Is it neccessary to study all the vocab in Genki?

So I just started Genki 1 recently and I wasn’t really sure if it’s really worth learning all the vocab. I was focusing on all the vocab, but is it really necessary to learn all of it if it isn’t used in the workbook and is on WK at a later level? I wasn’t sure if its better to just study the hiragana only words and words I don’t see on WK. Anyway, if anyone has any experience or tips, thanks!



If only because it’s really satisfying when you see a word you only knew via kana in a textbook appear in WK and think, “Oh that’s what the kanji is. That’s so cool…” Provides me with little motivation boosts.


As an English teacher myself, let me stress how important it is to learn vocabulary lists. We do not hand these out to bully or bother you, we’re not actually that mean - most of us at least! Any good textbook (which Genki certainly is) has carefully selected the words it puts on the vocabulary list. It can be really subtle why a certain word is in on it sometimes, but often it is to subconsciously make you aware of certain patterns in words (asa is a good example.)

Vocabulary is a massive hurdle to overcome to becoming a fluent speaker and listener. The Genki vocabulary app is a pretty good aid at learning the vocabulary lists. Strive to be able to get 100% of the words right in both JP → EN and EN → JP order by the end of a lesson/chapter. After you get a score of 100%, you can stick to reviewing it weekly.

It is important this comes quickly to you because it’ll rapidly aid you capability of understanding and reading Japanese, or any language you might be studying. Grammar is important for writing and speaking, but for reading and listening, it is actually vocabulary we need.

Lastly, be aware that WK is not a vocabulary SRS. WK teaches you kanji and their readings only. The vocabulary is there only to give context to the readings and expose you to more possible readings. A lot of the vocabulary in WK is very rarely used in daily speech and only useful as a teaching tool. Genki’s vocabulary lists on the other hand, represent common use, elementary level vocabulary you will hear daily.


Is the Genki app really helpful? Many of the reviews say otherwise. I’ve been trying to use Anki for it, but it hasn’t really helped me remember the vocab that much. Some of the words I already know from WK in kanji form like, 今.

It is pretty useful. I have no idea what the reviews are about. The app does what you expect: it gives you a read out of the words and helps you review how well you’ve studied them. It has everything you need.

I am sure you could do the same with Anki, but then you miss out on the audio readings for the words, which can be useful to help train pronunciation. You are free to use whatever method works for you to review and rehearse your vocabulary lists, of course.


No, you don’t need to study everything if you don’t want to, unless you’re being tested on it next week or something.

Words that pop up often will stick. You can just read and look things up as you go, assuming that your vocab isn’t so limited that you basically can’t read. It’s not like textbook vocabulary lists are inherently more important to learn than other vocab than you will come across.

However, textbooks usually teach common words that you’ll come across often in the wild, like vehicles, animals, furniture or set phrases, so in that sense, those words may be more important to learn early on, since they make a nice foundation for the rest of your vocabulary. But it’s not like you need to memorize every word before moving onto the next step.

If it seems useful, then study it. But if not, then study something you think will be more useful instead. Having fun with your learning is WAY more important than following a set order.


Personally, I don’t like to study vocab that will be on WK at a later level, because I memorize vocab better if I learn it on WK. But, having done Genki, pretty much all the vocab there is common, so you should definitely learn it at some point.

You don’t have to, but I definitely encourage you to study them. As someone who worked through Genki and currently does WK, there is overlap between the two — I find that as a plus. Whether you’re exposed to certain words first in Genki or WK, that exposure and act of trying to learn and memorize should help when you encounter those words later on. (I see overlap between WK and Tobira, and I find that it helps cement certain words into my brain a little better.) I also feel like paying attention to vocab in the textbooks can help more with understanding how to use words in context vs learning them from WK only. And like someone else said: Genki’s vocab consists of a lot of common and basic words, so I’d say you’re better off studying them than not.

I currently work through Tobira’s anki decks and pair those with my WK reviews and lessons, which works pretty well for me. If I had been doing WK when I was working through Genki, I would have done the same thing. Specifically, I used this Genki anki deck with audio — very helpful, IMO!

