WaniKani Vocab

Hello Everyone - Relatively new user here that absolutely loves WaniKani.

Sorry if this has been asked a lot. I did search, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. I know that WK is focused on Kanji and Vocab is seen an a great additional benefit.

I guess what I want to ask is why do many not see WK as a great vocab learning tool? I am aware that you learn the vocab based on the kanji ordering (easier Kanji first rather than frequency of Kanji in daily use).

However, looking at WK stats, it looks like you still learn the vast majority of the 2k most common Kanji eventually (does this not translate to most common vocab?) and much of the JLPT. I feel like I am learning a lot of vocab through WK. I am not a fan of any of the other apps and prefer not having to use several apps.

I don’t have a lot of time to study Japanese unfortunately and need to prioritize my time. I would rather focus on grammar via Genki, KaniWani for recalling words, and speaking/listening practice. I am also not trying to “speedrun” Japanese so I don’t really care if I learn more common works later on.

I am planning on supplementing vocab that I learn through the Genki series and Kana (anyone have a good tool for Kana based vocab?)

A bit of a scattered question, I know. I just don’t get the criticism of vocab that I have read and want to see if I am making a mistake by not supplementing vocab early on.



WaniKani’s not bad for learning vocab, it’s just that it doesn’t teach a lot of it (~6k words), and vocabulary on here is primarily included to reinforce the kanji and teach different readings, which means not necessarily most common words, and a lot are kana only, as you mentioned.

If you’re looking for other places to learn vocab, there’s Torii SRS—core 10k, and Kitsun.io—lots of decks available, including a Genki deck actually.

It’s understandable not wanting to use lots of different systems though, and if you’re studying grammar elsewhere, you’ll be fine with WaniKani for now, so I wouldn’t stress. When you get around to reading, a lot of people find it helpful to use an SRS they can add to, too, so you can keep that in mind for the future. :blush:


Thank you so much for the reply. That is actually very helpful. I think post completing Genki, I’ll start using Torii.

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WaniKani teaches the reading and a basic meaning for many vocabulary words, but that’s not all a full vocabulary resource does. WK doesn’t teach you how to use words, and the focus on kanji skews the kind of words that are taught. A focused vocabulary resource wouldn’t be like that.


What do you mean by a focused vocabulary resource? Something like Torii wouldn’t be any better in that regard, if we’re saying WaniKani doesn’t teach you how to use words.

But yes this is a much better way of putting it.

The only words taught are the ones that involve the kanji (+ any avaliable kanji at the level that can form a word with the item), and are meant just as an reinforcement for readings. This means that

  1. Any kana only words are ignored
  2. Vocabulary is not ordered in relevancy (it tries to use the most relevant items avaliable, but it has a limit, especially on lower levels where the kanji avalible are limited).
  3. You only learn what the word means and how to write it. You do not learn how to use it in a sentence

This is perfectly fine for wk’s goal of having you stick kanjis onto your mind. The retention probably wouldn’t be as good if vocab wasn’t included. But that’s really what it does. It is nice to learn some words, but consider that just a little bonus, and not really a tool.

There are resources dedicated to vocabulary. Teaching much more than just what the word is and how to read it. That’s about what a J-E dictionary contains. Plenty of books exist for this purpose, going beyond the basic info for words. I’ve never used Torii, so it’s not what I was referring to.

The Resource Master requires that you hand over these resources, Leebo. No, but seriously, I would always love more resources to add to The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List!, the dictionaries in Japanese section is particularly lacking.

Thanks for the response. I knew about the first two points, but did not consider the third point.

thanks for the response. I didn’t consider that WK doesn’t teach “how to use [the] words” as you wrote. I guess I need to start using a dedicated vocab source as well.

I’ll take a look later when I get home.

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One of the biggest things, for me, is that many words in Japanese are not written with Kanji, and are very basic, so I wouldn’t know those if I only stuck to WK.

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Try looking for a list of most used vocab and enter the readings in some SRS apps. I did that with a list of most used verbs and it helped me a bunch. Especially considering some very common ones are in higher levels. Warau is in level 16. Kowasu is in level 29(!!!). Kinisuru and kigasuru aren’t even on the platform according to the other thread and they use it ALL the time.

I use an app for iPhone called Japanese which is sort of like a dictionary that lets you add words to lists and has a (not super good) SRS system.

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