How to get the most from your reading?

Hi everyone!

Today I’m looking for some inspiration. I want to ask all of you, how do you do your readings to get the most from it? Do you write down the whole sentence and try to translate it? Or do you just put new words into Anki (or other SRS)?

I’ve started reading なぜ?どうして?科学のお話 2年生 and I’m not sure what to do :sweat_smile:. On one hand, I would like to write translations in my book, but on the other - when I reread it later, I don’t want to have there any explanations, because I’d like to see if I’ve improved.

My English Journey

English is my only experience with reading in the foreign language, but I’ve started to do it, when I knew lots of words. And when I encountered a new one, most of the time I didn’t check it in a dictionary. But it won’t work with my current Japanese level. And I really want ot start reading the native books.

Thank you in advance for all your tips and suggestions :blush:.

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I read normally, pausing whenever there is some word/grammar I don’t know to look it up. I stay there as long as I need to understand that section, then move on. I might move on without actually understanding if it’s too difficult.

That’s what I’ve been doing ever since I started reading Japanese. Personally, I think adding stuff from your reading to SRS systems just hurts how much you can actually read, because you would have to either stop reading when you add too many cards or stop adding cards and keep reading (that’s especially true when you’re just getting started and don’t know that many words). Plenty of people use the SRS approach though, it’s up to you to figure out which works best.

I also think going sentence by sentence writing them down and translating would be too much work and would take much out of the appeal from reading, turning it into homework. Again, that’s just how I feel about it.

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Some tips that come to my mind:

  • Have a deck like Core 10k open, so whenever you see a word you don’t know, you search for it there. If it’s there, do that lesson. This way, you can do a mainstream deck with common words while learning words from exposure. 2 in 1 approach.
  • Have the English version of the manga/book open as well (if you can access it). Whenever I don’t understand a thing, I check the English version and then try to deconstruct the Japanese text. It helps me a lot with knowing how the sentences are actually being built.
  • Depending on how you read, you can access a dictionary with just a few clicks and see the word definition. For actual books, you can scan the text with google translate OCR (using your phone) and it will give you the translation.
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Partial comprehension, full speed ahead, quantity is key.
(only half joking here)

Obviously i look up words i dont know, but i dont spend any time writing it down or adding it to an SRS system as it would detract time from actual reading.
For me its about as much exposure as possible, and i really do feel that i am gaining a ton from it.

I also read on a kindle which has access to a dictionary making word lookup super fast.
And if i really have no idea or want to check my understanding i can use the translator feature although it gives some funky translations sometimes
(“A splendid fist licked my kite” made me laugh so hard, because i knew it should have said something like “A strong fist grazed my cheek”)

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I scan a double-page spread saving it as JPEG, crop and copy it into Publisher, enter new vocab in a small table below the , then do a full transliteration/translation below that, all on 1 A4 page.

Here’s a sample from にゃんにゃん探偵団 (redacted for sharing on the forum to not breach copyright):

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What I do is look up all the words I don’t understand on a dictionary app I have. Then I bookmark all the new words I came across. I don’t save them on anki because I already I have a pre made vocab deck that I’m going through.

If you’re reading stuff online, I HIGHLY recommend the browser extention Yomichan. You hover over words and it gives you a translation of them and their kanji. It also can parse certain conjugations as well. This makes it very easy to look up words and certain grammar points, so that it doesn’t slow you down like it would to look something up in a traditional dictionary. Yomichan also has a feature where you can click a sound icon and hear the word pronounced. Probably my favorite feature, however, would have to be its Anki integration. Just press a button and it automatically creates an Anki card of any word you come across. It makes it very easy to add words you don’t know to your deck because it takes less than a second to do.

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I add unfamiliar words with hiragana and the definition to a spreadsheet. When I see a word for the second time and still don’t know it (I check if it’s in the spreadsheet already), I’ll add it to an SRS deck. This keeps the deck to a very manageable size.

Between this and the vocab I’ve picked up from Wanikani, I don’t anticipate ever needing to use a core 10k deck or the like.

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When reading I add some words to kitsun, I found its vocabulary card function very easy to get new words into my exposure deck. I don’t add everything I don’t know, I just add what I think could be interesting to know. If I don’t add words at all it’s almost like I don’t learn anything new from my reading.

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There’s a thing called intensive reading and extensive reading. They’re different but equally important and there’s a place for both. It’s nicely explained here: https://www.lucalampariello.com/intensive-vs-extensive-reading

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I think that’s where I’ve been going wrong. I do way less reading than I want to, and I think it’s because the way I go about it is way too nitpicky. I did learn a lot of new grammar points that way, but there’s also something to be said for going through many pages, just reinforcing the grammar you already know and leaving the rest for the time being.

