I’ve been using WaniKani for no longer than three days now, and I’ve just encountered my first kanji characters (the fairly slow beginning stage is another thing I’d love to complain about, but not now), and I can’t help but notice that knowing how to read a logographic character seems to be as important to the creators of WaniKani as knowing its meaning. Especially, in the case of most kanji characters (that I’ve encountered, even though, I think the FAQ and the User Guide did state that it was the case for most kanji in general on the website), the on’yomi reading, which is mostly known to be the “chinese” reading of a kanji character.
I mean, I get it. If I know what two characters mean, and also how they are read (whatever reading is given to me by WaniKani - kun’ or on’yomi - based on whatever is more important and useful to know, according to the FAQ and User Guide), if I ever see them together, even if I had never seen that word before, I could probably guess how it’s read, but also have a pretty good idea of what it means, thanks to WaniKani.
But nevertheless kanji are merely logographic, meaning that they tend to be determined by meaning more than by how they’re read. Meaning that there is still a chance that my guess on how to read that “foreign word” may be wrong, whereas my vague guess on what it means is definitely - with almost no shadow of a doubt - right. What if those two kanji characters use kun’yomi reading in that context, and I’ve only actually learned their on’yomi reading, for example? I mean, WaniKani recognizes this very “meaning over reading” principle of kanji already, when it gives us multiple alternatives of on’yomi or kun’yomi for a single character.
My question is: if kanji are in fact more consistent in, and tend to be more determined by, their meaning, and WaniKani knows this, and WaniKani even gives us examples of how these kanji characters can be read in different contexts with their vocabulary lessons, why even bother testing us on kanji reading, if we’re gonna learn it at some point anyway, and we’ll all eventually know it’s actually more complicated than just “this is how you read this character”? I mean, when I get new vocabulary that features kanji I know (kanji that I know at least the meaning of), I’ll not only have some idea of what that new vocabulary means, but WaniKani will also teach me how to read the new words anyway, regardless of the kanji readings I already learned for the characters present. So, what was the point of creating a barrier when I was learning those kanji characters that I could only cross if I knew their “reading”, when now that “reading” is actually not even how you read those specific characters in this specific new word I’ve just learned? Couldn’t I just have learned the meaning of that character, and then eventually learn how it can be read in different contexts through the vocabulary lessons? And I think I wouldn’t need WaniKani’s help on grouping those “readings” together with their kanji, because simply learning the vocabulary would probably already lead me to notice some patterns here and there, therefore figuring out most “kanji readings” on my own. It would just make for a more self-didactic experience, with less hand-holding.
I don’t mean to force WaniKani to change or anything. I’m still happy with the website, and this one issue doesn’t really bother me that much. I can still have a pretty enjoyable experience here. But it’s just something I couldn’t help but notice.