Learning Hiragana/Katakana words

I’m new at this, so don’t hesitate to tell me if there is already a topic for this.

But since WaniKani only teaches Kanji and Kanji-related vocabs, where can I learn Hiragana/Katakana-only words? Is there another website for this? Or do I just read mangas / watch anime and pick up words (This is how I learned most of my English)?


Generally speaking, just studying with WaniKani wont be enough to get you to a point where you can comfortably read native material.

Since you’re going to need to study grammar with some other source, you could pick up a textbook like Genki that also teaches some vocab.
You could also go with a free resource like Tae Kims and get a Core 2k/6k/10k deck and study those with Anki.
I’m not sure if there’s a resource that teaches only kana words (Which is kinda difficult, because some of those are sometimes also written in Kanji) if you want to avoid the overlap.

There’s alot of different ways to approach studying Japanese, what I’ve mentioned is just a tiny bit from the gigantic sea of materials. Spend some time figuring out what works best for you. Learning japanese takes a while, might as well take some time and find your way of doing it.

Usually people like sharing their opinions around here, so I’m sure you’ll get alot of (good?) advice :stuck_out_tongue:
In case you’re still not quite satisfied, there’s some old topics you could read up on. (Wasnt there also some kind of guide on the forums…? Not sure :thinking:)

Somewhat humorously, you’ll actually learn quite a few hiragana words in your time on WK in the form of kanji. A very large number of hiragana words actually used kanji long ago, but, for various reasons, stopped. Some of these words are contained in the vocabulary for WK, so keep an eye out for vocabulary descriptions. It usually tells you when a a jukugo you’re learning is not utilized much (Jisho will also say in grey text usually if something is usually written in kana).

Talking with Japanese people through a text medium and/or reading Japanese literature (manga included) are definitely the best ways to pick up kana words, especially katakana. Unfortunately, as @xBl4ck mentioned, grammar is going to be necessary to accomplish either of these with any measure of comfort and/or sanity.

Start learning grammar as quickly as you can then start trying to read simple resources (NHK Easy, wikipedia articles of topics you know very well, etc). The farther you go from colloquial Japanese (like high literature), the fewer hiragana and katakana words you’ll see. From my experience, the Japanese like to skip using kanji in a great number of verbs, especially those that are frequently used and utilize only one or two kanji normally (来る and 行く are great examples). Of course, する verbs and those with a large number of homophones usually are used with kanji.

Thank you for your nice answers!

I’m exclusively self-learning and as I move around a lot, I prefer to only use online or virtual ressources that I can easily access on my computer/phone (so I don’t lose any textbooks), that’s why Wanikani is a really good method for me, because I can study it easily when I travel. For what I saw, Anki seems to provide the same kind of SRS service and Tae Kim is online. Do you think that between those three (+ I saw a lot of people recommending Yotsubato! here as it’s easily downloadable) would be enough to start having enough basis to start reading mangas by myself? (I suffered through learning English this way, so I know that if I have a solid enough basis, I can do it for japanese)

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If you learned English through reading by brute force, you can definitely do this with Japanese. Its character-based nature makes attributing meaning to words much simpler than English, and particles help a great deal with figuring out sentence structure. That’s actually how I started off learning Japanese, so I can vouch for its potential! Just do make sure to utilize resources unlike my silly, past self.

You can probably pick any 4-koma manga of your choice (though I’d avoid a word-play based one like Joshiraku) and start immediately. Of course, Yotsubato would work as well.

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I’ll definitley agree with @EiriMatsu that you can work your way through some easier manga like Yotsubato quite early. It always depends on how much you’re willing to look up though.
I also learned english mostly through reading fantasy novels, but that was because I already knew some vocab and english grammar came more naturally to me.
To me (Being WaniKani Level 10 and having worked my way through Genki 1, which is ~N5 level) reading is still too much of a bother.

At the end of the WaniKani Guide there’s a section called “Using My WaniKani Knowledge” that gives a nice perspective of what you should be able to do.
Completing Tae Kims supposedly get’s you around JLPT Level N4 (?) which, combined with the right WaniKani Level, should be enough to work yourself through easier materials.
Then again, havent been there. So I’m just guessing :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, just gonna leave this here in case you didnt come across it yet, because I think it’s great for learning through reading:

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This is a pretty straigtforward strategy:

First, learn (using an SRS tool of your choice) the textbook vocab from a intro textbook (genki, tae kim, whatever). That will give you a foundation of the most common words to build on. Moving on from that, you can use an SRS tool to study additional vocab (core 2k, 4k, 6k, whatever), or can sentence mine for yourself (I personally think this is more useful), or you can pick up new vocab by reading alot and looking up words you don’t know in the dictionary.

If you’re willing to pay, iKnow is efficient, and there’s a mobile app. I went with anki decks for the first year of learning and for some reason I wasn’t able to stick with it. You might have better luck than me. iKnow has a core 6k ordered by what seems to be difficulty and frequency. If you’re using WK though it can be a lot easier if you separate the decks by WK level, which I’ve done here and you can use.

But to answer your question, there are three courses in there for vocab words without kanji. If iKnow fits your style, then the No Kanji decks will teach you 929 words.

I’m currently using an app called LingoDeer to learn basic vocabulary and get practice listening and speaking alongside my WaniKani homework. It seems to balance kanji and hiragana in a very real-world way, so that may be what you’re looking for. It’s not for cramming vocabulary, mind, it’s a full course. I’m fairly new to this like yourself, so I can’t say how far LingoDeer will get a person, but I really enjoy it so far. From what I understand it covers approximately the same material as the Genki I and II textbooks. It’s a smartphone app so I’ll frequently open it to do some review sentences while I take a short walk to the cafe, and I do longer cram sessions on my days off. When I finish with all of LingoDeer’s lessons I’ll probably tackle the Genki books to make sure I haven’t missed anything, but for now, it works for me. As others have said, just keep trying different resources until you find what works for you.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Lingodeer doesn’t explain the grammar it teaches, right? I used it for a very short time (I essentially tested out all the way through it), but it seemed to just teach how to form sentences, not why (such as the actual functions of particles). It’s quite possible I missed how to find the “lessons” and only did the drills, but it didn’t seem to “teach” Japanese as much as “drill” it. Genki’s textbook has some dense explanations in it (hence why many find it so boring), so I’m simply curious.

EDIT: Though, on the topic of the OP, Lingodeer is quite good for teaching hiragana/katakana words, as it lays out Japanese in the way you’ll see it most, generally.

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I would also recommend getting someone to chat to on HelloTalk! There’s a lot of people on there willing to converse, and that’s how I’ve been learning my kana words/hip lingo. I personally want to get started with a core deck on Anki and or sentence mine, but I’m not waiting for an online equivalent to come my way.

In each lesson section there’s a “tips” page which is basically a textbook style breakdown of the grammar point introduced in the lesson. Tofugu mentioned this in their review of LingoDeer, which was what lead me to try it out. I’m sure it’s not as elaborate as, say, a Genki book (which is why I’ll read those next), but it doesn’t leave you clueless as to what’s going on by any means (unlike Duolingo). I’m definitely making faster progress than I would without it, because it’s fun!

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