Longtime Japanese Learner and Multilingual Mama begins WK for 1st time (Study Log)

As someone growing up in a bilingual country (Singapore), we had to learn a second language (your mother tongue) on top of English as your first language. My parents communicated with us in English as well even though our family knew Mandarin.

Many years later, as an adult, I think and communicate more naturally in English and I find speaking Mandarin uncomfortable even though I’m “fluent” at it, because I was not fully exposed to it as a kid.

I’m trying to relearn and practice Mandarin with native Mandarin speakers now so that I can start exposing to my children to the language as they are growing up, because I know that they too will not have to opportunity to get much exposure to a multilingual environment living in a typically monolingual country (Australia).

TL;DR : Didn’t get much a lot of exposure to 2nd language as a kid, even though I learnt it for over 12 years, so not comfortable using it. Personally think that you need to fully immerse your kid in a particular language if you want them to be fluent.


I studied Applied Linguistics at uni, and I’m happy to tell you this just isn’t true. When they’re young kids may not discriminate between languages (i.e. they’ll mix them together), but some of my uni classmates spoke 3, 4, 5 languages because their multilingual parents and relatives spoke all of those languages around them when they were growing up. Multilingualism it the norm, not the exception in many places in the world.


Welcome to the Wanikani Community @ganbareniichan :grin:

I hope you have lots of fun on these forums. Good luck with your studies :boom:


I strongly recommend joining a goal thread. You need not follow the same goals if it doesn’t match your pace. And joining the thread would provide you with accountability, encouragement, study buddies and lots of invaluable tips :slight_smile:

Below are two of the awesome threads that might match your goal times.

Ganbare @ganbareniichan :raised_hands:


I’ve just read your treatise on raising multilingual kids and am popping back in to say: you are a stellar parent, a stellar language learner, and just an all-around stellar human! What a delightful way to end such an odd year by being reminded that there are awesome people making such positive impacts in the lives of those around them.


Yep… my partner doesn’t insist, but I always do. One of my biggest fears is that they slip into the ease of passive bilingualism so I’m willing to cut that off at its early start.

@Esceptico, thanks for sharing your individual languages/story. It is too bad your child didn’t grow up with Hindi and German from the start, but sanity comes first. Adjusting to parenthood is ridiculously hard as it is. For me I knew that I would regret it later if I didn’t and so that fear of not doing it was enough to motivate me… but for others the active grind of day-in-day-out produces too much stress in the opposite direction that it just doesn’t seem worth it.

@Edzin, thanks for the topics. I had read all but the leaderboard one. I’ll consider joining in on a leaderboard soon!

@KyokaJiro, Thanks for welcoming me in the Tokyo Skytree topic. It won’t be a perfect matchup for me given my 2022 timeline, but it’ll be great motivation throughout 2021… right now I’m thinking it’d be great if I could get to level 60 by August 28, 2022 (10 years after I left for study abroad in Osaka)… but even that goal I’m hesitant on… it feels like I’d best go slower in the higher levels… idk.

This made my day yesterday! :relaxed:


So… WK update. I should have leveled up today but I didn’t… because of the aforementioned “craft” vs. “construction” (and “fins” versus “eight” debacle)… the thing was that I had already gone in and feverishly added synonyms to the level 1 kanji entries themselves, prescient that this would be an issue based on the way I previously memorized radicals and kanji… but I neglected to add the same synonyms to the radical entries themselves… ugh…

Oh well… it was a costly mistake but I HAVE learned my lesson as this is just painfully slow and the more it drags on, the more I kick myself for not just slowing down and doing what I knew needed to be done. It was really unfortunate that it didn’t happen for “stick” or “drop” or something that didn’t connect to kanji this level… but it kept me from two kanji, which of course kept me from leveling up because of the low number (18) in the first level, despite no further (or earlier) mistakes…

I’ve spent the extra time doing the available vocabulary… but I’m bummed that I’ll be essentially done with level 1 vocab the same day I’ll be done with level 1 (I will unlock 3 vocab words upon leveling)… leaving ONLY the radicals for level 2 to be working on… and so level 2 will feel just as painfully slow as level 1 did…

In the meantime I’ve been going through the first 10 levels and adding all the synonyms I can think of… eventually this will feel worthwhile, right?
Level 5 I’ll get 谷 as the first kanji I haven’t studied before… and not another until level 9, but the vocab looks like I’ll get new words starting from level 5… a handful each level, which should be more engaging, hopefully. But of course that’s a whole month away…

Enough self pity… I’ll start studying other things… I may just start studying the kanji from tier Painful and see what sticks later without any SRS. I’ve gotta kill this time somehow in a kanji-productive way…

In other news, my eldest kiddo asked me what I was going to do after I tucked him into bed last night, and I told him しばらくワニカニの用事。That was understandably the first time he had heard the term… this morning he asked me ワニニはどう?
Clearly he has internalized the necessary ten ten for things like ときどき and the idea that complex animal names (usually proper nouns) often turn the common animal name into a rendaku (I just looked this up to figure out what the linguistic term was)…

He knows, for instance
サメ (shark)
ジンベイザメ (whale shark)

カニ (crab)
ザリガニ (crawfish?)

