Learning new vocabulary through reading

I like to choose an article based on my interest and read it, translating the words. But I wonder, should I write down the words and review them later either in my notebook or Anki, or just read the article however many times I need in order to read it without mistake and understanding it fully? And no writing down the words?
What do you think?

I would say its always worth writing down - I believe I read somewhere that if you write stuff down, that your more likely to remember it.Though, i tend to be lazy and not do this. But I think if you did you would see multiple benefits. I think at first it be awkward, but as time goes on it will get you use to writing in Japanese and help enforce writing different Kanji and remembering how to write Kanji aswell as remember vocabulary. Though you would have to implement in a way that works for you. I wouldn’t really want to do Kanji lines trying to hammer something in. Maybe try write it once with guidance, once without leave and try again at different time. I wouldn’t find it fun putting a great deal of time in writing and if you’re not having fun its not going to work. You wont be motivated and likely it wont stick.

I would also say use SRS along side writing every so often, but you may want to create your own sentences using the word, instead of just cramming individual words. It will probably be more helpful to remember the word and it also helps with sentence building and grammar. I notice when doing the core packs which had sentences that, they tended to work better than individual words

I probably go about this the wrong way, and probably look at bit psychotic is anyone saw me. I don’t use Anki or write stuff down but i tend to try do sentences talking to myself. Out-loud at times. especially in the car and i try to enforce vocab and grammar that way. It seems to work out pretty good for me, but there room for improvement and I would like to start concentrating a little time on writing.

In the end studying methods is about what works for you. Play around and test to see what works for you and more importantly something that you enjoy doing. There will be plenty of topics on here and other places on how people gone about studying.

Good Luck.

Putting a word into Anki or whichever is probably your best bet. Waiting for your brain to absorb the word will work eventually but, speaking from experience, it’ll just make you feel frustrated when you keep seeing a word that you know you just looked up yesterday but can’t recall the meaning/reading/both.

For example, I was playing a video game in Japanese, and I had to keep looking up the word 頼む. After looking it up about 7 times, I finally remembered it, but I felt stupider for looking it up every time. On the other hand, I put 狙う in my Memrise deck and didn’t have to look it up while playing the game again.

If you’re going to study the word by adding it in some srs system (which I recommend), make sure to copy the sentence over too. Seeing it in context, especially the one you saw it in, will be much more useful and make it easier to remember.


My personal experience has been that it’s like a hundred times harder to learn a word through reading than it is through SRS. If I see a word a couple times on WK, I’ll almost always remember it when I see it in a manga or whatever. But if I encounter it first while reading, I can look it up half a dozen times in the same volume of manga and it’s still likely to not stick.

So while everyone is different, I’d recommend adding it to your SRS pile.

Do you have any suggestions for coming across words in audio form (e.g. anime or video games) where you don’t see it written down, so you can’t easily copy the sentence?


that’s a good point - while writing it down, I’ll also practice writing which is quite deglected these days. even though it seems like double work (writing it down + adding it to Anki) I can still practice the handwriting.

I usually put into Anki either full sentences that I find useful or a phrase, for example 青い目 instead of just 青い. It’s much easier to memorize it that way and you can use such phrases later on, changing one word or the other.
Creating my own sentences seems too hard for my level now, I’d need to have them checked and corrected every time perhaps, but then I’d learn by that as well, hmm. I always make super complicated sentences, even though I try not to. But I agree it’s such a good way how to remember the word.

Good luck with your studies too! I love that you have such an ‘it should be fun’ approach!

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I’ll probably do that, the results are faster. Btw, can I play some online games in Japanese? I think it’s a great way how to learn vocabulary, but I don’t play any games nor know any.

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thank you! I do it that way, always some context :slight_smile:

will do! I agree, even though I’d read the article several times, perhaps I wouldn’t be able to remember many words.

In that case you could always just use an example sentence from weblio. I had a link to a site bookmarked that would give you a bunch of sentences for every word you entered, but unfortunately that’s on my desktop.

