No flashcards?

I’ve only tried Wanikani a long time ago and almost forgot what it is all about. Been reviewing options for self-study recently and decided to check it out again.

Now I kind of remember why I stopped using it almost immediately. Either I’m missing something or the whole concept is falling apart when you take into account one thing: English. Or, rather, the existence of people with non-perfect English skill and/or no desire to use it more than necessary.

As much as I like and prefer using English on the internet forums, I hate the fact that I need to spend time to write words in order to pass every single question. Why do I need to type “nine things” instead of just “9”? Do I really need to remember that some radical is “gun” and not “rifle” and type it every single time? I’m trying to learn Japanese, not waste time on practicing my English. Tips like “meaning please, not the reading” just confirm the issue. I spend too much time understanding what does it wants from me, instead of actually checking if my knowledge of some kanji is correct.

There is probably a working 3rd party app or a script with flashcards functionality, but it seems weird that Wanikani itself doesn’t provide an equivalent of seemingly a more simple variant of something that already exists. Or does it?

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Quite frankly, Wanikani is not a flashcard app (in the traditional sense). If you want flashcards (where instead of typing you just click know/don’t know), and only flashcards, you should look elsewhere.

Because it is teaching you that it is a counter for general things, not simply the number 9.

The radicals are not vocabulary, they are tools to help you understand composition of kanji within the context of the mnemonics the site uses. So no, it doesn’t matter whether you use gun or rifle but it is not the goal of radicals to have every synonym as an accepted answer, because they will not use these synonyms in the mnemonics.

The site was made for native speakers of English. Coming to a site for native English speakers and then complaining about being asked to use English sure is something akin to cognitive dissonance, though not quite it. In any case, it’s contradictory.

If you are entering readings when it asks for meanings or vice versa, this has nothing to do with understanding, just an issue with paying attention to which prompt is active (a common issue, as some find the visual difference not contrasting enough). WaniKani tests not only that you know the meaning of the kanji and vocab, but that you know the reading of it, because its goal is to teach you kanji (this means how to read kanji in words not just how to understand them). And yes, the vocab is essential to learning the kanji. Trying to learn kanji in a vacuum without vocabulary that uses them isn’t really learning kanji as far as I’m concerned.

Now, all that being said and bluntness aside, there are indeed 3rd party apps and scripts that provide “Anki mode”, which turns WaniKani into something more akin to a flashcard app. You can search the 3rd party apps category for something that does this. Others also ask if one can export WaniKani items to an Anki deck, so you might also find info on that, or if you search you might find someone else’s Anki deck of WaniKani.

Best of luck.


If you don’t like how WK does it, why don’t you just use flashcards or other options? There are a lot of resources that let you learn Kanji or Vocab, you really don’t even need any tools if you don’t want to. WK does its SRS in a specific manner and this helps some people, others not. No shame in it. :slight_smile:
There is Heisig’s RTK, Anki Decks for Kanji or just… reading. If you want to do things in a more ordered way, there is also which can be used for similar purposes, the learning world (especially for japanese) is vast!


No, I am not telling you not to use WaniKani. It’s not you should look elsewhere or other options.

If you don’t like an app in its base form, it’s OK to tweak however you want. No one can tell you to only use things only a certain way.

In particular, mobile apps are considered third-party, and there are more Settings by default than the website.

Similarly, even if you use other apps, even if it’s not WaniKani, there are usually Settings to tweak with.

Everything else aside, it’s still important to adapt to the tool to some extent.

Being a native speaker or not aside, it works well for me as a fast typist (on a PC) and can look the screen before Enter.

It intends to be as specific as possible, so 9 things, not 9. (I think 9 things works, in addition to 9.)

Instead of self-checking, as in traditional flashcard apps, the app’s checking is automated, so Right or Wrong. It can’t bother to warn for everything. Reducing the need for self-checking is the plan!

Gun and rifle is a the matter of WaniKani’ s mnemonics. But not only remembering radicals, but also Kanji, primary meanings are mnemonic-first too.

