Learning Kanji outside of WK

I was thinking how I’m not really making the progress I’d want to and how to maybe speed up the learning progress. And I came to the conclusion there’s no way around immersing yourself in source material…

But what if I come across Kanji I (Lvl 16) haven’t learned yet? Which happens all the time btw xD

I could of course try to make my own interpretation of radicals and mnemonics, but then I’m always unsure, “Is this the right way? Would waiting until I’ve unlocked and learned them be maybe faster?”

What is your guy’s opinion on this? Do you learn kanji exclusively through WK? If not, do you come up with your own radicals and mnemonics?

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What I do is I look the kanji up on Wanikani and spend some time with the mnemonics and new radicals. I tried to just identify what radicals I could and make my own mnemonics based on that, but when I later learned the wanikani radicals I didn’t know in those kanji my way of seeing the kanji changed and I could no longer figure out kanji I’d already sort of learned on my own…

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I would try to learn Kanji, from vocabularies found elsewhere, outside WaniKani.

The trick is similar to learning vocabularies - instead of just knowing how that vocabulary works inside the context you’ve found, it would help to know all other meanings and contexts. My current go-to is Goo Progressive JE. I like this source for progressiveness, and less so for being partially a JE. (And it might be possible that this dict doesn’t list all meanings as well, so check other sources.)

As for Kanji, sooner or later, you should realize that, rather than that each Kanji has a meaning tied to a concept, it is more of each meaning for a list of associated vocabularies, and there may be multiple meanings; so somewhat like a 2-dimensional array.

My go-to is Jitenon (Kanji Jiten Online), as it also list font differences (visually different, but still searchable), as well as different encodings (difficult to search, for machines). Nonetheless, pure Japanese sources won’t list Chinese variants (which may confuse you, depending on your machine or where you are) - that’s where translingual dictionaries, like Wiktionary, come to play.

Wiktionary also has English version, so it is easier to read as well.

Nonetheless, WaniKani still has a merit of radicals and Kanji learning order.

The truth is, workload and focusing, would be the biggest counter-argument. (i.e. you just don’t have to focus on Kanji that much, yet.)

Thank you @wuffmaster for posting this, as I am in the same situation. I will level up to 22 this week and I just recently finished N5 on Bunpro. So that means my kanji and kanji-related vocabulary are way ahead of my grammar and reading skills. Lately I have been feeling like I should try to get them more in-line by doing more immersing in real content.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I find Wanikani to be super addictive. I really think its a great system – it’s not perfect, but it (and a bunch of scripts) has worked great for me. But now I am thinking I should set it aside the SRS part for now and use it more like a dictionary like @Beyond_Sleepy talked about. I have Lifetime, so I can always come back once my other skills improve.

I am definitely interested in hearing others’ experiences and any advice anyone might have…

With the Yomichan add on I have made the search for Kanji not even in WK to begin with much easier.

There is an also an beyond level 60 memise deck too hmmm

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I know a few Kanji not in WK / above my level.

I wouldn’t really worry about them, I don’t write them down, nor do I really use Anki or anything (WK is more than enough SRS for me).

I either memorize them by repeated encounters or I move on.


In my case, I started to immerse myself quite late so I didn’t really encounter that problem. In case I see unknown words/kanji I just look them up in Jisho or just look them up on google image (sometimes I don’t understand the translation, especially when it is a word for a plant or monument). To my opinion, if you read a particular book or game you may see the same vocab coming again and again. So just look up words you don’t understand, maybe create an Anki deck for them and you probably will encounter them a couple of times in your read (it is especially true for games). I don’t think you will need mnemonics.

If you like Wanikani, why stop ? It won’t prevent you from going into real content :slight_smile: I think Wanikani and native content are good complement to each other. Real content is good to consolidate your knowledges and get more vocabulary. But it is way easier to read when you already have some knowledge. So I think doing both at the same is the best.
This is obviously my opinion, if you feel you can progress better with just real content, then just go ahead. You should do what motivates you the most. And we all have different ways to learn, so you should give a try to whatever interests you :smiley:

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I never really go out of my way to memorize words or kanji outside of WK. I just look up words as I come across them - when I feel like it - and over time I find that they consolidate in my memory.

