WaniKani to comprehension

Hello! I am close to completing all of Level 3 items, yet to subscribe but really considering it. My question is on what Level everyone started to comprehend or grasp what has been learned to speak/read semi-comfortably? The basics of course. With my current knowledge I still feel as if I could only read something slowly much less understand what it means. I know everyone learns differently and I feel like I am grasping the information given on WaniKani pretty well but currently it’s all segmented speech when trying. Trusting in the process. Thank you for any feedback.


First of all, welcome to WK; I really hope you’d like it here.
Secondly, well a lot of people, including me, start reading simple resources like


somewhere around level 20, but that’s assuming you also study grammar in parallel to WK.

There’s also

which, unlike the previous two links, is not free, but which you can start at any level, because they made reading as easy as possible.


Satori Reader does have a some free content (apparently one series plus the first two “chapters” (closer to pages) of everything), and that should be enough to see if it’s worth investing the money for the content. (And on another side note, it does have proper audio too).


This is something that happens progressively - somewhat actively and somewhat unconsciously - as you get practice, exposure, and interaction in the language. And it works in different ways for different language skills (reading, listening, speaking).

WaniKani will absolutely increase your reading speed for kanji and hiragana, and this happens step-by-step, level-by-level. I’d say that your speed on individual items that you know fairly well gets faster by the 20s… but you’ll also realize that there are other vocabulary items that are new and therefore slower. The goal is to increase the number of items that move from “difficult” to “I know this one!”.

George Trombley has a nice pep talk on this concept (little long but the 10 minutes are kinda worth it if you need motivation) :slight_smile:


love this guy!, bought his first book “Japanese from Zero 1” and studied along with his youtube video series “japanese from zero” the videos are a great complement to the books, and even though i didn’t buy the other books (he has 5 editions so far), i’ve still been watching the youtube series. Highly recommend for beginners such as myself.


Even with all the kanji knowledge from WK, you’ll still need to learn grammar as well as hiragana words and particles. I found NHK Easy to be pretty tough even when I got pretty high level in WK.

Probably the best thing I found for practicing reading was looking up Japanese readers. There are a lot of them on the kindle store. By having a short (maybe 1-5 page) reading followed by the english version and the vocab I was able to build up my confidence.

One fun way I practice is watching subtitled travel vlogs on youtube. Reading subtitles (in japanese) gives me a time limit per sentence. If I miss something, it’s no big deal. Also, reading subtitles from the same person over and over gave me a decent understanding of their grammar and style. Plus they’re relaxing.


For graded readers there is also

The have also a section for what the call N6 level - that is veeeery easy!
With some basic grammar knowledge N5 is fairly easy I would say.

Example reading N5

What I really like is that each story is accompanied by an audio file.

I started reading N5 content early on. Just give it a try :nerd_face:


Any example(s) come to mind?

Others have mentioned a ton that will help you with your goal of reading. Wanikani will help you with reading, since it teaches you Kanji and words. You still need the grammar, but with that as well you will be able to read.

However, Wanikani won’t teach you speaking. Production of language is a separate skill from recognition. You need to practice speaking separately. A good way is to try and find native Japanese speaking partners, get a tutor to practice speaking with you, or try shadowing.


The levels don’t really say anything about the user’s ability in Japanese.

Those are decided upon everything you do outside wanikani. It’s best to think of kanji study as an isolated part of Japanese mostly everyone will have to contest with at some point in their studies and wanikani helps make it a lot easier even if you don’t finish the program.

That said as a beginner it’s fine to just start with something and see if it sticks. Don’t have to do everything at once at the same pace.


Most Japanese that you are going to understand at beginner level is going to have furigana. This means that the way to read it is written above the kanji in hiragana. So for children’s books, that provide furigana, the ability to read it comes as soon as you can read hiragana and katakana. The ability to understand is a totally different subject…

My tutor had books that were designed of N5 reader, so like Cinderella for N5 learners. I could read that basically as soon as finishing Genki 1, and having about 1000 vocabulary words under my belt.

When comes to understanding native books like even Yotsuba, This is where it gets a little depressing. Even native books designed for children are going to use spoken grammar that is advanced and contractions that make it hard to understand what you’ve read. It will take you much longer and maybe even need a tutor’s help to move on to native readings.

