Vocabulary or radicals first?


I’m wondering if I should be completing previous levels vocabulary lessons before moving on to the next levels radicals?

I just finished level 1 (radicals + kanji)
I’m now level 2, I have a whole new set of radicals and some kanji to learn.
I do 20 lessons a day, review as many times as I can 3-4 daily.

Should I start the new level 2 radicals first or complete the level 1’s vocabulary first? (with the 20 lessons pace even for vocabulary).

If I started the new levels radicals, I’d do them all in one or two sessions and start the previous levels vocabulary after.



You should probably do all the lessons in a level before going to the next one. Vocabulary helps with kanji writings and are related to the kanji you already learned, for obvious reasons, so skipping them is not the best.

1 Like

I generally start on the next level before I’ve gotten the current level’s vocab up to guru. WK orders it so that you get the vocab first and then the next level’s available radicals then kanji, anyway, so you won’t be doing anything out of order. If you think you can handle the pace, you can go ahead and start on them, but if not (or if you start out with starting the next level’s radicals before finishing your current level’s vocab but start getting overwhelmed with later - bigger - levels and decide to slow down), then they’ll be waiting for you whenever you’re ready for them. It all depends on how much time you have and how much time you need

There are many schools of study here on WK. Some use reordering, but I always felt like the original ordering offered by WK made more sense, so yeah, do vocab lessons first before moving on. They’re there to help you memorize the kanji you just guru’d, so it makes sense to do them close in time. The vocab shouldn’t be too hard either, if you already know the kanji readings, though there will always be alternative readings that you learn from vocab as well. So, that additional layer of info is also important to connect to the kanji you’ve just learnt.

Moving on to the next set of kanji can happen after that, imo.

But, if you’re concerned about levels taking too much time, getting started on the radicals is how you speed things up. It’s up to you to decide how fast you wanna go. :slight_smile:


I usually do my radicals first because I prefer having all kanji of a level unlocked at once. I always make sure to finish all remaining vocab lessons of the previous level before getting started on the new kanji though :smiley:

1 Like

I second this. As soon as I level-up, I switch to Flaming Durtles (because you can prioritise radicals there) and do all my radical lessons first. Not because I want to rush and finish a level in 6 days 20 hours, but so I don’t have to wait too long for the second batch of kanji to unlock.

1 Like

I actually consider this issue one of the biggest problems with wk, if you go fast, you will have to learn a lot of vocab before you get a chance at radicals
I tried going for radicals first, then previous level vocab.

Tl;dr I don’t recommend it
Wk relies heavily on you using the vocabulary from that stage to remember the kanji past the guru levels better. If you spend days without learning them, it will become much much harder.
And another issue, when was the last time you sat down and went “yay, I have vocab lessons left”? When I did reorder personally because of a rough time and laziness, I had a lesson pile-up. Dealing with those is painful.

1 Like

As said by someone, if Wanikani is made (by default, I mean) to do vocab first before the radicals, there is probably a reason for that. And personally I prefer doing the vocab before doing items from the next level. It helps me consolidate the kanjis I learnt earlier and I think that vocab is the most important part. We need kanji because we want to understand and read vocab. Kanjis by themselves are meaningless to my opinion.
But anyway, everyone has their way to learn, their own logic. So just chose what you feel more comfortable with. If you can speed up and still read/understand the vocab because you saw it elsewhere, that´s good too.

if you want to speedrun, you’ll want to do radicals asap. but if you’re attempting to speedrun, and not do all lessons as soon as they’re available (i.e. use re-ordering), you’ll have to keep track of what lessons you have available and plan out which to do when anyway.

personally i like to do radicals fairly soon after level up, even if i still have a lot of vocab left over. but that works because in higher levels there are much fewer radicals than in the beginning. and then afterwards i use reorder to get a nice mix of vocab and kanji lessons.

reordering lessons is not bad, but if you do it it’s important not to neglect vocab. vocab is important!

Older hands with more experience have weighed in, but my contribution is two fold.

  • Maybe let yourself follow the default WK process for a few levels to see how it suits. The first couple aren’t necessarily representative of the overall experience (for a number of reasons) so how you feel about the pace / mix now might not be how you feel after a bit of time has passed.

  • If you don’t like having a batch of vocab to get through at the end of a level consider using the WK native option to reorder you lessons by level, then random. This means you will get a mix of different lessons as you go, and have fewer vocab lessons at the end. This works especially well if you a taking a fairly leisurely approach, if you want to speed run ignore me completely.

welcome to the forum!!!

depends if you have time everyday to speedrun or not. at 20 lessons a day, you should be levelling up in a week or less than 10 days at least.

if you don’t reorder the kanji, you should have few vocab left at the end of the level. but when you guru your last kanji, you always unlock vocab. i’ve recently reset and i do 10-15 lessons a day. i usually do all vocab on the first day of a level to clear some indeed.

a good way to clear enough vocab before hitting the next level is to aim for at least once 0 reviews 0 lessons during a level.

we have a 0/0 streak thread where you can post everytime you get to 0/0 in a level. no one is holding accountable of course but i found it helps me be reasonable with prioritising kanji and radicals.

the thread is here: The 0/0 Streak Challenge

hell levels have been crazy for me, level up from 33 to 34 it took me 20 days!!!

now since level up, I havent done anything from this level because in lessons it is still appearing items from previous level, so far 5 days and nothing done from level 34 :frowning:

is my account with a bug or something or this become normal? Because before it was taking around 12 to 15 days to level up and now this. Any way to fix?

level 7 took me a month XD – I’ve slowed down considerably choosing to instead try to absorb things more thoroughly with a lot of listening/grammar (youtube/podcasts) along with plenty of anime and some reading (yotsuba). it feels like I’ve made massive progress since I started 5 months ago and wanikani has basically become a structured way for me to acquire more vocab to then listen out for in the rest of my input. it might slow down my leveling but really encourages me to continue as I pick out more and more phrases that I understood while watching my favorite anime :stuck_out_tongue: .

With that in mind, I generally find the vocab far more rewarding than the kanji, and it now here at level 8 I am finding that many of my old enlightened kanji that come up I remember the readings through associated vocab more so than from the kanji itself, so I would highly recommend learning the vocab thoroughly.

A lot of people get tied up with how many days it takes to level up.

Personally i don’t worry about it. At 20 days per level Wanikani will take approx 3 years to reach level 60. I don’t think that is an unreasonable amount of time to spend.

For myself to actually get good at Japanese, I anticipate it will probably take more than 10 years so i’m not going to rush and burn out.

Radical->Kanji->Vocab. Vocab doesn’t level you, Kanji do. You can ignore vocab for as long as you want really, that’s rather counterproductive though. I’m sitting fancy on a pile of 150 right now since I neglected lessons for a week :stuck_out_tongue: not a good look on me. Ideally, you want the lesson pile to say 0, but it can be very hard to absorb more than 25 new things per day.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.