And I definitely agree with previous posts that you should focus your energy on what ever content interests you the most. I personally took almost a year off from WK and focused entirely on immersion. I learned a lot during that time, and was able to get back into WK without any issues when I felt like it!



The only words I’ve SRS’d which contain WK kanji that I haven’t learned yet are some of my textbook vocabulary. It wasn’t really a problem for me in that case because Minna no Nihongo has furigana, so I just learned the words by their readings and didn’t even attempt to memorize the kanji, though sometimes I did by accident. If the words are in WK, I’ll often look them up in advance and take advantage of the mnemonic.

I didn’t start actively mining my own words from native media until I was over 20 levels in. By the mid 20’s, I had such a strong base of kanji knowledge from WK, I had no shortage of new words I could add to Anki from my reading which contained only kanji that I had already learned. So I’ve simply never even bothered to learn WK kanji early. I’ll just use a dictionary/Yomichan to look up the meaning of words with unknown kanji, and then move on.

Some people try to prioritize their vocab/kanji acquisition by aiming for the most common words/kanji first, but for the media I’m most interested in, this is pretty much impossible to determine anyway, so I’m just prioritizing learning words that contain kanji I currently know (which is a constantly growing number). This is keeping me plenty busy, and it’s actually kind of nice because it takes a lot of decisions out of my hands. Theoretically, by the time I do reach level 60, I’ll have built up enough of a base of vocab from the lower level stuff, I can just add everything I don’t know to Anki.

I have also started learning kanji that aren’t in WK’s system, though I’m pretty lax on this currently. I don’t check every unknown kanji I come across to see if it’s in WK or not, but if I do notice that one isn’t, usually I’ll make a card for it in Anki. So far, I’ve learned about 12 non-WK kanji. Once I’m level 60, I’ll start adding all new kanji that I come across to Anki.

There are many strategies for learning kanji on your own. Mine is probably unpopular, because it involves testing me on how well I can write them from memory, haha. I use the Kanji colorizer Anki addon to create recall cards, and then also have recognition cards which ask me for the same types of info that WK does (reading and meaning, though I’m more lenient on grading myself with meaning outside of WK, because for many kanji, especially those in names, it’s just not really relevant). So far, this strategy has worked great for me, and I’ve had no trouble remembering the kanji when I see them in the wild.

I do sometimes use WK’s radicals to help me remember, but way more often than that, I use the kanji’s phonetic and semantic components. Half of the time, when I look up a kanji in WK, the information that’s most useful to me is the Keisei script info and not the default WK info.

I guess I’m not fully sure how to advise you, because in my opinion, the speed I’m currently going on WK (learning about 3 kanji a day) is plenty fast, so I see no need to want to speed things up further. WK saves me a lot of work because the flash cards are already prepared, and the Keisei script info is already set up, and I personally wouldn’t want to repeat all of that work in order to learn the kanji on my own outside of the system.

So I save my energy for kanji that aren’t in WK at all, and just wait to learn the ones that are. I’ll be done with WK in less than a year anyway, and in the meantime, it’s not like there’s a shortage of non-WK vocab and kanji that I can learn.

I definitely agree that WK and immersion can be done in tandem. In my experience, immersion has just gotten easier and easier the more kanji I’ve learned (through WK) and the more grammar and additional vocab I’ve learned. Once I reached about level 30 and graduated out of the low beginner phase of grammar, it felt like suddenly all of my accumulated knowledge came together, and immersion became much easier.

I don’t think there’s any real need to set WK aside completely unless you really don’t like it. It’s true that you can progress faster without WK, but actually implementing those strategies is a different matter. It can be kind of sink or swim. You need to be pretty self-directed and willing to sacrifice some of the ease that WK affords you, which means spending more time messing around with other tools, and more time having to put together flash cards yourself, and making more decisions about what to prioritize your time doing.

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I don’t learn kanji through WK at all, personally. I already know quite a few kanji, so it doesn’t seem worth it for me to grind until I reach new ones. (Although I would probably use it if I could skip levels/kanji)

I don’t come up with my own radicals or mnemonics because I don’t personally find them that useful (unless I need to distinguish two kanji that I mix up). I’ll most often learn kanji by learning vocab with the kanji in it.

Although, I don’t think my method is incredibly efficient. It’s more just what’s convenient for me

I reset a few levels recently but didn’t log in and out of the forum. Now I match :wink:

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