because I don’t have a system that’s as efficient and fun. I really don’t like Anki much but I should probably just force myself through it.


You can look at the bright side, looking up kanji really slows you down when reading texts, but now you know around 80% of kanji that come up in the news, Twitter, etc. You can random interesting stuff on the Internet and look up grammar points on the fly.


Based on the OP, it feels like you just need confirmation on what you know you should do. To me it seems obvious that with your current obligations, in order to keep your studies well-rounded, you’re going to need to slow down WK to accommodate strengthening other skills. If making substantial gains are important to you, it’ll be necessary to reorganize how you are currently study, otherwise it will continue to be lopsided.

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Renshuu.org does an awesome thing about that: it automagically replaces kanji you haven’t studied yet with kana. It really helps when reading example sentences, and it makes me proud of myself when I realize a I know the readings for some jukugo I’ve studied. :slight_smile:

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I Think the same, Text Fugu also, looks soooo boring in comparation with Wanikani

I found myself in somewhat of a similar situation. Up until about level 34 I was averaging about 11-12 days per level. Since I’m studying for JLPT N3, I was recently finding that dealing with WaniKani (and mirrored vocab quizzes on KaniWani) was just eating up too much time and taking away from grammar. As a result, I’ve decided to drop my WK leveling to about 1 level per month… at least until the JLPT test is done.

I went through Genk1/2 and am now going through the Tobira ‘advanced’ grammar book. To help me with my own version of SRS, I’m basically hand writing out flash cards for the grammar points and trying to periodically go over them in a way similar to WK. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s helping. I have Anki, but I haven’t really figured out how to use it very well.


I started WK after finishing Genki I (same frustrations about not being able to read kanji). Like you, I quickly found that I knew most of the kanjis I was seeing without being able to understand due to lack of grammar and/or not knowing non-kanji vocab.

Since I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) devote more time to studying Japanese, and despite having shelled out for the lifetime membership, I decided to continue to level 60…mainly because WK makes it so easy - I didn’t have to think about what to study - and WK kept me accountable. Now that reviews are so much lighter, I’m back to throwing in some grammar studies and reading/listening practicing.

Financially, I think it makes the most sense to just finish WK (unless you got lifetime), and then catch up with your other skills later. However, if you slow down WK to work on your other skills, I think you’ll see more overall progress day to day which may help your motivation in continuing to learn and improve.


Personally, having to look up vocab while studying grammar throws me off, so I’m okay with my kanji being ahead of my grammar.

This is interesting, but I also think this strategy is wholly dependent on what your purpose of study is. Rhetorical questions: Is it just for fun/hobby on your own time? Do you have a timetable for a more professional reason (i.e. work)? In my case, I think it would be foolish to solely focus on Kanji/Kanji-related vocab all the way until level 60 (even if I kept my previous ~12 leveling schedule) while almost completely ignoring improvement in other areas. In my case, a more well-rounded comprehension ability and skill set would be valued sooner (even with a lower vocab/kanji count) than only knowing 6000 vocab + 2000 kanji and very little grammar until completing WK.

Thanks everyone for your input. So to sum it up, there are three kinds of approaches:

  1. Go slower on WK and make sure grammar keeps up with kanji
  2. Just finish WK as soon as possible and then pick up grammar, by understanding all the kanji.
  3. Finish WK as soon as possible and then start learning grammar.

Still not entirely sure what I am going to do now, but at least I want to get to Level 31 before possibly pausing, so that I am in the “now you should read as much as you can” camp :stuck_out_tongue:

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Can you recommend any resources for non-Kanji related vocab?

I’m interested in this as well. I randomly read stuff and learn a few things here and there, but something more structured would be helpful.

There are Memrise courses for kana-only words. In my experience, it works well for katakana words (they’re mostly similar to their English counterparts, and thus easy to memorise), but not so well for native hiragana vocab (without context and without kanji, I found it nearly impossible to learn these in large numbers by rote memorisation).

Other than those very basic ones (koko, soko, kore, dore, sono, ano, itsu and so on), I’m finding it easier to just learn these through reading and context, instead of systematically.

I drill vocab in Genki and plan to continue with Tobira, to couple with drilling grammar https://community.wanikani.com/t/some-supplemental-material/8121

I thought I know a lot of vocab, and want to continue with Shin Kanzen Master alone, but I actually don’t know enough.

Another good one to drill would be Onomatopoeia. I do have a problem with this in reading.

Although, there is Kana-only deck from Core 10k, I don’t really recommend this one, because there are entries like これ、あそこ、あなた… which I don’t feel worthy of drilling.

Drilling the vocab without Kanji does feel hard. If without grammar to couple with, maybe I should resort to using a dictionary and active usage.

Even though there is, there are still vocab with Kanji, but usually written in Kana, and writer’s choice to be written in Kana.

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