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I like that site. Or jisho or tangorin dictionary :slight_smile:

Hello everyone,

while writing this post I’m currently on WK level 17 and put in quite an amount of work in my grammar studies these past weeks (meaning I’m about to finish Genki 1 and Japanese the Manga Way soon and review grammar points with bunpro daily).

Now I really want to make “use” of my studies and start reading. I’ve already tried to participate in our bookclubs. First in the にゃんにゃん-group, but that was too hard for me at that time. Then I tried to read along the なぜどうして-one, but it’s hard for me to keep a steady pace with the group at the moment. So I’m trying to read alone for now.

My main problem is vocabulary. Genki doesn’t really help with that as there are many words about university, majors and stuff, that I don’t really need right now. So when reading I need to look up SO MANY words that it doesn’t make fun at all.

What should/can I do to get better at this?

I’ve tried to search for a core 500 most used japanese words to get me started, but wasn’t really successful… I didn’t look at the core6000 or more words lists out there as I don’t want to learn 6000 words first and have to wait with reading until then ^^’
Is this wrong? Should I use one of these?

And are there any recommendations as to which platform to use for learning and reviewing all the vocabulary? I’ve used Anki until now and taken a very short look at kitsun and floflo as well as memrise. I don’t like memrise and Anki is not much fun anymore…

I have started reading 千と千尋の神隠し (Spirited Away) and want to order 暁のヨナ (Yona of the Dawn). Should I simply type every unknown word I encounter into the platform (as soon as I decided which one to use) and start reviewing? Should I get a head start at learning more vocabulary and wait a bit more until I start reading?

I’m not sure how to proceed, so please send some help :sparkling_heart:

[Yes, reading is my priority. I want to be able to read first and will be concentrating on listening and speaking after that :wink:]

If you just want to build a general base of vocabulary, you may want to take a look at iKnow - it has the full core 6k, but it’s broken up into courses of 100 words, so it feels much more manageable and less overwhelming (to me at least) than just picking up a full core 6k deck on Anki or something. Plus you get a little sense of achievement whenever you finish a course. ^^ And you definitely don’t have to finish all 6k to start reading - you could do a 100-word course, see how you feel, and if you still feel like you’re looking up too much, do another 100, etc. The only downside is that it does cost money - not sure if that’s a problem for you or not. Personally, I think it’s helpful to have some general base vocabulary (outside of WK), because otherwise, you really will be adding almost every word, which (in my opinion) makes reading super not fun :sweat_smile:

In terms of adding/reviewing words from whatever I’m reading…I’ll be honest, I’m terrible at that xD I started out trying to do that, but it felt like more work than it was worth, and it really interrupted my flow/enjoyment of reading (like, oh, here’s another word I don’t know, now I have this pile that I feel like I need to study before I can actually get on with the book). Now, I just look up words over and over until they stick (I basically read in front of my computer with a jisho window open lol), but it sounds like that’s not the route you want to take xD

I think it’s probably best to only add/review words that you’ve come across a couple times while reading - if you add every word you come across that you don’t know, it’ll get overwhelming pretty quickly. And if you don’t see the words often, are they really that necessary to review? Is learning them in SRS going to save you much time while reading? Probably not. For those words, it’s probably a better use of your time to just look them up as they happen and move on.

If you want to prelearn for a particular book, I think floflo could be a good fit for you. One of the benefits of floflo is that it already has all the vocab from the book pulled out, so as long as whatever you want to read is on floflo, you can easily start pre-learning without having to go in and pick out the words yourself ahead of time. You can also learn by frequency, so you can choose to learn only the words that occur multiple times throughout the book. The only catch is that whatever you want to read has to be on floflo xD For adding your own cards/decks, I would recommend Kitsun, because it’s much prettier and less painful to use than Anki in my opinion xD But that’s very much a personal preference thing.

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