How do you approach NEW vocab while immersing?

Hello everybody.
I guess depending on everyone’s strategy to add new vocab, some have faced the same question I’m wondering these days related to adding new vocab that is found while reading, watching shows or basically anywhere.
So far while reading, every time I bump into a new vocab it goes to word list that later gets made into Anki cards. While watching shows, it’s more like whenever a hear an unknown word a couple of times in the same scene or episode, then if possible I activate japanese subs and write down the word, otherwise I try to find it by sound alone using

The question that came to me after months of doing this is, how frecuent are those words I’m adding? Some of those I can see they have a card in the Core10K deck, so that both helps with in making my own card and to check the frecuency of the given word; if not in the Core10K I will search for that word to be used at least once in any of the sentences I keep from my shows (a huge deck made of sentences / scenes using Subs2SRS). And if not able to do any of the before mentioned… well… then I leave the word in the word list and some months later I will check again if after adding more shows to the sentence bank it got used at all.

What’s your routine for adding new word when reading or watching shows, do you consider frecuency at all to avoid learning too specific vocab?

I’ve recently bumped into a couple of interesting word frecuency lists that could be of use
First from the Tokyo University.
- A List of about 60,000 words commonly found in books

Then Japanese Wikipedia
- A list of the most common 20,000 word in the language

I was thinking in running words in these lists before considering adding them or not if they don’t fall within the Core10K deck.

I will love to hear about how you tackle down unknown vocab.:wink:


Up until around 8500 base words I would add news words into HouHou or encounter them in WaniKani. Afterwards I almost exclusively just look them up, forgot, and then review them as I read.

Frequency is rather pointless after a certain amount. Honestly at around 6000 base there is little reason why you shouldn’t just add words as you like to your own SRS. That or just keep reading.


I don’t really add anything anywhere, just look it up.

The thing is, I think doing SRS is a pain and can’t bear the thought of accumulating work to do while I read something for entertainment. WK is an exception, it lasted a relatively short amount of time during which I could find motivation to do reviews.


Yes, I know that for the most part and specially since the books I’m currently reading are aimed at kids, vocab it’s extremely common.
I’m over 5000 words now and while every new word still it’s mainly common vocab, in the particular series I’m reading for example, that are biographical short stories, sometimes specific vocab arises, related to the life of the character in question. That word might not be common at all outside the specific line of work the character make his contribution.
So in that context I was wondering of a way to check before add anything to the whole SRS routine…

Maybe I’m just overthinking the whole scenario :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

In the end probably dropping all SRS will be most likely my choice too… For now it seems to be working to avoid constantly looking up for words and overall keeping things in place, but I can see how it’s simply not a feasible option in the long run… :confused:


i didn’t use SRS when learning english. words you come across often enough will stick, the rest is unimportant, because you’ll never see em anyway. if something is interesting enough, it might stick, but only if you use it. if you don’t use it, it wasn’t really interesting in the first place anyway.

SRS is only good to brute-force stuff into your memory, and that only applies really when you’re beginner/intermediate, or for very special cases, like the kanji.

for tests, i’d do drilling instead. for normal acquisition, i’d let em come to me naturally.


I don’t really think about frequency at all. I personally don’t mind learning scenario specific vocab as long as they appear in +1 sentences.


I sneak up on it when it isn’t looking, give it a hug then run away before it realises what is happening.


Hi, I’m new vocab. Nice to meet you.


This is how I look at it:

After learning a “core” set of vocab that is going to be used across alot of genres I think that overall frequency becomes a much less useful metric. Vocabulary is genre specific. So if you like reading about computers there is going to be tons of computer specific vocab etc. So im having a hard time thinking of a word that I would “try to avoid” learning or putting in an srs. Most words are either going to be a general vocab word (so high frequency comparitivly) or its going to be a word that is related to the subject you are reading about (so even if it is low frequency you have a concrete reason to learn it).

This kind of reasoning mirrors the way we acquire vocab in our native languages. It not about overall frequency (when you learn the names of different kinds of clouds in science class, its not like you use that terminology alot), its about building a vocabulary that allows you to understand texts written in specific genres about specific subjects. And over time as you have gone through that process more and more times you eventually have built up enough vocab to understand most things that you encounter.

So to specifically answer your question, I don’t really look at frequency. If it is a vocab word that is related to the subject im reading about, i put it in. (and then of course if its a more common general word that I don’t know ill put that in too). So i guess I look at it as more text specific. I want to read a particular text. I need to know the vocab that will allow me to understand the text im trying to read. And so I guess i am able to focus on “more common” vocab by not picking obscure texts.

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Thanks, actually that makes a lot of sense. I guess my concern is based upon the fact that I’m mostly reading material that is appropiate for my level right now , so I can read at a constant pace and not become to overwhelmed looking at the dictionary.

That means that sometimes I’m reading material that I’m not specially interested in, just fun enough to keep me turning the pages… :man_shrugging:

Gradually that’s changing, but sometimes I bump into new vocab in stories that, to be honest probably I wouldn’t pick up again if more vocab and a better understating of the language would allow me have a wider range of lectures :sweat_smile:

Anyway, coincidentally I’ve started to pick up vocab from a probably very specific nature, my japanese grammar book… and yeah, the frecuency list puts most of that vocab way deep in the uncommon vocab area… but then it’s vocab I’m using constantly while using the japanese dictionary and reading more about grammar, so it makes total sense to put it into my deck.
Then again today I bumped into some story related to birds… and some bird names came to scene… はちすずめ … かわせみ… よだか… one of those it’s not even in (but it is in the japanese dictionary) … and I’m not into birding, so it’s clear those birds wont make the cut :sweat_smile:

Anyway, I think most of it is common sense once the basic vocab is under the belt. Though still I wonder whenever I bump into those words that seem so rare outside of Japan… but then turn to be “a thing” in japanese. :sweat_smile:

Oh hello there.

*puts you in his Anki deck when no one’s looking*


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