This site is a great site for learning kanji. For people who also enjoy this site what other methods (crazy or not) have you tried before using Wanikani?
Sooooo many. I started with Rosetta Stone ( i know, bad thing to start with), then i moved on to Japanesepod101.com, added in some lingq and duolingo, some ja sensei, little bit of Genki 1, couple of books, fairly steady stream of japanese dramas (to train my ear), and now i’m using wani kani, iknow, jpod , a complete grammer text book and situational functional japanese and a book of basic japanese sentence patters.
My grandparents are Chinese. They like speaking Chinese. They want(ed) me to learn Chinese. When I was around 6 to 9 years old, my grandma always gave me pieces of paper with Chinese characters on the side and made me write them over and over again. This was also done in the Chinese language school that I went to for a few years (I learned nothing).
In the end, before Wanikani, I was able to recognize maybe 50 to 70 different Chinese characters, so… I’d say I’m doing pretty well now. (comparatively.)
On the bright side, stroke order is pretty much drilled into my head, and Chinese almost never interferes with Japanese (because my Mandarin Chinese knowledge is pretty much nonexistant - I can read pinyin, and even that knowledge has been deteriorating in the past 4 years).
That’s pretty much the closest thing I have to kanji learning. Other than that, I used Duolingo for about 5 minutes. Spending the first few hours doing research is underrated!
*My family is mostly Cantonese speaking, so most of my Chinese knowledge is Cantonese (and even then I can pretty much say “I want” and not much else), but I ended up with Mandarin knowledge education between kindergarten and grade 3, but I didn’t take things seriously and my Mandarin level is still extremely low (as in, I can recite the seasons, numbers, and nothing else). The words given that I was forced to write were often words that I already knew in Cantonese and my grandma would tell me what the character is read like in Mandarin.
Hmm, mostly just brute force and memrise. It resulted in “knowing” somewhere between 50-100 kanji within 6 months. I put knowing in quotation marks, because as I got further, I started running into similar kanjis and couldn’t differentiate between them. Luckily I found WK around then, and now I’ve learned over 2000 kanji in about a year and a half. Granted, I still confused a few of them, but now I pretty much always know when I don’t know a kanji, and almost always know what a kanji means, especially if it’s in context.
I didn’t study grammar much in the last couple years, so I’m extremely lacking there, but at least kanji is no longer an obstacle? heh
I spun my wheels with japanesepod101 for too long – they’re nice people, and well meaning I’m sure, but for learning Japanese beyond basic greetings their method is virtually worthless. There are some good sites for learning random things – Maggie Sensei for one – but I found if I didn’t have something systematic I would lose focus and motivation, and take months-long breaks (during which i would forget just about everything and have to start over).
I settled in on Japanese from Zero, which i still use for grammar, and to some extent vocabulary. I think George Trombley’s teaching method is pretty good, although you won’t learn kanji very fast because there’s a heavy emphasis on handwriting the characters. He has four progressive books that are about $25 each.
For listening, I like this podcast – http://www.1242.com/program/voice/ – and NHK news. For speaking, Hello Talk is great and highly recommended, but I’m also fortunate to have a few Japanese friends i can practice with. Speaking is still my weakest skill by far. For reading, I like Satori Reader, and I’ll also pick up Japanese newspapers and magazines and see how much I can understand as I get farther into Wanikani.
Bottom line, the most important thing in my experience is to find something you like that will motivate you to keep going – Wanikani is that for me. Those big breaks are a killer – if you’re going to do this you have to commit to it on virtually a daily basis, and find a way to keep at it even when you hit a down patch (and that’s inevitable, for me it’s about once every couple months).
Good luck! I should add that I don’t post a lot here, but this community is also a great source of motivation.
