MIA or WaniKani

I did not read this whole thread so it may have been said before, but I think with AJATT and MIA you have to consider 3 things:

  1. Studying Japanese 4-5 hours a day and cutting yourself off from the world is just dumb, you can study Japanese, make progress quickly and have a life at the same time.
  2. I’ve seen people upload videos to YouTube of them speaking Japanese after these methods and they sound like they are repeating phrases they heard and not like they are thinking about what they want to say and expressing their thoughts. Also they grossly overuse and misunderstand particle endings, I head ね and よね after basically every sentence and あの and ま constantly it sounds weird. For example something like - 今日は今日うん今日ですねまあの自己紹介ですよね6月ぐらい日本語を勉強していますよねまそうですよねぼくはXですよねまね It sounds really weird.
  3. The two biggest supporters of these methods on YouTube, Matt VS Japan and Brit VS Japan both failed to use this method and apply it to other languages (Chinese and German).

I just want to say that I think I’ve gained a pretty decent kanji reading intuition from WaniKani, especially with the help of this script to point out less obvious phonetic components.


Well, I am the same, usually. I prefer intuitive learning since it suits me most.
I have tried that with Japanese for about year though and found that not being able to read was a major obstacle. Especially if you are not in contact with the language everyday in other ways, then reading usually is a very good way to intuitively learn language patterns, phrases, vocabulary and, well, basically to think in that language in a way.
So I decided to do both, try to continue learning intuitively (watching anime, playing games with Japanese voices but English text etc) AND at the same time using learning tools like WaniKani and BunPro.
So I draw on various sources for studying Japanese, not just one.

For me it feels a little doing music, or some kind of art like drawing Manga or so.
You can be intuitively good at it if you have a knack for it. But only putting in some extra “techniqe-training” makes you really good at it and lets you advance better.

But that’s just my point of view.


because i don’t know how to read books and wanikani is fast if you’re committed



I say both.
I follow MIA now as well. After many years of WK I can absolutely say it works.
If you learn the stuff from WK and pair it with in context native material, it’ll stick.


Even assuming AJATT/MIA works the way its proponents say it should (and I doubt there’s any scientific evidence for that, just theories and anecdotes), I’d say WK has these advantages:

  • Your knowledge will at least be vaguely useful for real Japanese right away. You’ll be able to look at least a few common Japanese words and know how to pronounce them even at level 1. MIA’s focus on spending several months doing nothing but indexing kanji as out-of-context symbols means you’ll have make a long-term time commitment with very little short-term reward.
  • WK’s content is organized in a reasonable way for you, with no work required from you. Its mnemonics are of a bit more questionable value, but at least they’re made with no work required from you. MIA encourages you to spend a lot of time fiddling with Anki even to index the kanji, even before you get into the massive Anki timesink that is their “sentence mining” process. Again, it’s a major time investment, without much short-term reward.

It’s important to note that MIA is meant to be a complete roadmap for going from nothing to fluency, which WK isn’t designed to be at all. There’s really no overall roadmap that WK fits into, other than maybe the big Tofugu post about learning. So WK versus MIA as a whole really isn’t a terribly valid comparison; it’s more like WK versus Anki, or WK versus Remembering the Kanji.

If MIA works at all, I’d guess it’s probably just because it requires you make a massive time investment by design. Learning a language is a massive time investment any way you go about it, but there’s really no way to do MIA without that investment. Whereas it’s at least possible to be lazy with WK and get poor results out of it.


Cool, thanks! It’s helpful to have people who have done it say it works.

I think the idea of MIA is so you learn the language how you would learn your native language. It has you do things they think are most efficient from the start so you can eventually master the language, which is what I’m going for. Like I said I’m going to try it out (because I have a ton of time to invest) and I’ll report back whenever and say how things went. I love WK, but this way of learning seems to fit more of my personality and how I learn.


Best of luck! :grin:


So coming to this late, but since I have a slightly unique perspective, I’ll share.

I did RTK years ago (like ~10). I liked it at the time, got ~1500 kanji to mature in Anki. That, together with kana and grammar from Tae Kim got me to a state where I could “read” (understand, or at least decode) quite a bit of Japanese text. But I certainly couldn’t speak it, or understand spoken Japanese.

Readings/comprehension never came, though. Some basics were easy, but I never developed that “intuition” for it, despite frequent input.

