Difficulty recalling vocab?

Hey all! :slight_smile:

Does anyone find that they forget a lot of the vocabulary after a while? I find that I can usually read the vocab when I see it in texts, but a lot of the time I may have forgotten what the meaning is and end up having to look up it up in a dictionary.

Looking at my dashboard, I have burned 2571 vocabulary. In theory I should know these when I see them / be able to recall…however I don’t feel that is the case.

I have found that the majority of the vocab I retain is the stuff I have learned from textbooks. Is anyone else experiencing the same?

Also, a little question for you 60’s out there. At this point, can you remember the mnemonic’s for your kanji? I feel like I can’t remember any mnemonics from even 5 levels ago but I can still read the kanji perfectly.

Thanks guys!


Being able to recognize them on their own is very different from recognizing them out in the wild. Many times I’ve had to look up Kanji only to realize I already know them. WK is the start but reading is what really makes it all stick.

This is the state you want to get to. The mnemonics are there to get the recall pathways going but once you really know a word it shortcircuits all that and goes directly to comprehension. Like, 日本, you’ve probably seen it enough times that you don’t even think of the mnemonic at all. By the time WK got to 勉強 I didn’t even bother with the mnemonic. I’d seen the phrase 日本語を勉強します hundreds of times already.


I’m still at the beginning of my learning journey but I agree with you. I can remember some of the vocabularies I learn but I find it very difficult and sometimes impossible to recall it without seeing the kanjis. The “problem” (If there’s any) probably comes from the fact that wanikani exclusively teaches you with kanjis ; even the vocab mnemonics are linked to the kanjis, which are linked to radicals themselves.

I found a tool called “kaniwani” which aims to make you recall the vocabularies without seeing the kanjis it is linked to. It’s basically a flashcard system that uses the vocab you already learned through wanikani.
I find it pretty useful, even though confusing at times.

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I have the same problem.
I think I should have stopped at some earlier level, then read low level texts until I was comfortable with that, then restart wanikani.
I stopped at lvl 48 and have started reading now instead.

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The way I see it is the vocab is there purely to demonstrate how the reading of the kanji changes depending on where is is used. It is therefore not selected on the basis of how useful it is for a beginner learner, or how often you will come into contact with it in the wild.

Wanikani is a kanji learning tool, which uses vocab to reinforce readings.

having said that, not that all vocab on wanikani is obscure - there is also really commonly used stuff.

Unless you have a super memory, you will inevitably forget an amount of the vocab. The best thing to do is expose yourself to as much material as possible.

For instance i was recently reading a textbook in which 到着する (to arrive), and 出発する (to depart) were used loads. I could read the kanji fine, but if someone had said how do you say ‘to depart’ or ‘to arrive’ in Japanese, i would have drawn a blank. (this emphasizes the importance of recalling information in different ways, for instance using Kaniwani, as @kndrik mentioned).

I personally don’t really worry about forgetting the vocab - i will relearn essential words as and when i come into contact with them.

see you at 60 !



I tend to fail a lot of vocab which I would have recognised in a text with context, and that’s fine. Same sometimes happens even with kanji that are burned. I wouldn’t worry about it, because you will always have context and that’s where it matters. Just by reading more and more it will also happen less and less as the kanji get cemented in your head.

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When I see them, I can almost always read them and I remember what they mean. My problem is that I have trouble recalling them to use in speech. There are some of them that have been so useful after learning them in reading that they have converted to speech easily but there are a lot where I cant recall it to speak. (The language connections are made for the visual recall and reading just not for the mental recall yet)

Im thinking I should do more Kaniwani now and that might (Probably would) help me recall them faster for speech.
(Because that comes easier for me when I try to recall a meaning from seeing an english word)

Anywho. I came to see if anyone else felt that way and it looks like people do.


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