How exhaustive really is the vocabulary taught in WaniKani?
How good are you going to be with the language?
Will you be able to understand the gist of most of the sentences?
Will the sentences still feel alien to you?
How fast can you learn the rest of the language?
How well can you interact with people?
How exhaustive really is the vocabulary taught in WaniKani?
WK is a kanji learning tool that happens to cover a lot of useful vocab in their efforts to teach many readings. But it doesn’t cover the many kana-only words. Or common idioms. And many other things.
If I hypothetically did nothing but WK until 60? I think I’d still be useless at Japanese, honestly.
But it would be the same in any language if you just learn vocab. If you don’t know English and just learn a word like “to run,” that won’t help at all if I tell you “she ran.”
Vocab is the muscle that is propelled by the skeleton of grammar. One is useless without the other.
That’s an interesting question. I would say that if you got to level 60 without any other material you probably wouldn’t be very good at Japanese but that’s not to say it would be useless.
You would likely make quicker progress with grammar as you already have a solid foundation of vocabulary to work from and you’d probably be able to read a lot of written material you come across, though the meaning of all but the simplest sentences would probably be lost on you until you learn more grammar.
The other downside of doing this would be that you would likely forget a number of kanji from the lower levels which you burned earlier on as without regular reading material from textbooks or other resources you aren’t going to be seeing them so you’re going to forget kanji much quicker.
Oh yeah, on this point. ^^ Some will fly through grammar, some will slog through it slowly and painfully (I’m definitely in the latter camp…)
I think this is, for me, the biggest argument why I personally wouldn’t recommend going through WK without touching anything else.
Burning a WK item won’t retain it forever. If you know no grammar, you can’t incorporate reading. Which means you can’t cement the words that you learn, and you’ll start forgetting things.
I worry a lot of your WK efforts would be nullified, by not being able to use your knowledge in a fashion that’s timely enough. There’s a reason why WK advises starting grammar no later than level 10, and mentions you should begin reading as much as is possible in the level 20s.
I don’t know if that will help, but I started WaniKani at the end of last year. At the time I was having trouble remembering minor differences in vocab.
A few weeks ago I hit a wall though, because I would have needed to subscribe to continue and I can’t exactly afford that just yet. So I started doing grammar.
Since then I have a lot less difficulties with those minor differences. For me, grammar just ties everything together. And I can already use some of the vocabulary I learned on WaniKani, too.
From my personal experience (just the first 33 levels, not all 60, but I can imagine it would only get worse from here on out), I know that going through 60 levels without doing anything else would be a huge waste of time for me. No matter how well I learned an item at some point, I will forget an item after a while if all I’m getting is the artificial exposure via WaniKani. . And I really tried a lot: KaniWani, writing the kanji, making my own mnemonics, drawing my own mnemonics… whatever I do, I forget items that I don’t see in real life, in real material.
I absolutely have to read stuff in order to be able to truly internalize the kanji and vocab I learn on WaniKani. And without studying other resources, that would be hard to do – only now at around N3 I notice that I can tackle real life content that I find engaging. So for me personally, doing only WaniKani would be as useless as just doing RTK for months and nothing else: a lot of time spent on something but not much to show for it in the end since this artificially created knowledge would vanish soon if I didn’t use it.
How good a house can someone build if you dump a bunch of bricks in their yard but never give them any mortar or teach them how to build a house?
I use WK as a pretty large part of my daily Japanese learning. When I use it too much, it’s hard to remember vocabulary and kanji because it all blends together. It’s much easier to remember things when you have some other vocabulary to associate with. When I see some kanji that I then see in a tv show, it creates an associate that makes it easier to remember later. I saw 悟 a few levels ago and it made me remember Goku’s gi, which helped me remember an otherwise forgettable kanji.
Your brain really wants to forget things that it doesn’t need. SRS learning resources like WK, helps offset that by making you remember things that your brain it close to forgetting. If you only see vocabulary here on WK, though, your brain just won’t have enough repetition to remember everything. By seeing that vocabulary in other places (shows, other practice sites, dialog, etc) your brain knows it needs to remember it.