This got me thinking… why is it WaniKani and not WaniGani??? Why KameSame and not KameZame??? This question had not occurred to me on my own and I do not have the linguistic knowledge to know the answer, so somebody help me out if you do…

Then again, エビカニクス is エビカニ… :crazy_face:





Hey, @ganbareniichan! Now I have realised the thread with an intriguing name actually belongs to you - and, wow, really, your story is super cool! As I’ve mentioned, raising up three children is a challenge by itself, and now you are also adding educating them using another languages and also educating yourself in a new language…my hat off!
Apart from that “my dear universe” concept comes true for me once again, since for the last month or so I was literally sitting on a perch, thinking and asking myself if I should stay satisfied with teaching my 7-mth old bun Russian (as native) and English - or if I should add all my other languages (French, Japanese and Chinese) into the frame. And - here comes your study log :laughing:
I know that’s off topic, but could you advise me what books are you using, in both Japanese and French? It was super easy to find recommendations for English books, but for some reason I was unable to find anything universally adopted for French. For Japanese, I will ask my jpn friend as well, just wanted to know your thoughts on it.
If you do not mind, I’d appreciate and opportunity to come to your thread to have a talk about raising multilinguals :slight_smile:


If you’re talking study materials… unfortunately I have nothing to say about French. French was my first world language I studied, beginning in high school (I’ve also studied Spanish, German, Arabic, and Hebrew formally, and I’ve dabbled with Italian and Mandarin on my own at various points), but as that now means more than half my life I’ve been studying it, I stopped studying formally as a junior in college and have just used native materials for my learning ever since. I wasn’t sure if you wanted kids’ book recommendations, though, so if that was more what you were talking about, let me know.

For Japanese study materials, I’m not sure where you are in terms of your self study but I noticed based on your study log that it has been mostly WK + Kanji based. We used Nakama 1+2 in my first year of college study, then Genki 2 and Tobira while I studied abroad in Osaka. I’ve never made it fully through Tobira so that’s where I’m starting again. I also have a copy of An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese that a friend gave me when he moved away, but I haven’t spent much time looking at it. I plan on at least skimming the whole thing and taking a look at anything relevant that might not overlap much with the other materials I’ve studied. When I took the N3 last year I studied almost exclusively from Tobira (if you finish Tobira, you’re supposed to be able to pass N2) plus took the official published practice test. Studying for the N2 this year/next year, I have used/will use 例文で学ぶ漢字と言葉N2 alongside WK (duh) and the Kanji in Context Workbook (I don’t have the accompanying kanji reference texts). Otherwise I’ll just be reading a lot this upcoming year… as “extensively” as my harried mom-life will allow. I’ll probably study/read about 1-1.5 hours a day, at least until the new baby comes. Planning on a really mellow review of a SINGLE grammar point from Tobira a day (which if I do for the foreseeable future I should be pretty close to the very end by the time the baby is born… there are 240 total grammar points) but otherwise the daily stuff will just be WK and a couple example sentences from the kanji books. Then read, read, read.

If you’re looking to start your kiddo off with French or Japanese or Chinese and don’t know where to start (not sure where you live in the world or where they might ship to, but…), check out Talkbox.mom. I don’t think this was around when my first was born and I had that giant learning curve with the mom vocab in Japanese, but I’ve only heard good things (apart from the sticker shock as I think it’s a bit pricy, but likely worthwhile as far as language investments go). If I were starting today with another language with my kiddos I would definitely try it.


I had never heard of this before - it looks brilliant!

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Yep, I meant exactly this - native material for kids to learn a language as their first one. Like my child, since she is Russian, listens to almost the same fairy tales and poems for children as I did when I was little. I was looking for sth like this :thinking:
I am not sure I will be able to manage full teaching program, and I wanted to have a start at least with phonetic immersion.
I have also looked into the Talkbox you recommended, and surely enough they don’t ship to Russia. This really annoys me to no end :roll_eyes:
The idea itself looks very interesting though…but well :sweat_smile:

You should be able to find a third-party buyer/shipper in the US or Europe who can buy it on your behalf and then forward it to you.

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This might be a good option, but I will first review the tool more thoroughly to see if it fits my everyday routine and my budget (hhaaah :tired_face:).
At the first search attempt I stumbled upon a few websites for multilingual home education…it seems I have a lot to read now :rofl:

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Do you have a friend/referral code for talkbox? I’d like to try it!

While I was reading a site related to the topic I found this. Perhaps would be of use?

Oh! Thank you!

I meant since @ganbareniichan recommended it I wondered if they give a sharing/referral code so you get $5 off when I get $5 off or something. But I’ll certainly try the code.