Relatively new WK-user and Japanese learner here. I’ve used WK for the extent of my kanji learning career (in addition to Houhou for additional/useful vocab; I have about 100 vocab words in there right now that I’m pretty comfortable with). Before that, though, Tofugu’s blog was a life-saver in terms of learning my katakana. I’d learned my hiragana through a whole boat load of methods (writing repetition, played some of the Learn Japanese to Survive game (it’s not really any good . . .)); Tofugu’s post on learning katakana got me through katakana in a day, and for a little while I was actually stronger at reading katakana versus hiragana.
WK isn’t perfect by any means (I think it could really supplement its process by including short explanations of some of the grammar that makes up Japanese words, or at least make note of them so we can search them up ourselves), but I really like that it keeps a regular flow of radicals and kanji and vocab up without any decision-making on my part. I don’t always have time to stick 20 new words into Houhou and come up with new mnemonics for all of them, and WK ensures that I’m doing at least SOME learning, even on a day when I get lazy and can’t be bothered to crack open Genki.
In terms of kanji, I used Genki. My lecturers would supplement those kanji with around 15 extra ones each week (I’m not sure how they chose the supplementary ones though). I learned by rote memorization, writing them over and over again. While it may not have been the most efficient method, it was really helpful for learning stroke order and being able to have legible handwriting. Now I can look at an unknown kanji and have an idea of stroke order.
It’s also fun surprising my colleagues with my handwriting
Way back, like a little over 15 years ago, there really wasn’t much out there on the internet for learning Japanese, so all I had was these books I’d found called ‘Teach yourself Beginner’s Japanese’ and ‘Teach yourself Japanese Script’. I also had ‘13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese’, but never read it. Anyway those books were pretty much useless, and especially looking at them now having better knowledge, some of the stuff in them was really unhelpful or badly explained.
A little later I was having one-to-one lessons with a Japanese student, that didn’t last all that long though. It was ok but really she was just going through some textbook that I don’t think was very good.
I picked it up again shortly before discovering WK - I was using The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course, which is still a good book that I would recommend, but WK is probably more fun and helps you along more.
When I started up on Japanese learning a few years ago, I realised how far things have come in terms of resources on the internet. There was hardly anything out there when I first attempted, and even now really great resources are cropping up. I would have been overjoyed to have had some of this available when I was in my teens trying to learn.
Textfugu’s Radical+Kanji+Kanji Vocab Anki decks. Essentially WaniKani before WaniKani even existed (although I was using it in 2017).
Found WaniKani about a month after I started learning Japanese and decided to stick with that. Very easy transition thanks to the identical radicals and similar learning order.
I was lucky enough that I never tried to learn kanji before WK. I had Japanese lessons and of course we learned everyday kanji like 木曜日 or 英語 but not much more. Was considering buying RTK but I’m glad I didn’t do it.
I did buy RTK, but ended up on WK before I did anything with it. I read a few pages, but never actually tried to learn from it.
I started on Duolingo and found WK 5 days later. I also used JapanesePod’s free youtube videos to learn kana.
I actually finished the Duolingo course eventually, but looking back, I think the only good service it provided to me was to reinforce my kana learning. I learned some vocab and some grammatical structures, but they basically explain nothing on that website so it ends up being an inefficient way to learn.
To add something different to the mix -
there is a website called NihongoShark, and you can sign up for free daily emails. Each day they send you different JLPT level grammar to study, and kanji is included in it too. That’s how I learn new grammar.
I’m wondering if anyone else uses it?
Before WK a did Jpod101 for listening and vocab (and grammar review as well), RTK and the Kanken books for Kanji and Genki 1 along side with Minna no Nihongo for grammar and more vocab.
I actually got to 300 kanjis in RTK, and since I was getting really impatient with the idea to come back later to review the readings of each one, I started with the Kanken books (the ones with the cute animal on the covers); with those I got myself to about 25-30 kanjis, reading wise.
