Extra practice using wk vocab

Hey everyone :blush:
Lengthy post haha
I made it to level 9 recently, so I’m still in the n00b stages of wk. I love it so far, I find it fun and interesting.
I was wondering, does anyone take extra time with the vocab, writing practice sentences and conjugating the verbs/adjectives?
I have the Japanese conjugation city app and I think it’s pretty good but I wish you could make custom word lists.
Any methods/study habits you might recommend? I definitely want to make the vocab stick. I know this idea kinda breaks the SRS feature, but I do have some cognitive problems so I think a little extra review would be good for me actually.
I’ve gone through the Genki and JFBP textbooks but everything is kinda just thrown at you. I’m having much better luck with Human Japanese from the app store, and the extra sentence reviews on Satori Reader which a really love. Everything is very straight forward and technical and I find it works for me. I’m better off studying syntax/language mechanics than using a classroom textbook for some reason, I like seeing how things tick better than practicing touristy Japanese haha. (A level of conversational fluency and ability to read manga/novels is a goal)
So I was thinking of having a daily conjugation/sentence practice routine, just not sure how much time to take every day.
Does anyone study this way?
Thanks in advance for any tips you might have, much appreciated! :orange_heart:
-J

4 Likes

I’m no expert, and I will leave longer posts to others, but I do have one thought / warning:

I don’t use scripts because I don’t feel like messing with it, but there are reverse-vocab scripts that will help you learn the vocabulary better by asking you to identify the word from the reading. I think one is called kaniwani.

HOWEVER, if your goal is to learn “actual” Japanese vocabulary for use in sentences, I would advise against any strategy (like reverse WK scripts) that focuses on memorizing the vocabulary words straight from WK.

Something I’ve seen people say frequently is that the point of WK is to learn to read Kanji, not to learn vocabulary. Of course, we learn words that WK calls “vocabulary,” and they are real words, but they are mostly chosen to give a nice representation of different kanji readings that you might encounter.

As a result, the words we learn on WK aren’t always the words you’d learn in a course if your goal was “to learn Japanese vocabulary.” This has happened frequently to me. WK words are a good bet to be understood by people, but they might not be the common words a person would use for something. For example, I was using a word from WK that we learn means passport, but apparently everyone just says パスポート。Because there are other words in Japanese that can be used for passport (or any other noun), but it might not be the one you learn if someone is teaching you what to call something IRL.

Hopefully this makes sense. I probably didn’t choose the exact words to explain it best.

1 Like

If you don’t want to cheat the SRS system, then reading would be your best bet to make vocab stick, and seeing that you like Satori Reader, you should keep doing that. (I’m a Satori Reader user myself and can’t recommend it enough.)

I can’t comment on daily conjugation practice because I’ve never done it, but with enough reading (with enough I mean A LOT), I think your understanding of conjugation will come naturally and it’ll become second nature, i.e. instant recognition without the need to translate from your native language.

2 Likes

Yes, I do. Rote practice helps me, even though it’s not what the cool kids do these days. I use it as vocabulary/grammar/writing practice simultaneously. Grammar-translation isn’t a good method for learning a language by itself, but there’s something comforting about that structure for written vocabulary and grammar reinforcement.

As a native English speaker, I base my order of sentence complexity loosely on Krashen’s (1977) model, but that doesn’t work for all L1 backgrounds: L1 INFLUENCE ON THE ACQUISITION ORDER OF ENGLISH GRAMMATICAL MORPHEMES | Studies in Second Language Acquisition | Cambridge Core

Here’s my learning order:

