Best way to learn vocabulary?

Hi guys!
This is my first time posting. Be gentle with me.

I’ve been using WaniKani for some time now and I really enjoy it. I find it rather easy to learn kanji and the included vocabulary. My problem, though, is that I have a really hard time learning vocabulary outside WK. I’ve tried Anki and some other SRS systems, but the vocabulary just don’t seem to stick. The method of first learning a kanji and then learn vocabulary associated with that kanji works like magic. Trying to learn new vocabulary written in kana, though… Not so much…

Do you have any tips or resources for how to gain new vocabulary? Are there any “WK for vocabs” out there? I like the way WK forces me to type the words and not just recall from memory. But I haven’t found any good resource for that when it comes to vocabulary.

Help me, Obi-Wani Kaniobi (I do not regret that pun!), you’re my only hope.


I personally use to learn vocab from stuff I’m reading, seeing it in context generally makes it a lot easier to remember. There’s also, which a decent amount of people on the forums seem to like and I think it also has typing and stuff, (I’m sure someone else will tell you more about it). I also think you can customise anki so it makes you type stuff, but I don’t actually know how to do that.

(I guess I mostly focused on the part about how you liked that wk makes you type stuff, but I don’t really think I can help with much else than recommending stuff that also has that)

4 Likes is the way to go. It’s a product being built by a WK user, so a lot of the features are similar to WK’s user-experience, if not better.

Something to take into consideration is that even though Kitsun is free for now, it will go pay to use in the following months.

Kitsun’s thread on the forums (you can see some screenshots here): - Web & Apps SRS Study Platform

In terms of method of learning words, I only advise two things:

  • Do one of the mainstream decks (Katakana 4500 words, Core 10k or the Genki vocabulary deck - log in to access the links)
  • From words you see through exposure, only learn them after exposing yourself to them. Not before. For example, if you’re reading a book, you should go along with reading it and add the words to your SRS as you go. Pre studying vocab is less attractive and less efficient. With Kitsun, you can easily do the former, as Jisho is integrated on the website. You can make flashcards in seconds, as you can see from my screenshot:

As an example, this is how the Genki deck looks like (made by our lovely @hinekidori):


kitsun looks really nice! I’m also trying out Satori Reader, which helps me getting words used in context. Too bad they don’t force me to type the words… I don’t know why that is so important for me to learn. I guess it’s way too easy to get something kind of right and then cheat and saying you got it right when you don’t have to type it out and get it 100% correct.


If you don’t mind paying money, teaches you vocab with context sentences and audio.

I’m using Torii also developed by a WKer: Torii - SRS learning application for vocabulary

I really like it; it is incredibly similar to WK, and you can even order vocab by WK kanji level and it just the other day got new features (so it is actively developed). It is free and will stay free (as far as I know). If you want to be able to add a lot of your own vocabulary, then you’d need to pay a little, but to me the prices look more tip sized than anything. I’m planing to chip in some money soon now that I’ve used it for a while and really like it.


I use Voracious to watch shows and take advantage of the japanese subs I manage to get.
Same now reading with a Kindle, and picking vocab I don’t know from my books.

In both cases I’ve set a routine to pick the unknown vocab and without much hassle making that into Anki cards… the big plus is been able to hear the line of the shows from where it came from or the line of the book in case of the Kindle, all this while I do the reviews. :star_struck::star_struck:

Picking words while reading and watching stuff you actually want to watch has made a huge difference from learning vocab lists, or even WK, where context is a bit flimsy if you don’t manage to meet those words someplace else.

there are books to start with from very early on, as well a shows that aren’t too complicated, actually you might have both subs (eng - jp) in the beginning and just add those words that are repeating a lot to start, progresively you will build your vocab muscles and the new material will become available.
I feels like unlocking new resources as you progress, so It’s very rewaring.

so, even if this is a setup i’ve manage after lot of bumps in the road it feels it could be a great way to learn vocab very early on :ok_hand:

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This is great! It’s more or less exactly what I was looking for!

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Heh, I’ve tried that as well But since 99% of the words are words I don’t know yet, it’s a bit overwhelming. I’m watching Terrace House and listening to a simple Japanese news podcast, but more for language exposure at this time than for learning new vocab. I pick up some words here and there, but it doesn’t work yet as a more structured way to learn vocab. When pretty much all words are new words it’s hard to get a grasp of what I’m hearing/reading.

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I guess graded readers books for reading and dual subs for shows it’s the best set up I can think for very early stages, so to keep the overwhelming feeling at a minimum :sweat_smile:

In the end context is king… so procure to use material that you feel it’s interesting to you. The Graded readers I went through were fun to me, so I was ok with that… shows… maybe I struggled too much, but I think I’m much better at not understanding and be ok with it becasue of that; though dual subs (you could use Subadub and Netflix too for this) probably are a nice compromise.

Actually one of the things that has paid of the most Is setting a routine where without changing much you can test yourself to make the next jump (english subs… then watching japanese subs and then same show with english subs… then japanese subs alone… then japanese audio on shows I already know or dubs… and lastly japanese originals). Been able to do all this without having to look up for yet another japanese learning tool that will help me to get from B to C… after I finally have manage to get to B in the first place has made my daily routine progressively more fun and challenging.

Could you tell me about this? I’ve started to look around for more listening practice and a news show would be great.

It’s called News in Slow Japanese / The podcast. Every episode is a couple of minutes long. Most of the episodes are for intermediate or advanced learners, but I try to understand something at least. There is also one called Bilingual news, which is a bit more advanced. They first read the news article in Japanese and then in English. Afterwards they have a conversation about the news article. It’ a bit more advanced, and I don’t understand more than a word here and there, but it’s a good exposure of natural Japanese.


Thanks! I’ll look into it. Might be a bit high for me too then. ^^ is a cool app where you can learn vocabulary in sentences. There are several different ways to do it, whether it’s by multiple choice, by typing or by listening and choosing the correct answer.

iKnow is literally “WK for vocab.”

Tests kanji, definition selection, kana input, and listening recognition, and has an optional sentence-arrangement mode in addition to providing written and recorded example sentences for each bit of vocabulary as you learn it.

Some grammar required, as you’ll also be asked to put vocab into their example sentences in conjugated forms during regular review, but I don’t think it throws anything crazy at you. I remember being surprised by the complexity of literally one item so far, and that was somewhere in the core 5,000, where you probably won’t be starting unless you’re already above intermediate level and just looking to beef up.

Is good; I like it.

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