MIA or WaniKani

Chinese people already know some words though. Maybe not the readings but some combos of kanji. They understand you can’t just always say “this word is meaning 1 plus meaning 2 so the meaning is 3.”

For example, the word 土木. This word exists in Chinese and Japanese, though the meanings aren’t quite the same. Someone learning RtK has nothing to go on but “dirt” and "tree’ (or whatever keywords are used).

In Japanese, the meaning is “public works” or “civil engineering.” In Chinese it’s “construction” according to Wiktionary. So the Chinese person stands half a chance at understanding that word in context… An RtK (or WaniKani) user… Not so much.

Basically just saying getting to “Chinese person level” from RtK sounds unrealistic to me.


The readings that WK’s pink kanji reviews ask for (which are usually on’yomi, but sometimes they are kun’yomi) are curated by the devs such that you are quizzed on the reading that is most likely to be the most useful reading to know when you encounter the kanji in an unfamiliar word.

Because the decision for which reading to test can be somewhat arbitrary, you aren’t penalized for providing a correct reading that isn’t being asked for; you just get prompted to try a different one (the input field shakes but doesn’t mark you wrong).

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No worries mate… Get on the discord server if you can there’s people there who are much more qualified than me to answer questions haha. (I’m just two months in!)

Thing is the MIA or Mass Immersion Approach. is just that, Mass Immersion.

It’s not that they think WK doesn’t work (I mean WK is heavily influenced by Heisig), they think that doing more immersion is better than spending time on WK.

Everything MIA advocates is for making more time for immersion. Most of your time should be spent in Immersion (especially after stage 1), not fiddling around with anki or WK.

Right now I have time so I can afford to do both. Especially after I read JPerera’s thread and got the mods he recommended for WK, it’s been really smooth…


Yeah, I guess why I am intrigued by MIA is because of the fact that I’m questioning in the vocab “which reading does this use?”. They claim that I’ll be able to eventually intuitively figure out what the reading is for that word after I learn a good amount of words. Honestly, I have a ton of time on my hands (I’m only a freshman in college), so if it doesn’t end up working out for me I can always change approaches.

By the way, if by 'intuitively know the readings" they mean “recognize when a kanji is a phono-semantic compound” you’ll be able to do that on WaniKani too.

After you learn 祖, 粗, 狙, and 阻 are read as そ, it’s not hard to guess that 租 is too. (The order of those might be wrong, not gonna bother checking).


I’m are not talking about words here, just the individual Kanji.

I feel like it’s really hard to get the point across… Even I didn’t really understand the concept until I had started RRTK and came across words in sentences that used those kanji (I’m only halfway through RRTK so I’m not even fully there yet).

I think though to answer the OP’s question again, whether you do RRTK or WK, the philosophy of MIA only has a tiny bit to do with whatever method you choose to learn Kanji. MIA is about immersion.

In fact after the guys who run MIA broke away from AJATT they have broadened their approach quite a bit to make it more accessible (as opposed to AJATT which has always been a mess).
Although not technically recommended by MIA, you can use WK. Because think about it you can (with mods) reach 1K kanji using WK in 6-12months (I reckon at this pace I’d be there in 8months). That is pretty close to the time period MIA recommends for getting your first 1K Kanji.

I think they identify a real weakness of Wanikani, which is why it absolutely needs to be supplemented by outside native reading (which … is what you’re using it for in the first place, right?), but even with that detriment, I still think it’s the single most effective (and efficient) kanji-reading course for native English speakers.

It won’t do everything for you, but it sets up you really well.


We dont want to be at the point of a chinese person, we are learning japanese. Its like saying a flight with a stop is faster than a direct flight, rtk being a stop halfway and wk being direct


I thought MIA meant “missing in action”, so I was thinking it would be better if you stayed here and didn’t disappear… :blush: but…I didn’t know about this other approach. I really like immersion though so maybe I will check it out. :slight_smile:



lol that is actually the pun in the name… Missing in Action from your native language. :grin:

I definitely felt that when I switched my phone to Japanese, and also when I open youtube and most of my youtube feed is full of native Japanese content. haha



I’m not sure if that’s true, regarding what kids learn. Anyways, there are definitely Japanese people who are know a lot of kanji and those that know less.

It’s similar with spelling/vocab in English–native speakers can’t always figure out how to correctly spell/know the meaning of a word that’s new to them. Folks who have studied English more, read more, etc, might be able to figure out the latin roots and guess the meaning, but it does take effort to learn. Yes, there’s a bit of intuition, but I’d wager those with good intuition have it from studying.

Recently there was a kanji in an article that I brought in for my homework to my Japanese tutor, and it was such a specific word (“declawing” in regards to cats) she didn’t know how to pronounce it. She’s super smart, it was just an uncommon word.


Don’t know if this helps/adds to different perspectives, but for me…vocab is key. I learn vocab first through listening/podcasts/reading/music and do as much as I can. I often have something in Japanese playing while I do wanikani reviews.

So…I try and force it to work WaniKani backwards to suit me…I push through new kanji, getting it to Guru asap until it unlocks the corresponding vocab. Then, I study only the vocab and don’t do any kanji/radical lessons until I have a good grasp of all the vocab I can get my hands on.

