Hey guys, I have been using WaniKani for like 1-2 months now and have just reached Level 7 yesterday. What tips do you guys have in terms of doing the lessons and actually remembering stuff? I feel like since around level 5 I have been just fumbling my way through it, pretty much failing all reviews of new vocab and kanji a fair few times until it finally starts to somewhat click. I know this is what SRS does but its frustrating, even doing the lessons I get the 5 new things and take a few tries just to get through the little quiz. What other strategies are there to help stuff stick better?
How hard do you work the mnemonics? Everyone is different, but I find that the ones where I come up with a really good mnemonic, that covers both meaning and sound are the ones that stick.
Some are really easy - 録音 - ろくおん - Rock on! - Sound recording.
Some are a stretch 査 - さ - I picture a parade ground where an officer is inspecting troops. The officer says ‘there’s a tree in your hat’ - ‘yes Sah!’ says the soldier. It’s a lot, but once I came up with that little story, I never forgot that 査 is ‘inspect’ and is pronounced さ.
If in doubt, the three things that make a mnemonic stick are sex, violence and surrealism. If you can make an image with one or more it is more memorable.
Hey, kind of in the same boat, but I usually have the hardest time with verbs which 99% of the time have their own reading.
I’m starting to make up my own mnemonics to memorise them better, but after some time I still tend to forget them, I guess that immersion and other forms of study are essential for verbs and other kind of words.
Also for the vocabulary meanings the best thing you can do is create your own stories with the kanji that compose it, though it’s not so useful when there are a lot of hiragana in it.
Hope that this helps somehow!
Pay close attention to the mnemonics, you’d be surprised how the little stories get stuck in your mind and help you recall the reading and meaning, even if you only read it once!
Write the troublesome ones down or better yet, put them on flash cards and go over them again and again. Instead of looking at a new item one time every four hours and constantly getting it wrong, you can review it several times a minute until you feel comfortable enough to come back to it in four hours. For tough new vocab, at least for me, I have to look at it at least 100 times before my brain is like “oh yeah, that looks familiar!” I’ll sit down and spend an hour or so just cycling through the top 15 cards of a large stack of vocab, putting the ones I finally remember down and replacing them with new ones until I’ve worked through them all, then going through the whole stack to see what stuck.
Repetition is key. And persistence. ネバーギブアップ！
I use the recent mistakes extra study feature at least twice a day. I find that to be particularly helpful.
Are you doing any Japanese outside of Wanikani? Wanikani will teach you kanji and related vocabulary, but unless you can connect those to something else they’re just isolated things, hard to remember on their own. The brain needs to form connections, the more the better. Studying some grammar on the side, or doing some basic reading, should help. Other than that, pay attention to the mnemonics during lessons, try to visualize them if possible, maybe make your own if the existing ones don’t work, maybe try to write down the kanji for some added muscle memory, say the readings out loud, things like that. You’ll find what works for you. And try not to get too frustrated by mistakes, they’re only part of the learning process.
One thing I do is writing practice alongside WK so each review i’ll write down a couple times, which might sound daunting if you’ve not done any yet but it got very easy very quickly in my experience. And it greatly helps my retention of both reading and meaning!
All you need is some gridded paper and a pencil if you want to give it a go!
Edit: There’s also this script which adds the stroke order to kanji reviews and lessons for convinence
Some great suggestions here, I’ll echo a few of them (and add one of my own):
@Beyond_Sleepy “I use the recent mistakes extra study feature at least twice a day. I find that to be particularly helpful.”
It really is a brilliant new tool, suggest you use it. Same for the ‘Recent Lessons’ study tool, to do a refresher before you make mistakes.
@Anathangd: “Instead of looking at a new item one time every four hours and constantly getting it wrong, you can review it several times a minute until you feel comfortable enough to come back to it in four hours… ネバーギブアップ！”
Totally agree with this Though I find as time goes on, it takes less and less time to remember new words; hopefully you’ll find the same.
@Taniotoshi “If in doubt, the three things that make a mnemonic stick are sex, violence and surrealism. If you can make an image with one or more it is more memorable.”
100%. You can write your own mnemonics for words you find particularly difficult, as in write it into the Wanikani lesson itself. Usually a small number of difficult words take up a disproportionate amount of your time, i.e., leeches. Try to notice when you’ve a word that just isn’t sticking and then put work into reinforcing the mnemonic (or making your own).
@nazan “One thing I do is writing practice alongside WK so each review i’ll write down a couple times”
I do this too, but only for new radicals and kanji. If you’ve time to spare, write vocab too, but I find it most efficient just to write new radicals and kanji since all the new vocab will use those symbols anyway. It makes you pay closer attention to things than you would otherwise, it’s surprisingly helpful.
