WaniKani without immersion

Hey everyone, haven’t posted on here before so hi!

As for my question, I am currently studying Spanish, but the itch to learn Japanese has always been there. Does anyone have any experience with only using WaniKani for a few months, and then going on to expand their studies after? I’d like to finish my Spanish studies which is going to take about 6 months, is it a smart idea to do WaniKani in the meanwhile? My worry is that the time spent on WaniKani might not be worth it if not immediately combined with immersion. However, if someone else has found success with it in this way, the time spent on WaniKani isn’t an issue.

tldr: Is it a good idea to do WaniKani without immersion while studying a different language, and starting full Japanese studies after finishing up the other language?

Thanks! And happy learning!

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If we’re talking efficiency? Probably best to focus on one first and then switch to the other.
But life isn’t always about efficiency, and starting WaniKani early surely isn’t going to do you any harm. If you’re feeling the itch to get started, might as well.

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As long as you are creating mnemonics, the time is well spent. There’s no immediate need to immerse or study grammar when starting to learn kanji/vocab, although they are inarguably beneficial.

There is, however, a concern about studying 2 languages at a time. I know that Spanish is a VERY simple language, and given its common Latin roots you already gain several thousand vocabulary right from day 1, but there will still be conflicts with energy, time and motivation, potential for burnout, and opportunities to mix things up (believe it or not, there are similar sounding words in Spanish and Japanese). Even givin how simple Spanish really is to learn for other Latin alphabet-using natives, tackling Spanish and any part of Japanese at the same time is a tall order.

As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend getting 1 language to pre-intermediate level before moving on to another. A common joke among polyglots goes something to the effect of, “How do you learn 7 languages? Know 6, and learn a 7th.”

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Yeah I’ve been trying to learn both at the same time, hence my question regarding immersion. It is just too much to do both fully, but I do really enjoy learning kanji and vocab and it doesn’t take too much time. My Spanish is at around B2 right now, so I’m basically only doing immersion and looking stuff up. I passed the JLPT5 so my Japanese is still at a very basic level but I can grasp the grammar quite well when it comes to structure and particles (definitely lacking volume though!). My only concern really is whether or not doing only WaniKani for 6 months will benefit me once I’m “done” with Spanish. I worry that not doing active immersion will lead to atrophy, even when taking the srs into consideration. For now I think I’ll just keep doing WaniKani as long as it doesn’t interfere with my Spanish studies.

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If you are intent on doing WK while learning another language, there is benefit to doing WK, but you’ll probably want something to help with the atrophy while you’re tackling another language.

You’re going to want to go slow, not doing the maximum pace of 20 lessons/day in WK. I would recommend 8 lessons a day. And I would recommend building an anki deck of your WK items and setting a custom max interval of 45 days (about 6 weeks). That way, every 6 weeks, you will have a review of your cumulative WK knowledge. Taking on 2 languages at once will almost certainly negatively affect the interval windows for SRS to be effective, so capping the max interval is a way to work around that.

It will seem like a TON of work at first, but it will only be painful for the first 2 months, and then you’ll be flying through the reviews on autopilot.

Hope this helps.

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A bit of a perfectionist, are we? :wink:
Having already studied another language I’m sure you know this already, but there’s no need to study things to perfection with languages. Don’t perfectly understand some piece of grammar? Half a year and some immersion later and it feels like second nature.
In terms of SRS, the worst case scenario is that your accuracy might go down a little because you aren’t reinforcing what you are learning outside the SRS. But that’s not much of a “worst case”, is it?

If anything I might be worried about only learning words in isolation, i.e. not seeing how they are actually used, because learning one English buzzword usually isn’t enough to “learn” a word.

But 6 months isn’t that much anyways, I wouldn’t worry about it :person_shrugging:

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I am a busy professional but I LOVE learning languages. I took on WaniKani about 1-2 yrs ago and go quite slow because of my work schedule and the rest of my life. I am simultaneously learning Japanese and Scottish Gaelic (which I got exposed to about 35 yrs ago and decided to pick up again) as well as refurbishing my French and German and Spanish. I have found that I will focus on a particular language for a week or so then switch again. I think it actually helps to sit on the lessons for a few days then come back to them. Anyway I do look for reading material to try and cement my lessons. I have supplemented WaniKani with Bunpro and some Japanese reading material.

