Learning Kanji in relation to Mandarin Chinese

Hi everyone, Molts here.
I’m relatively new, and I have a few questions about the best way to learn kanji.

I’m bilingual in Mandarin Chinese and English, and seeing that Kanji uses basically Chinese, I would like to ask what method do you guys suggest that I learn Kanji from?
Should I approach it as an offshoot of Chinese characters, with different characters, or should I approach it as a separate system, and just end up with 2000+ flashcards in trying to learn joyo kanji.

Thanks everyone in advance, and good luck studying!

Okay, thanks so much!
Is there a faster way to level… T_T
I know all of the radicals and a good chunk of the basic-intermediate kanji meanings…
So waiting a day doesn’t help me much, cause SRS isn’t that effective for me.

Please read the FAQ and the Guide; there’s a lot of good info in there for people new to WK.


It will feel slow at first, but knowing much already means you might be able to do WaniKani full speed (maybe?) and finish it in a year. Actually learning all 2000+ kanji in that year is a fair pace. Comes with 6000+ vocabs to strengthen it too.

I don’t know if there are any learning sites or tools tailored to those who know Chinese already, if not, this is probably the best tool you’ll find since you also know English =)

As a fellow Mandarin and English bilingual, I learn Japanese Kanji as I learn another dialect of Chinese such as Cantonese. I disagree that only the basic concepts are represented the same. After all Chinese took most of the modern science vocabulary from Japanese Kanji words. Similarity is definitely the rule, even if false friends are too plenty to be called exceptions.

Quoting the FAQ:

Can I go faster?

No. You’ll thank us later. If you went faster now you’d have to do 25 hours of kanji everyday and it would literally become impossible to keep up.

But I already know all of these kanji!

If you know all them, you’ll go super fast and it will be great for your memory in the long run!

Honestly, we are not asking for going faster per se. SRS is great. What we need is a way to skip at least the radicals (which almost never differ in meaning and has no reading anyway) and maybe Kanjis (which seldom differ in meaning and would have their readings in the vocabulary anyway) and going straight into vocabulary which is where most of the differences lies, while remembering the vocabulary at the same pace. I recognize that Wanikani want to discourage people from skipping stuff they don’t know yet. But in this case I believe it is too restrictive.

If SRS is not effective for you maybe you can try other resources? Because that’s a core part of WK and it seems to me like a waste of your money. You can find mnemonics on the web and other free sites and apps. And if by

you mean that you know all of the “traditional” kanji radicals, you should know that WK uses it’s own set of radicals, sometimes they’re the same, sometimes they’re not and they’re not used in the traditional way, so you’re in for a few surprises and maybe some confusion.

Between the SRS that “doesn’t work for you” and the time it’ll take you to get to the level you start learning new things, you could get a great amount of frustration and burn out, so you might want to reevaluate if WK is where you want to spend your time and money.

Of course, you just started so it wouldn’t hurt to finish the free levels and figure if you’ll actually get the help you need from it.

Welcome and good luck!

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I have to agree with dianarz that if you want to skip the radicals and kanji, then WK really isn’t the site for you. It’s not designed to teach you vocabulary; vocabulary is just used to teach you the kanji readings. I think you’ll unnecessarily be paying money for something which isn’t meeting your needs. You need a vocab site.

I understand that you want to learn the different readings of the kanji, but if your approach to doing that is “skip all the kanji because you’ll learn the readings through vocab” then you might as well just learn vocab from the start.

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Hi Molts!

I’m also bilingual in Mandarin Chinese and English, and have found that while it feels slow to begin with, it was easy to start and ease in, and once the later levels kick in I still have a lot to learn and to commit the Japanese readings and meanings to mind.

As others have said, I agree that it is better to treat it with a separate system, but using what you already know in Chinese as an aid.

I did the first 3 levels before deciding if it would be useful for me so I suggest you do the same! WK for me keeps me motivated and is pretty straightforward to use so I love those aspects of it. It all depends on how you like to learn!

Hope you find a method that suits your style of learning!


Assuming we’re talking literate Chinese, there is a wealth of good Chinese based resources out there.

For all the talks about finding alternative resources, I ended up at Wanikani through my own research as well, and joined as it is the best one I found. If you know of better ones, I’d really appreciate if you could share them here.

Otherwise skipping radicals and kanjis doesn’t take away anything from Wanikani. If WK fear the skip feature may be used inadvertently, it can be buried under submenus and guarded by a warning and confirmation. It wouldn’t affect anyone who want to use WK as they do now, nor would it affect newcomers who are not introduced to it. They are strict improvements to let WK cover a bit broader demand. WK is designed for Kanji memorization, but its SRS engine is generally good for any memorization, and a well guarded skip feature can let people take advantage of it more efficiently.

As all have pointed out, the feature is not necessary, and the beneficiaries are few, so as a fellow software engineerer I understand it might not be worth developer time. But coming from Linux where things are configurable to a fault, I honestly regard “WK is not for those who want to skip” a lack of imagination.

Thanks everyone for all the feedback, I think I’ll stick around until level 3 and then decide if I’ll commit!


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