Speaking - Speaking ability vs WaniKani lvl

I would be really interested to know how your WaniKani level has related to your personal speaking ability!

Are you able to freely construct sentences with your known words, or do you have difficulty?
If you have difficulty then do you use a specific resource to train yourself to speak more intuitively?

Mostly though I would be interested to hear how you believe your vocab level has related to your speaking ability :slight_smile:

Thanks!! :smiley:

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WK level has nothing to do with speaking ability. They are completely two different skill sets.

If you don’t practice speaking, you don’t get good at speaking…

EDIT: look at me, level 60, can’t speak at all. Leebo, Level 14, speaks way better than I will within the next year or two at least =P


WK has improved my reading ability (well, the ease with which I can read without having to look words up) such that I can research how to use words in speech more efficiently.


I know they are separate things :slight_smile: )Sorry was about to reply to your last post by the way)

I’m just interested to know how people feel they are at using the vocab they know, wether they feel the system has helped them to use it practically when confronted with conversations, thoughts and feelings in real life :slight_smile:

I see! So just knowing tons of WaniKani vocab won’t really help with summoning those words in real situations.

What is your method for practising speech? I’ve yet to find something for speaking aloud that really fits me :slight_smile:

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Since this site is for teaching kanji, it contains many words that are formed by combining multiple kanji. This structure is most common of words that are essentially borrowed from Chinese, making them kind of equivalent to English words from Latin or Greek (as opposed to the words we use that come from the Germanic side). They are good words to know and important in your kanji studies, but will frequently be stiffer or more literary than you’d want to use in conversations.

For instance, 知人 and 知り合い both mean “acquaintance”, “a person that you know”, but 知人 uses the Chinese-origin construction I mentioned, while 知り合い comes from a compound of two verbs of Japanese origin. You will hear 知り合い all the time, and probably never hear 知人 unless you are listening to something quite formal.

EDIT: just to be clear, this site doesn’t teach 知人, but it’s just what popped into my head.

I live in Japan and happen to have a Japanese girlfriend, so it’s a necessity to speak Japanese for hours every day. But before that I just found lots of people who wanted to do skype conversations regularly.


Not adding much to this conversation, but like it’s been mentioned, what WaniKani teaches you (reading kanji) and speaking are very different things (writing and composition and reading comprehension are helped by WaniKani but are also different). WaniKani is specifically a kanji learning site where you’ll also pick up some related vocabulary along the way but it shouldn’t be used as an one-stop indicator of your Japanese level. Take me for example, I grew up speaking Japanese and am completely fluent in the spoken aspect of the language but I can’t read or write worth poo.


My speaking ability is abysmal. I have a pretty decent vocab, but its hard to convert thoughts into japanese.

Currently doing nothing to change that.


Thank you for the explanation, really helpful :slight_smile:

I see, so mostly the commonality of the words are based on their readings not their pronunciations, so it may leave me lacking in certain areas? I’m fine with this and it is expected maybe, I’m moving to Tokyo in 10 days and i’m trying to make sure I have a great self-study routine for speaking. Being instinctive with speech I feel will be my downfall eventually, maybe its a bit early to worry about this haha, but i’m eager to get on track early as i’ve been progressing through other study resources.

I have close Japanese friend there so I may have to force her to stop speaking English to me haha

Really appreciate your feedback, are you mostly focused on writing?

I’m pretty sure Vanilla is mostly focused on trying to answer questions faster than me and failing.


Deffo is a useful contribution don’t worry! haha, so interesting to hear that side of things.
I am going to have to start listening to lots and lots of Japanese conversations haha.

I would recommend something like this for a foundation in good speaking habits, though I think that it might be a bit overwhelming for fresh beginners (I don’t know exactly what your level is).

Don’t let the word “pronunciation” in the title confuse you, they mean it in the broadest sense possible, covering phonetics, pitch accent, and intonation. It contains lots of drills for practicing speaking.


Reading, not writing. I imagine practicing writing would help with speaking as its still translating your thoughts into japanese. My studies are pretty much entirely based on recognition at the moment. There are obviously a lot of words that I can still recall, but I would say that in conversation, I can only use maybe 10% or 20% of the words I can recognize. There are tools to help change this, like kaniwani, for example, but I have no reason to put any effort towards that at the moment. The reasons for why only learning JP -> EN doesn’t help speaking all that much is pretty much what everyone has been saying.


Thank you Leebo!!

No problem.

Also, I realize with what @rmizuno posted, it sounds like I’m presenting myself as a speaking expert or something. That’s not the case. I make mistakes all the time, but it’s necessary to do that to get better. Additionally, I still find that there is a huge difference between talking with my girlfriend (who is understanding and receptive) and having conversations with other people (who might be less so) and finally with speaking in front of a large group of people all at the same time (terrifying).

I’d say practice in each scenario really only helps you in that scenario.

So, you can chat up your significant other for hours and days, and probably still sound like you just walked out of your first Japanese lesson the first time you try to address a full room of people with no prepared script.


As I’m living and working in Japan, I’m picking up a lot of words and kanji here and there, and it’s really great when I hear or encounter words and kanji I learn in WK “in the wild.” But I’ve also found that because I have remembered the WK vocabulary by the visual of the kanji, I can’t remember the meaning quite as easily when I just hear it spoken by my colleagues or superiors when they use it in conversation/meetings, etc.
My background is that I have studied some Mandarin Chinese (so learning or guessing kanji meanings and readings comes a little easier for me), and my speaking Japanese was at a conversational level before I started WK (studying seriously, anyway). Although I find my speaking abilities quite removed from my WK/kanji recognization, I do try to remember some of the WK kanji/vocabulary I learn when I am speaking with others in Japanese. (I also know quite a lot beyond my WK level, but I am happily still learning some new vocabulary and the on-yomi or kun-yomi I hadn’t learned previously. Good reinforcement, for sure.)
Also, I found that knowing both and the differences of on-yomi and kun-yomi has improved my kanji reading a ton, and I can guess the reading of unknown vocabulary much easier, which helps to look up vocabulary as well (as Leebo has mentioned).

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I don’t think it would have too much in common. You can learn how to speak well without knowing any kanji. WK I’m sure will improve reading ability by a bit, even at level 3 I have drilled in hiragana and a lot of kanji as far as reading. I’m still on an early level with speaking but what I do know has come from Genki and Japanese from zero, as well as some animes/dramas. WK has taught be some useful vocab words but so far, some vocab words do not seem to be ones I would use in everyday beginner speech.

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I would say it helps with knowing new things, as in the vocab allows for more “knowledge”. But its really about practice, I study a lot but practice is non existant for me, so I just go around saying desu this and ore that and that’s about all I can muster without long pauses, stuttering and general awkwardness.


Choosing not to speak English, listening to Japanese being spoken, and choosing to speak Japanese rather than remaining silent - this is how your speaking will definitely improve. I found that as I understood small chunks of text (not just individual vocabulary words) I was more likely to use them myself, and from that my speaking ability grew.

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