MIA or WaniKani

Okay, so I’ve been looking a lot into the MIA and I came across their idea of in context learning vs. out of context learning. In this video the idea of learning individual kanji and the readings that are used most often isn’t ideal (what WaniKani does). Their reasoning was because we end up memorizing the reading and when we see a word we end up thinking “oh is it this reading, or is it that reading?” vs. using our actual intuition from other words we have learned how they are read.

I’m really considering suspending my time here on WaniKani because of this information, I’m curious what anyone has to say about this and if they have had experience with it. The reason why I’m considering is because what they are saying makes perfect sense. I want people to know I’m not being brainwashed by “oh this is the perfect way to learn a language”, but most of what they say really clicks with me and makes a lot of sense. Now since I’m only getting their side of the coin (is this even a saying?), I’d really like to hear what other people say about this type of learning (the downsides if there are any) vs. WaniKani and memorizing the way Kanji is read.



We use WaniKani. So… We like WaniKani. Most of us. I’d assume.


Yeah, to avoid that answer I was going to put something in the question, but I guess I forgot. Honestly, I’m just looking to see people’s reasons for why they choose WaniKani over that approach and how it’s worked out for them.

I think wanikani’s example sentences give a good example of context usually, also I think there are scripts that add additional example sentences.

As for why I chose wanikani, the reading descriptions really helped me in the beginning to get the ball rolling. Now at my high-ish level, and with around 1k kanji under my belt I dont have as much trouble remembering the kanji, and I can make up my own associations and stories to remember…

I didnt really like the other methods, reading a book of kanji just didnt cut it for me. Wanikani’s SRS forces me to remember and reminds me of stuff ive forgotten. Not to mention the decent size (6000+) vocabulary it teaches.


Well does WaniKani work for you? It worked for me. I tried RtK, if that’s what you’re asking to compare it with, and I personally hated it. If you look around you can find someone else who will tell you the opposite (well I guess you already did).


I also checked out RTK, I found that book to be terrible… It doesnt teach readings, whats the point then? Seems like a waste of time to me :man_shrugging:


I want to build intuitive knowledge rather than informational knowledge, which is what MIA claims doing RTK and then learning words after the 1000 will do.

Yeah, WaniKani is working for me, but I’m looking at how I’ll benefit in the long run – which I want to be able to remember things based off of my intuitive knowledge rather than informational, I don’t want to have readings memorized and be forced to try and use my informational knowledge to figure out a reading when it would be a lot easier to know it based off of intuition. I like how WaniKani works, I’m just looking at this in the long run mainly and being efficient.


That’s the idea. You learn readings based on intuition. This is what my question is about mainly.

They claim that after you learn your 1000 kanji or whatever amount it is, you then go and learn words and have intuitive knowledge and eventually figure out the readings to words based off of how the other words sound.

I don’t really see how a kanji reading is “intuition.” Children in Japan don’t have to be taught Japanese, but they do have to be taught kanji. They don’t learn it by osmosis.


I used WK the same way he used RTK, as a means to fast-track me to Japanese literacy. WK takes longer because it walks you through ~6300 vocabulary words (which quiz you on both readings and meanings) to help you develop an intuition for which readings get used in what kinds of words.

I got to level 60 in 12 months (which is much faster than he claims in that video you linked), and now kanji are the absolute least of my worries with regards to learning Japanese. They’ve actually become a bit of a crutch in some sense, because now my reading ability is so strong (compared to my listening) that if I’m speaking to someone, I sometimes have to ask what kanji a word is written with, and upon receiving the answer will immediately recognize what they’re talking about.


Now, I’m well-primed to absorb new kanji, and can build onto a solid kanji/vocab foundation when I encounter words with familiar kanji. WK did what I wanted it to do, which is make real Japanese readable :wink:


I think that the notion that Wanikani is “out of context” learning is a false premise.
WK presents you with actual Japanese words to learn the reading of the kanji. That’s literally context. It does not provide context for those words (so, how they are actually used, or how frequent they are; people do complain about that) but that’s besides the point.

