Multiple suggestions from a new user

So, I’ve been using WaniKani, and got up to level 4. Seriously considering continuing, but need to consider finances etc.
But I came up with a few things that should really be improved, in my opinion.

Context example sentences should be simple!
I should be able to see how the kanji or vocabulary works in the sentence, and I can’t do that if it’s talking about unicorn robots or some other crazy stuff I don’t even know the words for.
Ideally, there should be audio of these sentences, too. Jakiepuu has it built-in, but it should probably come as standard in the web version too.

In the same vein, it would really help if there was some kind of practical exercise to practice vocabulary. Something like: “Translate this sentence into Japanese.” The idea of this would be to get used to practical usage and using various verb forms rather than just learning the “dictionary” form.
Even just a multiple choice “which would be the correct form to use here?” question might be good.

The whole onyomi / kunyomi thing is very confusing, especially since they’re not really explained much, and which one is used for what seems to change all the time.
And what’s the Kanji Reading supposed to represent? It seems to be showing what the reading is when a kanji is with other kanji (onyomi?), but the kanji is presented alone, so the learner associates it with the “lone kanji” (kunyomi?) reading (which gets confusing when they learn the actual lone-kanji vocab). Ideally, imo, the “vocabulary reading” of the lone kanji should be taught first, and then the “kanji reading” should be taught as part of the grouped-kanji vocabulary.

It might be helpful also, when teaching new readings (say, the kunyomi reading of a kanji), to remind the learner of the other readings for the kanji that we’ve already learned. And/or when they get a review wrong. Again, it helps to create associations.

For kanji with multiple readings / meanings, what if occasionally you’re asked to give all of the options, just to make sure you have them all. Don’t want to remember “moon” but completely forget “month”, for example.

Finally, some kind of tooltip or something would be nice so we can remind ourselves what words like onyomi, kunyomi, jukuyo, rendaku, etc, mean.


This would be a general Japanese resource or a grammar resource. They’re trying to avoid feature creep, for the most part, by just focusing on how to read the kanji.

Well, yes. Welcome to Japanese!

It’s just what they consider to be the most useful reading to teach first.

Lone kanji can be kunyomi or they can be onyomi. And compounds can have kunyomi or onyomi. The kanji lesson lets you dip your toe into the waters of that kanji, but when it comes time to learn the vocabulary it’s important to think of them just as words.


The nice thing about WaniKani is it’s a product by a site that makes explanations of stuff, hehe. There’s a good article on the main Tofugu site about it:

The reason they change all the time, particularly with kanji, is that WaniKani will teach you the most common reading of the kanji, i.e the one it thinks you’ll find most useful, and that’s not consistent unfortunately. Such is language.


Hiya, hope you join the community. Your points are valid as good things to have but I don’t think this is what WK is about. WK is a simple SRS system and everything else is just a bonus already.

Those other things can be learned in other places.

I got confused with readings and such at first but the order turns out to be logical for the order vocab appears in.

Also, some scripts will fill in some of the gaps you mentioned, like the audio for sentences.

Hope you decide to stay! :grin:


I think you have some good points in here :), but I’ll focus on this one as others have already replied.

Basically, some kanji come with a load of possible meanings, so you don’t really wanna learn them all at once. Such as 上 (うえ meaning: (adj-no,n-adv,n,n-suf) above, over, on top of, up, upper part, summit, surface, far better, higher, (in) authority, as far as … is concerned, besides, after, emperor, sovereign, upon (examination), influence of (liquor), lord, shogun, superior, my dear (father), §).)

It’s easier to address the different meanings as part of vocabulary. So for example you do learn the names of the months and the reading of 月 that applies here (~がつ). But separate from that, you’re also taught other usage of the kanji in words such as “end of the month”: 月末 (げつまつ).

For me, it’s important to keep the vocabulary knowledge a bit separate from the kanji. Kanji are just components. Then there are actual words you need to learn.

I’m bad at examples and explaining, but what I’m trying to say is that you won’t get a complete picture of Japanese from using WK alone.

It focuses on the most common or more useful meanings and readings for kanji. And teaches them in that order as well (the times it’s the kun yomi they teach). Plus it gives you some vocabulary to cement that knowledge into actual words.

But, it doesn’t really give you the full range of expressions using those kanji. Or teach you about grammar for that matter. WK is just one component in how you might successfully learn Japanese.

And I do hope you’ll stick around to give it a try.

