Any help with learning English to Japanese vocab?

heya guys, so I have been finding that I can read japanese words (especially Kanji) and produce the english very well, but have a lot of struggles producing japanese when I see an english word, even within WK. Kanji that has for example a hiragana character after it, or maybe several, seem to catch me. I fully admit this is a symptom of me being a low level etc, but I was wondering how you guys got past this hurdle if you faced it. Should I just try to burn out some Vocab outside of WK? (I recently bought a Tango N5 book but due to exams haven’t started it yet) or did u guys have any vocab book recommendations etc??

thanks for all the help! I also understand that once I start having time to focus on Vocab alongside my Kanji this should become less of an issue, so see this more of an open discussion about what methods u guys liked!

see ya soon!


There is nothing bad about using WaniKani vocabularies outside WaniKani’s SRS timing system.

English-to-Japanese can be done too, for example,

However, I doubt you really need to always see or think of English words before making Japanese IRL. Also, much of the time, English words do not translate to Japanese well, or have various translations of various usage.

Nonetheless, I think English-to-Japanese memorization is good for kickstarting Japanese vocab’s pronunciations, because of no hinting of Kanji, nor Okurigana, at all. An easiest way to do this is perhaps [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz.


I agree, Japanese doesn’t really translate well back in to English. you will find that you will continue to learn new meanings to words as and when you see them. for example 掛ける if you look it up will have loads of meanings in a JAP - ENG dictionary but the word in and of itself is really an idea that can be applied to various situations which Japanese people understand but can be quite hard for learners. but with enough exposure to it’s different uses you will intuitively understand the idea. I would say (especially when starting out) use english to get a rough idea of what the meaning of kanji/word is then allow immersion/ exposure to get a clearer picture of it’s usage. try not to use english to pin down the meaning of words cause it will throw you off and is not really helpful in the long run.


No kidding! I’ve never see it before, but 10Ten reader shows 25 definitions that only seem loosely related in English.

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It’s the case that meaning doesn’t make sense. It may be more appropriate to remember phrases or sentences.

Also, even if the meaning makes sense, there might be multiple need-to-know meanings.

It’s difficult to do everything in SRS, really. You might need other methods as well.


I would encourage using an Anki (or similar) deck with common vocab in both directions. I’ve been using the vocab from Genki, but you could more specifically choose vocab that you find more suitable (much of the Genki vocab is very common and useful, but some of it arguably a bit less so, e.g. stuff related to university and student life).

You can try Kaniwani, but for me it ended up not being all that useful. WK introduces vocab in an order not really related to frequency. This works better for recognition but can be very frustrating (or even lead you astray) when using it for production. In addition, there are just tons of synonyms or near-synonyms on WK that it’s not worth obsessing about when speaking/writing. It’s better to have a set of vocabulary without too much overlap in the beginning and then to add synonyms later on when you’re more comfortable.

As to the argument that “English doesn’t translate well to Japanese”, a) well yes, true, but Japanese also doesn’t translate well to English and here we are doing WK, b) while some words like かける have a gazillion possible translations, that’s not true of all words, and to learn that “student” translates to 学生 (and then later learn that it could also be 生徒) is not really wrong or useless per se, c) if you care at all about production you’ll just have to know how to express concepts in Japanese. EN-JP to me seem like an efficient way to at least kickstart this process, there might be other ways though.


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