Looking for help balancing Wanikani and textbook

Hey all,

I hope you are doing well! I started Wanikani just for kicks, but I’ve since really enjoyed the satisfaction of leveling up as quickly as I can. After buying a textbook (Minna no Nihongo), however, I found that I do not have time to study both Wanikani and grammar every day. Normally, the path forward would be an easy decision; I would slow down on Wanikani–however much I loathe to do so–and focus more on grammar.

The issue is that the school I’m going to in the fall has a language requirement, and I will almost certainly start in introductory Japanese, so much of what I learn in terms of grammar may be redundant, but kanji certainly won’t be. Furthermore, I may study Mandarin instead of Japanese, in which case the grammar studying would not be redundant.

So, what do you guys think? Should I get ahead in kanji, or study grammar that I may just study again, or some combination of both? Should I just sideline Japanese as a self-studied language and formally study the likely-slighly-more-useful-and-marketable Mandarin?

Any input is much appreciated, and thanks for reading through my convoluted question if you did!


Dude if you’re gonna have basic japanese at school just focus on wanikani and learn it from your school…

Uhm I don’t really know bud
Do you really have to study both each day? You could just adopt one of the two as your daily and keep the other to use in conjunction with your daily only on not so busy days like weekends. Doing both all the times does seem pretty harsh.
I’d try doing whichever one you find more enjoyable everyday, and then sideline the other one. But I don’t know I am a lazy boy. And who cares about which one is marketable? Just do which one you enjoy, somethings in life are about what you want not what the world wants from you.


Are you sure, that you have to start with introductory Japanese? Most starter courses are made for people that do not have prior knowledge of the language and will therefore start very slow. Hiragana/Katakana will be introduced, simple introduction sentences are taught and a bit of family and restaurant talk. With your current WaniKani Level you will not see many new kanji and you should cover vocabulary relatively well until end of A1/genki1 (or even further).

If I were you, I would probably talk to the teacher of the course and ask if they offer a placement test and if there is a possibility to skip the first course. If that is not possible, I would stick to the WaniKani routine (focus on becoming good with what you already learned instead of power levelling) and only checking the textbook now and then when you feel like it. With the words and kanji you already learned you will have an easier time during the course and you can focus more on the grammar they teach without having the burden of learning kana/kanji/ton of vocabulary.

Regarding mandarin or japanese, is that even a question? Probably you should think about why you want to learn a new language and where you see yourself in the future. Do you want to learn Japanese only for your job or career or because you are interested in culture and language? There are more people speaking mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, yet if you want to read a Japanese book all these languages will not help, and the other way around it is the same of course. :smiley:


That makes sense. I have an opportunity to take a placement test in a few weeks, but I was going to skip it because I assumed that it would be impossible to study a course’s worth of grammar in that time (my grammar knowledge is currently just about zero). I will email the professor instead. Thanks for the help!

Hi and welcome to the forum!

I agree with what others have mentioned above. If that’s of any “help”, I personally only study grammar on weekends when I can because my routine during the week is fairly hectic. I’d try to find out how exactly those Japanese classes are going to be (how “introductory” is that?) so you have a better idea of what to expect and how to plan ahead.

As for the Japanese vs Mandarin: I (personally) really, really dislike the idea of doing something just for the sake of “market” and “usefulness” for the industry and whatnot. I threw myself into Mandarin lessons with exactly that mindset, and I could not stand it. I gave up after one semester because I had no real, personal interest in learning it. :sleepy:
If you need to “pick” a language, then I would favour the one that speaks to you the most. I’m fed up of caring about what the market wants from me to be honest. But that’s me hahah

I know from the university i went to, which also offers Japanese language courses, that they are encouraging students with previous knowlege or those who want to progress a bit faster, to do self-study and just skip the first course (they work with genki1). It should work with your textbook too (Minna no Nihongo) but as I already mentioned, it is probably the best if you write the teacher and ask directly if that is an option. Every school/university might be a bit different in that regard.

My school had a similar issue since the introductory language classes were past capacity from general education and conservatory requirements. And really, those first semester classes usually aren’t great anyway.

At OP’s WK level most of Genki 1 would be a breeze, I’d be really surprised if a few weeks of diligent studying wasn’t enough to pass a placement test. There’s really no harm asking the details on the placement test, or if there’s a class equivalency for a copy of the syllabus for whatever the introductory course is and studying those contents. Bunpro also has the whole paths/cramming feature, so that would help a bit with the lack of exercises.