Also, remembering an English word, or one of alternate meanings, is easier for automated-checking. Automated checking has limited ability to test for understanding, maybe only just mostly specific words, and transitive/intransitive, but it’s still native-speaker first. Actually, American people and American English first.


Personally I’m glad that WK marks me wrong if I don’t seem to know the difference between nine and nine things, nine flat objects, nine cups, nine days, etc. :man_shrugging:


And I understand it exactly that. Spending seconds on typing is losing seconds on learning new things.

Guess this is the whole issue for me. I think it would help if the site would actually advertise this, so I wouldn’t need to find this out on forums. It might also help to discourage people from using the site if they are not native English speakers.

I was not looking for flashcards. I was frustrated. I actually spend several minutes on thinking how to better name the thread because it wouldn’t allow me to just name it “Frustrated”.

I was looking for other experiences to see how they work and if they work well for me. I was hoping to quickly skip the part I already learned to start learning things I don’t know, but constant requirement of typing things is just slowing me down.

I will not like if “type exact words in English” is the part of the experience, that’s what I wanted to say. I was having Duolingo flashbacks when I remembered that. Even its solution to click words instead of typing is ridiculous to me because it makes me think about how to create a phrase on a language I’m not trying to learn.
Flashcards are just the obvious candidate for a possible solution to this.

As a busy person, it works really bad for me because I tend to do quite a bit of typos on small keyboard (on Android).

I don’t quite understand how the “type the 10 symbol word correctly and press a button” is preferred to “press a button and see if your assumption is correct, then press another button out of two to mark it accordingly”. The latter is simply much faster from my experience.

I think it could achieve the same without making me type an English word that I understand and do know how to use/type.

Thanks everyone.

Probably the real issue is that Wanikani does not advertise itself appropriately to make it immediately clear so that non-natives could skip it and spend their time on something else. Tying everything to English mnemonics is an issue somewhat, but one could hope that it could still work for some people if at least it could rely more on English reading vs. typing.

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It does for all numbers. I always type 20000 rather than Twenty Thousand for 二万, etc.

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Even if the site was originally made with native English speakers in mind, or to be more precise with Americans in mind (since there are some American cultural references in the mnemonics), I wouldn’t put it this way. From browsing through the introductions on these forums it’s clear that there are quite a few ESL speakers who use Wanikani successfully. Many people around the world speak English well enough for this purpose. English is my 3rd language and I don’t find that Wanikani wasn’t made for me. I do find that with a minor effort the mnemonics and radical names could be slightly adapted to be more friendly for people whose English level is high, but not fluent.


Radicals make studying Kanjis way easier, especially later on when these complex structures are being taken apart to smaller, less complex and familiar sturctures.

Not sure how this is supposed to be related, if I’m being honest. For me, every time this happens, I just didn’t look whether it wanted the meaning or the reading.

Because it just doesn’t mean “nine”, it means “nine things”.

You seem to speak English pretty well, though.

I’m sorry that WaniKani isn’t the right thing for you, but I absolutely cannot relate to what you are saying in any way.


I’m sure English adds an extra layer of challenge — but even if the site was using your native language, you’d still need to know they were looking for the local equivalent of gun vs rifle. It’s true they could add more accepted alternate meanings, and in many cases they seem to be doing that.


I don’t think that English makes it more difficult, and I’m not a native English speaker :wink:

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I’m a beginner as well and, to be frank, i also asked myself some questions before barging into studying using WaniKani. ALBEIT, I think you have some misunderstandings of what it’s trying to teach you.
Let me debunk every little thing… :3

I’m not entirely sure what this means since whilst learning kanji and in the end, vocab, you must know their meanings. And regarding your further questions, you DO need to know the names of radicals, close translations of kanji, since they’re the building blocks of the writing system, just how if you’d learn German persay you would have to know the translation of the words you’re using, so you know what you are saying. Reading words means nothing if you 1. don’t know what they mean 2. you don’t know the vocabulary means, since they’re like compounds. Since you have to translate the words to understand them, you need to have a vessel to use, which is english.

