More level

Hey guys, hello WaniKani staff,

do you ever thought about implementing additional Levels?
Some which include the remaining JLPT Kanji or some of the most frequent 2500 Kanji or some of the Kanken Level 1 Kanji?
Or just some Kanji which are used as stylistic elements here and there?

Kind regards.

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That’s a common topic of discussion, see for instance New kanjis added to wanikani or 叶 and other N1 kanji

There doesn’t appear to be any publicized plan to add more levels to WK.

My personal opinion is that adding more levels to WK without changing the way the SRS is implemented and allowing more flexibility wouldn’t necessarily be a good idea because you’ll be taught low-frequency kanji that you may or may not need in practice, and you’ll still regularly encounter non-jouyou kanji in the wild that won’t be on the website. On top of that only a tiny minority of users make it to level 60 currently, so that’s content that very few people would ever see.

That being said I’d certainly prefer more levels with the remaining jouyou kanji over the current kana vocab push… But I see why it makes more sense for Tofugu to go in that direction.

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if WaniKani scaled better in general, adding levels wouldn’t have been an issue. Level 60 is an arbitrary number as was level 50 before that.

But to add more levels, one would first have to address the N other more pending issues which would make WaniKani a more pleasant experience the higher your level is in general.

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I’d love to see all the N level Kanji coveted. Maybe we’ll get there eventually

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i doubt that WK is going to implement more kanji. very few users even make it to level 60, and probably the majority of those have a lifetime subscription anyway, so WK has very little motivation to implement those. (it’s a small minority which even makes it into the 30ties!)

they are far more likely to continue implementing features which are attractive to beginners, such as basic kana-only vocab.

that said, i don’t think WK adding another 300 kanji would be very beneficial to those users who get that far. just learning everything is good for the more common kanji. but somewhere along the line, one is better of learning the kanji one actually encounters. a musician will have to learn different kanji than someone who’s into crafting, or a computer gamer compared to a hiker. or (to stick with reading) someone who’s into sci-fi compared to someone who loves romance compared to someone who loves classical literature.

where exactly that level is, where it gets better to learn things in a more targeted manner, i don’t know. but i suspect that it might be quite a bit lower than level 60.

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I agree, although saying that they have 100% Joyo coverage or one of the (mostly arbitrary) N1 lists would make for a decent selling point I think, even if it doesn’t matter too much in practice.

I’ve noticed that these “will WK add more levels” questions tend to come from users below level 20 or so, probably because they haven’t yet faced the diminishing returns and more niche kanji/vocab of the 2nd half of the course and they probably worry that WK may not take them far enough to achieve their goals.

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i mean, if their goal is to “learn japanese”, WK definitely won’t take them far enough. but it doesn’t matter how many levels, or even how many kana-only words WK adds.

because it doesn’t matter how many kanji one knows, or how much vocab one knows, if one can’t read a sentence, or parse a spoken conversation. or understand grammar, and when to use what grammar. or if one doesn’t understand all the cultural nuances which go with using a language. and for all that stuff, WK (or indeed any SRS) is a very unsuitable tool.

i’d go farther and say that, for learning japanese, even a site like duolingo is better than WK. that doesn’t mean that duolingo is particularly good. but duo covers an awful lot of material which WK doesn’t and can’t cover.

WK is pretty good for learning kanji. but it doesn’t matter how many kanji one learns, that still doesn’t teach one japanese.

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I agree 100% but I think for many beginners (it was certainly my case) you sort of expect that you can learn some arbitrary number of kanji (like say all jouyou or all N1) and then you’ll be “done”.

Of course as you start getting more experienced and consume real Japanese you soon discover that reality is a bit messier and you can’t just get a tidy list of 2500 or so kanji to learn and be done with it.

For me the real value in WK so far has been to teach me enough Kanji so that I could focus on the rest of the language when I try to consume written Japanese. I no longer get this frustrating “kanji wall” effect when I try to read anything because I now recognize the vast majority of kanji in standard Japanese. But unfortunately that’s just one layer of the puzzle peeled, now I have to focus on grammar and vocabulary…

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this. in languages with more or less phonetic spellings (i.e. with alphabets or abjads or whatever) you learn a word, and you can read it. in japanese (and i guess chinese) you learn a word, and then you also have to learn a drawing (or set of drawings) which represent the word. which means that to start reading even simple texts, you have to learn a lot of these drawings. and that makes it incredibly difficult to just start reading, and thus learning by exposure.

and to solve that problem, an SRS like WK is perhaps the best tool available.

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What I just would like to say is, WK is in my opinion the only appropriate way to learn Kanji and Kanji vocab.

I tried JLPT Kanji Books (somatome books have a nice way to put then together in context) and using Anki to learn vocab with Kanji, but that has both no everlasting impact at me, at least it seems not to be my style of learning.

Since I startet WK my Kanji knowledge rocketed.

Sure its a long way to Level 60,
sure just small percentage will make it there,
but the Imagination to learn vocab or even Kanji back in Anki to cover the JLPT requirements for both, is a feeling i dont like. :sweat_smile:

i’d go farther and say that, for learning japanese, even a site like duolingo is better than WK

In my opinion, the notion of trying to find a resource that includes as many aspects of the language as possible, and then only using that resource, is flawed to begin with, and shouldn’t be strived for. A good vocab resource will always be worse at teaching grammar than a dedicated grammar resource, and vice-versa. And while a jack-of-all-trades kind of resource is good for starting out, they can never be thorough enough to take you all the way. Using different kinds of resources is inevitable.

