I am sure that I am not the first one to face this and not the last but wanted to see how the experienced community has dealt with this dilemma.
So I’ve been regular with my kanji studies since I started and sometimes its difficult and frustrating. Nobody said it was going to be easy.
What seems to add to my frustration (sometimes) is the really silly/childish/borderline stupid readings/meanings/sentences in wanikani. how have you dealt with it?
i understand that coming up with sensible readings and meanings can be hard but it sometimes really frustrates me during studying.
I try to make my own readings and meaning and move on. Part of me thinks that I’ve paid decent money to be a lifetime member and the quality of some of the content seems poor.
Anyway - my main question is that I have a long way to go and my motivation is still strong but I wanted to see what strategies people use when they see really silly/childish explanations or memory hints for some of the kanji. Any guidance/moral support appreciated. I love WK and have learnt so much in a short time and I recommend it to all so this is more a question of ensuring my frustration doesn’t impact my learning
I’m not much more experienced than you but sometimes I do better when I stop thinking of myself as too mature to use the silly or gross mnemonics. Some I was initially resistant to but found that they ended up sticking really well. Of course not every site mnemonic will work for everyone but making your own or just using some occasional rote memorization seems to still work fine in my experience.
I understand what you mean, I just hit level 13 and boy it has some of the hardest and most random kanji i’ve experienced so far. But just think about your goals, and how sweet it would be to achieve them and this is just a part of the process! For me in the short term its being able to read my favorite LN’s, and for long term being able to fully experience Japanese culture someday. Push yourself towards your goals!
Not that far ahead of you, but dude, I also share your frustrations with the mnemonics. If I’m having a rough go at a study session and I look down to read something that makes no sense whatsoever, I will RAGE.
My problem isn’t that the mnemonics are childish, it’s that they make 0 sense. It’s like I have to remember some weird ass story when I could just remember that this and this mean x. I’ll look over them to see if they can give me any sort of idea to put a story in my head that makes sense, but I generally ignore them.
Also, I think you’re at the shittiest level I’ve encountered so far, at least for me. I think Level 9 or 10 vocabulary had so many weird / odd readings, it was one giant frustration. The next few levels are way easier imo, so hopefully that helps with encouragement!
Just do it one day at a time. If I ever feel like quitting or its overwhelming, I’ll do only a handful of reviews and come back in a couple hours and repeat until the hell is over I also know I will be extremely disappointed with myself in the future if I do quit.
Also, remember how far you’ve come! It may only feel like level 11 out of 60, but quite frankly, that’s a LOT of work.
By this I assume you’re referring to the mnemonics and not actually making up your own readings and meanings for kanji.
The mnemonics are strange because things that are weird, shocking, or novel tend to stand out in your memory better. Stories also help to make something more memorable. That being said, the best mnemonics are always going to be ones that you write yourself. Good luck with your studies!
I think the idea is that strange, random, and stupid things are also memorable.
Some of the most ridiculous mnemonics are the ones that have stuck the longest for me !
the mnemonics are also bound to be a bit weird in some cases - as they are constrained by the radicals.
You can of course think of your own more sensible options - i often do this when one really doesn’t stick.
Haha. I kind of like the idea of making up my own readings and meanings ! that would solve a lot of problems. What the hell - I might as well make the kanji up.
I think you need to figure out how you personally learn kanji and go from there. You need to figure out exactly what works for you and then apply it. For example, I never use the mnemonics. I read the story and then pick out the pieces of the radicals and create a short sentence that I can remember. This works for me, it may not work for you, but since I figured how it works for me it has made learning the kanji much easier.
Here is an example:
The horse who can write a paragraph gets to be a chess piece. Only the most erudite of horses gets selected to be a chess piece. The knight’s chess piece is represented by a horse, and for a horse to earn this honor, they must first write a paragraph explaining why they deserve the honor.
Upon being told that he will never be a chess piece, the horse slips into a coma (こま). The horse will never awaken from this coma as he knows he will never fulfill his dream of becoming a chess piece, so he has nothing to live for.
This is way too much information for me to find useful so I just condensed it to “The horse when into a coma when his paragraph to be a chess piece was denied”. This is easier for me and it combines the meaning and reading into one easier sentence to remember.
Another tip that will help is how much Japanese you are exposed to regularly or if you are learning how to write kanji as well. I think one of the problems with wanikani is it does not make every kanji a radical and sometimes the mnemonics are so similar because they use 3 of the same radicals and one different one. In these cases it is very helpful to just throw out the wanikani mnemonic and create your own using the kanji in place of the radicals.