As someone who just recently hit 60, I can say that WaniKani made up 90% of my japanese studies for these past 2 years. So how’s my Japanese? Not very good. However, it’s a great foundation that is now making learning the other aspects of the language a lot easier. So I’d say it’s very useful, but you should really try to incorporate other resources at the same time, don’t get too focused on kanji like I did.
Getting to level 60 without other resources is also like trying to mountain climb without equipment. You’re just making it harder. Things that are instantly obvious to people who have a solid foundation in grammar and other parts of the language will be confusing to people who are only using WK. Progress to a given level doesn’t mean you’ll have the same grasp on everything covered as someone else at the same level.
When I first started WK I didn’t have much time to learn grammar and stuff and I thought knowing all the kanjis will make everything easier later on but I ended up discouraged by WK because you never use what you learn here elsewhere if you only use WK.
I started WK over in January and I’m now using it with iKnow and grammar books and it’s MUCH better.
But how good of a house can you build without bricks?
I mean, you can be great at speaking without knowing any kanji. I know other foreigners who are far more fluent than me but don’t know how to read kanji. One of them told me they always just ask their Japanese wife what something says when there is any kanji.
Wanikani definitely makes a huge difference. However…
You can also be great at kanji, but terrible at listening, reading, and speaking. As for reading, since there are no spaces in Japanese, it is a huge help to know grammar and kana words so you can tell where one word ends and the next one starts. Also, just because there is a kanji for a word, doesn’t mean it’s always written with kanji. So even in reading, somethimes you need to be able to understand the word from the kana without seeing the picture that kanji provides.
Wanikani is a great tool, but listening, reading, and speaking are all separate things that need to be practiced in order to get good at Japanese.
Technically muscle is what moves our skeleton, but I liked this statement so much that I’ll overlook it
You pretty much wouldn’t know the language or be able to interact with it at all. I guess you could point to kanji and be like “oh yeah that’s read like this”
I KNEW someone would bring up the biological iffyness of the statement when I read it back later.
I should have kept it at muscles being useless without a skeleton and vice versa.
And then wait to see if people bring up the octopus.
I currently have a lot of time free in the evenings and weekends, so I am making great gains with WK. However I do feel it would be easy to do just this. WK is so user friendly and easy to access that it is an enticing trap to wrap one’s self in.
I am chapter 6 Mina no Nihongo and have slowed down on this after reading the suggestions to pack in a lot more vocab in the earlier WK levels.
BunPro assists with my grammar now and I have a few weeks of free trial, so far I am liking it.
To get back to the point in question though, it is like anything that you learn, if you don’t use it then it won’t stick.
I think it is wise to begin applying your knowledge of Japanese when ever you can. I know that there are resources like Satori reader that uses your WK level, but find even these too advanced for my reading level. I did start with the absolute beginners reading club Polar Bear Cafe, but this was even too advanced for me in many ways.
Is there somewhere better for beginner level readers to apply their knowledge outside of the text books?!
Graded Readers are good! And specifically aimed at learners: Graded Readers and Parallel Texts "Book Club"
Also, this thread has other advice: Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content
Just to pitch my 2 cents in the ring as a lower level person with almost 25% of my current items burned, Kaniwani is so helpful for doing the opposite of WK, and it helps me immensely. And I don’t see why anyone should have to only use WK, as there are so many resources out there for free to do Grammar. I personally use Imabi and Tae Kim’s Guide, whenever I can’t sit down with my books. For physical material, I started with Genki I, a book called All About Particles, and the e-reader version of Tae Kim’s guide from the Kindle store. I’ve also considering making a script/plug-in/something-or-other to do a quick review of my burned items though I’m sure someone’s come up with a way to do it already. Best of luck!
I think the people that read kanji natively like Chinese people are similar to a “straight lvl60”.
They are able to grasp the meaning of a document by looking at it, however it doesn’t allow them to speak/communicate clearly.