I’m self-taught and only through WK have I managed to tackle kanji. It seemed impossible (at my age no less) and still here I am at the Hell levels. ^^; You can do it too! I’m sure of it! がんばって!

In any case, good luck with your Japanese studies! ^>^


Couldn’t agree more. As it is, they’re basically useless (at least in the lower levels) — so what are they there for, except to intimidate? This could help tremendously, and it would be pretty easy to implement. (Vocalization would be great, but hardly necessary — and that would not be so easy to implement. Furigana, maybe?)


Isn’t there typically at least one sentence that’s pretty straight-forward? (Yes, I’m aware that there are some where there isn’t one like that but that’s not the claim being made) Not everyone studying kanji is also new to Japanese generally, so I don’t see an issue with also including the more interesting sentences.


Sometimes even there, you would need to know the words being used (taught on higher levels) regardless of whether the kanji for them is there or not, as well as the grammar, to understand the sentence without anything special…


The first 20 levels have 2 simple context sentences for each word? What’s wrong with them?


Maybe not simple enough is their problem… using words that haven’t been taught yet, etc.


Yes, they’re quite simple, but 一度 and 一位 haven’t been taught yet when you’re just learning the vocab for 一, so it doesn’t help too much.
Not that there’s much you can do with that issue (except maybe linking to words like that, etc.)


You have to be able to look up words you don’t know if you are learning a language. That’s pretty much as simple as it gets. You can’t make decent setences from only words learned on WK


Sorry - out of likes for a bit - but that’s true. (That doesn’t mean new users will know/agree… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)


This is a very good point. The example readings are a bit frustrating. They use sort of more intermediate grammar, etc. And I’m just not there yet. So I can barely even recognise the usage of the kanji. It just means I usually find them totally useless because they’re just too advanced for me. And by the time I can read them, I’ll have burned the kanji so will never actually have a chance to read them again. This is my biggest issue with the site.

Also how they define transitive/intransitive verbs. It seems to me that some are both transitive and intransitive. But I could be wrong, so I won’t harp on about that.


To my knowledge, the lower levels have at least 1 simple sentence, readable if you’ve done some Genki. Of course, I’m not the best judge since I did Genki like 4 years ago and don’t necessarily remember how much I could read at first.

Also the example sentences are on the vocab items not the kanji. It takes like 6 months to burn an item (I think?) so hopefully you will have made some progress on grammar by the time level 1 items show up for burning.


Sorry, you’re right. I meant the vocab items. I was actually level 13 - but fell away so restarted. And I still can’t understand the sentences. Conjugations are difficult. And grammar takes a lot more time, in my opinion, than kanji. So with a 60 hour job, it’s difficult to keep it all up at an equal pace - and in fact, when I try, that tends to be the times I stop progressing entirely. So although it can’t be helped that there will be grammar of a variety of difficulties, I still do think they need to do a better job of scaling it - or they need to recommend you reach a certain proficiency with grammar before you can get the most out of WaniKani (which of course they absolutely would not want to do).

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Yeah, I wasn’t meaning the entire list of meanings/readings. Just the ones taught by WK. For example, WK teaches the meanings of 月 as moon, month. It might be nice if we have to actually acknowledge both of those readings that we learned here, instead of (as I usually do) just type “moon” each time.
That’s a fairly simple example, but it’s the kind of thing I mean.

Yeah, I sometimes get the feeling that the example sentences are there for the writer to show off their obscure knowledge.

As I mentioned, Jakiepuu managed to include vocalisation, so why not WK? :man_shrugging:

It’s text-to-speech, right? I would not trust text-to-speech to give accurate pronunciations (particularly in pitch and intonation) for these sentences. WaniKani believes that’s not good enough for a paid product. If they were going to do it, they’d use the professionals who recorded all of the vocabulary audio, and that would be an expensive undertaking.

The context sentences may not even be around forever or they may get changed. Putting that much effort into something like the sentences is not a good return on investment.


I do appreciate that someone’s having a good time writing these. And is something of a comedian. I could be wrong, but my guess is that this isn’t in fact idiomatic:


“I’m so fat that when I walk down the street and step on a penny, I squeeze a booger out of the Queen’s nose.”

(Japan doesn’t have pennies, and the pennies they don’t have don’t have queens on them.)


English has those too. Usually Japanese is MUCH better at distinguishing them, since they are treated (conjugated?) differently.