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I have a question; on Anki I only see one ‘Japanese Core 10K deck’. It has four reviews and partially removed audio (?). Is this the correct deck? I see a lot of people talk about it and wasn’t sure if this was it since the reviews are low :point_up:

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I prefer reading Graded Readers, so I understand enough to catch the rest from context without stopping to look up.
When reading native material I prefer to also have it in English so I can read the Japanese first, then the English to see what I got and what I missed.
I’m horrible at looking up!
To be honest, I am fairly confident that stopping and looking up words is a MUCH better way, you will learn much more. It’s just too much work! :crazy_face: :rofl:

Maybe it’s laziness from learning English. I never looked up words there, now I am more proficient in English than my native language! XD
Japanese is in a whole different word group though, so it might not work on it =P

I use reading more to “test my skill” and as a reward for getting better. I use so much time learning through WaniKani that I don’t do other flashcards. Maybe after I’m done I’ll do anki on words from reading.

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There’s several versions of the Core 10k made by different people. The common point being that those are the top 10000 most used words in a Japanese newspaper.

In terms of authors, I trust @hinekidori’s work. You can find his version of the Core 10k here. He tries to give a similar experience to Wanikani when it comes to learning.

Personally, I don’t use Anki. I use another platform called Kitsun. The same author is much more active on this platform nowadays, and me, him and the rest of the community really invested in improving the version of the deck that’s on Kitsun. It’s a subscription-based platform however. Click here to see Kitsun’s thread on these forums.

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Thank you for your detailed response and rec’s! I checked Kitsun out and do like it more than Anki, feels more cross functional.

My WK subscription is def first but was considering Bunpro to supplement grammar practice. I’m limited on $; if you had to pick the most useful for a beginner what would you say - Bunpro or Kitsun? Once it comes in the mail I’ll be using the Genki texts to self study. I do have Memrise as well (though it’s poorly utilized atm). I think learning to read is my first priority :thinking:

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If you’re on a limited budget, you might prefer to add Bunpro to your toolset – I don’t think there are viable alternatives, and it pairs well with Genki.

For vocab you could always start with the Anki decks (made by the same person) and move to Kitsun later if you want? I don’t know if Kitsun has a way to import data of known vocab like the Anki add-on Morphman allows, but a feature like that would let you migrate from one system to the other a bit more easily.

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First of all, I’m a heavy supporter of Kitsun, so take that into consideration.


For me, the things that I like most about Bunpro are the ordered JLPT lists and the links for easy access to places explaining the grammar points. Well, both of these features are free to use, as they don’t require subscription.

I’m not a fan of their approach to SRS grammar as I don’t think it does much to your learning. Grammar is not as straightforward to SRS as vocab, it’s not just conjugating verbs and boom you learned the grammar point. There’s particles, subjects, objects involved. There’s even nuances between different variations of the same grammar point that one needs to know about… and that’s not much tested.

I believe in the team behind Bunpro (I was one of their biggest supporters while they were starting out) and I’m aware how their platform has improved with time. I just think that actually studying the grammar points from online resources/textbooks and then using the language is still worth more.


When it comes to SRSing vocab, there’s several options. Anki, Memrise, Kitsun…

The main reason why I’m such a big supporter of Kitsun is because before it was created (by a WK user btw), I spend 1 year trying to stick with Anki but with no effort. The app just looked overwhelming to me, the looks didn’t attract me at all and any explanation that I’d see online wouldn’t be enough to make it clear for me. Kitsun just fixed that for me. In the past 1y6m, I’d added 15000 Japanese words to my vocabulary.

Now, I still think this should be a personal decision. What I’d recommend is for you to try them out. Bunpro offers 1 month for free. Kitsun offers 14 days. Anki is free (except iOS app). See what adds more to your style of learning and that will help you make a decision :slight_smile: As you can see, there’s other people here that swear for Bunpro and Anki as well :grin:


One thing that I’d recommend is doing a Genki vocab deck. You can study the vocab using SRS as you go with the textbook. This will help you fight the two fronts (grammar and vocab) separately, so that it doesn’t feel as overwhelming while going through the textbook ^^
There’s a Genki deck on every platform (Memrise, Anki, Kitsun), so this is something you’ll be able to do no matter what you decide :grin: The Kitsun one is this one. You can find the Genki deck made by the same author for Anki here.

Known vocab will be something implemented on Kitsun soon enough :slight_smile: Even if it’s not implemented until then, it’s possible to hibernate (the Kitsun version of suspend) cards through tags. So if someone did the first 3 chapters, it’s possible to start with the chapter 4. One thing tho is that it’s not possible to transfer the cards progress from Anki.

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Read it, then read it again the next day, then read it again in a week, then maybe again in a month

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This makes a lot of sense and I appreciate you taking the time to write it out! I’m so new to this it’s hard to tell which resources I should use to spend my time (and $ lol). I’ll definitely take what you said into consideration, and the links are so helpful!! Thank you!

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