Most useful thing you've tried?

So obviously we all know that WK is super useful (My friend who worked in Japan for several years says I’m better at Kanji at level 22 than he ever was) but I wonder what else you have found that has helped you. Ex: I found that reading a kanji or hearing a vocab word in the wild solidifies it in my mind more than any amount of flashcards or even spaced repetition. Don’t get me wrong, I needed those to get them in my brain at all, but after having studied the word for ‘everyone,’ it completely, permanently gelled for me the first time I heard 皆さん (minna-san) on “K-on”.
So, what works best for you? Asking for myself, because I am totally trying every suggestion I get to see which I like the best. 有難う、ね


The easiest thing for me is to see the kanji for words I already knew from other sources. Then it’s just doing the reviews as they come in every day.


By that do you mean you hear a word, look up the kanji, and add it to your studying?

No, it’s more like I already knew the word, and then I learn the kanji on WK. Those kanji I have zero trouble in learning because I knew the meaning and pronunciation before I learned the kanji. All I have to remember is the kanji, and since I know the rest, remembering the kanji is easy.


As a Chinese speaker, my experiences with learning kanji specifically probably aren’t very relatable since I already know quite a few of them. However, if we’re talking about learning words in general… beyond just hearing something ‘in the wild’, I think things stick really well for me when I hear or see them in a context that means a lot to me. It could be an emotional moment in an anime, or a Tweet that makes me laugh out loud, but if it becomes a moment I can play back in my mind, I know the word’s going to stay.


Like @dunlewy, I find it easier to remember kanji for words I’ve already come across, although it’s also improving my retention of vocabulary through SRS.
Aha moments when I see how the vocabulary I’ve picked up is put together from the kanji also helps it to stick.
Learning to write the kanji (I’ve started working through N5 vocabulary on Scritter), is also helpful for me.
Of course, funny mnemonics and stories are also good.
The more ways to approach it (interleaving?), the better I’m finding it - caveat, I’m still in the pleasant levels, so I don’t know if it will last :sweat_smile:


At various points in my learning, I’ve had good results from Pimsleur, Assimil, Jalup, and graded readers.

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It’s the same for me. A lot of vocab that I know really well are ones I could tell you the exact line of the song they appear in.


Seeing words that I’ve learned on WaniKani in a Japanese language context that I’m interested in. For me this has mostly been in video games. I’ll never forget the words I learned use the “guilt” kanji after playing Ace Attorney. I was playing Famicom Detective club and heard them talk about “clues” and I had just learned that word on WK. Something about the shroud of mystery being lifted bit by bit is very satisfying.

Also, if you think about it, any reading or listening you do is a kind of spaced repetition system and meanings become reinforced the more you hear/see the words.


I took Chinese for several years in middle and high school and while I absolutely hated the class it was a huge leg up jumping into learning Japanese. Whether it was kanji meanings, on’yomi readings, or writing I had a considerable advantage over my classmates who took Indo-European languages. I sorta imagined learning Japanese from Chinese is pretty similar to the experience of an English speaker learning Spanish.


Hm… kinda. I’d say it’s closer to learning French as an English speaker (which is something I’ve done): you see a lot of familiar words, and you know roughly what they mean, but you sometimes have to look out for false friends and meanings that exist in one language but not the other. The difference is that the gap between Japanese and Chinese sentence structure is a little bigger than the gap between English and French sentence structure.

I guess you’re taking Japanese at university then, from how you described it? (I’m doing that too, but I had been self-studying for about three years before I started.) I hope it’s going well! But yeah, I have to say that I’m often thankful for my Chinese knowledge when I study Japanese. :slight_smile:


Yeah I started taking it in september with nothing but knowledge of kana, but I’m on a leave of absence right now so I picked up WK to help supplement my continued textbook study. So far it’s been working out fantastically well!


Same! The only reason I can get through leveling up so fast is because I’m already familiar with a lot of the vocab. I’ve heard it before or it’s already a part of my own vocabulary. I just don’t know how to recognize it if I saw it written down somewhere. Its a great feeling when you recognize it on Wanikani though, yeah?

And for sure being able to hear new vocab used in media or recognizing newly learned kanji while reading definitely helps provide context, making it more likely to stick in your brain more.

Taking it a step further and using new vocab or kanji in your daily life gives your brain a sort of signal that this piece of info is important so you can retain the info longer.

Example, when talking with my husband about the difference of American and Japanese credit cards (i.e. sometimes American cards offer 0% interest for a time period but Japanese cards require you to pay back the full borrowed sum the following month or they will charge interest), I had just learned 利息 on WK and saw my chance to use it even though he knows the English meaning “interest.” He was surprised I knew a sort of technical word and praised me, and I’ll always remember that word and the kanji (since we talked about it too) due to this conversation.


I watch a handful of Japanese Youtubers, and so many of them begin their videos with “Minnasan konnichiwa!” so I relate on the reinforcement of words in the wild, and relate with you on the minnasan thing. It clicked for me that way because of that. Minnasan is second nature to me now because of how frequently it is used in that context. So I would say there are probably different words and phrases used more frequently in different contexts (vlog, anime, newspaper, news video, television drama, etc.) and it probably helps a bit to get into different media formats than you normally would, and consume them regularly at least for a while, to try and absorb some more patterns you aren’t usually exposed to.


Yes, that is true. I learned my very first Japanese words from watching New Japan Pro-Wrestling and seeing the wrestlers talk trash to others. Some used the same words over and over, so I remembered them easily when I came across them in WK.


I used to listen to scenarios on YouTube a lot so the phrases 男の人 and 女の人 ended up sticking in my mind.


Does anyone think watching videos helped over reading or vice versa? Or they are just about the same?

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For me, they’re different. Even if you’re watching with Japanese subs, you’re still training reading. And without subs, you’re training listening and comprehension.

But, honestly, there’s no reason not do both. :wink:


I absolutely agree. There have been a few times this happened for me. For example, I kept forgetting the reading for 「例えば」 until I read it in a real life context. :see what I did there:

It’s also really good to help understand subtleties of usage. Like 自分 = oneself was a bit abstract, but when I heard/read it in anime, music/manga it really clicked.

A great source that I haven’t seen mentioned often is Instagram. I don’t use it anymore (I’m fed up with meta, but I don’t hold it against anyone who still uses them) but it’s great for a bunch of reasons.

It’s all real, natural use of language, including loan words, emoji, and hashtags

You can focus on subjects that interest you

You can follow a bunch of ppl and skim through until you find something that catches your eye, then stop to read what they have to say about it. Rather than paging through news or waiting to get past a video intro

It has an auto translate feature that works…sometimes.

I agree! When I watch TV Japan, they have Japanese subtitles on nearly all of their programs. So I can practice reading and listening and comprehension. I notice I’m reading the subtitles just a little bit faster now after loads of practice.

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