Why does WaniKani teach uncommon kanji early on?

It seems strange to me that we would learn some moderately obscure kanji such as 組 so early on (level 7), when they are not very useful in general… And on the other hand, some very common/useful kanji are taught much much later on.

Also, for this kanji, we are tasked with learning the on-yomi “そ”, when cleary the kun-yomi “くみ” reading is the much more popular/frequent one across the board.

To further support my argument here, WaniKani only has 4 words of vocabulary that use this kanji:

Just to be clear: this is not a rant or anything, I would genuinely like to know what is the rationale behind this - why is this kanji taught so early on ?

The reasoning is that some of the more “uncommon” (they’re not necessarily as uncommon as you might think) kanji are “easier” in the sense that they usually have fewer strokes. (Therefore, fewer parts/“radicals” making them up.)

For clarity, that’s not the case for all of them, of course. But, that’s the general idea.

Edit: Oh, and what Leebo mentioned.


Welcome to the site!

I will say though, 組, 番組, and 組織 are all extremely common words.

EDIT: And while it’s not necessarily the standard that should be used for non-natives, it’s worth noting that Japanese students learn 組 in the second grade. Though I imagine the use of 組 in schools pushed it in that direction.


WK’s rationale is that the users are fully grown adults with a fully developed (English) vocabulary, so there’s no point teaching them like they’re young children, starting from simple vocabulary and working up to harder words. Instead it starts from simpler kanji and works up to more complex kanji (for the most part).

Leebo is correct though, all of those are very common words. Maybe not on the level of 上, 右, or 足, but they were all words I recognized from even before I started learning Japanese, just from hearing them in anime.


Indeed, I failed to consider that stroke count is a factor here, as well as the order in which japanese students learn things…

For what its worth, I am familiar with the “gumi” suffix in general (originally from reading shaman king, in which they organise a tournament into several groups ^^) and have indeed heard “bangumi” when watching shows, though that word strikes me as being more niche. I wasnt familiar with “soshiki” at all though (the one synonym i knew was 協会). And as far as “kumi” as a standalone word goes, i had never read nor heard it - instead i see/hear グループ all the time.

My other point still stands though - why learn the on-yomi here ? WaniKani often decides to teach the kun-yomi of a kanji when it is the more common reading in jukugo words, and that seems to clearly be the case here, no ?

I was alluding to it in my post, but 組 is used for class identification in schools. Each grade will be divided into classes that are referred to as 一組いちくみ, 二組にくみ, 三組さんくみ, etc. As a teacher in Japanese schools for 6 years, I had to use those words dozens of times every day.

That’s not the only common use of it, but it’s one major one.

It’s the word you’d use to talk about TV shows in general. I think most beginners might want to ask about TV shows, or want to be ready to talk about TV shows if asked.

We can’t exactly answer for them, but I can imagine at least one reason I might pick it. 且 is a highly reliable phonetic component in kanji. You can usually count on kanji with it on the right side being read as そ. Seems like as good a time as any to start establishing that.

But like I said, you’d have to ask them to know.


Obscure? 組 is anything but obscure, wanikani teaches you both readings because 組織 is quite a common word and while like you said, there are lots of words with くみ. If you’re reading varied stuff or news, you’ll probably come across kanji wanikani won’t get to for a while, but overall I know (or should know :sweat_smile:) most of the kanji I come across

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