I will say the number one thing that wanikani helped with is it made it POSSIBLE to read native materials for teens, this made it possible to continue my studies into intermediate level of reading. So, for N4-N5 level Japanese will you NEED wanikani… no. But it takes about 16 levels in wanikani until you’ve learn most of the N4 and N5 kanji. That’s 16-30 weeks of learning depending on your pace. After that you will have also learned all the necessary grammar to start reading more intermediate stuff. And then all that word that you didn’t need will become LIFESAVING foundation. So you don’t need wanikani until you need it. So it feels like it’s doing nothing until it does. Wanikani is a 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 year process so it is really designed as a slow burn in my opinion.

This is of course if you are starting at zero.


WaniKani is great for learning kanji, which is a key skill for being able to fully read and comprehend Japanese, especially in written form. Indeed, WK has been and still is, IMHO, the best SRS tool there is for learning kanji.

However, it is not enough to learn kanji in order to be able to read Japanese, even at a very basic level. There are many very common Japanese words that are written strictly in kana, for example, with no kanji associated with them. Also, while WK strives to give common and useful vocabulary words associated with particular kanji, there remain many common and even popular words which use common kanji, which WK does not include in its vocab; otherwise there would just be too many vocab words to learn on WK!

Furthermore, many words, whether using kanji or not, are used in particular ways in Japanese grammar or is set phrases that one must simply become familiar with by study and/or practice. So, learning grammar is going to be a key part of getting yourself to ‘comprehension’ as you say.

Lots of great suggestions so far in the thread already. I’ll just add that there is another SRS tool which I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn to read / listen to Japanese, which is called BunPro. It focuses most strongly on learning Japanese grammar (‘grammar’ in Japanese is 文法 (ぶんぽう or bunpou), so BunPro is a play on words meaning you’ll be a ‘pro’ at grammar, or that they are the ‘pros’ at helping to learn grammar).

While BP’s main focus is on grammar, they have recently released a very useful addition to their SRS system for learning vocabulary as well, and, IMHO, it is really a great addition, and for me has become an invaluable tool for supplementing the sometimes limited vocabulary here at WaniKani.

In particular, you can learn grammar using what’s called a ‘Cloze’ style SRS card, where a Japanese sentence is given to you, with a blank space where the vocab word should go, and you answer with the correct vocab word you’ve just learned. Since the cloze has a complete sentence surrounding it, you get to learn these words in context, as they might be used in actual Japanese sentences. Indeed, they even hired native-Japanese speakers to write and edit their example sentences so that they are using natural-sounding Japanese, with the vocabs in context.

Ever since I started using these Cloze-style vocabs, my comprehension of Japanese I see ‘in the wild’ has really skyrocketed. So, needless to say, I highly recommend it to anyone who similarly wants to have a well-made SRS tool that helps you learn Japanese vocab – not to mention it’s also already probably the best Japanese grammar SRS tool out there to date. (Anyway, I’m not affiliated with BunPro at all. Just a well-satisfied customer. I do also read and sometimes post on their community forums as well.)

Oh, by the way, forgot to mention that the vocab BunPro currently supports is mostly focused on the JLPT level system, from easiest level N5 to most advanced level N1. There are many options for how to learn these vocabs, though, such as choosing an ordering based on different kinds of ‘popularity’ (General, Anime, etc.), and also following an order based on several popular textbooks, such as the well-known Genki textbooks, Minna no Nihongo, and several others.


Thank you, I’ll check out your recommendations. I don’t mean to come off as impatient and I know it’s a process to learn, I just wanted to gauge when people comfortably processed all the characters learned for comprehending. Thanks!

1 Like

I’ll be looking into this. Thanks!

Sounds like a great resource. Never heard of him but I’ll
be subscribing to his channel.

1 Like

Sounds tough, I have tried listening to Japanese vlogs/videos but it is still so foreign. In time I’m sure but not there yet.

I’m still intimidated when On’yomi is used As i haven’t learned too many Kanji. I have downloaded a couple of grade school books and are able to read the kana but yet to understand their meaning.

Thanks for that. What are good resources to study grammar. I tried learning Japanese a few years ago on Rosetta Stone and I didn’t really grasp their process or like the program. Starting again with WaniKani but I hear grammar should be studied as well.

1 Like

Thank you for this information. I will look into this as it seems like an integral way of learning. I had asked for a grammar resource, and this seems to be just what I needed.


For grammar, absolutely NOT rosetta stone. I started with Genki 1 and 2. I would say completing both of those took me to N4 ish level of grammar.

I’ve had a tutor and two conversation partners for a couple years now. We spent some time reading n4 level readings which helped a lot, and now we have been studying with the Shin Kanzen Master N3 grammar work book.

1 Like