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Personally I stopped studying Genki vocab a while ago and just go with the core 10k deck on

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No. Some of it is certainly useful, the things that are very frequent, but definitely not all of it.

Genki 1 + 2 covers almost 2k vocab, studying all that (and possibly even in thorough detail) is going to slow you down way too much. Genki 1+2 grammar is basic. Really basic. You see/hear it all the time. Looking up grammar you don’t know is annoying, looking up vocab isn’t. If you’re reading novels on a Kindle or playing Visual Novels with Textractor even less so.
Get that beginner grammar out of the way and use your Japanese on things you’d enjoy and pick up the vocabulary from there.


One more take. All the Genki grammar examples, dialogues and exercises utilize their vocab words. Studying them will make the whole learning experience easier.

When they come up in WK and I already know them it’s a sigh of relief (and vice versa).

The katakana words are important too.


I really take issue with this. 2000 vocabulary words really isn’t that much, you just need to space out how you memorize them. Trying to do them all at once is nearly impossible, but each chapter introduces about 100 vocabulary words at a time. You can easily focus on learning just those while you’re doing a chapter.

Learning 100 words per week (assuming a chapter takes you a week, which I think is a reasonable pace) should not be challenging, considering you will have learned most of the words just by doing the exercises.

While it is fair that you can look words up, looking things up actually isn’t a very good way of memorizing. Our brains can be trained to memorize things quite well when you realize our memory is stronger when we memorize things in several ways, thus:

  • Make sure you read the words.
  • Make sure you hear the words.
  • Make sure you write the words.
  • Make sure you say the words.
  • Make sure you rehearse and review the words.

Writing and reading is covered by the exercises, saying you can do by reading everything out loud. Hearing can be done through the accompanying audio recordings. Flash cards, Anki, the vocabulary app, etc covers the reviewing and rehearsing. Combine those five things and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can learn a large amount of things.

Again, Genki is a teaching method developed by teachers. Teaching is pretty much a science (pedagogy) that teachers study, a study method is expensive and time consuming to develop because every aspect of it matters. Vocabulary lists, audio recordings, exercises; they all exist to be used because they are there to reinforce and layer what you learned into your brain.

I take issue especially with this:

Genki 1 + 2 covers almost 2k vocab, studying all that (and possibly even in thorough detail) is going to slow you down way too much. Genki 1+2 grammar is basic. Really basic. You see/hear it all the time.
Get that beginner grammar out of the way and use your Japanese on things you’d enjoy and pick up the vocabulary from there.

You especially shouldn’t hurry the basics and the fundamentals, because they are exactly that: fundamental. Just take your time, there is no need to rush to get to the ‘fun things’. Learning a language takes time and it is better to take it slowly and reinforce the fundamental grammar and common vocabulary rather than rushing to your ‘goals.’

Slow and steady wins the race, especially with languages.


Do you have a link to the actual deck? The link on reddit got flagged on virus total, but might’ve been a mistake.

In my opinion it is not neccessary, but I think that you should study all the vocabulary.

Just from my personal experience, I started Genki when I was around 3-4 lvl in Wanikani. Initially, I did not bother learning the new vocabulary and I soon realized that it was hurting my progress in Genki. Also I was not enjoying the practice exercises and the whole “Genki experience”. Especially, at later levels where all the vocabulary from the previous levels is repeated as well.

When I reached Genki Lesson 6 I decided to stop and start over once I reach lvl 10 in Wanikani. By level 10 I will have learned about 70% of the Genki vocabulary and it should be easy to include the remaining vocabulary in my study schedule.

So when I reached Wanikani lvl 10, I started over, doing the aforementioned and the learning experience is way better. Every lesson I have 10ish new words that I study in order to do the exercises, but such low number of unknown words is not that difficult to learn.

Of course, depending on your goals, available time etc. you might find something else that works for you.


