Sudden loss of faith in my studies

That subject line came out incredibly serious. ####BigTTTAALk.

In all seriousness, though: I just realized my recall skills are nowhere as good as my recognition skills (thank you @jspereira for the terminology!). I signed up to KaniWani and sat down for a rigorous session with the Self-Study Quiz tuned to English > Japanese, but I’m a bit saddened by this surprising feeling of being Not Good At This. Like all I did well was memorize kanji as if I were a mindless study-bot-thing, but I can’t recall anything for the life of me.

Anyone gone through this? Any tips?


I think you meant recognition.


Not really. :stuck_out_tongue:

Having terrible recall does suck, but I’ve never bothered working on it because I just want to read.

I imagine it requires practice just like anything else.


Exposing yourself to places where you’ll come across the kanji and vocabulary that you’ve earned is the best way to get it stuck in your head. Memorizing things is one thing, but actively using them and listening for them is entirely something else.

Try reading picture books/articles. Don’t get caught up on the words you don’t know, but celebrate each one that you do!

Watching youtube/tv shows with japanese is a great way to passively hear the things you’ve learned, even if you’re using english subtitles. You can still pick up on what is being said, and recognize some of the words that you’ve learned so far. Not only that, you can pick up new words along the way!

Not everyone learns in the same way, but it is as they say: use it, or lose it. If you aren’t exposing yourself to things that will make you read/hear the words you’ve learned, it’s never going to really have a permanent place in your brain.

Best of luck!


Yes, def. thanks!

I think it’s a little bit of a different skill going the other direction. I find this in every language, it is easier for me to read it then it is for me to write it. You want me to read that French newspaper, sure. You want me to write that French newspaper, well it will sound lithe a elementary schooler did.

My advice for you, while perhaps not that’s helpful, it is think about what kanji make up the word. My boyfriend and I do that when trying to recall something in the wild. Things like I have to take a test. What is test in Japanese? My brain says, what two kanji make test. Okay it is attempt and test, therefore it is shiken.

It is slow, but I assume eventually it will become easier. Also to echo an above poster, hearing it said makes a world of difference. When you are listening to things and you hear words you know it is a huge confident boost. While that too can have its draw backs, it is fun to do. Now if only we could figure out what Dazai used when he said blood in the bungo Stray Dogs anime I think we wold sleep better because it was different then what was learned in Wanikani, but sounds familiar…

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KameSame is definitely a gentler approach than KW. At least it tests one’s writing skills given as one can extract learned vocabulary through the Japanese keyboard. If I’m completely off, I at least can see it in the kanji (or lack there of) and I can sort of recall back much like a real life writing scenario. KaniWani is a much further jump and I think many people ended up abandoning it for the synonym frustrations.

Lower your expectations of WaniKani (which is essentially only a kanji reading platform). Give KameSame a shot but expect more additional practice, that is pretty normal.


It helps to really read the example sentences now and again to see the words in context. Maybe even write a few of your own. I find that more common physical objects are easy to recall, but struggle recalling more abstract (conceptual ) nouns and verbs.
Also young girl / woman / man / young boy can die. i am bound to have them in lower decks forever.


Tried signing up for KameSame but I couldn’t find my V2 API. Where is that.

From the dashboard, top right corner Account -> Settings/API Tokens. The V2 token part is at the top. I forget if you need to generate it to get it, but there’s a “Generate a new token” button if a token isn’t already displayed.


Thanks! Just found it.\

Messing around with KameSame now. It’s great, but it still has the issue of: even though I can recall the reading (and so, the furigana), the way I pick out the kanji from the available options is still through recognition and not recall.


I also use WaniKani and KameSame in parallel. Before I type anything in at KameSame, I try to visualize the kanji first (recall), and then if I can‘t do that, I‘ll actually type in the answer and usually recognize the correct kanji(s) from the selection. It‘s not perfect, but it helps! :blush:

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But you are creating the reading and that is the next baby step (:baby::walking_man:) through some recall toward recognition. Looks like you want the moon shot of instant real world applicability :last_quarter_moon_with_face: (see first tip on lowering expectations :upside_down_face:).

