Obviously, I’m not those clever people you spoke of But if you have the time, you might find more detailed answers in some of the Level 60 posts below.
I agree with Vanilla. WK in isolation barely means anything when it comes to reading Japanese and that isn’t even it’s premise. What it does though is removing the additional difficulty paywall that kanji impose (to a great extent). Like with any other language, you still need proficiency in grammar + vocabulary and hours upon hours of experience.
Primary school kids could still kick my butt.
I wanna be the saikyou heroooooo!!!
I would say you can read to a significant extent even without level 60. I’m currently reading articles about politics on NHK news and so far I have seen maybe 3 kanji which I have not seen before.
I would say grammar and vocab is where it’s at .
EDIT: Actually, one more kanji dropped today in 暫定的
I’m not at level 60 yet, but like the others have said, from a certain point on vocabulary and grammar are going to be way more of a bottleneck than kanji is. I just recently started reading light novels, and while I do encounter new kanji, I can recognize most of them at this point. Currently grammar and vocabulary are what have been getting in the way of my understanding the most.
Wanikani won’t teach you grammar, and it won’t teach you enough vocabulary to be able to read without trouble. Knowing the kanji is a significant advantage though, looking up a word made up of kanji I know is really easy and allows me to get back to reading a lot fasten that looking up a word with an unknown kanji in it would.
Knowing kanji helps tremendously, and WK is really useful for that purpose, but once you know enough kanji it won’t be the main thing holding you back anymore, which in my experience happens way before you reach level 60.
There really isn’t anything magical that happens when you reach level 60 except that you can read basic Kanji without having to look them up. You also need a strong foundation in Grammer. That being said, I can read intermediate Japanese and play some games in Japanese which is what I wanted. I still need my grammar books and dictionaries because there are a lot of uses for kanji and of course they are not all taught here. For example, I just learned that 訪れ can mean news as well as a visit. But I can say that reaching level 60 has made studying and reading a much more stream lined process. Good luck!
Level 60 goes a long way to being able to read, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Grammar is difficult, and there is a lot to learn before you start feeling comfortable reading. While I am reading plenty at this point, I still have to look up a lot of words, and some grammar every now and then
I think that if you are motivated enough to reach level 60 on WK then you are probably also motivated enough to start learning grammar.
I’d say: learn some basic grammar and join one of the book clubs (Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading ハピネス・Happiness or Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: Death Note) and you might find out that you can read sooner than you think!
I’m nowhere near level 60 and only did a bit of grammar studying, but by working my way up through the book clubs, I’m now almost finishing my first novella in Japanese and halfway through a full novel (and reading a bunch of manga) so in my experience you can pick up a lot just by reading and participating in the clubs.
Like the others have said, you’ll be looking up words in dictionaries for a long time to come, but the more kanji you know, the easier that gets because you’ll know the readings without needing furigana.
Hi, Level 8 here. I read this Japanese Tweet today. Technically, that means I can read Japanese
One thing first:
In order to learn Kanji you don’t need to be clever, you need persistence.
You should never get mixed up with this for your own sanity!
The only intelligence you need is the amount to understand that you have to persistent and that you don’t need to be a genius (whatever that might be anyway).
To put things in context, about 2000 Kanjis are declared as “used for daily life” the so called 常用漢字.
If you are at level 60 you know them (I think at this point it is not necessary to give more details about exact numbers).
Newspapers and information for the general public has to stick to these Kanjis (per law), so you can read newspapers and you are at a Kanji level like a High school graduate. You can bet you are able to read instructions.
I don’t know what is your definition of a “story” because obviously literature is not bound to the 常用漢字 and text for special fields like medicine, engineering, biology etc. If you read novels for young people you can read the Kanjis from a quite low level in Wanikani.
From here things start to be personal, because there are more than 2000 Kanjis, about 6000 for the most difficult level of the Kanji test (Kanken) in Japan. But not many people pass it, so you don’t need to worry about that now.