…And then I start over, forcing myself to Guru kanji and then chilling with vocab.

Vocab gives me a much better understanding of kanji, especially when there are a lot of words I already know, so learning the kanji first bewilders me to this day. The three days of staring at a kanji without context makes me feel crazy until suddenly, the vocab unlocks and gives everything context.

Recently I’ve started just looking at each kanji page and studying the vocab first…I’ll repeat the vocab and even type it up as the kanji appears (settling on the right reading in the end of course).

Learning them hand in hand has a much more natural feel. It also speeds up my levels and has eliminated some leeches… Knowing the vocab instead of guessing readings improves my (still poor) pass rate with words that include 人 for example.

It’s a lot less frustrating for me to kind of…force WK to work backwards for me. (I also ignore mnemonics and instead spend my time writing kanji down, learning stroke order etc.)


I didn’t mean to make this thread to have people argue about which one was better, I simply wanted some advice on what people thought about it all. Someone just gave me some really good feedback on what I should do, and said “you’re young”. That’s enough for me to go the route of what I feels best (trying the RTK styled learning of the kanji) because if it doesn’t work out I can always go back, plus I will still know what the kanji means. I may even get a lifetime membership if there is a sale this winter, because I still plan on using WK in the future to learn the Kanji readings.

Thank you guys.

P.S. It seems people want to continue debating about this, which really was NOT my intention. I understand that that MIA is unconventional, but honestly it makes sense to me (and I hate when people do stuff that doesn’t make sense, like “why would you do that???”). However, I do find their bias towards their approach pretty annoying. With that said, I’m going to venture down this learning method and see if it is the right way for me, make adjustments (which definitely will happen), and if it ends up not being the right way I’ll come back to WK.

Edit: I ended up straying away from MIA a bit, but I still do immersion (but that’s not really unique to MIA). RTK didn’t work out too well for me, although it did give me a strong feel for kanji, which is helping me while I relearn them, as well as new kanji. Also, I am doing WK again, but for some reason I chose to do it on a different account.


Good luck! There’s no harm in trying something new, and you won’t know how you like it until you give it a go.


What you need to do is go through WK and just read stuff. If you don’t read stuff then it is pointless to know how to read. You will not truly learn anything unless you read. WK was never designed to be used without you reading. That is like learning how to sound out words and then not going and reading. So do WK, and join a reading club. There are plenty here and you will learn how things work in context as well as the readings and basic meanings to get you started.


I actually thought WaniKani’s vocabulary items are in-context. It takes advantage of you already knowing the english meaning and usage of the vocab (a.k.a. the context) and teaches the japanese word AND reading for it. So whenever you see that word in real life you won’t be confused about the reading, like you said in your post.


This is a really good topic, thank you for bringing it up. People on here are very passionate about language learning; it’s such an individual process. WK is pretty restrictive in it’s methodology and order, so talking about these things can be good for folks like me who learn differently :slight_smile: I think the number of user scripts available shows that we all learn differently.

As you learn and explore methods I hope you continue to share your experience for those who either are struggling along slowly, because they may need to refine their learning style, or for those who find WK’s style feels “backwards” for them (like me), but are using it because it’s still the easiest kanji tool (and because we’ve created our own work-arounds).

We can all help each other out :smiley: That’s what the forums are for.


So that’s the funny part. After advocating RTK for so long, MIA did a 180 degree backtrack and no longer follow the RTK way of learning kanji. Now they do “RRTK”, which has most of the same characteristics they criticize WK for.

Look. Very (very!) few people have actually found success with AJATT/MIA. Most burn out. The few that achieve success have all consistently put in crazy hours (over several years) to achieve working fluency in Japanese.

But here’s my observation:

  1. Use AJATT/MIA + consistently crazy effort (years) == success in learning Japanese
  2. Use traditional methods + consistently crazy effort (years) == success in learning Japanese
  3. Pick your own methods + consistently crazy effort (years) == success in learning Japanese
  • where years here range between 3-5 for all of them.

The old saying “it’s a marathon not a sprint” comes to mind. The question isn’t really which method you should use. The question is how to set yourself up so you can consistently study Japanese for the next 3-5 years, regardless of which method you choose.

If you study too casually, you will hate your slow progress, stop, and fail. If you’re too “hard core” (and many AJATT/MIA proponents fall into this category) – you will burn out, stop, and fail.

Everyone’s different. Only you know how to condition yourself for the long haul. And this may entail switching tactics a few times a long the way.


Although I personally really like, and have benefited from, WK (in combination with lots of outside reading/listening, etc.), I always try to stress that it’s not the only way to learn. If you want to look around and find something that fits your current needs/priorities/learning style better, more power to you! Like you said, you can always come back to it later.


Correct, and honestly I feel better doing the immersion approach along with learning through rrtk. If things don’t seem to be improving after 6 months then I’ll end up switching how I’m learning. It just seems like this style of learning suits me well and I can benefit better from it. There’s a reason why there is no definite guide in how to learn a language; there are many different ways to learn a language.