Addiction. These are the early stages. Constantly checking for new lessons and reviews. Happy whether I got all the items right or wrong, as long as I am progressing. What am I learning? Kanji. Wait… what? Kanji… can be addicting?!
Most of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, unless you follow the Tofugu blog that is. And even if you do, you may have no access to the online kanji learning website by the makers of Textfugu. After purchasing Tofugu’s E-book of Japnese study tips, I received an email granting me access to be a user during WaniKani’s Alpha testing period. I am currently a beta user. Oh get ready, fellow Kanjiphobics. Because this is going to be good.
What is WaniKani? Well, let me ask if you remember iKnow. The go-to website for learning anything from kana to kanji and vocabulary. It was fun and addictive and… it is now not so affordable or even worth the cost. The best quality of the iKnow site was the fact that it simulated a game. You got instant feedback. And yes, it was very addicting.
Of course, WaniKani is still in its testing stages, but I am convinced that it has surpassed iKnow in every aspect. WaniKani uses an SRS system, which is similar to Anki’s. SRS targets your weaknesses and focuses on retaining information. If you think you learned something, an SRS system will keep you on your toes by bringing old information back to make sure you’ve recalled it over time. Not to mention, it’s a good looking website with a simple interface and vibrant colors. The site also relies heavily on mnemonics in order to have you recall the kanji on your own, rather than giving you multiple choices. At first they seemed a bit ridiculous to me, but they have actually been working so far.
I also really like the fact that vocabulary is integrated with the character memorization so you can see the kanji in action. For example, I learned the kanji for mountain, which is “山”. The program proceeded to teach me the most common readings, which are “やま” and “さん”. As soon as I had mastered those, “ふじ山”, or the Japanese word for Mt. Fuji, had appeared as a vocabulary word. What’s most important to me than being able to recognize a kanji and recite all of its readings is to actually be able to use it in real context!
What I haven’t been so sure about are the Kanji radicals I first learned, but this may just be a personal thing. Most of the kanji being shown to me at this stage are kanji I have seen before, but didn’t know how to read or knew one of the readings of. So I haven’t relied too much on the radicals. And there are a few glitches such as the site freezing during a review. But again, the site is still in its testing stages. It would be nice to get some audio for the vocabulary during lessons or reviews. I haven’t been able to access audio on the site, but I probably haven’t looked hard enough, since it seems like such an essential component.
This won’t be the last I write about WaniKani! I will be updating here with my future progress and if I decided to purchase a subscription or not. Until then, hold on tight for the release of Wanikani! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!