Why is WaniKani worth using beyond lvl 15-20?

EDIT: Thank you all for your responses, I have formed a solution with your suggestions. As I stated previously I had already intended to continue with Wanikani, but now I have a better supported view of how to value the site. Mods can close this thread if they would like.
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Tl;dr: Why is Wanikani worth using beyond lvl 15-20, since this is a reasonable point to start sentence-mining?

Other resources are recommended for vocab and the JLPT, and the Kanji offered by Wanikani is locked behind hundreds of vocab words which are primarily offered for cementing the Kanji as opposed to reading. Which is to say the vocab offered is of lower quality.

Ideally, Wanikani would: A) Expand definitions to add context on every vocab word where appropriate, or at least open the software up to the community to volunteer context (if there is a userscript for this I haven’t seen it yet, but I also haven’t looked); B) Prioritize the Kanji and vocab required for a basic core.

For the record, I intend to continue studying to lvl 60 and to burn everything because I don’t like leaving things unfinished, and because I’m on track to building a core regardless of how I feel about Wanikani. That said, I can’t help but feel misled with this service.
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Here is my experience so far: Wanikani is a Japanese learning software that offers to teach roughly 1700 Kanji and 5000 vocab words in one to two years.

Summary

“Great! I’ll subscribe, study a couple of years, and be able to read and type! I already know some grammar from speaking anyways, so this should be relatively easy : )”

As a service Wanikani is best used for studying Kanji however, as there isn’t enough context for the vocab; the vocab is there to memorize the kanji. In other words, it is better to use an additional resource for studying vocab. Yet the Kanji offered is nonetheless locked behind hundreds of vocab words.

Which is to say the vocab offered by Wanikani is of lower quality, but required learning.

Summary

“Okay, so I’ll sentence-mine topics of interest once I have a basic core from Wanikani (Lvl15-20 so I’ve read thus far). I’ll continue Wanikani even after though so I can take the JLPT.”

Despite its large selection of Kanji and vocab, Wanikani is not a good resource for studying for the JLPT as their flows don’t really match. Furthermore, some vocab on the JLPT simply isn’t included in Wanikani.

Summary

“Okay, so I’ll sentence-mine and study for the JLPT outside Wanikani, and continue studying because…I already spent the money and it’s worth the time?”

So I am led to ask: Why is Wanikani worth using beyond lvl 15-20 since this is a reasonable point to start sentence-mining, and other resources are recommended for vocab and the JLPT, and the Kanji offered is locked behind hundreds of vocab which are primarily offered for cementing the Kanji as opposed to reading?

Ideally, Wanikani would: A) Improve the quality of their vocab by expanding definitions to add context on every vocab word where appropriate, or at least open the software up to the community to volunteer context; B) Prioritize the Kanji and vocab required for a basic core.

For the record, I intend to continue studying to lvl 60 because I don’t like leaving things unfinished, and because I’m on track to building a core regardless of how I feel about Wanikani. That said, I can’t help but feel misled with this service.

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Says who???

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I mean, WaniKani teaches most of the Standardized kanji (There are 2136 Standard Kanji https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jōyō_kanji) so I don’t know how that could get anymore “core”. I have seen others who have made it to level 60 say that there are many uncommon words near the last few levels, but that isn’t to say they don’t ever come up at all.

WaniKani actually teaches 2055 Kanji and 6360 Vocabulary, which is a non-negligible amount greater than what you claimed (maybe your sources are outdated?)

AFAIK WaniKani doesn’t claim to be a JLPT study service, nor does it claim to prepare anyone for the JLPT.

I agree that sentence mining should be done in tandem with WaniKani to broaden vocabulary around your own interests, but I disagree that WaniKani isn’t worth it past lvl15-20 since there is still a lot to be gained from the other 2/3 of the levels.

I’ve found a few userscripts that may interest you:


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  1. Mnemonics
  2. SRS
  3. The folks at Tofugu picked the kanji and vocab by selecting what they consider to be the most common and useful kanji. If you’re sentence mining, you might happen to get some of these but you’ll probably get many uncommon kanji that may or may not help you on your learning journey (totally dependent on your goals and methods).

WK isn’t meant to be used in a vacuum (or any other language learning service really), so it makes sense to me that you have to supplement it. Of course you could do what WK does for you, but it would take a lot of work and effort unless you know of a similar site.

I apologize if I sound brusque, I have some hard to shake post-lunch sleepiness :sweat_smile:

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I participated in a book club from April - August, during which time I went from WK lvl 22 -27 and I don’t think there was a week of reading that went by without me seeing vocab I was learning in WK at the time. WK definitely does not teach you all the vocab you need for reading, because a lot of it is not kanji-based, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

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That is exactly what it is. I notice you don’t deny that fact, but you make points that it should be more than that. WaniKani made clear its services and intentions, and that’s what you receive: a spaced repetition system with mnemonics designed to help you learn thousands of kanji and vocabulary words. That’s it. Though it can help you prepare for the JLPT, it is not necessarily intended as a JLPT study resource. So I don’t really see the problem? No one’s making you use or pay for WaniKani if you don’t think it’s helpful to you.

