WaniKani almost feels "too good to be true"

Hello fellow reviewers, this is my first post on the WaniKani Community. :wave:

I just finished a review session of +70 items with 100% correct answers and I felt the urge to share with you a thought that has been bothering me for quite some time :

  • “Am I really learning all these characters and vocabulary words, or is it just an illusion?”

I’ve tried to study kanjis with various methods (RTK, Kodansha, Writing kanjis on paper…), and I am amazed by how easy (and even addictive) it is to study on WaniKani. Since I’ve first created my account (in early december), I haven’t skipped one day of study and I am already at level 6.

The thing is, I tend to believe that you can only “learn” something after having practiced this thing over and over. However, I don’t feel like I am “practicing” on WaniKani. I was thinking about starting to read NHK easy news at around level 20, but I might decide to do otherwise depending on your reactions to this conversation.

To make it short, here is my question for those who are more experienced than me : “How crucial is it to start practicing my reading skills with NHK easy news (or other easy reading materials) before I reach level 20?”

(By the way, I am also using Bunpro on the side to develop my understanding of japanese grammar)

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NHK easy news is quite high-level already if you start from scratch. I would recommend to start graded readers as soon as you can if you want reading practice.

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I think that, to some extent, the keyword here is “gamification”.

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If you want to read somewhat smoothly, yeah, around level 20 is probably where that starts to happen. But there’s nothing stopping you from digging in sooner, if you are willing to look up A LOT of stuff.

If you only did WK and never read any Japanese material, you would eventually forget nearly everything, I think. Even burned items will slip from your memory if you don’t encounter them enough, either through SRS or in the wild. WK is a great launchpad for being able to read kanji. It can’t read for you. You need to do that on your own. But it will give you enough of a foundation that you don’t need to look up every kanji you see (depending on your level and choice of reading material).

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WaniKani is great for recognition, but not recall. I use KameSame to learn recall, but there’s lots of other resources (Anki Decks, KaniWani, etc).

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I have started reading NHK Easy around level 10. I used the rikaikun browser extention to translate text I coundn’t understand. This is a dictionary that generates popups for the reading and meaning of words when you move the mouse over them. You can look up for things fast this way.

For grammar I used the Bunpro search engine to lookup unknown grammar points. When Bunpro failed me I searched them on Google.

This is to say you don’t need to wait to read NHK Easy. Just have the proper tool and turn it into a learning platform.

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Get Yomi-chan.

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You are learning to read them, and it is a powerful feeling! There is still more work to do to fully develop your other skills (grammar, understanding the vocab in context, etc), but you’ve taken a big step. I strongly recommend to beginners that you get a traditional textbook like Genki and a private tutor, if you can swing it. It helps develop the other muscles quite well.

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Oh, I see. Thanks! I think I’ll start reading right away with graded readers. :thinking:

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WK is easy rn because you’re still in the early levels, it def gets harder eventually! Not only you gotta keep up with more stuff, but the kanjis get more complicated and harder to differentiate at times.

As for reading, I say start reading stuff right away. Even if you don’t know much grammar/kanjis, just being able to have a faster reading speed is crucial to be able to read later on. I’d recommend starting with an easy manga, that way the pictures can still give you some context even if you don’t understand any words and you’ll be less frustrated. If you can’t get physical copies, there are legitimate ways to get ebook versions of mangas like with Bookwalker or Amazon’s Kindle (you can even get free samples iirc).

NHK web easy is a good resource, but it’s def more for intermediate level. It’s labeled Easy because it’s mainly for Japanese kids, who already know most vocab due to being native speakers, but need to have stories simplified for them, etc. I myself started reading and understanding stories on there during my 3rd semester of Japanese class at university.

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Aside from the aforementioned graded readers, also consider checking out the Absolute Beginner Book Club. It’s a great way to learn grammar as you go, because you can leverage the experience of the community by asking questions along the way.

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I started reading NHK Easy around Level 7 because…why not… and while it may not be the most efficient, if you want to then go for it :grin:
And it’ll increase your reading speed and get you used to the patterns even though you may not understand a lot.
Mind, I’m only a beginner too so take my words with a grain of salt :wink:

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You won’t be feeling that for long.When the reviews become overwhelming and leeches destroy your accuracy,trust me.It is gonna feel extremely real.

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As someone who had 794 reviews last week Tuesday, I can vouch that it indeed gets harder (at least if you are going at full speed).

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For the speedsters, the fast levels at the end become the self-induced 地獄 (Hell) levels.

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Don’t scare the young padawans! :sweat_smile: That’s just you being crazy! :sweat:

If you do like me, alternate between going faster and slower at the “fast levels” you shouldn’t have more than 200 reviews daily, though I do have a bigger load this day. But, you definitely don’t have to get completely buried in reviews unless you like it that way! ^^;

As for reading. I started reading stuff long before I started my WK journey. I’ve also listened to Audio Dramas, podcasts, watched some Japanese anime, tv and movies, read some news, played games in Japanese…and so on. All before WK.

I don’t think there is a too soon for any of these thing - if you have the patience for it.

That’s really the only thing stopping you, because you’ll have to look up a lot of words.

Also, depending on how well your grasp is of grammar is, that could be a road block. But I started reading with just some very basic grammar comprehension also. :sweat_smile:

At the very least, give reading a try.

And if you feel it’s too challenging, just try something else. But, getting into reading and consuming Japanese media is a great way to support what you’re learning through WK. These things go hand in hand. :slight_smile:

Good luck! :+1:

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For myself, I liked KW and KS initially but I’m slowly easing into reading graded reading stuff and NHK Easy News and I’m leaving KameSame, and KW, behind… It’s just too much of SRS and reading will be more helpful for recall of learned Kanji because it’ll be in context. Plus, I’ll pick up new vocab, too;)

Also, with KW, it is getting annoying to be guessing which Kanji, or vocab, it wants when they are sometimes all called the same in English. You know which words I’m talking about :rofl:

At least, KS gives you an indication if it wants the other Kanji, or vocab, and asks for it right away, getting it out of the way.

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Check out the free Tadoku graded readers. Most of them have audio, too:

https://tadoku.org/japanese/en/free-books-en/

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It’s 一本気! :grin::joy::rofl:

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