Lastly, in settings you can change the number of lessons you take at a time. I’ve mine set to 3: that way I can take more batches of lessons if I feel like it, but if I get a tough bunch of words I’ll leave it at 3 rather than overload myself. It might also help to space your lessons just a little, i.e. 3 now, 3 more five minutes after. Those few minutes might give your brain time to ‘digest’ what you just learned, and keep you fresh.
Maybe you just need to give it some more time. Vocabulary does get easier in my opinion, but new kanji always stays a bit tricky.
Indeed, there are some other things that I do, but I cloned WaniKani’s contents to Anki. Customization is a reason, but I found another problem later on - 500 characters’ limit in Notes.
I usually look up the vocabularies on Goo JE-EJ. It does more than translating, though - it’s a progressive dictionary, so not only 録音, but also 録音テープ and 録音機 are suggested. Also, example sentences that are written by natives, and less over-translation (and multiple interpretations). Later on, I also found ALC. Then, I would copy some of the contents to AnkiDroid.
So, I get more feels on the vocabulary, then may write a new mnemonic; or a newer mnemonic, if the old one isn’t good enough at the time.
I don’t even care about senseless English-based mnemonics, tbh. Furthermore, it’s only a temporary thing. Nonetheless, Kanji components or etymology may be helpful, even in the long run.
I also have made several radical-based mnemonics, but they are based on a mix of WaniKani and RTK radicals; though I have never really finished RTK.
Also, I have another kind of flashcard: EN => JP plus writing with a stylus on AnkiDroid (and Kanji Stroke Order font). This ensures that each vocabulary is taken more time on, not only just remembering components and stroke orders. Furthermore, I do feel that even seeing Kanji is a distraction, sometimes. (In particular, lone Kanji with Okurigana, and exceptional readings.)
this is legit / good to keep in mind
the more time you spend with the language, the more comfortable you become -
the more comfortable you become with the language, the easier it is to remember new things -
it is a long process though
Use the mnemonics if you haven’t been, they make so much difference and if you take a good look at the Kanji or the Vocab they try to make the story related to the radicals.
So if you forget the mnemonic and the kanji / vocab you can look at the radicals and it’ll job your memory, “hat two private” oh two people meeting in public a good way to meet people is かいyaking 会.
For older stuff I find I’m getting them wrong more often also now, it’s just about building up that SRS and doing extra stuff outside of your reviews such as reading or writing sentences etc.
I think if you’re forgetting things by the time you get to the quiz, then the mnemonics are probably not working for you. If the WK mnemonics don’t work for you, then you may want to try making up some of your own. IMO the most important elements of mnemonics are
- Clarity and/or simplicity
- An emotional link, or at least a vivid image
Just because of the nature of mnemonics, I think the ones you make up yourself are the most likely to work for you. But if it’s too much work to make up your own, or you don’t want to for whatever reason, another source could be The Complete Guide to Japanese Kanji by Christopher Seeley. It contains a lot of historical information, so the mnemonics are very different from Wanikani’s and who knows, maybe they would work better for you.
there’s also “Kanji Damage” - which has a bunch of lewd/obscene mnemonics,
and I think “Kanji Koohi” has community written mnemonics,
I did always like to make my own though
tbh I feel this too, I dont know why. My reviews are all 90~95% ish but I have this (irrational) fear of just forgetting just by the amount of info.
I think this is a totally reasonable fear to have,
especially if you haven’t used / seen results from using srs for a substantial amount of time -
I still have this fear to an extent,
but to a much lesser degree after seeing the results of srs usage over many years now -
I’m not sure if one ever gets over this fear completely though…
…only time will tell!
Another tip that I can give you, as a way to avoid failing reviews that often, would be to ALWAYS speak out the vocab and kanji that you’re asked their meaning or reading for.
Yes - even if the review only asks for what the kanji or word means in English, think of both the translation, AND the pronunciation. And vice versa, think of the translation when asked for the pronunciation.
Additionally, when learning new kanji and they’re first put together in vocabs, try to think of logical (or illogical, as long as it sticks for you) mnemonics even for things like which kanji comes first and which comes second in the vocab word.
Lastly, take your time with thinking of the answers. It often happens to me that when I get on a new level which introduced new kanji, I begin to think I got some of them memorized down pat and won’t need the mnemonics anymore - which proves to be wrong the next day. I then take a longer time to think of the word’s mnemonic that I came up with or got offered through wanikani, taking careful notice of all the little radicals that the kanji are made of, to come back to the memorized story. After doing this only for the first few times, it usually ceases to be necessary for these certain words for good. And that’s always a very satisfying moment to realize.
I remember when I first saw the word 録音 thinking, “Please please please be pronounced ‘rock on’!” Glad I wasn’t disappointed
Zoomed in on your notes and got super confused until I realized you were writing left to right
Don’t look too closely tho or you’ll see how messy they are…
But honestly I’ve never put any thought into that, it feels natural because all the japanese text I encounter on the internet is also left to right but maybe I should start writing the other way?