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).
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.
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.
Oh, I see. Thanks! I think I’ll start reading right away with graded readers.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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).
For the speedsters, the fast levels at the end become the self-induced 地獄 (Hell) levels.
Don’t scare the young padawans! That’s just you being crazy!
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.
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.
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
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.
Check out the free Tadoku graded readers. Most of them have audio, too:
TBTBT = Too Bad To Be True
If you start reading NHK now, you will at least be able to sight read 新しいコロナウイルス, and 緊急事態宣言 by the end of the week…
I would say, that if you want to learn to read Japanese, then the only way of doing that is to practice reading it. Reading on the web is good; Yomi-Chan allows you to hover over words if you don’t understand them, and Jisho.org is OK at picking up the word conjugations, so even at a low level (I think I started NHK Easy at ~10) you can make sense of the text, even if it’s not entirely clear. And, if you fancy a laugh^W^W^W get completely stuck, you can always drop a sentence into google translate.
Seeing kanji & words in the wild is a different experience from seeing them in WK, and knowing the reading can be harder without the supplementary clues and familiar environment. Reading can also help with grammar - at least you know what you don’t know - and above all, help with the way Japanese is written/spoken.
I haven’t seen anyone else mention randomized fonts yet, so here you go!
I find my reviews more challenging (and more useful) with this extension. Changing the font forces me to develop a deeper understanding of the kanji’s components, instead of recognizing the overall shape. With varied fonts, you really have to confront “visually similar” kanji, which you might breeze past without it.
While WaniKani is useful for building vocabulary, a lot of the vocab is weird, or not usually written with kanji. WK is an excellent tool, but it’s only one part of a balanced diet. Grammar studies, and general vocab studies, will be more useful than furiously drilling kanji… unless you love the kanji themselves, more than reading/speaking Japanese.
Good luck with your Japanese-learning adventure!
Thanks for this recommendation!
I’ll start reading on the side with the Tadoku graded readers until I feel confident enough to start reading NHK news easy without too much of a trouble.
I thank you all for your answers, great community!