Why do we sometimes relearn radicals/kanji?

I’m working through level 12 lessons and some of these radicals look familiar.

For example I learned the 予 character as a kanji in level 9 but its a radical in level 12.


Any time Wanikani plans to use anything as a singular radical in the makeup of other kanji, they introduce it with new radical lessons. This will happen more and more with real kanji you’ve already learned as you progress. The clumping is pretty necessary so you don’t get kanji made of like 10 pieces. The lessons… seem sometimes contentious but it’s a little refresher when they’re relevant :person_shrugging:t3:


But why not introduce the radical and the kanji in the same lesson?

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Or better yet introduce the radical first, then the kanji later.

Right now I learned the kanji and then the radical. There’s nothing new compare to the kanji when learning the radical.


Edit: Ehh, the more that I think about this, Wanikani is just pretty inconsistent depending on what they want to teach at a given time. There’s not enough regularity in if something is taught as a kanji or radical first for me to actually say in good faith that it’s truly thought out from that angle. More likely that decision comes down in part to balancing out the levels or maybe sometimes it’s a bit arbitrary. I’ve never felt like whichever way they do it makes much difference personally, but it could theoretically exist with more regularity.

If I had to guess, it works this way because the system already, even with many taught kanji-first like this, really frontloads radicals, which are a significant part of your levels early but start disappearing over time (up to reaching the “fast levels” where there aren’t enough to even gate your time at all). If they committed to always radicals first, that would intensify.


I think this would be a good idea.


Personally, relearning the kanji as radicals doesn’t really bother me because if I know the kanji well enough, I breeze through the radical reviews without them taking much extra time at all.

But in an ideal world, I think what I’d prefer would be using a different color, like green or something, to mark kanji that are also components of other kanji (differentiating them from the regular radical and kanji lessons), and then integrate the Keisei script into WK and rearrange some of the lessons so that component kanji always get taught before kanji that contain them. Then the mnemonics could include the actual components, which I think are a lot easier to memorize than WK’s arbitrary mnemonics. And in cases where the reading has changed over time, the mnemonic could work that in as well so that it’s easier to remember readings that are exceptions.


The kanji shape was taught using smaller radicals itself. Are you suggesting they teach the larger radical from smaller radicals and then teach a kanji from that? Like a multiple consolidation of radicals before the kanji? I don’t really see how that is better than just having the kanji get added to the radical list after you have learned it.

But maybe you’re talking about an even more extreme change than I’m imagining, where like… simultaneous items get moved into the review process with a single lesson? Anything like that involves overhauling the way the whole system works, so that’s a reason why it’s not being done.


Well, isn’t this exactly how it works…until you hit higher levels, when kanji you’ve learned are made into radicals…only to be used in kanji later…so yeah, the same thing really. :eyes:

WK is either:

  1. radical → kanji
  2. kanji → radical → even more complex kanji
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i think its because radicals are meant to be simple so they are easy to remember

once you have mastered a kanji wanikani can use it as a radical later because you’ve memorised it to a degree that it is simple enough to be visualised as a radical


Sometimes it works the way @jdelator was thinking, such as the “turtle” radical on level 35

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One of their unwritten rules is that Kanji are made up of no more than 3 or 4 radicals. So that’s why you see them using some kanji as radicals later.

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They already do that. See arrow radical for example:
You have a really big gun. Why? Because only big guns will be able to shoot arrows!

Then arrow kanji is just made up of arrow radical instead of gun + big radicals

The problem is that it’s inconsistent across levels. It feels like a waste of time to learn a radical from a kanji when it’s supposed to be the other way around, especially after multiple levels of learning the kanji.


That’s an interesting take. I felt the opposite since those radical lessons I could just speed on through since I already knew the Kanji, but I can see how it would feel off when you’re used to the other way.

I do know it’s something you’ll have to get used to since it happens much more frequently in the later levels. In fact, I don’t think you get more than 3 or 4 radicals per level once you hit 40+.


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