The difference between learning Kanji -> English and Kanji -> Japanese

I am having an insanely difficult time with learning Kanji. I can put English to the Kanji like its no one’s business. But when it comes to Kanji and Japanese (as in hiragana) I am completely failing. Honestly, I’ve clipped over 400 Kanji and English flashcards and have found them largely easy, But when I try to pair them to Kanji and hiragana I I do miserably. LIke the numbers. There appears to be a random spattering of them in the reviews and quizzes. But there are no rules. It seems largely based on what are you counting. People, things, days. I’ve started to reorganize my wanikani experience so that i have numbers listed with the number of things, days and people.

And the sheer number of homonyms makes it even worse. How many things can be called

I know Japanese is difficult, and I can see why but I’m not sure what I can do to ease learning and eventually use. I speak several non-Asiatic languages but this is crazy.

Any ideas or help?

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How much Japanese have you studied outside of this? Usually, things like how to count and whatnot are taught in the basics of a general Japanese course, and all you’d be learning here is how to read the numbers in kanji form.


The mnemonics help, as what WK is using to guide us in Kanji learning.

But for me, what really stick are those I’ve encountered in the wild. Basically, due to massive exposure to language.


Just have to study a lot, the mnemonics can help I’d agree with ^^^ eventually it’ll stick cuz it’ll keep coming up in your reviews til you get it right. I usually go over my critical items and really try to make it stick, then I look at them all in the list and name them off.

Yes, the readings are absolutely the harder part (IMO). If it was meanings only, I don’t doubt I could absorb 4 times as many kanji per day as I do. So your experience is normal, I think – you’re getting bottlenecked by the part which is harder to learn. This is what the mnemonics and SRS are for.


This is a problem solved by exposure to Japanese as a language instead of Japanese as a writing system. Especially through listening practice, but reading helps too, like in a textbook.

Meaning, yes, 一人 = ひとり is difficult if that’s all you have to go on.
But if you have spent time with the language, the connections in your brain are more elaborate.
Mnemonics help because they also create multiple connections, but really knowing the vocabulary helps more.
It also helps with onyomi readings.
You might have trouble remembering 勉 = べん, unless you know the word 勉強 べんきょう. Then it’s pretty easy. And once you know that, learning new words like 勤勉 and 強化 is easier.
強 is actually a complicated character

So yeah. Get out there and learn some Japanese. If you just try to learn the writing system in a vacuum, you’re only making it harder for yourself.

And yeah, about numbers, wanikani isn’t here to teach you those rules, it’s here to teach you the kanji. You need a textbook for the rules.
The short of it, though, is that japanese uses ‘counters’ after numbers. It’s like saying “a piece of popcorn” or “a loaf of bread” but they do it for everything and there a vast number of them. Within that, the numbers basically change in predictable ways, but you need some experience with Japanese for them to be predictable to you. For example, 一千 being いっせん instead of いちせん is completely logical, you just don’t know the logic yet.
The extra complication is that the numbers 1-10 (and 14 and 20), but especially 1 and 2, often use older, Japanese-origin numbers instead of the more common Chinese origin numbers. 1 and 2 are, respectively, ひと and ふた, which will explain some of the vocabulary you already know. The other numbers are mostly used with the counter つ and with days.
But yeah. You’ll want a textbook for this.

Side-note, you really haven’t run into many homonyms yet at level 2. You probably mean that a lot of the on readings are the same, but those are not homonyms in any meaningful way because they’re not words.


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