So! I’ve been using Wanikani for a year now, and I want to put my feelings about it so far into a post!
I found out about Wanikani around this time last year, and after doing the first three levels I found it super interesting. I’ve never invested more then short bursts of time into Japanese (Duolingo and some kanji related apps) so spending a year or more on something was kind of a huge jump at first, but I think having something around to help me study every day has been a huge plus for me. I do have some pros and cons when it comes to Wanikani, but the TLDR is that I like Wanikani a lot.
After this year I think I still sit around the N5 area in Japanese, but I can say reading has gotten a lot easier for me, its a lot easier for me to guess what things might mean even if I might be a little off or wrong. I don’t just use Wanikani but I can still safely say that using Wanikani has added a large contribution to my reading skills even if I can’t exactly read “well”. I was hoping to hit level 30 by this time, but right now at level 25 I don’t think I was too far off from that goal, so I’d still call that a win in my book.
I also think Wanikani as well as other SRS based learning systems have really helped me set up a schedule even though my study time is cut up into chunks through out the day. Its something I don’t think about often but the pressure of reviews being piled up does in fact motivate me to study more haha.
Even after a year I still don’t love the example sentences. I think they succeed in explaining what a word means, but reading them is hard no matter what level I seem to be at. So even though I can read the English part of the sentences I still can’t comprehend how to read the original texts. Its not exactly a huge issue since Wanikani is more about readings and meanings of Kanji but its something I wish was better since it is something they have on the site. Through this year I think I rarely read the sentences since most of them were outside of my reading level, or used words i did not know. So I’d just simply use the English sentences for context and not the Japanese ones. I also can’t find myself coming back to read the Japanese sentences once i can read better either.
I also think one weakness Wanikani has for me are the Mnemonics. There’s a bit of irony in that I’m using a site to remember Japanese better, but one shortfall the mnemonics have with me is that they are often too long for me to remember. I have ADHD so short-term memory usually takes a bit if a hit since my mind gets distracted easy. I also have dyslexia so reading large passages are also a bit of a struggle. So, that’s more of a personal issue but it does affect how I read things on this site. Often times the stories are so bizarre or long that I just simply cannot remember them, or mnemonics based around sound will use sounds that don’t really sound like the Kanji I’m learning I get why they use English sounds that are close but not exact, since it fits the story better, but I found myself rarely using them as well. I think this whole year I’ve mostly used my own mnemonics or just nothing at all while learning Kanji. This also makes me sound old haha- but i also don’t love some of the pop-references inside of the mnemonics as well. Again that’s probably a personal issue but I find it kind of distracting sometimes.
But I can say that the main point of the site works really really well and I appreciate that. I do wish it had more common words but uncommon or words that are rarely used have never really bothered me with Wanikani. I never really saw Wanikani as something where I can learn every word I need so I have no problem using something like Anki to fill in all of the gaps. And I do plan on finishing Wanikani as well! Its really fun learnings something, and then seeing it pop up on websites or other places that I see Japanese! So its been a really fun year! I’ve only skipped two weeks so far (what a huge mistake) but I think finishing the other 35 levels shouldn’t be too hard! I’m hoping it’ll take only one more year, but it’ll probably take slightly longer.
So yeah this sounds more like a review then about what i learned haha- but this is just one masterpost about all my feelings after one year I suppose.