WaniKani's system of separated meaning/reading cards and the effect on SRS - what are your thoughts on this?

I’m not sure if this has been specifically talked about, I didn’t see anything topics addressing this, but I was wondering if people had any thoughts about how the system of separated meanings and readings would effect SRS and the progression. Now, let me explain what exactly I mean.

Sometimes I come across a word or a kanji, and I think “hmm I can’t quite remember the meaning” and then I realize “oh wait, it wants the reading” so I answer the reading. Now, whether or not I get the reading correct, I now know the reading, and often times that will trigger in my brain the answer to the meaning. (or vice versa, the meaning gives away the reading).

If the meaning or reading is giving away the other answer, I’m able to continue progression on that item when I feel as though I didn’t completely remember it. And, in a situation where the one I don’t quite remember is asked first, then I wouldn’t be progressing on that item. So sometimes if I didn’t know it right away without any clues, I feel like I should be getting that item incorrect. But I don’t really know. Do you guys think that this impacts the SRS where if I level up the SRS, then next time around I might not actually remember it without that additional clue?

Maybe this doesn’t matter, I don’t know, it was just a thought I had. Every time I only remember an answer because of the clue from the other half, I wonder if I really should be getting it correct.

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I mean, when you see any given kanji when you’re reading things out in the wild, you’re really supposed to come up with both the meaning and the reading. I think that you should be able to use one to come to the other.

When I’m struggling with the meaning of a kanji or a vocab word, I usually try to come up with the reading and that will sometimes remind me (or the other way around, when asked for the reading). I use the reading as my mnemonic for a good amount of vocab words, if they’re things that I already knew phonetically from watching too much anime as a kid :tm:.

Obviously I’m not a native Japanese speaker, but my guess is that while reading things that at the very least aren’t particularly challenging, they’d come up with the meaning and reading simultaneously, which is my experience with kanji usually once I hit master (although of course it varies). I wouldn’t think it would be a bad thing for those two thoughts to be connected in your head, especially if that would indicate that you would understand it spoken to you as opposed to having the kanji in front of you.

But that’s just me. I don’t know how it would affect the SRS, although logically that’s just kind of how kanji work when you think about it the functional way in real life, when you’re almost always going to need to think of both (at more or less the same time, rather than down the road on your stack of reviews).


Hey @ResistantLaw, my first thought is that the situation you described - at first you may not instantly know both a meaning and reading when you see a kanji, but then its compliment leads you to recall the answer - is a lot like real life. When you obtain fluency in a foreign language, recall often works this way. I find this to be true for Japanese, French, or whatever you might be learning. Over a lifetime (or hopefully sooner if you’re one of the crazy level 60 people), you’ll get it instantly. But even they restart back to level 1 sometimes.

In terms of your progress on an SRS level, if you get a meaning or reading wrong on your first try, then on your second try you’ll see an animated red “Apprentice” down arrow box appear. Since you didn’t answer correctly on the first try, you won’t level up an SRS stage until your next review when you answer both correctly (the green “Apprentice” level up arrow). FYI-- there are four levels of apprentice which is community knowledge page and in the technical docs.

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From pretty early on (level 12, I think), I started using 1x1 mode of the reorder script, so I would get back to back reading-then-meaning. The consistent sequence made it so much easier to remember them as a pair, which meant that if you remembered one, you’d always remember the other. The brain loves consistent sequences!

And by doing the reading first, I found that I was thinking more in Japanese. If you think about it, what Wanikani calls the ‘meaning’ is actually just the English ‘reading’. So, when you see the ‘meaning’ first, you associate the kanji/vocab with English first, then Japanese second. By doing the ‘reading’ first, you are associating the kanji/vocab with Japanese first, so you start to think in Japanese sooner. If you look at 猫, you think of ‘neko’, rather than thinking ‘cat’ and then translating to ‘neko’.