Leeches, Genki, and going slowly

Hey all, I’ve been struggling with a couple of things and I’m not sure what the best direction to go is.

Last year I started doing WK and it was really good. I was doing reviews and new lessons regularly, but making sure to keep my apprentice items low as to not get overwhelmed. Managing the amount of apprentice items and doing reviews regularly worked well and I was making good progress, but eventually everything that I had got up to enlightened all started to come back at once. I had to stop doing new lessons just to deal with all the reviews I had, which I figured was a minor obstacle and maybe a lesson to slow things down even more than I had.

However since I’ve been in review limbo I’ve also started going through Genki with some friends. Genki is great, and I definitely feel like I’m learning a lot but as we’ve gone through it I’m starting to feel like it’s not really working with WK very well. At first most of the kanji and vocabulary it introduced lined up pretty well with what I already knew, but now that we’ve gotten about half way into it I find I’m having to learn a whole different set of kanji alongside the stuff from WK.

At this point I’m thinking it might be a better idea to stop doing WK and just focus on the stuff from Genki since I’m getting more use out of that. I’ve dealt with the massive wave of reviews I had and am just sort of cycling the same few items over and over again (I think that’s what people refer to as leeches) but I feel like even if I deal with those and start doing WK again properly it’s not going to help me with Genki.

Should I just stop WK and focus on Genki? Is it worth it to try to do them both at the same time?


So I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you what I would do but I can tell you what I would do.

I would recommend keeping up with WaniKani. Build a schedule that works for you while working through Genki that takes into consideration a bucket of Burns.

The “problem” I see with pausing WaniKani is, you need to know kanji if you ever want to read something well. While WK doesn’t present kanji in frequency order, it does an amazing job of keeping these crazy things in your head and sticking. I haven’t found any other resource that works this well, this easily.

If you like what WaniKani offers, but think you would be better served learning through frequency order over WK’s sometimes arbitrary Radical order, I would recommend the Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course. The problem there is, you are stuck with just Anki. There is no integrated app to go with the course. I found it really useful but in the end, I didn’t want to put in the effort around Anki to really make it worthwhile for me.

You may feel like you are getting more use from Genki, which you probably are given you are working through it with friends, but in my opinion learning Japanese is also about the long game. If you want to be able to read, stopping WK will slow your overall progress as when you are done with Genki, you still need to know kanji to move on.

Maybe you can find a way to utilize an Anki deck that has a collection of Genki kanji. Filter out the ones you have learned then work on learning the Genki kanji between Genki and WK sessions? I know, more time consumed…

I started Genki at level 12 and while I see things here and there, I don’t think it’s a huge detriment to me moving forward with Genki and WK. But that is me and the way I learn. You are almost certainly different than me.

What else may help you is a schedule. Not sure what your day looks like, but depending on the amount of available study time you have, maybe break it into blocks? Commit 15-20 minutes to WK, then 40-45 to Genki if you have an hour? It will slow your WK progress by a lot but you would still be moving forward.

Sorry for the long reply and stream of consciousness. I just know I have struggled for 20 years to find things that work for me and WK is the master at kanji learning.


I’m using WaniKani, then using the Genki Kanji study per chapter on Renshuu. Going into the Lesson Centre there and searching #kanji gives Genki quizzes further down, and you can go per chapter then include multiple chapters for study. Renshuu lets you input the ones you already know from WaniKani through the settings, then the new ones to me in the Genki quizzes get shown to me. It’s not perfect, WK ones are sticking better, but I’ll catch up and already have something to build on once I get to the ones used in Genki.

Progress, not perfection!


There are two things to consider:

  1. Your goal

What are your goals? Did you want to speak it? Read manga? Live abroad?

There are generally four dimensions to language: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. WK is there to mainly help with the reading. Genki is doing all of it at once, but rather slowly compared to just focusing on one aspect. Japanese is going to take a long time. It’s important set goals so you can mark your progress, otherwise you’ll feel like your getting nowhere.

  1. Motivation

You seem to be enjoying Genki more, which I would say to keep at it and let WK fall to the side if you don’t want to do it. It’ll still be here. It’s not exciting most days and your progress can hardly be felt when you only focus on WK, but believe me, it works. Ultimately neither will make you fluent. WK is here to ease you into reading native material, but it is not a one-stop shop. Genki is there to ease you into (mostly formal) conversation, which is rarely used outside of the classroom(don’t quote me on this, I don’t live in Japan :sweat_smile:). You’ll have to learn how natives actually talk at some point.

Personally, after lvl 20, I feel fairly confident about reading kanji in the wild. I am tempted myself to stop and just read manga as there are so many words and kanjis you run into that are not covered in either the JLPT nor in WK. However, I will press on because WK is what got me here. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. :upside_down_face:

Note: I only have done up to Genki 1, but I find grammar sticks much easier when you are investing in wanting to read something and research it on the spot.

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There’s something I’d like you to consider about using a textbook like Genki. Don’t treat it like it’s there for the sake of teaching you vocabulary. That’s incidental. The main function of it is the grammar, how to use the language. If it tells you you need to learn a particular kanji, don’t worry about it, just have confidence that sooner or later it’ll turn up on WaniKani. Until then, if you don’t recognise it on sight, it’s no big deal to flip back a few pages to look it up.

As for falling behind on WK, I think if you’re stuck failing reviews over and over, put in the time to read the notes whenever you get an item wrong. The dumb stories they tell are dumb, for sure, but they create pathways in your mind to help you find your way to the correct readings and meanings when you need to recall them. They really do work.


That’s even better! It means you’re learning new kanji from different sources, in different ways. It might feel uneven, but will probably pay off in the long run :slight_smile: . Unless, you’re intuition really tells you should focus on Genki exclusively.

Incidentally, I’m also doing a grammar book alongside WaniKani and I’m genuinely looking forward to new WaniKani levels to unlock extra kanji and vocab and be able to combine it with the grammar I already know.

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Thanks for all the 助言 everyone! My plan for now is to try to start moving forward again with WK slowly and more casually while I focus more on Genki. I think my biggest hurdle right now is dealing with all of these leeches I’ve built up in the meantime.


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