SRS is only a start, not an end. For me if I want anything to stick well, the emotional memories of personal reading/writing/conversation is best. But at least SRS give a format to train weakness and be much better prepared for the hyper-speed comprehension in the wild. I hear the reading club around here are great but I personally just haven’t made the time.


This is fine, focus on recognition until you can read texts in japanese, than when you read enough recall will come on its on with little effort. Japanese is my 3rd foreign language and this approached worked great for the first two, I’m sure it’ll work for japanese as well.


Recall skills are trained like anything else - practice, and practice, and write (if not essays of your own then at least do your listening and write that down as a practice).
However, recall is much more tiresome to improve, and besides that there comes another difficult question - do you really need the recall skill?
What I mean is that to read a lot leveled-up recognition is much, much more efficient. So I am training recall, but in a lot lower intensity than WK, because:

  • I like handwriting and I like writing my listening pieces (not typing them), so the more I can recall, the more I enjoy and use that
  • Regardless, I really pick up carefully the items I want to move to my active zone. I wanna know how to write those related words like 来る・行く・泊まる・気持ち・感じる and such. I do not care in the slightest about the sorts of 工場・外科・想像 - I will write them with kana and stay happy.

The only thing that I acknowledge for myself is that I have a large contribution of kinestetics into my memorization process. The more I write - the better I remember. So I have to recall and write for that reason too. Else 和 and 知, 業 and 達 and 儀 and also 義, for example - all of those are smashed into undiscernible pulp in my head. I fail to even recognize them properly.


To tag along on the writing bit, you can practice handwriting and KameSame with Google Handwriting Input (Android) or use the ios chinese secrets that Tofugu recommended. If you have a tablet or whatnot, it’s probably easier. Has anyone tried the Apple Pencil?

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Thanks for asking the question @IlaiA because I am in the same pitiful position of having such poor recall. I’ll give KameSame a try too! :smile:


Wow… I just went through the same thing when I started on KaniWani! I am just keeping at it and making a Powerpoint study guide when I miss one over and over. My recall is starting to get better so maybe just keep at it and use it more for study then for recall. I am recalling more and more as the days go on but I do hit some walls when similar things (girl, little girl, young lady…) have different vocab.

I have found that KaniWani makes me do more than memorize the kanji. I’m actually now taking note of the part of speech it is… Nouns, verbs… I’m actually moving faster through the new kanji and vocab on WK.

I do hope you find what works for you. Everyone learns differently and sometimes it takes trying many different things before you find the right combo.

You got this!


I feel Ya - but it should not sadden you that you are not very good at something that you haven’t practiced.


If I practice shooting jump shots 6 hours a day and nothing else, I shouldn’t be surprised when my dribbling skills don’t improve. Learning a language, like any skill, has various sub-skills which need to be trained. Reading kanji is just one of those sub-skills in learning Japanese, just like jump-shots are one aspect of basketball proficiency.

With that in mind, be aware that in the same way being awesome at shooting jump-shots wouldn’t necessarily make me a awesome at basketball - been a kanji master won’t make you good at Japanese.

Wanikani trains you specifically to be able to read Kanji, and recall readings when provided with visual cues. Recall is a different skill, that requires other learning methods.

I have in the past had a habit of beating myself up for not being able to understand something in Japanese - but when I step back and think about it, generally the reason i don’t understand is because I haven’t learnt the words / grammar / sentence structure, or haven’t done enough listening comprehension practice ect - so why should I understand it !

back to recall - I have actually noticed the longer I use Wanikani, the more I can recall words without the need for the visual cues. Not sure if that is my brain adapting? I hope so!! :smile:

Don’t get disheartened - learning a language is hard, but you’re doing it !


ps - that was a long ramble, and it is also quite late here. So apologies if it made no sense. :blush:


Hi there
I am a retired teach and one of the things I found with many students was, they needed to actually write down what they were trying to learn. There are some good sites that teach writing skills
I love to get a large piece of paper and just scribble a thousand kanji a thousand time to ensure memory. Of course reading as much Japanese as you can will help review.


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