I feel like a jerk saying spend more time and cram, but… who really wants to get stuck in an introductory class that will probably cost even more time and tuition.

For me, luckily, there is some other reason for mandarin. I am Chinese, and it would be nice to be able to speak to relatives. So that’s part of the reason I’m so on the fence.


That makes sense, thank you. I’ll be sure to email about that.

I see. There’s nothing stopping you from learning the two languages (it doesn’t need to be super stressful, I guess…? Depends on how one sees it). You have a much more real, well-defined reason to learn Mandarin than I did, so that’s a headstart!
Since you apparently need to choose only one for the formal classes, that’s another story, and I understand why you’d feel on the fence. It kind of asks for setting priorities. Ultimately I think no one can give you a definitive answer. It all boils down to what you enjoy the most and your reasons and aspirations to learn Japanese and Mandarin.

Is Minna no Nihongo the same textbook that your introductory class uses? If it isn’t, then I would recommend not starting it. If your class uses Genki or something else, you will have learned stuff in a different order than the class, which will probably be frustrating. I would definitely email the professor and ask what materials the course uses, and honestly ask them a lot of the questions you’re asking us here. Your kanji knowledge is already probably far ahead of what you’d learn in your first few Japanese classes.

I would also recommend probably only learning one of those two languages at once, at least for now. Maybe after you’ve studied one for a few years and have a pretty good baseline familiarity with it, you could start studying the other, but at this early stage, you’d likely get a bunch of things mixed up. Plus, if you continue with WaniKani, that’s a pretty big daily time investment, and it’s hard enough to set aside time to supplement your kanji study with Japanese grammar study, much less the time you’d need to study another language in school, and taking other classes in addition to that!

Thanks for all the input everyone. I don’t know if any of you all care, but I emailed the professor and got some more information. Turns out that they use Genki, and he recommends I either study chap 1-6 of Genki for the September placements to skip Japanese 101 (one trimester), or just enter in Japanese 101 with a bit of a head start. If I don’t take the placements though, is there any point to study grammar when I’ll just learn it again?


If you skip Japanese 101, will you be able to go into 102 right away in September or have to wait for the next trimester? If you can go into 102 in September if you pass the placement test, I’d recommend studying 1-6 on your own to skip ahead. If you’d have to wait a trimester anyways, then I wouldn’t bother and just go into 101 with extra kanji knowledge.

Ooof, I’m used to classes going slow, but that’s pretty slow. Like one chapter per 2 weeks? Four courses to more or less cover the beginner textbook series is…

Anyway, I feel like the benefits to self-study would be so you can actually progress comfortably with reading and that if you do decide to take the 101 class you can focus on using that time to practice speaking/listening and getting feedback from the teacher instead of struggling to remember basic words and phrases. At some point you will need to reinforce WK with actual reading, but that means being able to recognize the basic grammar constructs. 6 chapters of Genki I would only go to about trivial sentences (“That is a restaurant.” “My favorite food is pizza.” “The boy was playing soccer.” “You are already dead.”)

Edit: It sounds like you need the book for 101 or 102 regardless, so you might as well try looking at it. I think if you give it a serious shot you’ll find it trivial compared to your efforts at WK so far. It might look a little scary at first, but the actual stuff to be learned in each chapter is quite easy.

I say study grammar. Your textbook will teach you basic vocabulary, whereas Wani teaches a lot of obscure/unusable terms. I’ve been on Wani for over a year now and still can’t communicate in Japanese because I didn’t take the time to learn grammar.

If you end up taking Japanese in school, you might end up encountering non-wanikani kanji like i did, and then you’ll have that for your repetoire while the grammar will be more of a review.
I think it’s better to do both every other day or something like that, or at least encourage yourself to do like ~50 reviews and 10 lessons a day for WK and maybe one page of grammar.
I’m doing mandarin and japanese concurrently and having the kanji background makes the mandarin 400x times easier, so I would say if there’s a chance you’ll be taking mandarin in school, still stick to your wani kani.

I have to wait and take it in the winter trimester so yeah… I might just take 101 and get some more experience. Well, I guess I get to learn hiragana again.

That makes sense. I’ll order Genki, but I feel bad about my brand-new copy of Minna no Nihongo :(. The professor actually says that classes go really quickly, but he may have just meant that I’ll be swamped by my other classes. By self-study, do you mean more kanji or start grammar?

Oh that’s great to hear that kanji helps with mandarin. Thanks for the advice.