Thanks. What level are you at? WK says your level 1, so have you reset?
At level 7 I can’t even understand the headings in NHK Web Easy.
I was level 42 before I reset, but I was also learning kanji outside of WaniKani through reading mostly.
I remember being asked this question by my friends when I was nearing the end of lessons for Wanikani. “So now you’ll be able to read anything, right?” My response was “nice meme.”
Wanikani definitely has made reading much easier, you will definitely notice a difference compared to starting from near-zero kanji knowledge. However, I still have a dictionary page open at all times. There are still kanji you will see that aren’t covered on Wanikani, especially in more creative writings. More frequently you will see phrases or vocabulary that aren’t covered in Wanikani. Sometimes you can roughly guess the meaning on vocabulary assuming you know the kanji used in it but it is still best to look it up as some vocabulary have meanings and readings that simply cannot be inferred from the kanji that compose it.
Learning to read Japanese is a continual process. Wanikani definitely gives you a sizeable boost in starting that process. Once you’ve completed Wanikani, you’ll know roughly 88% of the JLPT kanji, missing only kanji from N1, and roughly 93% of all Joyo kanji, missing 1 from grade 6 and the rest from grade 9. However, there is no “end.” In a language like Japanese where there are roughly 2,100 kanji that the government considers necessary to be “fluent” but there is a pool of 54,000 kanji that creative writers can pull from, you will basically never be able to read absolutely everything.
All of this is to say that time spent on Wanikani is far from a waste. As someone that had almost no knowledge of kanji going into Wanikani, I can definitely notice how much of an improvement it has made on my ability to read (granted that was basically 0 prior). However, it is just the beginning of the journey, not the entirety of the journey.
Hold on a second, I thought I was learning Chinese here
We aren’t?? Well what country have I been living in for 2 years?? Are you telling me this isn’t China?
Damn no wonder people kept asking me if I spoke Japanese…
I think WK should really make it clear which language we’re learning here, there’s definitely some confusion.
Right!? Silly languages that use nearly the same writing system. They should take after all the european languages wich are so diverse in their writing systems!
What WaniKani does is level the playing field so that we can learn Japanese a bit more like learning other languages by helping us overcome the kanji barrier. This way we can focus on learning grammar and vocab and also help as absorb language via immersion more smoothly and efficiently.
Personally, it also helped me make Japanese a habit by doing something related to Japanese everyday. I can’t imagine I would’ve continued learning Japanese without the initial push of discipline that WK instilled in me.
生徒: Master, I would like to learn Japanese.
先生: Go and climb the 600 steps of the Crabigator.
生徒: Master, I have climbed all 600 steps.
先生: Good. Now you can start learning Japanese.
I’m exaggerating, but not by much.
Wanikani is only a few short years. After that you’ll have a few long years to continue learning Japanese. Only you can decide if that’s worth it or not.
That’s the easy part. You can probably knock out the easy grammar in a few months.
You totally can. How many novels are you reading a month? If it’s not in the double digits, you’re not reading enough.
I would describe it like a heavy rock held up by 3 pillars:
You can raise each of the pillars one at a time or simultaneously as long as the rock is balanced.
On the rock is written the word: “meaning”.
Sometimes, you can carry it, but not for long. Or you can try to raise the pillars higher so you can get a better grip on it.
But eventually, you have to pick it up on your shoulders and walk with it.
The good news is that it gets ever so slightly lighter with each step.
Learning kanji is like learning a really big alphabet. But that’s a hurdle you will not have as a learner.
Just gaining that intensive exposure to kanji, understanding how words are built, getting used to rendaku, jukugo, the common exceptions…
This will make your experience learning the language pleasant and you won’t feel like kanji is a barrier to your progress.
You don’t even need level 60 to achieve many of the benefits I’m talking about. (I’m level 20.)
I speak with a Japanese tutor once a week, and we both know my kanji reading ability is markedly better than the average student at my level.