Should vocabulary take longer then kanji to learn?

Its a pretty simple question but I haven’t really gotten a definitive answer.
I usually write the things I learn down to burn them in even more (I already write anyways so its not like its slowing me down)
For kanji (and keep in mind im very low level right now) I usually write down the word and the pronounciation,and the mnemonic for both of those. For radicals (right now) im just writing down how the mnemonic for it and what other shapes it might be.

But for vocabulary (it feels alot harder but ive been told kanji and it switch difficulty places later on)
I usually write down what the word is + the kanji/how you write it and on the next line how to read and pronounce it and then on the third the word use. The word use is pretty irrelevant so Im gonna stop doing that until i learn grammer or whenever and leave a line blank. Ignore that part.

But I just find that vocabulary takes longer to get the same output out. And it says to learn like triple the vocabulary that you do kanji somehow. Taking a guess and assuming that means like single words you now know how to combine (e.g. person + one,two,three,four,etc all count as individual words-which they are-or like number+thing actually means 10 new vocabulary words once you learn them?) Im confused about how to get this much work done especially with how much harder (for now) the mnemonic creating is compared to kanji

Hope this isnt a dumb question. It might solve itself but I didnt think it hurt to ask. Thats it. Seeya.

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I mean there’s more words than there are kanji, so yes.

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Welcome to the site!

Another factor is that you’re going to find that kanji you thought you had “learned” already actually had many more layers to them than you might have initially thought.

WaniKani doesn’t teach everything there is to know about a kanji the first time it’s introduced, and the remainder of what there is to learn does get revealed by vocabulary.

So vocabulary taking longer is one way to think about it, but another way to think about it is that kanji take longer than what you’ve done up to now.


I would say one other thing to keep in mind is that vocabulary is really what will help you more of the Japanese language in the long run, and the vocabulary items will sink in more once you start consuming more native content and run into them more.

So right now “下さい” is just a word you try to memorize for “please” or “please give me” and to help remember that 下 can be pronounced “くだ” but as you learn more Japanese you’ll see:

  • 足下(/あしもと)注意(/ちゅうい)して(/くだ)さい。 = Please watch your step.

  • ビールを(/くだ)さい! = Beer please!
    and also learn that it’s often not written with kanji (especially for the “please give me XX” meaning).

Sometimes it does seem like WaniKani has a large number of vocabulary items for the same kanji, but this is often because the pronunciation is different or the meaning / nuance is slightly different and so it further helps to cement that kanji in your understanding.


It would be interesting to know how many people do mnemonic work for vocab (as opposed to kanji). I have found that (at least for recognition) it’s sufficient just to read the word out loud a few times, and then stick it into an SRS and let repetition and exposure do the work. I only think of mnemonics for a tiny handful of words where I just cannot remember the reading and keep failing the item.


Personally, I do well with the kanji and struggle with the vocabulary. Usually, it takes getting the vocab wrong a couple (or five) times to get them fully cemented in my head. If you feel frustrated with them, that’s totally okay! I’m pretty sure that’s why Wanikani levels up when you complete 90 percent of the kanji rather than the vocab lol.

You mentioned that writing them out was helpful to you, but I would suggest really focusing on pairing it with the mnemonic. If you find that a certain mnemonic isn’t working for you, find a new one that’s better. I think connecting the mental memorization (i.e. the meaning and the reading) with the physical sensation of writing them out may help. Sorry if this doesn’t make sense!

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I mostly use mnemonics for words with 3+ syllable kunyomi. It can be hard to depend on exposure for those if they don’t have furigana.

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