Wanikani after RTK

I’m currently working through the modified RTK deck from Japanese Level Up. I should have all the kanji meanings learned within the next ~2 months.

Do you think there’s any harm in going through WK after this just for the vocabulary? I think JALUP advocates more of a do-it-yourself approach for vocabulary, which is fine, but I wonder if the vocabuary base from WK would speed up the process of vocab acquisition.


Can’t imagine why there would be. Seems that the WK would be great as mostly just a reinforcement mechanism using the SRS.


If anything, it will improve your kanji knowledge (due to RTK lacking the learning of kanji readings), so I’d totally advise Wanikani :slight_smile: Doing WK will also be a more smoothly experience (compared to starting with no knowledge), since you’ll know the meanings.


Not an expert around here, but I thought I would tell mine:
I had tried RTK before WK (first 200 kanji, give or take, with Anki for SRS), and yeah some things were definitely easier because of that (meaning only, obviously). But, since Wanikani’s stories usually contain both the meaning and the reading, you will have to learn new mnemonics anyway.

I don’t know your current ability and your goal, but keep in mind that you may know the kanji (through RTK), but you may have to wait several months to get to the readings and the vocabulary words that use those kanji, so it may feel quite slow.

That being said, yes. If money is not a real issue and if you’ve got the time/patience then it can only help with learning the basic vocabulary. I think people here learn the rest of the vocab reading books etc.


So, we’re at about the same level, but since I did the RTK thing, I’ll share my experience so far in case it helps you at all.

I did RTK years ago, before WK existed (or very early days, at least). But there was a significant time where I did no Japanese at all, so my RTK was pretty spotty. In fact, I came to WK because I wanted to refresh and maybe get something more (readings and vocab).

So, meanings are pretty easy for me. I basically go “Oh yeah” for about 50% of the kanji. May take me a rep or two, but I basically ignore all those mnemonics WK provides. Problem comes when the mnemonics are used for reading after, but even that’s not a big deal, since I mostly build my own mnemonics anyway. During RTK, I found that making my own, or stealing one from someone on Kanji Koohii, was much better than using the defaults, since it became much more personal.

So, JALUP teaches some readings, so are you doing more that or more the ‘pure’ meaning-only RTK? If the latter, like I did, WK has a huge value in teaching readings. If not, it’s only vocab and I have to wonder if some other approach, reading apps that also SRS for example, might be a better approach for vocab.

I can’t really see any harm in doing WK in addition to other things, though. The one concern I have with WK purely for vocab is the occasional grousing I see in the Community from some users that the vocab is sometimes not really what’s used in actual Japanese conversation. Words that are old fashions or just rare. I don’t have personal experience of this, though, so I can’t say how much of a problem it really is or would be for you. Probably depends on your goals.

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Depending on your scheduling, I could advocate for or against WaniKani.

People have different angles on WaniKani, but mine is to primarily learn the kanji, and there comes plenty of (admittedly very helpful) vocabulary on the side. As you know, with WaniKani you have to work with the kanji a bit before unlocking vocabulary. If you’re both using WaniKani to learn the kanji readings and are willing to wait as long (relative term) as it takes to unlock vocabulary, I don’t see any harm in it.

If you’re willing to work with modified RTK, learning the meanings and (at least some) readings at the same time, you could start picking up vocabulary through Japanese input of various types. This approach will expose you to both new words and to the other readings of the kanji you’ve already learned, similar to WaniKani’s context sentences but (1) really in deep context to help grok nuanced usage and (2) at your own pace, should you choose to work faster than WaniKani’s upper limit.

Since you’re asking about speeding up the process of learning vocabulary, I argue that, no, WaniKani will only slow you down if you otherwise can read Japanese input for an hour or two a day and are into making things like sentence cards (or boring old vocabulary-in-isolation cards). With this said, if you’re already so far into WaniKani that you’ve learned hundreds if not thousands of words, WaniKani will of course seem beneficial if you only now start reading. But at lower levels, mine included, I find starting to read to be just as painful and difficult as it was when I started years ago in formal education (I since took a long break and forgot most things, heh).

Until now I’ve compared doing either WaniKani or something else exclusively, but if you can combine the two somehow, you’re bound to learn even more on average each day.

