So recently I came across the words 「法規」and「法律」was confused about the nuanced meanings since WK only labels them as “law”, asked a few of my colleges at work, and somewhat came to understand. That leads me to wonder why is there seems to be a big trend where WaniKani teaches very similar but just so slightly nuanced words with little explanation on differences. And when I looked at other posts I see a lot of people try to write them off by stating that it’s designed to teach kanji and not vocab.
If that’s truly the purpose, then what’s the point in the user having to provide English to vocabulary words? So, I would say I disagree, partially, with the fact that it’s just for learning kanji. Through the sheer amount of vocabulary words it introduces, it also teaches vocabulary, even if it’s a by-product of learning kanji (I think you actually learn the kanji through concrete vocabulary, but maybe that’s just me). Also, wouldn’t having confusing vocabulary actually hinder the learning of the kanji?
So, because of that, I think WaniKani does have a degree of responsibility for distinguishing nuanced words, archaic language, and the likes, especially if the platform is aimed at Japanese beginners (I could be wrong on who the actual target market is). And I’m not asking, let alone demanding, for them to put a whole detailed dictionary article in it. It could be as simple as just a small disclaimer with the word like “used mainly by the older generation” or “similar, but different to ○○”, “used in select situations”, “more formal”, or simply to encourage the user to look up the differences.
And yes, I do understand the fact that far out there words can appear at any time, I understand the need to understand archaic language, I think though for the learner, especially if they’re self-studying or new, it’d be good to point it out. I’m not saying the choice of vocabulary is bad, it does reinforce the kanji. I think though, to write off the lack of vocabulary explanation is just well wrong, since naturally, it’s a part of learning said kanji.
(Side note rant: Though this could be just me, I’m also getting a little irritated at the number of questions I have my colleges about the difference between words that WK has said to be the same in English, and well the fact its a paid service.)