So I finally reached level 60 recently and boy does it feel great. I have been using WK (WaniKani) everyday for just over a year and it feels good to have the review number finally go down. Now I can spend more time doing rewarding things like watching anime and reading Japanese wikipedia (still slow but no terrible headache). Anyway, I wanted to do the typical level 60 thing and write about my Japanese journey so far. I have been studying Japanese for just over a year and a half and chose to learn all the jouyou kanji quite early in the process, a decision I’m very pleased with. WK seemed to gamify the kanji in a way, so it’s what I chose. There are definitely bits of kanji knowledge that I learned from other applications or resources that helped fill in the gaps for me. I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten this far without these other bits of theory that WK is missing so I want to go over them here and give my opinion on the pros and cons.
- My Japanese typing speed would be no where near where it is now without WK
- It has a more gamified system for Kanji that helped me build the habit of using it everyday
- Includes vocabulary after learning Kanji so that you can learn them in context and practice inferring the meaning of kanji vocabulary
- It introduced me to lots of words that I wouldn’t have known were common words or wouldn’t have found through immersing early on
- It helped introduce me to mnemonics (although I think making your own is better)
- Pronounciations can act as a barrier to getting to next levels. For example 隼 will have the same pronunciation and meaning later in a vocabulary card later so I would just streamline reviews like these and say I was correct with an override script. I would do a similar thing for other kanji that I knew I would learn the pronunciations of in context of vocabulary instead of independently.
- Repeated radicals of other kanji can be a barrier. I don’t need to see a radical for a kanji I already learned previously
- Some uncommon vocabulary might lead you astray from more common words. 忠告 for example means advice but a normal Japanese speaker would probably use アドバイス or 相談したいことがある. These words are still good to know but they definitely tripped me up.
- WK doesn’t distinguish some radicals from others that I think it should. Example: 攵 and 夂 (attack/action and winter) or 礻and 衤, which are simplified versions of 示 and 衣. Go check out this wikipedia article. Also, this really applied to me more with writing than reading maybe but it still helped me understand better so I think its worth it.
- Other subtle things that you kind of get later aren’t explained like how the 月 on the left of most kanji like 腕、脳、and 肝 are body parts because the 月 in the left is actually a simplified 肉.
- Some right side radicals dont have anything to do with the meaning of the kanji but only the pronunciation while the left side holds meaning. This happens with radicals in other positions too. Examples: 講、購、構、斬 and 暫. There are plenty others if you look for them.
There’s probably a bunch of stuff I’m missing but oh well. Overall I would say that just paying attention a lot to your learning progress and exploring other resources and information can be really beneficial. WK is a good service but it won’t make your Japanese great alone. Keep grinding (人●´ω｀●)