Managing all your flash cards and still finding time to study grammar?

The further I get into learning Japanese the more and more it seems the number of flash cards (wanikani and anki) i have to do daily takes away from actually learning grammar! Very curious to see how people manage the juggle between building vocabulary and learning the grammar points, as well as still finding time for the rest of life!


I have this problem too. I tend to target the grammar that are easier. I use bunpro and some of the grammar are basically one word. I try to pick those out when I have time, but then that leads to more reviews and the cycle continues.

I have recently (since about Janurary up until now) had a bit of a break from adding lessons to Wanikani (I leveled up once in that time). That has got the reviews settled somewhat…

Good luck!

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seems to be my cycle as well, i’ll have a few months of seriously hitting the flash cards, feel really guilty I havent touched the grammar books on my desk for a while and just suddenly hit the breaks to focus on that instead. I’m sure there has to be a more sustainable way!

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Initially I learned N5 grammar using LingoDeer, before starting WK.

Now I study grammar twice a week with a tutor. Maybe spend an hour a week for homework. I also paused WK for a month to cram grammar before JLPT.

I think grammar doesn’t take as much time as learning kanji and vocab. Just compare the number of grammar points to the number of kanji and words you need.

My path has been less than ideal, but if I were going to go back in time and give myself advice, it would be this:

Learn the 1,000 most common vocabulary learns in a target domain (such as slice-of-life, or sports, or crime drama).

Start reading manga in that domain (as manga-reading is my personal native material preference), and learn grammar via looking up whatever comes up in the manga, study along the way. (This method doesn’t work for everyone. It’s just what’s worked for me.)

Use Anki for learning words that come up in manga under the following conditions:

  1. They appear in a sentence where I know everything in the sentence except for that one word.
  2. I know I’ve seen the word before, so chances are it’ll come up again. (Word frequency lists help out with this by letting you know how likely you are to see a word.)
  3. If I keep failing Anki reviews for a specific word, suspend or delete it. The less time spent on these leeches is the more time spent on other things.

I’m still early on in utilize Anki in this way. Combined with the recommended Anki settings suggested by Refold, so far so good.

As for making time for the rest of life, you just need to determine how much time you want to spend on Japanese each day, how much time you want to spend on other things, and stick to it.


Wanikani was my only SRS. For grammar, I did a quick read through of the N4/N5 grammar points on Bunpro and then I just started reading and looking things up as I went.


Did you have a source for your 1000 common words? Really like this idea of brushing up before tackling the media.

I went through iKnow’s core 2,000, but it’s not the best. It includes a lot of words that were useless for “early words” for me. This is the deck that is the basis for the Core 2K and similar decks you find for Anki.

Refold has a recent video talking about the idea of a “JP1K”. The video explains it in detail, but the basic idea is you’re kickstarting your vocabulary with the most common words you’ll encounter in consuming native material.

From what I hear, their JP1K deck is pretty good, but it’s also paywalled for $5. (I don’t know if it’ll be released for free later.)

For some people this is a great deal, as you get a deck sourcing slice of life (probably from anime subtitles) to work out the 1,000 most common words. If you watch/read anything slice of life, or any “modern life” material, you will encounter these words all the time. For others, $5 isn’t worth it for a curated deck (as far as word choice is concerned) improves upon the common Core 2K deck. Note also that the Refold JP1K deck is still being improved, and likely the improvements will only be available to those who retain a $5 monthly membership.

Now, for those who are unable (or unwilling) to pay, one alternative is the AJT JP1K deck. Based on the idea of JP1K as stated by Refold, the AJT JP1K deck is a JP1K deck sourcing cards from pre-existing decks.

I haven’t looked into the AJT JP1K deck yet. I don’t know how much time and effort has gone into cleaning it up to be a cohesive deck of 1,000 cards. The choice of cards is based on a book called “1,000 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N5”, so it’s not going to be as targeted for anime/manga consumption that I expect Refold’s is. But it’s free, so cost isn’t a limiting factor. The important parts I believe are the design of the card and the methodology (covered in the Refold video, and the ATJ deck article I’ve linked to).

