What level should I be before I start trying to read stuff?

What level of WaniKani should I be before I start trying to read any articles or anything? I looked on the wkstats website and it said around 15ish I should have a majority of the vocabulary for NHK easy articles. What do you guys think? I use WaniKani as my only vocabulary learning reasource and learn grammar from lingodeer and Genki 1.


I started reading at a level not much higher than yours. The biggest obstacle for me was really grammar knowledge more than WK level. But, it’s all up to how much you can stand having to look up words and/or grammar points.

I would recommend starting now with some graded readers and maybe attempt to see how far you can get now and then just try every couple of days to see if you can get any further.

Free graded readers can be found here: https://tadoku.org/japanese/en/free-books-en/

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I believe wkstats is telling you what percentage of kanji you’d recognize. There will be plenty of words you don’t know if you haven’t learned vocab outside of WaniKani.


And then you have to be able to recognize words when written in kana or words that are only written in kana.

This all comes into play when explaining to people that knowing kanji doesn’t mean you know how to read.


Also, you can often read a sample either at amazon.jp, or by googling title + 立ち読み or 試し読み.

This way you can give it a shot whenever you want, and if you find that you’re still unable, keep checking back regularly to see if the situation has changed.

This is what I did, I had a list of manga I wanted to try, and checked in monthly or so to see if they’d started making sense yet. (This in and of itself can be a motivator of sorts, since you’ll probably understand just that little bit more than you did last time)


I started by reading NHK easy articles somewhere around level 12, I think. I had only studied the very basics of grammar at that point, and it was doable with jisho and some imagination to fill the gaps. WK was also my only vocabulary source, not counting the words I learned through Genki.

It would probably be too frustrating for me if I had tried that any earlier, but maybe it’s different for you.


I failed to notice you were looking to read online articles. In that case I don’t see what’s stopping you from just giving it a go!

It’s quite likely you’ll find it too difficult at the moment, but you’ll be a much better judge of when you’re ready than we are :slight_smile:

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IMO the only ‘damage’ done by trying to read too early is that you may end up getting frustrated and discouraged. But, other than that, I say give it a go. Poke around on NHK easy news or browse through some Amazon reviews and see what kanji you recognize.

To really start reading without frustration (other than tailor made dialogs in textbooks), I think you need to be about level 15-20 or equivalent in WK, and also have a grasp of the basic verb tenses and a small amount of kana vocabulary.

I personally started reading in earnest at around level 30 or 35, but sometime wish I had started a bit earlier and slowed down a bit on the upper levels of WK (where I was going quite slowly anyways). I think getting the kanji, vocabulary and grammar in a native language context really helps to cement things home. And it often really just seems like as one advances in learning Japanese, a good portion of what they’re really doing is cementing and solidifying stuff they already sort of know but don’t really have rock solid. There is a big difference between getting a correct review of a word in a SRS application and having encountered that same word in several different types of contexts and situations in the wild.


As a level 17, I think there is still a lot kanji I don’t recognize. I will wait till mid twenties perhaps.


Why? Even in the mid 20s you’ll still find lots of kanji you won’t recognize. And even if you were to recognize most of the kanji in what you are reading, there’s no guarantees you will know the specific words. Seems rather self-defeating and honestly you could keep saying the “but I’ll just wait a few more levels to recognize more kanji” likely up to level 60. At some point, if you want to learn to read and build your vocabulary, you’ll just have to jump in.

Even in fairly easy graded readers, I encounter kanji and words that aren’t taught in WK until the 30s and 40s. For example, I’m reading one based on the folk tale of 笠地蔵. Where even just the kanji from the title, 笠 is not taught until level 44 and both the kanji 蔵 and the word 地蔵 are not taught until level 33. It’s your call, and obviously like anyone else you don’t have unlimited free time, but the longer you wait to read the longer it’s going to take for you to get better at it.


Honestly, I can’t dedicate the time. WK is a huge time sink, and if I push too hard I will burn out. I just have the goal of reaching n4 this year. that’s all.

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And that’s perfectly fine. We all have lives outside of our studies. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t discouraging yourself from reading because of not recognizing kanji, because that is likely to happen for many more dozens of levels to come and will still happen even when hitting level 60 as you will not learn every kanji you will ever encounter from WK alone.

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