Why not. Someone must have made them all up at some point anyways Be an innovator!
The point is to be memorable, not “mature”. Whether a mnemonic is good or bad is a pretty subjective thing, and different people will remember different ones with different levels of success. But being silly or childish is not inherently relevant to whether they’re valuable or not.
Ideally you’ll only need to use the mnemonics the first few times you review a word. If you’re still using mnemonics by the time you’re burning, odds are it isn’t a word that’ll stick with you long term. They’re an important part of this service’s value add, but they’re by no means the only thing. What I found most valuable my first time through WK (I’ve reset to give it another whirl and see how much I remember) is the structured learning method, slick UI, and extensive customization options via user scripts.
This is a very helpful advice. A good way to create your own mnemonics is to always go with the first thing that comes to mind instead of trying to be clever. It’s both faster and easier, since you’re more likely to make the same mental connection the next time.
It’s not a bad thing for a mnemonic to sound stupid, in many cases it helps remembering it.
Personally I only learn the mnemonics when I start having a hard time with an item (otherwise there would be too many, and when I just remember the item in itself there’s no point learning the mnemonics on top of it). And in this case they do help a lot.
As for the stupid sentences, I don’t care that much, I just see them as a reading exercise, the more you read the more fluent your reading becomes. Usually out of the 3 sentences there’s one that’s overly complicated and weird and I will lack the grammar/vocab to understand it in Japanese, in which case it’s just a pure exercise of getting used to seeing long sentences and trying to separate each proposition inside it.
If you want to read actual beginner level Japanese you have many other options.
Edit: also, about the money you paid and the feeling that the material is sometimes poor, I think the added value of wanikani is 90% the huge work they did on ordering the radicals/kanji/vocabulary so that you can learn them in a way that is most efficient. The sentences are a small part of the value imho.
If anything, the mnemonics are too mature, so they end up just being weird stories that aren’t particularly memorable. Mnemonics from memes, dad jokes, or sexual stuff tend to be memorable because of how cringeworthy they are. My WK favorite is still “いずみ, Mario!” Mnemonics work better for me when they’re either super serious or completely stupid, and the simpler the better.
For example, what I wanted to use as a mnemonic for 白（はく）is
白 vs 百 = one stroke, haku vs hyaku = one letter.
But what actually stuck is 白な又た
I agree with others that you shouldn’t care about the mnemonic being stupid or childish. The only thing that matters is whether you remember it or not.
In that regard, with weird mnemonics, I have to actively commit them to memory. It might be psychological, but I feel that active memorization process helps. If a mnemonic makes complete sense, I tend to go “yeah, sure”, then immediately forget it.
In any case, the moment you’ll notice if a mnemonic is working or not is during reviews. If you draw a blank on an item and/or get it wrong, have a look at the mnemonic once the session is over. If you think it really won’t work for you, you can make your own or look one up online. There are multiple sites that provide mnemonics for kanji.
On the moral support front, I’m just going to say that you can definitely make it till the end if you just keep going regularly, mnemonics or not. (They do make the process smoother though)
And now I’m singing.
Ces mots signifient
Que tu vivras ta vie…
…Sans aucun soucis!
Not all mnemonics will work for everyone. I’m mostly in the same boat as you, as most of the mnemonics presented are too nonsensical for me to remember. For example, 死’s mnemonic involves the Yakuza handing you a spoon meaning death is coming for you. My mind is too logical to comprend this in any meaningful way (unless it turned out that the Yakuza really does hand out a spoon to someone before a hit takes place).
I don’t consider this a weakness of WaniKani, however. I’m simply not going to get anything out of most of the supplied stories. So, I come up with my own, as best I can. And as @VictorLino said, take the first thing that comes to mind rather than trying to be clever, or you’ll have trouble figuring it out (or maybe even not remember it) next time.
I see the monetary worth of WaniKani in its organization of radicals, kanji, and vocabulary, and its pacing on teaching. I could probably get mostly the same out of an Anki deck, but I like most of what WaniKani has to offer.
I’m still at a low level, so I’m probably going to find myself in trouble later due to a lack of mnemonics for syllables in pronunciations. Right now I’m counting on being about 2,000 vocabulary words into iKnow to help me with pronunciations as I encounter vocabulary I already know in WaniKani lessons.
do … do people read the sentences?
I gave up on that ages ago.
Do you mean reading context sentence while learning vocab? I do. And I’m looking for more.
I was smiling as I read that , thanks for the encouragement
Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. Much appreciated
Off to do some study!!!