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I think so too! Thanks for your comment! :smile:

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I did WK the kanji way and concerning vocab now I’m at 17. I also plan to so some reading for vocabs now.
WK kanji means about 2k and on a reasonable tight schedule you can do it in 15 months. Not faster! If you know these 2k kanji already pretty well you can unlock the additional vobab probably in a breeze and get an offer of vocab and example sentences during this time.
So the question IMHO is whether you think it helps to go through WK kanji to burn them still more after JALUP. Then go on. Otherwise just use other means learning vocab for burning your kanji.
Also if you want to learn readings for speaking WK makes sense. If you “only” want to read just go on with other means based on your meaning knowledge.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying it will do harm. But in the end I think you can spent your time in a better way using what you’ve learnt by reading, watching a show, or talking, than going with yet another SRS language “solution”.
WK can be great for giving you that first coating of kanji knowledge but it doesn’t go much deeper in terms of connecting that with actual use.

You miss some weeks of SRS reviewing and if nothing else is there to support those memories chances are that kanji knowledge will slip through, so to speak.

Personally doing some RTK, then WK, and then toying with RTK again taught me that some tools loose value once you are up for native resources.
I would at least take some time to work with what you have, pick a book, show or whatever and pick vocabulary on the go, see what difficulties you face with your current knowledge for some time and THEN decide if going through with another kanji resource is useful for you or not.

Edit. If you just want the vocab then (which by itself will help with the readings of those kanji words) there are apps that follow frequency too. Which can prove a more practical approach too :wink: … There’re even some inspired by WK.

This means 1 meaning per kanji right? Just clarifying because that wouldn’t be all of the meanings. It’s just an unfortunate fact that most kanji have several meanings, or at least several shades of nuance.

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Can you recommend some of those apps?

I think going through the Core 2K deck could be a nice starting point. Basically those are words that you’ll encounter no matter what when you start reading / listening more often, so are easier grasp considering the SRS or not.

Now what I’ve seen from communities that actually recommend RTK as the 1st Kanji coating, is doing something like the Core2K but with materials that include sentences that build upon each other. JALUP has its own platform with all the SRS included while others have found the Tango books and do the SRS in Anki. I think frankly any method you can stick to will do. :+1:

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Thanks. I came across that Core 2K deck the other day and it looks like a pretty good option. The author of JALUP recommends people stick around until they get to the Expert level - at which point they’ll get all the vocabulary they could want.

I’ll probably choose between one of those two options.

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Did we get a massive extension on posting term limits? :thinking:

The reading subcategory did, to solve the potential problem of book club threads closing after a year.

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So I’ve been thinking about everyone’s responses to this question (which are much appreciated). My idea now is that WK wouldn’t be as beneficial at this point for vocabulary. I’ve decided that I’ll do vocabulary by just moving forward with what I’m already doing and through native reading.

However, my remaining question: I’m at 1,200+ kanji with Modified RTK Anki deck. Would WK be useful just for the readings at this point, or should I just try to memorize those readings when I see the new vocabulary?

I’ve been using mnemonics for years and am wondering if people have had any success learning readings without those. I’m probably just worried to let go of my mnemonic safety net? :slight_smile:

You could build your own mnemonics based upon your experience of what makes a good one from here and RTK.

I don’t know if WK does anything like this at the higher levels, but RTK relaxes the hand-holding as you get further in, first dropping from a paragraph to just a short phrase, then just the keywords, then nothing but a blank for you to fill in. The idea being that you’ve developed that internal compass to self teach by that point.

So you can try that. If making your own up is too tricky, there are a few places on the net where community mnemonics are shared which you can mine for nice, sticky ones if you get stumped.

As for going without mnemonics, I say sure, go for it. It’s much easier to learn new things that fit in with an existing structure, so if your Japanese foundation is strong (or strong enough) building off of it should be easier and require less scaffolding. Worst that happens is you find you need the mnemonics for a little while longer.

Well, I came to WK with 1800+ kanji, and I still felt it was worth it for me. I’ve posted about it here (it’s my level 60 post actually).
Tl;dr: you can learn whichever way works best for you, and only use WK as a way to find out what are your leeches, iron out readings you find problematic, etc.


I decided to just come back to the Crabigator :slight_smile:

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