How do you study vocabulary

I’m interested in the ways WaniKani users study vocabulary. What SRS apps used or others types of apps and programs. As well as how you go about it, do you sit down in silence and study if not then what.


A lot of people use Anki, but I tried it and it wasn’t right for me. I used to use the community created flash card decks on Memrise quite a bit!

Torii - SRS learning application for vocabulary is a nice SRS option! I also pick up vocab on grammar resources like LingoDeer or Bunpro.

You can also check out more resources on old threads like Suggestions for Building Vocabulary

I also study vocab using kids manga—I read as much as I can without looking stuff up first, and then on my second read through I look up new words and make a note of words that come up frequently. I add said words to a physical deck of flash cards or a flash card app.

If you’re studying for the JLPT, I like the Nihongo So-Matome books for vocab.

I’ve picked up a few words watching shows like Terrace House too!

I would play around with a few different apps to see what “clicks” for your learning style! I do well with gamification/SRS or picking up new words via repeated exposure. I don’t often study in complete silence—I usually at least have music on if I’m studying passive skills like reading. If I’m practicing speaking or new grammar then I usually keep my surroundings quiet.


I use … I also tried anki but I didnt like it. I do my reviews everywhere where I have time… at the train, work, supermarket queue andso on


I use anki as well. Nowadays I only do listening practice since that’s what I struggle the most with.

My approach does require a bit of preparation though, but I’ve found it manageable so far.

First I add spoken sentences with transscript from all over the place: audiobooks, let’s play videos, drama, anime…

I often use voracious to add things from videos. For let’s play videos I find that the auto generated subs are often enough when there’s only one or a few words I didn’t understand. I then clean up the text afterwards. I am pretty picky so I often trim the audio with audacity as well…

Anyway, once those are in, I use morphman to sort them and pick out one new word. I’ve wrote some code that auto-adds definitions and stuff to this word, and when it comes time to study it I add spoken audio for the word itself from forvo.

Basically the flash cards themselves work like this:

Front side: single spoken word. (I also add info on any homophones that might trip me up… like 策 咲く 裂く 避く 柵)

Reverse side: spoken sample sentence along with full transcript, definitions etc.

I usually do this with the laptop screen dark and only check the definition if the spoken sentence alone wasn’t enough.

(Oh dear… I realize now that nobody is going to be as insane as I am and do this, but anyway, that’s what I do for learning vocab :b)

For reading I pretty much just count on my vocabulary slowly growing by reading books

1 Like

I learnt basics just by living in Japan during HS and speaking with people. (And doing my homework for school, since the English (etc) exams were reverse-Japanese tests to me)

I never really did flashcards seriously for vocab. Mostly I just read books. If I encounter a word that is really important to understand the gist of the sentence, I check it (Kindle’s internal Japanese-Japanese dictionary is raelly good for this). If I can decipher the word by understanding the context, I let it slip by. Enough repetition of same unknown word will sometimes encourage me to check the meaning.

I have all fancy plugins in Chrome and in my ebook-reader appsto make anki decks, but after configuring them I never really added words nor used the decks :'D

Now that I am studying for Kanken, I actually note down to a notebook many commonly used jukugo words for the kanji I am studying.I go through my notebooks every once in a while. And most likely increasingly once the examination date gets closer.

I detest studying in silence, and my current abode in Japan is kinda small and depressing, so I prefer to go to a close by cafe (A chain like Tully’s, Starbucks or Pronto is good option for a shameless “3 hours with one drink” study place). I prefer music on the background, but if the music is too “wordy” or interesting, I prefer to use headphones instead and listen to some jazz or ambient sounds.

For just reading, I go to an Izakaya close by that is made to look like a tiny bookstore. Almost all the customers there just read books or converse with each other, so it is a really nice place for just reading books and taking breaks when eyes get tired from deciphering all the kanji :smiley:

2 Likes is also a good way to repeat your already learned vocab from Wanikani in opposite way. So you get the english version and you have to type the japanese.


this is how i acquire new vocab, too, outside of wanikani: i read books like 銀河英雄伝説 and no flashcards for anything. one SRS is enough of a dose of necessary evil for my taste.

btw, i’d love to hang out in a book store themed izakaya :slight_smile: we don’t have one here where i live.

1 Like

I read really sophisticated content such as
… mmyeah, I’m kinda one-dimensional :smiley:

If you ever find yourself in 高円寺 drop me a message and I’ll guide you to one :smiley:


Using Anki + low key anki add-on (it makes it into pass/fail).
Going through JLPT N5単語 1000 book which I made into anki notes. (I did "kanjify most of the words that used hiragana).
Sentence on the front.
Reading in hiragana, English meaning of the sentence, target vocabulary word in kanji and hiragana, English meaning of the word and finally audio for the sentence + word on the back.

I’m also going through Genki I at a Japanese language school so I get a tiny bit of vocab through that.

tomorrow’s my last work day in tokyo, then i’ll never leave chiba again :smiley:
not really, can’t escape tokyo for long, but a man can dream…

if i actually make it to 高円寺 some day, i’m sure to get in touch. i love book stores :slight_smile:

1 Like is the way to go imo. It’s a product being built by the level 60 WK user @neicul, so using it feels very similar to using Wanikani, and it expands on a lot of features to improve one’s learning.

Something to take into consideration is that even though Kitsun is free for now, it will become a paid service on the 1st of December (with 14 days of trial).

You can see lots of screenshots, features and prices on Kitsun’s thread: - [LAUNCH 1 DEC] Completely Redesigned! - Open Beta - Web-based SRS Learning Platform

In terms of method of learning words, there’s several different decks available that could attract you (login to access the links):

  • Genki Complete Vocabulary - Genki is probably the most mainstream textbook to start with grammar. This deck has all the vocab you’ll find on the textbooks, ordered by chapters. By knowing the vocab used there, you can focus better on learning the grammar.
  • 10k - Kitsun Optimized - This deck has the 10000 most common words in Japanese. I’m almost finishing it, and I can see that it greatly improved my vocab.
  • Katakana 4.5k - a deck with 4500 katakana words, ordered by frequency. It seems very easy to understand/read katakana words without learning/using SRS on them, but if you don’t learn them, you can’t use them in your active vocab. Japanese vocabulary is not just kanji words after all. I’ve finished this deck and I love how easy it feels to my brain to recall katakana words and use it in speech/text.
  • Japanese Verb Conjugations - A deck to help you practice verb conjugation.
  • Beyond WK Kanji - A deck with around 1000 kanji that WK doesn’t teach (mind you, WK doesn’t teach them because they’re quite rarer).

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

You can also create flashcards of words that you want to learn in a very simple way using Kitsun, as Jisho is integrated on the website. You just need to search and in a few clicks the cards gets created :slight_smile:

I’ve been following the development of this website from the very beginning (May 2018) and I can say that the creator is very hard-working and dedicated to building a good product. If the fact that it will be pay to use is something that doesn’t attract you, I’d recommend Anki.


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