I don’t recommend learning vocabulary completely in a vacuum without any other activity. (I wasted a couple of years on that with little to show for it.) But if you’re also learning grammar, and you start looking into consuming native material, it should all start to come together. If not, you can always seek further assistance from the community here =D


What I’ve been doing is primarily using two tools for learning: WaniKani (as well as KaniWani) and the textbook Minna no Nihongo, and I’m balancing my time so that I can work on both daily. If the WK workload starts to get too high for me to also work on MNN, I’m planning on dialing back to just 5-8 WK lessons a day instead of 10-13. Minna no Nihongo is supplying both vocabulary and grammar knowledge to me, as well as lots of reading practice, and the vocabulary and grammar reinforce each other since they’re used together. I do use Anki with MNN, but I only use it to pre-learn the vocabulary for each lesson before I sit down and attempt to read the lesson, so I don’t have a lot of cards in circulation, and most of them pretty quickly get pushed off to the distant future (and I don’t add any more until I’ve completed the lesson). When I’m just starting to learn the vocab for a chapter, my daily Anki sessions can be 20-30 minutes, but once I’ve familiarized myself with it, that number quickly goes down to just a few minutes a day for a week or so until I’m ready to start the next chapter.

I think the main thing is that I would limit the flash cards that you have in circulation that contain vocab that you aren’t going to immediately use in context. If you see the vocab in context, it’ll help you learn the meanings of the words as well as help you practice grammar. If SRS takes up all of your studying time, you should reduce the amount of new cards you’re adding daily (or temporarily stop adding new cards and just do reviews) so that there’s room in your schedule to practice actually applying the words that you’re learning.

I also think that it’s okay (and sometimes better) to have alternating periods where you use flash cards heavily for a few days or a week or so to build a base of knowledge, then have a period when you use them only lightly (just reviewing without adding new cards) while you focus on applying that knowledge, instead of getting set on a rigid schedule where you add a certain number of cards every day.


One thing I have started doing is watching YouTube videos on Japanese grammar as I do the washing up or when I take a bath as I usually watch other crap on YouTube at these times, I feel a little more productive!


I would highly suggest having a sitdown, thinking about a feasible amount of daily time you can allocate to your japanese studies(whether it’s 15 mins, 30 mins or several hours, be realistic). Whatever this figure is I would recommend spending between 25-50% time max on srs(aim for closer to 25% than 50%), the other time should be spent either in native material, grammar studies or a combination or both. After all, both WK and anki are to supplement your japanese studies so I don’t think you should let it eat up too much of your study time.
If you feel like your grammar studies or native material has so much unknown stuff that it requires heavy srs usage then I would suggest to prioritise (ie add high freq vocab to anki while skipping over less common vocab).
Anyway, just my personal tips feel free to take it or leave it :stuck_out_tongue: all the best tho!


Where are you taking your JLPT?

I learned a consistent number of grammar points every day (like 4 or something). Just do them first and then whatever time left is for the SRS. If you can’t finish your SRS in the time you have then learn less per day until you can hit all the reviews.

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I haven’t signed up this year. I took N3 in 2019 in Denmark.

Depending on the covid situation I may sign up for the Dec 2021 Jlpt somewhere in Northern Europe. I think last year the one in Norway was the closest.

This is basically my plan, though I’m not yet high enough level to start grammar effectively just yet IMO. Can you comment on how effective your method was?

My SRS usage:

  • Anki is loaded once a week with new vocabulary, sometimes once a fortnight. I then review daily with my review limit set to 50 a day so it never feels like too much.
  • WaniKani is the most high use SRS I use with it being used multiple times a day, but I’m caring less about using it super regularly. I have slowed down a lot to focus on more fun things.
  • BunPro is used daily, sometimes every other day. I only do around 3-4 new grammar points a day-ish so the reviews never really build up.

I think SRS is useful, but there’s a real danger that it becomes a necessity. If it’s a small part of your routine then that’s great, but if it’s causing you to spend too much time on it or stress out about it just remember you are in control, not the program.

I’m not speed running and I don’t have a end goal that’s coming so maybe if you have a necessity to learn Japanese it might be different for you. But if you’re outside of Japan then I don’t think there’s ever going to really be a huge pressure other than the one we put on ourselves.

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The only other SRS I do is Bunpo (not BunpRo). But it only shows very few items, so that’s not an issue.

I tried Anki and Torii a bit, but it’s too much.

It was probably slower than dedicated study for N4/N5 but it was much less time consuming and felt less like work since I read things I was interested in.

In about a year I’d learned all of the N4/N5 grammar points without having actively studied them.

I actually didn’t realize this until I watched the Game Gengo series (all 6 hours of it) and noticed that I already knew all the points he went over. The videos were still interesting to watch though.

Right now I’m reading a Light Novel and while I’m still looking things up, my reading speed has improved considerably with things I already know.


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