I’m currently studying a different language, but while doing so I’m slowly working through Wanikani (and enjoying it), so that when I am ready to start studying Japanese I’ll have a leg up. How far will I be in my Japanese studies, knowing 2,000 kanji and 6,000 vocabulary? If I were to follow up with Genki would I be ready to read a young-adult novel?
You will able to recognize words but you won’t be able to read yet.
But that’s ok because you’ll have already completed the difficult but necessary part of learning to read Japanese: the Kanji.
Not even close, unfortunately. At that point you’ll be able to do graded readers with some facility.
But don’t let that discourage you. I started Japanese Light Novels way before I was ready and while it was really difficult, I enjoyed them enough that it was worth it.
Yes, but don’t expect to understand everything. You will still need some more common vocabulary and a bit more grammar.
I completed a beginner level textbook and WK before I started reading and it was definitely doable, but at beginner level it’s still going to be fairly hard to read native level materials. When I read material that was more advanced, I needed to look up grammar, unknown vocabulary and even unknown kanji fairly often. But it will get gradually easier over time.
I used graded readers, short stories and fairy tales from Hukumusume to make the transition easier. Oh, and some easier manga like Yotsubato was fairly manageable at that point.
I’d suggest not only to go with WK but doing some grammar and already start to listen to japenese sources to get used to the pitches and pronunciation.
Personnaly, i already started genki I (currently lesson 4) to help me to learn vocab and basic grammar and i’ve watched anime for years now.
Studying the multiple aspects of a language will make it A LOT more bearable and i don’t see how one can only do WK for 2 years without any grammar…
A couple of important details:
WaniKani teaches kanji + vocab which is mostly there to support learning kanji readings.
That doesn’t cover all possible readings a kanji can have, but the most common ones. That means you have a big advantage, but you may encounter plenty of words where the reading is not instantly obvious.
The more words you learn outside of WaniKani, the easier it will be for you to better choose the correct reading depending on word context.
Genki 1 + 2 will get you to roughly N4 level which is more or less enough to start reading children’s stories and easier manga. It will be tough at first, but it gets easier .
Regarding young adult novels I’m not sure, but for instance the book I’m currently reading is for slightly older kids and already uses several N2 grammar points which aren’t always critical to understand the story, but useful to get the nuance.
I know that this isn’t your stated plan, but I would strongly recommend going through N5 and N4 grammar (Genki 1 and 2) before finishing WaniKani.
If you know a lot of kanji but no grammar and no kana-only words you will not be able to engage with content in Japanese and therefore you’ll probably end up forgetting a lot of the kanji.
On the other hand, if you have basic to intermediate level grammar, you’ll be able to get the gist of a lot of content even when you’re only halfway through WaniKani.
This is what the first sentence in your post might look like if you only knew the kanji and no grammar:
I?? ??? study??? a differ?? language, ??? ??? do??? ?? I?? slow?? work??? ??? ???(??? enjoy??? ??), ?? ??? ??? ? ?? ready ?? star? study??? Japanese I??? ??? ? ??? up
Well WK is basically just vocab. There are some grammary bits to the vocab. For example, learning the difference between a noun and a verb, that’s why we have to write ‘to eat’ not just ‘eat’.
If you only know vocab you’ll be at a Tarzan level of Japanese, “私-買い物-行く” now that’s a great place to be for understanding the gist, but you’ll miss a lot of the nuance of what people (or books) are saying.
So you’ll want to learn grammar separately. BunPro is a great grammar SRS, but its a little lacking in context. Duo Lingo recently added stories to it’s Japanese course so that’s decent for a starting point for listening. There are a great number of Japanese Children’s books on Google Play. Seach for something like 子供の絵本 (こども の えほん children’s picture books) for a bunch. Tadoku has a bunch of free books online too. If you’d like something more interactive try playing games in Japanese. Steam has a bunch of games that have Japanese options. And there are other means to play games.
But basically, if you wanna read you gotta read.
With around 2000 kanji and 6000 vocabulary, you’d know enough vocabulary and kanji to easily pass JLPT N2, and you’d know enough to probably (but not definitely) pass N1.
The JLPT is the most popular standardized test for Japanese proficiency. It goes from levels N5 to N1, with N1 being the toughest.
However, there are a few caveats here: The first is that there’s much more to language than just vocab and kanji. If the JLPT was only testing you on kanji and vocab, you’d be set. However, without knowing how to put together those kanji with grammar, without practice listening to Japanese, without any sort of reading comprehension skills, you’re not going to pass N1 or N2 with just Wanikani.
An additional caveat is that while N1 is the most difficult level of the JLPT, the reality is that N1 only sort of confirms you’re at a high school level of understanding Japanese. Having JLPT N1 means you have a good foundation for diving into native materials like young adult novels, but they will still probably be difficult for you at least at first.
Genki is a low level book series. It is a good book series, but finishing Genki I and Genki II only puts you at about a strong N5 or weak N4 level. You should definitely use Genki or some other beginner’s textbook, but you’ll need to follow that up with something like Tobira or some other grammar resource for intermediates.
I think you’ll be pretty strong, if not completely proficient, in one key aspect of the language, but not much else.
If your main goal is to be able to read (and so listening, speaking and writing aren’t really your focus), you would still need a lot of grammar knowledge and some kana vocabulary to read somewhat effortlessly, plus some actual reading practice to cement all that and get used to it. Being able to read a young adult novel is a really advanced undertaking when learning any new language.
What it will do for you, no doubt, is make a lot of this grinding easier. If you really internalize it, not having to look up kanji all the time for the rest of your studies will probably be swell, but you still won’t know all of the kanji, nor all of the readings, even if you’ll know a whole lot.
When all is said and done, (and I’m nowhere near experienced in japanese language so take everything I said with a fistful of salt) WaniKani won’t teach you how to read, but it will (mostly) remove the huge boulder on your path that is kanji. It takes a long time to get there, though, so I agree with everyone saying you should start grammar as soon as you can. Genki is a textbook for beginners, so it won’t be enough by itself. It’s a good starting place, and can get you started on reading more beginner friendly material, and reading is the best thing you can do if you want to do it better.
Best of luck!
what the others have said: WK teaches you to recognise kanji and read words using those kanji. but that’s all.
i would strongly recommend to accompany WK with at least some grammar and lots of reading. otherwise you’re just doing some rote learning, which is one of the least sustainable learning methods.
I just started bunpro and it is helping me a lot in sticking those kanji to my mind with good example sentences (complete opposite of wk sentences).
If I finish wk, I hope there is another srs one I can continue, next time to aim at those 10k words.
Well, there IS the 10k Anki deck. That counts, right?
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