九 (9) and 九つ (nine things) are TOTALLY different things with totally different readings and you can only go so far with only knowing the readings. Spaced repetition in any language covers both reading and meaning, because if you don’t practice the meaning you’re going to forget it. And about gun and rifle, WK doesn’t cover all synonyms, but there is a community synonyms feature which you can use.

SOO NOW, of course wk isn’t the only kanji learning tool but it’s the one i stand by and use. For flashcards you could use Anki or other apps mentioned in the numerous other responses. As for me, I like keeping it fresh and use WK, Anki and many others at the same time, but you can drop any of them if you are sure they aren’t made for you. :3


A lot of forum users love wk and will defend it passionately, but in my opinion a tool like this is only useful if you want to use it. If it makes you angry, it simply won’t help you, because you won’t enjoy studying, and you won’t stick it out for at least a year, which is necessary to finish wk. You’re only on level 1, so I suggest you at least finish up the free levels to see if you can/want to adapt, but if you can’t, find a different tool! There are lots of ways to learn Japanese. If you already paid, don’t fall for the sunk cost fallacy, if frustration with wanikani makes you want to give up on Japanese, it’s better to give up on wanikani instead.

It seems like you are focused on comprehension of the words and kanji, in which case you may benefit from just jumping right into reading. You could try graded readers, or something I discovered recently for a different language I’m working on: LingQ, which has Japanese, but I’m not sure how extensive it is. You can start reading immediately there.


I was asking about why do I need to remember one specific word for one radical, instead of generalizing it in my mind as something similar instead. Not why I need to memorize radicals at all. Either way, someone already answered: synonyms are not necessarily a good way with Wanikani mnemonics, and this is one way of how they express heavy relation to thinking in English (being native).

I mean that instead of inventing the whole matter of checking additionally whether your answer is correct for any other question for current kanji, they could remove the requirement to type anything and save your time.

I know that. When I typed “9” I really meant “nine things” but expected the system to process that, because I couldn’t care to type the whole thing.

Completely irrelevant. You don’t know how much time I spend on posting in English, and I don’t expect anyone to judge whether my English skill is enough to use some specific system for learning another, non-English, language. It took some time for me to learn English to current level and I’d like to use much better instruments and spend less time, to learn Japanese.
Just because I appear competent in English doesn’t mean I like typing with it. Personally, I’m fine with reading it and listening to it. Non-language related logic says to me that if something requires me to type while it could do its job without it, then it’s less than optimal.

It’s like with those old-school typing games. I’ve never played them, I imagine it’d be cool to try some for the experience, but I’d choose to play a different type of games to play on every day basis, any day. Because it’s so much more convenient and easy.

I see, a lot of people here don’t seem to understand what frustrates me.

I don’t want it to use my native language. I just think that it could be more effective in teaching me language X, if it required me to think in language Y less and express something using language Y less.

It doesn’t need to be English. The vessel is my brain and I want to be free in which labels I use internally.
When you’re teaching me Japanese and want to test my knowledge, it’s logical that sometimes I need to output something in Japanese. But when you’re teaching me Japanese and ask me to output using non-Japanese, you are inserting additional translation layers that should not be needed.

Yes, I may need to express the answer to every question. But why do I need to use English? It’s because you don’t understand anything else. It’s okay - I’m not asking you to understand any other languages. I’m also not asking you to read my mind. But it might help if you trusted me enough to let me check my answer myself. Show the correct answer. I see it, then understand whether or not my expression was correct. Don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Now that I think about it, they are close enough actually. There would be no word “things” if you translate something like 九つの部屋があります。
Therefore it’s not needed to check my knowledge. Only understanding of the concept is needed, and I have that understanding. Well, if you presented me with 2 options “9” and “9 things” I’d of course click the latter. But instead you ask me to type, using English, while I’m learning Japanese, possibly on a keyboard I don’t like, and I think this is not justified, so all I’m willing to give you is “9”, as a favor.

Not angry at all. But I hope I made myself clear.
If anything, I can’t imagine how much Wanikani could potentially improve if it developed its methods further, for benefits of you all.