So, I think the point is moot anyway :woman_shrugging:


They brought up that the children learn the readings yes… but they are already pretty much fluent in Japanese, so basically they are now learning the individual readings of the Kanji. They already have the intuitive knowledge to know how words are read, just like we do in our native language to be able to read something if it is spelled wrong.

MIA advocates in-context learning (bashing WaniKani in the process) – then turn around and tell you to do Recognition RTK which – if you pause to think about it – is completely out-of-context learning (even more out of context than WK). :thinking:

Turns out, there’s no one perfect tool. I think AJATT/MIA advocates are right that we should learn in-context as much as possible, but that’s not possible for all things. To me WaniKani is still the best tool I’ve seen to learn kanji up to some point (level 30+, depending on the individual circumstances).

On the flip side are people who spend huge amount of time dedicated only to WaniKani, to the detriment of everything else. They want to blast to 60 like it’s a race. From what I can see (from this forum) most of these people burn out. They should realize that learning kanji is not the same as learning Japanese.

What’s needed is a sense of balance. Do WaniKani for kanji. Study textbooks etc. for grammar. Do sentence mining for context. Get exposure to Japanese audio & video. Start speaking with native speakers early and often. Etc.


oh boy…

Interesting topic because I follow MIA as well and pretty involved with the whole group on their discord server.

And yeah they don’t recommend WK :smiley:

Well tbh I found WK before MIA/AJATT. I was already invested in WK (around level 5, which was just a few weeks ago tbh) by that time.

How ever I did buy Heisig’s RtK ( as in the physical book), got the MIA RRTK anki deck and started dong it. I also bought the JLPT N5 1000単語 book, started making sentence cards with it. (yes i know I could have gotten the pre-made deck but I wanted to make this deck myself so I can get comfortable with making my own cards in anki).

So right now I’m doing RRTK and WK at the same time.

Bith has their ups and downs. RRTK is fast, and since it uses anki it’s speed is completely up to me. I can suspend cards, edit the mnemonics, practice writing alongside the physical book, etc.

On the other hand WK is slow and relatively uncustomizable (there are mods that let you customize somewhat) but has a more in-depth treatment of the kanji plus it gives vocab with it.

However the vocab in WK is pretty much out of context so that’s a con.

So basically my plan is to follow MIA, grind RRTK, then grind the sentence cards, then start sentence mining. Of course I’ve started immersion already.
But I also plan to just do WK on the back end because I enjoy it.

ps. RRTK is Recognition RTK which is truncated version of the full RTK with just the 1k most common kanji.


Isn’t that an argument for just waiting until you’re fluent in Japanese to start learning kanji? If we lack their intuition about the words, we won’t magically gain it by just trying really hard to read.


Thank you, I was really looking for someone that was involved in MIA, I didn’t really expect to find someone though since this is WK. Not to say none of the other answers didn’t help (which they did), this is mainly what I was looking for. I had a similar idea in my mind for learning.

I think after a few more weeks of weighing my options I’ll finally settle into the right schedule for me, I’m just asking around because I’d like hearing how other people learn so I can optimize my studying. I know there isn’t a right way to learn a language because everyone learns different, it’s just that MIA really feels like my way of learning.

It’s not, because you do not learn ANY readings at all with RTK, just the meanings and how to write them out (not stressed in RRTK).
And basically 90% or so of the meanings are IDENTICAL to those found in WK anyways.

You then acquire vocab while doing the pre-made decks and sentence mining.

To put it simply, RTK puts you at the point of a Chinese person learning Japanese.


The point is, RRTK is NOT in-context learning. By definition!

Yes it could be, but I think what they are saying is that the kids know how to read kanji in vocab. However, they don’t know the Kanji’s individual reading which is what WK teaches. I’m not trying to argue their point, I’m just saying what I’m getting from it.

You should check some of the topics from @Ncastaneda. He reached level 58 (then let his subscription expire) while being also an active follower of MIA (if I remember correctly).