Hey, I’m getting kind of sort of into the latter portions of WaniKani here, and I’m beginning to put more thought into how best to absorb more kanji and vocab, outside the app. I am aware of Anki, Kitsun, etc, but there is a particular question I’m wondering about right now:
When you encounter new vocab that uses unfamiliar kanji, do you make a point of studying the kanji individually in addition to the new word? Or do you study the word and kind of “absorb” the new kanji that way?
I’m guessing for a lot of people there’s a bit of both, but I dunno… we’re WaniKani people, so learning kanji in isolation also seems quite natural. (But also a bit scary without someone guiding me on which are the most useful readings etc.) Also I suppose this question is aimed more at people who are primarily interested in being able to read the kanji, as I assume you’d have to study the kanji on its own if you intend to write it.
I know I’m nowhere near any reasonable level, but I thought I’d share anyway
What I typically do is I learn kanji through vocab, whether from WaniKani or from outside sources. So for instance, if I get a new set of kanji in WK, I familiarize myself with the suggested vocab, without trying hard to memorize it, because then if the mnemonic doesn’t stick, I’ll know which words the kanji appears in and match it that way.
If I find a kanji that’s interesting/difficult, I look up a couple of words with it and see what’s the most common pronunciation or which on’yomi/kun’yomi forms are used in what contexts.
So far the above “tricks” have worked well for me .
I’d still study it in context, but yes, I write as much as possible, because then I’m certain I actually remember the kanji, whether through strokes, overall shape or a combination of the two.
As a Chinese speaker, I prefer to study individual kanji to get an idea of a possible breakdown. I try to identify the specific meanings of each kanji that are relevant to the word as a whole. After that, I focus on the new word. My main goal is to learn the readings used in the new word. Learning other readings is secondary and not very useful if I’m not likely to encounter that kanji in another context. I also prefer to write kanji out, at least mentally, in order to be sure that I’ve spotted all relevant strokes that might distinguish them from other similar kanji. If you need/prefer to do so, add the vocabulary word to a flashcard deck or notebook for later review. (I really don’t like using flashcards, so that last step really isn’t for me.)
Don’t worry about it. Native kanji users like myself don’t know what the most useful readings are either when we’re born. We find out over time. Just learn the readings that are the most useful for you (i.e. the readings that you come across in new words). You’ll pick up the other readings eventually when you see words that use them. Otherwise, there’s no point worrying about them (unless you like memory challenges) because they won’t ever be readings you use.
Ever since getting to level 60 on WK and cancelling my subscription (about August of 2018, I believe), I recall attempting to use Anki a few times for vocab aquisition (not individual kanji, though). I could never go beyond one week with that. The rest of the time I just consumed native content (watched some anime, read a bunch of light novels) and looked up the words I didn’t know, not really making an effort to memorize readings/meanings and much less to memorize the individual kanji.
Even so, I can tell you 100% that I know a lot more Japanese now than back when I finished WK. Nowadays the concept of learning kanji in isolation is kind of foreign to me, but I still think it’s a good option for those new to the language, so I’m not bashing WK or anything. I’m just saying that, at least in my case, when you reach a more advanced level it makes much more sense to learn new kanji by “absorbing” them through learning words that use that kanji. It’s still up to you to experiment and figure out a method that works for you though.
I just throw both into the anki hopper in a haphazard sort of way.
I think of anki more as casual memory seeds than intensely focused study, so I don’t really care about precisely managing or limiting the deck. The more the merrier.
It’s definitely less quantifiable that way than Wanikani’s regimented approach, but for sure there’s non-wanikani kanji I can recognize easily now thanks to anki, and anecdotally it seems like both the in-isolation cards and the in-words cards are helpful in their own ways.
One benefit of only-kanji cards is that it’s a decent place to put in notes like “(this is the one in words X,Y,Z).” Those connections are useful but can be hard to spot otherwise.
Recently I’ve just been adding new words I come across / words that come up in my iTalki lessons to a deck on Kitsun, and then do like 3-5 lessons per day. I skip words that are in later levels of WK that I’ll get to. If it’s a kanji not covered by a level I haven’t gotten to in WK, I’ll add it to the deck as well, but it’s really not as effective as WK is to me for some reason. Maybe I need to add a couple other related words to the kanji rather than just the one word I came across
Thanks for your replies, your various perspectives are appreciated! My inclination is to probably do some degree of vocab SRS but to try absorbing most new kanji by way of the vocab. I’ll see if that actually works for me, though.
WK is/was the only SRS I really got into. I dabbled with kitsun.io, but when it turned paid I dropped it, since I couldn’t afford subscription at that moment.
So with other words I encounter in the wild I’m like @sigolino - I look them up on the go, but don’t really “study” them. Still, if I encounter given word enough times I believe it will finally stick
Maybe I’ll give kitsun another try some day
Have you found that works ok? Even with new kanji? That does sound more appealing to me in some ways, just don’t know if it’s gonna work well.
I’ve dabbled in other SRS (currently on my 2 week trial of Kitsun) but the only other one I’ve gotten big into, just within the past few weeks, is Bunpro. One nice thing with Bunpro, besides learning a lot of grammar quickly, is how good I feel at knowing so much of the vocab in their sentences thanks to WK.
I’m not sure myself. But since currently my main use for Japanese is reading Visual Novels, it is enough. But perhaps for more serious studying (for example with future job in mind etc) that won’t be optimal approach. That’s why some people warn, that reading VNs using text hooking software, where you can look up words just by hovering mouse cursor over them becomes kind of a crutch - and there’s definitely some truth to it. It makes me lazy.
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