Imo, the problem is that we buy into completely different approaches to learning languages.
From my own journey, I’ve come to believe that early output is a waste of time. I currently agree with many of the things along the lines of the input hypothesis. Not entirely, but mostly.
The goal is getting to immersion as quickly as possible. Being able to recognize and understand, not produce, because production is a result of massive input. Thus, I believe that actually working yourself through Genki in the typical classroom way is time that could be better spent otherwise.

I guess you could say that I simply believe the typical approach a language teacher might be taught to teach with is wrong, so it doesn’t matter how well polished all the details of that approach are.

It’s not about “rushing to your goals”. I simply believe that exposure is going to drill は vs が more solidly into your skull than cobbling together sentences will. Learning grammar is something you do to build initial comprehension of things you can not yet understand, based off that immersion is going to form a more solid intuition than study ever could.

To clarify one thing though, I didn’t mean you should just look up a word and never SRS it. The SRS is important for pinning the words in place in between encounters. However, I believe that quizzing the same word in multiple ways (Recognition, Comprehension, Production) is also time better spent on other things.

As for what to put into your SRS, I believe that after learning a solid core vocabulary, it’s best to quiz yourself on words you’ve encountered during immersion instead of studying words from a textbook or several thousands long frequency lists 3x
Now, what is “solid core vocabulary”? 1000? 2000? 3000? Maybe everything in Genki 1+2 even falls into that? Who knows.
Personally I think it’s 2k’ish, but I prefer other vocab lists over the Genki one :man_shrugging:

Now I understand that this kind of polar disagreement causes a lot of friction. Personally I haven’t done any large scale studies on which approach gets you most efficiently to fluency, pretty sure there aren’t any. Currently I believe that it all depends on your personal goals. So which approach is “better”? Who knows.
Just try to keep an open mind about things and all :wink:


I think the vocab lists in Genki start off extremely terrible with all the university subjects. I would skip those. After that the vocabulary becomes a lot more useful.


You’ll want to study vocabulary in textbooks (at some level) even if they appear on WK… because good textbooks should teach you how to use the vocabulary, which WK doesn’t.

That being said, it is helpful to note that Genki tends to organize their vocabulary by dictionary order instead of appearance in the book or topical. They do odd things with their listing (at least in the 2nd Ed.).

What I’d recommend is to take a look at the Vocab page, but only spend a few minutes on it, while listening to the audio… Then, look at the sample conversations and sample practice sections… and look up unknown words as you encounter them there… so you have a context and know when they come up… and then review those sentences later…

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No, unfortunately! That was the only location I was ever able to find it. But I still have the deck itself, so I just uploaded it to my google drive. I don’t think it’s been maintained alongside Anki’s updates, though, so it’ll appear broken if you use it with a newer version. If you still want to use the deck you can download an older version of Anki — someone said version 2.1.15 worked well.

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I think it would be good to learn the vocab, but maybe adjust how you learn it to make it more manageable. I’m working through genki right now and what I tend to do is spend one day just going through the vocab a decent amount of times to sort of get it down and then I found a deck on kitsune (it has genki 1 and 2 vocab) where I just do 10 lessons each day. So I may not have every word 100% down by the time I start the new chapter, but I am learning the vocabulary at a pace that fits in with my other studies.

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I find the question a bit puzzling.
If you do the exercises in the book (and maybe even the workbook), you’re going to need the vocabulary. Maybe not 100% of it, but certainly a good part.

If you’re not doing the exercises, then I’m unsure why you’d even want to use Genki to begin with. I guess you could just read the grammar explanations and the dialogues, but do you really want to spend so much money on a textbook without using it the way it was intended? If some other approach (grammar + reading on your own, more input than output, etc.) works for you, that’s fine, but it doesn’t seem like this is how you should approach Genki.

I also think people should relax a little about the vocab items. Yeah, maybe you’re never going to need to talk about university subjects again, so you don’t need to know what “biology” is. But the point is to give you some basic vocabulary that you can use to practice building sentences. It’s not like learning 5 vocab items that you might not need is going to massively slow you down in the long run.

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