Not entirely sure what you mean by this. Vocab on WaniKani includes the word itself, its meaning, reading, accompanying mnemonics, audio, and example sentences. They are real Japanese words/phrases with accurate meanings and readings, and the majority of them are used in standard Japanese context relatively frequently​, so I’m not sure how they are of lower quality. Also, it’s not required learning; again, no one’s making you use WaniKani. If you really wanted to skip something you could add a custom synonym not related to the vocab at all and plug that in every time instead of actually learning it.

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Or use one of the reorder scripts to skip them entirely, though this is usually advised against by folks who have done just that and lived to regret it.

(sorry YoungAdam, didn’t mean to have that reply to you, just to quote you. :woman_facepalming:)

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Around level 45, I reached the point where the majority of the “kanji I didn’t know” that I encountered when reading were ones that weren’t in WaniKani (at any level). Of course, I continued to learn these non-WK kanji through SRS on my own time (outside of WaniKani), using WaniKani-alike techniques (mnemonics, learning vocab that use the kanji, and so on).

Nonetheless, as I continued to learn through WaniKani over the remaining 15 levels, WK continued to solidify my memory of kanji better than the ones I learned on my own time outside of WK. I totally could have dropped WK at the point where I started reading – nothing would have stopped me! But the degree to which WaniKani continued to help shove kanji into my brain – the number of kanji, the efficiency of it (relative to time spent on WK), and the quality of the memory – made it worth continuing.

It has been also, admittedly, a very good way to continue to get through much of the remaining Joyo kanji, a lot of which had not shown up in my reading at all yet. Of course, there’s no real reason I have to know all of them, but it feels like there’s something silly about knowing literally hundreds of chuuni-tier kanji like 焉 and 蠱 while having a gaping hole of 200+ Joyo kanji.

tl;dr: wanikani good at shoving kanji into brain quickly. even if you start consuming native material and learning more kanji that way as well, wanikani still good at shoving kanji into brain quickly.

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I believe OP means that the vocab isn’t selected because every single item is a useful word, but because they showcase the variety of usage of the kanji. A lot of the vocab is useful, but some of it is a little obscure and random words that you are unlikely to actually come across. Can’t think of any off the top of my head.

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With the sheer amount of vocab words, I think it’s safe to say the amount of useful vocab words WK teaches more than balances out the more obscure ones that would be seen as reinforcing kanji.

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Oh yeah, totally agree with you. Simply clarifying OP’s point. WaniKani isn’t meant to be an all-in-one JP resource and I’m perfectly happy with the vocab the team has selected.

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I’ve asked the same questions several times. I know I’m only level 5 so far (I know way more kanji than I have mastered in WK though).

So far, for the benefits of continued studies, I can say the ability to guess a reading at first glance is pretty cool, so getting the most often used reading down-pat is pretty useful. I can’t think of another place that would offer this kind of learning. I also like that with the API key I can sync it to Satori reader and other tools pretty easily, which is smoother than uploading the kanji by hand.

By all means, if you found a program that works better for you, you are welcome to do that instead. I personally have a love-hate relationship with WK, and for some of the reasons you listed, but I am going to try and see it through because I kind of weirdly enjoy the reviews.

Edit: I’m not sure why my number is showing as 4, especially since I already got the confirmation email for level 5.

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Where are you going to get level-appropriate sentences from? If you’re only level 15-20 on WaniKani I think you’ll likely become overwhelmed by the number of kanji and words you don’t know. That’s not to say you shouldn’t start reading of course. I’d highly recommend you do. But trying to study whole sentences while you know so few kanji sounds painful to me.

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exactly this! it is not intended to be a jlpt study resource, and op seems to be basing their claim around their desire to take the jlpt. that’s simply not it’s purpose. so maybe for them, there is no worth in going beyond level 15-20. everybody has different goals and plans for japanese, and that’s okay.

i will say that for the kanji portion itself of the exams, wanikani is helpful at all levels, so there’s that part of it.

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The forums don’t always immediately update your level when you level up.

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OP, btw, if you want to see the progress through JLPT/Joyo/Frequency as related to WK levels, rfindley’s got a great statistics site for that.
Check it out here.

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I’ve been in level 5 for about 4 days now. But I am still working on some vocab from level 4 since there were so many words compared to the last few levels. Maybe it counts it based on your vocab progress.

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Nope, it’s just the forum is not completely synced for levelling - if you log out and back in, it will update immediately.

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Hm it might also be if you haven’t actually started any of the level 5 items, wk may not count you as having “started” level 5. I know there was a weird thing about that with the API.

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Reading=Sentence-mining afaik

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