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One could argue Duolingo offers more material and is more versatile than WaniKani, but “better” is not something I would say about Duolingo honestly :sweat_smile: . Mostly because it’s pretty bad at most things related to Japanese and is for sure not better at teaching kanji or vocab than WaniKani.

Regarding more levels, there’s been a lot of good ideas around, in this thread included and I’m often going back to them when thinking of coding up a WaniKani replacement app.

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Definitely. And any other issues I might have with something like Duolingo aside, something it tends to do is get people using it and then keep them there, and only there. The sooner someone orients their thinking towards the process of language learning as one of using a bunch of tools, and constantly moving beyond them to stretch to tools for the next level, the better. Being more all-encompassing is more appealing for those starting out, but ultimately probably makes it harder to “leave the nest.”

I think I’d be only barely joking if I started advocating for fewer levels on Wanikani, haha. Not for the usual reasons where people say the usefulness drops off – I feel like I come across level 50+ kanji every day when I read. But what you really need to get out of Wanikani is sufficient comfort with the act of learning kanji itself. Let’s cut it at level 40 or something and boot everyone out to use what they’ve been studying :stuck_out_tongue:

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Preach! :pray: :bowing_man:

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That assumes that the resource only has the same methodology for each aspect. To be fair, I only know of one website that geniunely takes various approaches depending on the content, but it’s renshuu.org

For counters, you can practice like this


You’re shown various items that use that counter and you have to figure out what the appropriate Japanese is. You can increase or decrease the difficulty with timers, multiple choice, etc.

For kanji, you can practice with traditional srs, create your own public mnemonics, or even practice drawing the kanji in a game called quick draw.

For grammar, at the moment, it’s just srs, but there are plans to make a game that allows you to practice conjugations.

For writing production practice, there’s haiku (it even counts your mora!), a question corner, and a corner for writing a sentence that combines some random words.

For speaking production… there’s nothing. Jk, there’s speaking practice sessions aimed at beginner/intermediate learners. Although the downside is your schedule needs to align.

Or is it? Right now virtual classrooms are being beta’d where you and 1 or more study buddies can play a wide variety of games with the help of a bot that allow to practice your understanding and production in reading/writing and speaking.

Is it perfect? No. But I’ve never seen an approach that comes close to beating this outside of a classroom. And depending on the teacher and school, it could be better than some of them.

Oh, and you can also add your own materials, such as a curated or themed vocab lesson or grammar/sentences that mirror a textbook’s organization. I’m curating a vocab lesson with Japanese based foods and dishes currently.

For a new learner, I honestly believe they could become very competant using just renshuu and immersion.

Also it’s free.

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Going off-topic but: are counters really that big of a deal? I’ve seen that renshuu puts them front and center in their marketing material, and I know that they’re considered one of the hardest aspects of Japanese grammar, but in practice in my beginner content consumption so far they’ve been a non issue.

When reading you just need to be able to recognize counters in context which isn’t usually too hard in my experience.

When speaking/writing you can always default to つ if you’re not sure and it may be a bit awkward but I believe that it should almost always be understandable.

I intend to eventually focus more on them but it seems like a very low priority item for me at the moment, I couldn’t justify spending hours drilling counters when I could be studying other grammar or vocab points.

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What other issues?

  • Scarce number of synonyms for some vocab items and kanji

  • Mnemonics poorly aligning with pronunciation

  • Many mnemonic stories being too complex/convoluted

  • Not leveraging phonetic composition or existing kanji when teaching more complex kanji variants and instead using basic radicals

  • Re-introducing existing kanji as radicals, leading to duplication

And a myriad of other issues which become more apparent the further you progress.

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Completely agree, I also think that if they want to add more kanji they should allow more flexibility in the order you learn them so that we can pick and chose what we want to learn based on the type of content we consume.

This is already an issue for me in the 30s. Early on almost every kanji is common enough that it doesn’t really matter in which order you learn them, you’ll want to know them anyway, but at this point I’m starting to reach low frequency items that may not be super useful for me short term (and I might have forgotten them by the time I do need them) and some kanji that I actually encounter regularly in the content I consume are still 20 levels away.

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I haven’t probably looked at marketing material for Renshuu in about a year, so not sure about what’s up with that, but maybe it was new when they made the marketing material?

That’s a great point. I honestly hadn’t thought about them too much in book reading material. They make shopping a hell of a lot easier. Between reading signs, understanding purchase limits, and talking to clerks, using the right vs wrong counter has been super helpful.

Days are quite useful too for shopping and work in my experience, although that’s speaking mostly.

Not as much as I’d wish, heh. I’ve had many a difficult conversation with clerks about limited edition/event products. It’s probably fine for food, although I can also imagine confusion about whether you’re asking how many skewers vs how many pieces of meat are on the skewer.

I can’t say I would recommend spending more than 5 minutes a day on them until you feel comfortable with them. Getting to the point of fast recall vs just recognition with Renshuu took maybe a few months? And that’s not daily, just whenever they come up as being worth coins for the garden motivation mechanic.

I only put counters first because 1) it’s a non srs way to practice them and 2) it’s easiest to screenshot. I don’t think quick draw is particularly meaningful to screenshot since it’s a box with the kun/on readings above and a timer.

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