Owwff, you are absolutely right! :woman_facepalming: Let’s wait for @ganbareniichan response first, perhaps she has a referral code to share.

No special code for/from me, unfortunately, as I haven’t tried the system myself. So go ahead with the discount code above!

I’ll be back later with some books for you, @Kawazoe!

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@Kawazoe, here are some Japanese books my kids LOVE so far [I’ll be back with French ones later… I had to split it up cuz wow we have a lot of books, this isn’t even the half of the collection. We are really minimalist in our belongings and consumption but not at all when it comes to French and Japanese books for the kids. We buy a bunch of books every 4 months or so alternating between the languages (we don’t buy any English books as that is what the library is for) so things have stacked up quite quickly over the past 3.5 years since we started… we literally ONLY had よつばと before the first kid].

My number one rec for you would be the Russian tale おおきなかぶ. I’m sure it is a folktale you know, but it is also a VERY classic Japanese picture book. We reenacted it in my Japanese class in college and my professor said she read it to her kids (she was really old at the time, lol). You can also see it here in the amazing film 未来のミライ:

Sorry for the crappy quality… Netflix obvs doesn’t allow screenshots so from my phone of the laptop screen…

I honestly wish I had the entire booklist from this film… clearly somebody in the art department had to brainstorm what an everykid’s library was or else take detailed pictures of the covers of their kids’ library… so many classic titles there… when I first saw the movie I was like, “oh my gosh, I recognize like 10 of these books, lol!” [You can see more covers at a couple other points in the film].

These are the songbooks/poems/wordplay type books. The “Can You See What I See?” Series are just ‘I Spy’ look-and-see, but these are some of my kids’ absolute favorites and have been for years now. They never seem to get old to them. The なぞなぞのみせ one is similar in that there are very full illustrations to find things in, but the things to find are written as little riddles:

These are the more educational books (social studies, history, science). The みんなは赤ちゃんだった book is super detailed and shows the development of a baby from birth to age 3. It is a total favorite at our house. The はらっぱ book is a bit intense but it is amazingly well done and my kids will continue to love it for years I’m sure. It illustrates the story of one single field/vacant lot (原っぱ) from the 1930s to the mid-'90s as development happens all around the place. It gets intense in during the war with graphic aerial firebombing decimating all the surrounding buildings to rubble and then the field becomes an emergency victory garden to feed all the homeless survivors. Anyways may not be the best immediate choice for your 7 month old, but it is a totally worthwhile book and my big kid really loves all minutiae of the complex illustrations.

These are the longer narratives I’ve read aloud so far. It is a bit strange reading manga aloud but my big kid really enjoyed よつばと and こっこさん and they seemed to work well. I have already mentioned エルマーの冒険 but from all the Japanese people of the older generation that I’ve spoken to about books, they all say they enjoyed the book as a kid or with their own kids. I think it’s a super common one (along the same lines of the Japanese obsession with Anne of Green Gables). The others are obviously shorter stories but super enjoyable to read aloud.

Anybody can feel free to ask further questions about any titles/covers that seem interesting and I can elaborate… so many good books and I’m sure I could write a separate blog post about each one if I ever had that kind of time… but I’ll stop here and post some French stuff when I can get around to it.


Woot Woot! Time for the first slow level and time to buy my lifetime subscription while it’s still the holiday deal. I’m now sure I’ll stick around after a week of WK. Despite how slow things still feel and will for a while… it’s still good review and I can see how it will help me learn new kanji and readings once I get up that high, and I’ve been starting to work on the kanji from higher levels, without SRS obviously, but trying to learn more in the meantime.


I’m really hoping to keep my accuracy super high but I doubt it’ll continue to be quite this high… I’m 100% guru for level 1 everything, now on to level 2 guruing. I’m reordering so I can do level 3 radicals and some kanji first, but I’m planning to guru+ every single item in a level before moving up to the two levels above (i.e. everything in level 2 must be guru before I start working on level 4 items even if I pass level 3). That might slow me down at a later point when things are harder and there are leeches involved, but I’m aiming for super high precision and mastery. After all, I already have the knowledge and WK requires far fewer readings than I’m used to… so I should be able to remember 2-3 very common readings per kanji in this context… we will see how many levels it takes me to realize whether this system is completely impractical…

In other study news I’ve started KameSame. I’m only logging in over there once a day (while at my laptop), whereas I will do one WK laptop session in the evenings when my kids are asleep but the two other reviews a day I’ll be doing from my phone (Flaming Durtles) for ease of use (session when I first wake up and during my kids’ shared afternoon naptime). Eventually that’ll mean I have a backlog of items on KameSame but for now it’s fine.

I’ve started reworking through Tobira. On Chapter 1 and will be for the next couple weeks. This is all review, but it is going well so far and I’m pacing myself so I don’t burn out.

My partner and I are currently watching season 3 of Chihayafuru together on our “date nights,” usually a few episodes once a week. We will probably finish it next week as he has more time off than he usually does (yay!).