WK, in the 3-4 months I’ve been here, has built me more of that intuition than several years of trying post-RTK. Why? Because by learning the readings in the context of vocabulary words here, I’ve found a lot of other vocabulary, either not in WK or at a higher level than I’ve achieved so far, that I already know how to read and can often infer meaning of due to knowing the kanji meaning and reading together from WK.

Even better, I’ve found a lot of these encountered words, I read in Japanese first. And more and more often, that’s all I have to do. I have the concept of what it means without translating to English terms. This is very new, very rare, but it’s pretty profound to me. I am understanding words directly in Japanese.

RTK was great, don’t get me wrong. I can progress in WK much faster because of my RTK pre-knowledge. I basically ignore the WK mnemonics for meaning, since most of the kanji I know already or pick up/relearn quickly. But it will never, can never, get you to the point where you will be understanding Japanese in Japanese.

If I was doing it over, I would have done WK without the separate step. It would have taken longer than WK after RTK, for sure, but it probably wouldn’t take as long as RTK followed by WK as I’m doing. And I wouldn’t have delayed getting to this point where Japanese starts to make sense as long as I have.

TL;DR Despite doing RTK, I didn’t develop reading intuition until I learned a lot of readings. I learned those by doing WK. And that jump started my learning to an immense degree.


Immersion is certainly valuable, half of my Japanese studies have simply been reading or listening to Japanese even if I couldn’t fully understand it and I’d say it’s greatly helped my grammar understanding.

However there’s a limit to what you can learn with immersion. Even Japanese natives have to rope learn Kanji at school, there’s no way I could learn kanji solely through immersion so I think Wanikani is a very valuable tool to help you learn the shear amount of kanji there are.

You can always learn the Kanji with Wanikani and then immerse yourself in reading to solidify your understanding later


Sort of… these two goals are kind of at odds, though, and MIA definitely attempts to prioritize efficiency over native-like learning. (I think one of Matt’s videos points out that it takes Japanese children six whole years to get to the point where they start learning kanji, and who has that kind of time?, and adult learners should be able to do better, or something.) As others have pointed out, Japanese children don’t memorize 2000 kanji before they learn how to speak a word of Japanese, and they certainly don’t spend hours drilling isolated sentences in Anki.

I do think that most of what’s good about MIA and AJATT comes from the parts that do try to emulate native-like learning, though. Understanding words and ideas monolingually is invaluable, in my opinion, and definitely worth prioritizing as early as you can. Immersion in native material instead of fakey textbook Japanese is also critical as early as possible.

But, I’d argue that if you want to really learn like a native, you should be acquiring ideas in something like the way actual children do. Don’t try to decode words from whatever complicated definitions you get from the old CD-ROM dictionaries for grownups the AJATT people happened to find lying around; learn them from dictionaries meant for children and written for children’s level of understanding. Or, even better, learn them from books literally written for babies, who learn most of their basic vocabulary before they can even lift a dictionary.

I’d also hypothesize that spending hours reading and re-reading every complete level-appropriate book you can get your hands on is probably better than reading the same sentences in Anki over and over for hours. That’s certainly how I learned most of my vocabulary in my native language, at least.


Love what you’ve written. This also reminds me that I’d still like to work my way through reading all of the ehonnavi corpus :scream:. New Years goal ftw!!


MIA is what I call myself when I haven’t done WK reviews in weeks: Missing In Action


If you want to learn like a native you should hire a full-time tutor who tells you to say “いただきます” all day.


There should totally be an Anki plugin that does this.

Exactly. Why would we want to learn like natives? We don’t have the limitation of being children and not understanding contexts properly. We can do much better.


I don’t know what you on about mate but I remember me parents giving me my first anki deck (which had words sorted according to several frequency lists) when I was like 2… They then spent hours teaching me the proper verb tense and sentence structure…

lol just kidding your comment did reminds me of this vid:

I do remember as is tradition in my country they did hold this small ceremony where I officially wrote my first letters and words… Strange it must have been over 30 years ago but that came to me just now… :smiley:

edit: I wonder what Japanese word I wrote first using kanji… probably inu because inu lmao


In my opinion MIA takes the least amount of effort. You just watch and read Japanese all the time. The studying is minimal.
I honestly don’t get how some people here manage to put in that much work into Wanikani. That seems really painful. Just like in those reading groups where some people analyze every sentence and every little word. I’d rather just watch videos and TV shows and read novels that I like.

Aren’t you supposed to be sentence mining and Anki-ing? Or is that not part of whatever this MIA thing is.

Lots of people watch anime all day, and I don’t know that they really get any language benefit from just that.