  1. Subject + “be” verb + adjective or noun (日本語で: Sは +ADJ/NOUN + です)The easiest way to start writing “real sentences” while actually reinforcing new kanji and connecting meanings together.
  2. If other “be” equivalents exist in the language, they’re next: (日本語で:Sが + 有ります・います)
  3. ーます form of verbs; start making sentences with intransitive verbs
  4. Sentence-level particles! In most languages, questions are hard to form, but for Japanese, that comes early, so か、ね、よ are things that I learned quickly.
  5. “case” particles に、へ、で、を (can be switched with #6 if you prefer exposure before theory)
  6. Subject + transitive verb + object (日本語で: Sは +NOUNを + V)
    * Be careful with this one, though; sometimes the concepts of “subject” and “object” don’t translate well, like 私は英語が話せます
  7. [[insert oddly specific structures you’ve encountered already and can’t get out of your head. Also start trying to find sentence adverbs like しかし]]
  8. Negation (present tense verbs)
  9. Negation (present tense adjectives)
  10. しょう volitional (“Let’s” - especially if you’re learning in Japan, this comes early!)
  11. て form (polite commands - depending on your situation, this may be less relevant than all the past stuff, so it’s movable.)
  12. Past tense (verbs)
  13. Past tense (adjectives)
  14. Negation (past tense verbs)
  15. Negation (past tense adjectives)
  16. でしょう、だろう、(could come before the past stuff if you prefer to live in the now. XD)
  17. ーたことがある (have/haven’t done)
  18. ーている (basically present continuous, am/are/is doing)
  19. Start connecting clauses with か、けど、ので、でも
  20. て (I did this, then I did that), various other て stuff
  21. At this point, does the order really matter? (Probably, but I don’t know yet, lol)

If you are looking to get into structured writing and you’re feeling overwhelmed, I recommend that you work your way down this list. It gives you some easy victories at the start while being able to use almost any vocabulary pretty early on.

EDIT: When I say “writing practice,” I mean handwriting. This list looks simple until you start to write out a sentence by hand after 3 months of WaniKani and realize 1. “WTF is the stroke order??” 2. “Why is my handwriting so bad?” and 3. “AAAHHHHH”

Also, I recommend writing out each structure at least 10 times before you move on. Yeah, です will be boring unless you use those sentences to challenge yourself with kanji, but the difficulty level is what you make it.

I definitely see your point about real vocabulary vs wanikani. I’ve already encountered multiple words for things like “entirely” and the example sentences are terrible and don’t really provide enough context about which words are useful and how to use them properly, and I do find this aspect of wk to be frustrating. But perhaps that’s not the goal, but like what you said, just learn the kanji readings.

I’ve been doing a little reading lately, especially since Satori has additional sentence practice from Human Japanese, I’m hoping to just kind of naturally absorb it like you said, but being in the beginning stages of conjugation and such, I feel like I have to do some drills to get the general idea in my head, too. That’s kinda where japanese conjugation city comes in, so I’m hoping in a couple weeks I can graduate myself to just reading once I get the first. I did pimsleur for a while and notice that I did pick up some sentence structures without much thought to it. I think satori will be more effective given their broad selection of topics.

Thanks for this, it looks like a useful plan. I do need my hand held :joy: I really do like structure and gradually increasing the difficulty of things. I’ll definitely take a whack at it. As other folks have said, some of the vocab in wk is kind of odd/not useful so I think I could skim over some of those and pick words that seem more common, along with whatever Human Japanese and Satori throw at me.

1 Like

I agree, especially at the beginning you need to do deliberate learning, not only conjugation but most basic grammar points in general. Once you got the general idea of how certain grammar point works, then reading is where all of that knowledge really gets absorbed into your brain, at least that’s what happened to me and I think to a lot of people too.

2 Likes

Last year or at the beginning of this year I used to do conjugation drills for verbs and adjectives on paper. Basically, pages upon pages of the verbs/adjectives I knew for every new conjugation structure I learned. In hindsight I can’t tell whether it was worth the time, but some of that is definitely needed.

Reading alone might cover the most common verbs, but actual practice with pencil & paper will make you identify verbs from those conjugations more easily. At some point I stopped doing it, because it was no longer needed, which is probably a good thing :smiley: .

Regarding vocab itself, get yourself Anki or Kitsun and start adding words you encounter in whatever text you’re reading outside of WaniKani. Pay some attention to whether the word is common or not (usually found on Jisho) so that you don’t end up with piles of words used rarely :slight_smile:

1 Like

Alongside WaniKani, my other main source of vocabulary has been the “Tango N5” deck for Anki that I got from here. A lot of the kanji it’s shown me so far have been ones in the first 10 levels of WaniKani, so the two have reinforced each other a lot, and when I’ve come across a word in the vocab deck before WK, I’ve usually made up my own mnemonic for it, which sticks stronger.

Oh, and conjugation practice I’ve got from BunPro, an SRS for grammar, but admittedly I’ve not been keeping up with that as much as I should recently, because it’s far harder than memorising vocab.