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looking with great discomfort at my “Spanish is the hardest of the romance languages” motto
(just kidding, I’ve never tried Italian or Romanian. Still consider Spanish a beast, maybe from not having studied it properly.)

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huh, maybe it’s because I only did it at a high school level, but I always felt Spanish was far easier compared to French (can’t comment on Italian though)

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I can’t really comment about the “studying multiple languages simultaneously” part, as I know that I wouldn’t be able to cope with that :dizzy_face: About doing WaniKani only for a few months, actually Tofugu’s recommendation is to reach level 10 before starting grammar study. Of course this is debatable, a lot of people preferred not to wait that long. For me personally, I tried to follow that advice but I found that only doing WaniKani over and over for several months got quite boring after a while. So, I ended up starting grammar study when I was around late level 9. It can really feel mundane if you’re just learning new kanji or vocabs without knowing what to do with them; you might forget them quite easily too. If you don’t mind this, then I guess it’s fine.

For the immersion, personally I found that it’s only effective once I had a bit of grammar knowledge. No matter how many levels I passed in WaniKani initially, it didn’t really make me able to comprehend children books or animes… At most probably getting 1-3 vocabs right out of a sentence. The moment I started grammar study, I’ve started to be more aware of Japanese sentence structure, verb conjugation, etc. That’s the time where immersion started to feel more productive.

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Yeah I can see that, it’s all personal. It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of mixing Portuguese (my native language) with Spanish (due to lack of proper studying). For that reason, I consider it to be much harder than French because I could learn the latter from a fresh, unbiased perspective.

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Oh I see!
I was learning Spanish from English so we must’ve percieved it totally differently

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I’m a native Spanish speaker and I thought French was pretty simple but mostly very similar to Spanish.

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You can do whatever you feel like. Immersion and other studies are better along with WK, than not. But it’s not like it’s useless to do WK without immersion or any other side studies.

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You can basically do WaniKani by itself if you’re able to, and then come back later and have a pretty big advantage with the kanji. It’s just harder to learn that much by only doing kanji and vocab, without even talking about motivation and stuff.

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Yes, I definitely think that the earlier you start learning the better! Even going slow is better than not taking the first steps at all.

In my case, I studied Japanese for a bit in college and then forgot it all when I didn’t use it for 3 years after. (In college I hated kanji and never studied it outside of the textbook). After deciding to move to Japan and study at a language school, I found WaniKani and started slowly getting back into it so I’d have a headstart once school started. BEST DECISION EVER.

WaniKani made learning Japanese the second time so much easier. I was able to remember vocab and understand grammar points better, appreciate the language, in general, more, etc…

So yup, if you have the time and brain space, I think it can only help you for when you switch to studying Japanese full time. (If you want to hear more about my experience I made a video here! Learn Japanese in JAPAN! | 1.5 Years in Language School | My Experience at GenkiJacs, Fukuoka - YouTube)

I only started immesion around lvl 30s, not regretted a bit.

I tried before that and I realized I was looking up words all the time, it was boring.

now that I have a bigger vocab list, I feel more confident and I only check a vocab if it appears like three times in a row if a character is speaking it frequently, it might be imporat to know right away what the word is related.

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You’re level 8 so I’m guessing you’re already language polygamous and want to know whether you should keep on this way or not.

Anyway, you’ve got 2 questions here:

  1. Is it a bad idea to study beginning Japanese + advanced Spanish at the same time?
  2. Is it a good idea to do only WaniKani if I’m not doing anything else at all?

#1 - Heck if we know, it’s your brain! I did Spanish and French at the same time no problem but I still confuse Spanish/Japanese. Other people have different experiences. Again, at level 8 you probably already know the answer to this one.

#2 - In my experience it makes things needlessly difficult. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle with one training wheel and no pedals and wondering why you keep falling over. (It also gets boring.) Also I don’t think it’ll be that helpful – at the end of 6 months you’ll still be at Beginning Japanese Textbook Lesson 1 which assumes the reader doesn’t know any kanji anyway.

That said, if it makes you happy and satisfies that “itch to learn Japanese” until you can properly learn it (and you can afford the sub of course) – then yeah sure go for it until you get bored with it.

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