Now I’m doing WK and complement it with immersion for listening and Subs2SRS Anki decks from the same content I watch. I get from those a great amount of vocab in context; I also put WK put in the mix and Anki throws me sentence from the shows with that vocab as well. That way WK vocab becomes alive.
So far the one thing I was missing from my RTK days was the writing of the Kanjis. so I’ve started practicing Kanji writing, which results into a great aid to differentiate those all too similar kanjis.
Anyway WK it’s great for me, and the pivotal point in my studies so far
I have to admit that I used to learn Japanese with “japanesepod101”, “duolingo” and some simple hiragana/katakana apps, though I never used any of it more than 10 minutes.
Since November '18 I use memrise.com (really great app and web application for about 30 euros/dollars a year). Memrise offers not only more than 30 languages but even knowledge quizzes. Though most of the +500 courses are made by user for user with and without audio and mnemonic (user-made).
Another great app I found on the app store is LingoDeer which really helps one to understand the grammar and some basic vocabulary. It comes with audio, hiragana/katakana and romanji support. The only downside is the availability which is restricted to only the smartphone.
The newest method I use is . . . WaniKani! After pondering about the web-interface and the usability due to first lack of audio, I really like the concept, community and lessons (#Vocab). And thanks to the open API it surely is customizable.
In addition to that I own a Japanese grammar book and a " partly useless quick-starter guide to Japanese".
Sounds like a lot and it is, but I feel like it is duty to do something I like and would regret years later. So to say, an insurance for my future happiness. + Life should be walked along with textbooks.
Before WaniKani I did both Genki books, Minna no Nihongo 1 and 2, part of Tobira, and the first two books in the “Kanji Practice in 15 Minutes a Day” series. For learning kanji, the 15 minutes a day books were easily my favorite. I had to spend significantly more than 15 minutes a day on the kanji but it was alright because I just made flash cards and did them on the train on the way to class every morning.
As for websites, I recently did the one month trial on japanesepod101.com and it seems super hit or miss to me. For example, I listened to a lesson about “How to Open a Bank Account” and instead of it being useful information, they tried to make it funny and had the guy who was trying to open the account flirt with the bank teller and stuff. It would have been fine if it wasn’t advertised as being useful for opening an account. I’ve also tried bunpro and memrise which haven’t really stuck for me the way wanikani has.
While I was still in school, I could easily read (and WRITE!!!) 600+ kanji but I graduated last year and I wasn’t keeping up with my studies. I found WaniKani and started spending 15-20 minutes a day on here, and suddenly my desire to learn came back. So WK hasn’t just been good for learning Kanji, it also made me crack open my textbooks again and start studying grammar!
I’ve used iKnow.jp, but it doesn’ teach you the individual kanji before it teaches you the vocab. So, I found it hard to try and memorize two or three kanji for 1 word without knowing what those individual kanji actually mean.
I’ve also used Bunpro.jp, but I didn’t find the JPLT structure to be helpful. Also, it would introduce 2 or 3 words close together that mean the same thing. Then, when it quizzed you on the vocab/part of speech, it wouldn’t give you a hint as to which one it wanted. So, I found I was memorizing sentences rather than learning the different items.
I tried JapanesePod101.com for a few months, but it’s expensive, and I didn’t really learn anything from listening. I found the transcripts to be much more helpful, and I mostly just copied kanji/vocab from these into Anki. Sadly, using it to build Anki decks just wasn’t worth the price.
Right now, I’m using Textfugu and Nihongo Master for sentence structure learning. (Beware that Nihongo Master uses multiple choice for the quizzes, but it works perfectly well on mobile browsers!) Last week, I also started Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese, and I really like it so far!
Finally, for speaking practice, I use EtoEto and a free app from my library called Mango Languages to voice shadow. Mango Languages mainly focuses on touristy stuff (shopping, getting around, emergencies), but I’ve learned lots of helpful phrases! My library also has the Pimsleur and Earworm CDs online through their Hoopla Digital service, and I’m going to try those out next month!