WaniKani learning methodology, applicable to Japanese Speakers?


Hello WaniKani Community!

After having spent a few years in Japan, I am embarrassed to say that I only picked up scattered pieces of Kanji knowledge (Got my 日本語能力試験二級 after half a year through being able to speak and through logic deduce the right Kanji on the test).

However, years have passed since then, and the limited scope of Kanji I knew, is long gone, however I am strangely fluent when it comes to speaking.

Can WaniKani help me pick up the last piece of the puzzle? Can it finally complete my Japanese language skills by helping me get to understand the Kanji? Or will my speaking knowledge and scattered knowledge of Kanji get in the way of the learning methodology that WaniKani use?

Best Regards

A Fellow Traveller :wink:


I think it should help rather than hinder. The hardest parts for me to remember are always the readings and those will be much easier to you if you are familiar with the vocab.

I just recently learned 病 (sick) with the reading びょう. The mnemonic was something about B.O. which just wouldn’t stick because that abbreviation is not something I would use actively while speaking (since I’m not a native speaker). I finally realized “ah, that’s just びょう as in びょういん” and it has been easy to remember ever since.

Today, I learned 自転車 (じてんしゃ). I’ve known that word for a while but now I now all the kanji and can see that it is: self + revolving + car = bike. Those little mind blowing moments are always fun for me. I imagine you would have them even more often since you know more vocab.


Are you really asking us if you are too good at Japanese to be able to learn kanji? Or something?


Of course not, it is a serious question… Usually in science, ones methodology can become invalid if ones preconceptions influence that methodology, resulting in a biased or invalid scientific result.

Hence, I am asking if my speaking/broken kanji knowledge will interfere with the methodology that WaniKani use for teaching, and thus prevent me from utilizing it (in other words, learn through WaniKani). :slight_smile:


WaniKani’s methodology is SRS… spaced repetition. You never have to look at a single mnemonic if you don’t want to. If SRS doesn’t work for you, it’s not because of what you already know.


Thank you, I was unsure of that, if the single methodology is SRS, and hence not reliant on the mnemonics, then it is as you.

I was under the assumption that the mnemonic were integral to the learning system, since when I went through the first radicals that is the impression I got.

I did not mean to offend anyone with my original question.

If I have offended you, I am sorry, and apologise.


The mnemonics are all over the place, but there’s no requirement to read them.

I wasn’t offended, just asking if this was a humblebrag.


I assure you that humblebrag (thank you for adding this to my vocabulary) was not my intent.

Being able to speak, and not read/write is not something to brag about, and during my stay in Japan, it was and still is a point of embarrassment that I am now hoping to rectify. No-one in Japan will say you know the language without knowing the Kanji.

Best Regards



Wanikani does force you to learn radicals with their own custom names, but you can later change those names to ones you are more accustomed to. In this case you’d have to make your own mnemonics, but it’s not really a problem since most people tend to use their own mnemonics anyway. Or you can just not use mnemonics and rely on the SRS only.

The problem often is that you can’t skip levels, and you might start to bump into kanji you actually don’t know on level 15 for example, which would make you to pay for levels 4 to 14 * 7ish = 70 days “for nothing”.

That being said, I think wk is the best SRS-system for kanji I’ve seen.


I think you’ll find that your knowledge will aid you, and won’t interfere with the methodology at all. The mnemonics tend to be cues/placeholders until you’re familiar enough with the kanji through srs + vocabulary for readings. You’ll be ahead of the game since you will be able to connect to the readings much easier.

The kanji I’ve had the easiest time with are ones connected to vocabulary I already knew, similar to what @irrelephant explained. You should hopefully have many moments of “ohhhh so that’s the meaning/reading behind all those 半額 stickers at the supermarket”.

Go for it!


There is no issue using WK of course, but if you already know a large fraction of the vocab you might feel a bit held back. Each level is timed for roughly one week to give the items you learn enough time to “settle down” in your memory. If you only go for the kanji you have about 30 items per week, while others also learn about 150 new items per level with vocab. WK will take at least one year to complete if you use it consistently, you might cram the kanji in much less time if you wanted.

But it is fun to see all the vocab coming along and the nuances of the meaning become so much more clear, going “slow” is not such a bad idea.


It straight up helps… Sometimes I ignore the reading mnemonic for a kanji because I know a vocabulary word that uses the on/kun yomi that WaniKani wants me to enter. Other times the mnemonic really helps.

WaniKani’s real benefit is forcing you to stay on track and making sure you review things you might have never reviewed in self study. Also you’ll learn words/kanji that you may never have encountered because they aren’t as common. That’s still true no matter your incoming Japanese level.