Building Vocabulary

How should I build vocab?
Should I use premade JLPTvocabulary anki decks or should I start immersing into some beginner level content and build my own deck?

If you’ve just started learning Japanese, it’s best to just ease into it slowly. Wanikani will teach you quite a few words, that you’ll meet every day. I wouldn’t worry with separate vocab decks or immersion until you’re at least around level 10-15. You can technically start immersing at any point, but it will be painful if you don’t have at least some vocab.

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Just wanikani and some grammar for now then??

If you do grammar through a resource that assumes no knowledge, sure, though waiting a bit with the grammar doesn’t hurt either. Not having to learn both the words and the grammar concepts helps a ton.

Personally, I recommend crushing the JLPT N5 vocab at the very least. If you SRS it and are diligent I can’t imagine it taking you much longer than a month or two. You’ll see most of those words for the rest of always, so just go ahead and get them down so you can start picking up words via immersion.

Keep that in mind, words learned apart from context (i.e. crushing a JLPT N5 SRS deck) are going to mean less to you than words learned in context. That said, immersion is going to be near impossible until you have this bare minimum vocab memorized. I think if you’ve got N5 vocab and grammar down, you should begin to be able to immerse in easy Japanese. I always recommend Satori Reader. If you do read one of their easiest stories like ジャム屋さん, I bet you’ll recognize 80% of the words and still learn 10-20 new words per chapter.

Since it seems you’re just starting Japanese, crush that beginner vocab while you have motivation!


Or you could just start in on something textbook-shaped: they generally don’t assume you’ve done a ton of pre-study of vocab, because doing that is a pretty unusual approach overall.


I recommend drops since it’s difficult to overload yourself on the free version and you can pick topics to focus on. It has kana and kanji words and phrases with picture representations.

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I am seriously reconsidering this recommendation over the sheer amount of errors I’ve seen in just one session.


This is from Refold. If you want some kanji but don’t have the cash right now for Wanikani start here and get Wanikani later.

This is from Matt Vs Japan. You might know him as the lord of Japanese.