Then you better use something else.
I know it’s sometimes hard to accept that not everything is specifically made for your needs, but with how much you want to be changed, chances are slim this will actually happen. The time is better invested in searching for something that helps you achieve your goal.
Wishing you a wonderful new year and hopefully you will be able to achieve your language goals! :slight_smile:


Find an Anki deck with translations in your native language. You won’t have to worry about English – or typing in exact terms, regardless of language – ever again.

If that’s what works for you, great. I prefer the accountability of WK’s approach. Giving beginners the tools to say “eh, close enough” does not strike me as an improvement.

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Yeah, I have a lot of sympathy for this approach, and it’s what I tend to prefer (I never used WK). If you want to follow this path, don’t use WaniKani – WK doesn’t go that route, plus it’s “opinionated” in the sense that it deliberately does not provide a ton of customisation and tweak options but instead presents one way it thinks is best. The mismatch between what you want and what the system design does is just going to continually irritate you.


That would makes it difficult for automated checking for a computer, not human. Typing Japanese or any kind of explanations, for meaning, would be difficult for computer to check.

WaniKani doesn’t trust you to check the answer. Though, I also think self-checking does have better points, especially for meaning.

WaniKani doesn’t auto-show the correct answer unless you answer wrong at least twice. Also, it doesn’t show why slightly-off (?) answers are wrong. I don’t like this too. Nonetheless, I can sympathize that it tries to patch up for typo, that is needed for many people.

Well, the meaning part makes me unable to totally trust WaniKani’s way. But with tweaks, I can make up for the system.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but WaniKani works. until it doesn’t or cons outweigh pros.

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I don’t think the idea that WaniKani is meant for native English speakers is really relevant here.

WK makes you type the answer because that’s the only way that you can really prove that you know it. Flashcards can make it too easy to cheat / lie to yourself.

If you want, you can always add your own synonyms, or use the Double Check script to override incorrect answers that you think should count.


I think WaniKani may not be the best option for you. If you don’t like using another language as an intermediate step or a lens for understanding Japanese, maybe you should try Japanese-only texts or native language-supplemented resources. You can find textbooks and workbooks (see the みんなの日本語 series), graded readers, and parallel texts that could help you practice without needing to translate everything directly. As you learn, maybe you could create flashcards that align more closely with your personal goals. I will caution you, though, that there’s a good reason for using language x to learn language y.

Personally, while I wish I could learn Japanese without using English, the reality—as an adult learner with limited time—is that it is far more efficient to learn by building a foundation with the scaffold of English-language grammar and vocabulary. I’m not saying this is the best way to learn, but there’s a reason Duolingo and its peers use translation as the mode of instruction; it’s far more approachable to learners who already think in another language (and do so without much effort).

Even for those who prefer to learn a new language in the new language, I think mnemonic-oriented strategies for remembering kanji (or hanzi or hanja) remain practical. They are engineered approaches built around distinguishing recognizable, irreducible components to aid memorization. Without such a strategy, I don’t think it’d be possible to learn characters as quickly, and I think the convergence of kanji resources on the approach of {\rm components} + {\rm story} = {\rm character} (see WaniKani, Kanji Garden, Remembering the Kanji, some of the most popular Anki decks, and others) is indicative of its utility to foreign-language learners of Japanese. It is very difficult to remember characters without encountering them in writing with some frequency—a frequency not attainable by most who lack the background in Japanese required to read—and mnemonics help bridge that gap.

This is a limitation of the approach of learning Japanese in the context of another language. It is true that there is no equivalent of the つ in your example in English. However, it is an essential part of the Japanese language. This is called a “classifier” or a “measure word.” It has no equivalent in many languages (Wikipedia says “[they] are absent or marginal in European languages” but “play an important role in certain languages, especially East Asian languages, including … Japanese”). Translations on WaniKani and other sources will include an additional word to compensate for the lack of an English equivalent. Here, I think, lies an important distinction: Learning a language by using what you already know about your native language isn’t just translation. In this case, it means that you need to remember to add the classifier during your lessons and reviews. We are all trying to learn Japanese, not just Japanese–English translation; while this may be an annoyance now, I think it is important.