Not remembering meaning of vocab I know from WK when listening

I hope I am posting this in the right thread, but as the title suggests, I have trouble remembering vocabulary when I hear them in anime & media.

Often I hear words that sound extremely familiar, but I am unable to draw meaning from them a lot of times. I am sure this happens because I rely on the kanji’s appearance for the meanings in WK which I presume doesn’t help me in listening comprehension very much.

However, I’m sure I’m not the only one who had/has this problem so I wanted some feedback from you guys. Is there possibly a better tactic than what I plan on using? (I’ll explain below)

I tried using the Self-Study Quiz plugin. There were options that allowed me to narrow all the items to Japanese audio ----> Meaning. This way I can do through the cards and practice recalling the meanings. The only problem is that is isn’t SRS and I would have to go through all of them repetitively regardless of how well I know certain ones.

Now, I considered Kaniwani but will that do the trick? It is the opposite of recalling meaning from reading.

That’s all
Thanks to any contributions


What worked for me in respect to WaniKani was turning on audio during reviews and reading out the vocab/kanji item when typing in both the reading and meaning in English.

I use a similar trick when reviewing my Anki sets - I read the word aloud as I type in the translation in English, but I try to do it slowly so that I associate the understood meaning and emotional connection I have with the word, with its sound in Japanese.

When I hear the word in anime or on the radio later I manage to recall the WaniKani vocab item I learned.


I am using an Anki deck for my vocab studies, and my system for the first 2,5 years of Japanese studies was to have 3 cards for each word: one each where I got quizzed on the kanji (for reading), on the kana (for listening - exactly your usecase) and on the English (for recall). This worked extremely well for me!
Recently I started experimenting with just two cards because I am a slow learner and more cards slow me down even more; also it’s sometimes frustrating to be quizzed on the kana if there are too many homophones. I’m curious to see whether I can meanwhile get by with just two card or whether I need to add the third one after all.


I haven’t tried to focus on listening yet, but my guess is the homophones will be a major issue (especially that is seems that there are quite a bit more of them than in English).

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I use Anki for vocab, and I used to have Audio → Meaning cards for the same reason - I figured I might not be able to understand vocab when spoken out loud otherwise, without the help of kanji. But when I did an experiment to test if that’s actually true, it seemed like whether I practice audio cards seperately or not didn’t seem to matter much.
(I took a bunch of random audio → meaning cards that I had only ever studied as normal cards (kanji → reading/meaning) and checked my %correct rate - it was about the same as usual)

That doesn’t mean that it would be the same for everyone, but it might be worth checking how good or bad your audio recall for flashcards actually is before committing to essentially doing every review twice :smile:

Despite that, I also sometimes have the same problem you do. I hear a word, it sounds familiar, but by the time my brain has caught up and I remember what it means (if I remember it at all) it’s already two sentences later.
Personally I think that more listening practice/exposure might help more to combat that compared to extra flashcards, but that’s just a guess.
(If someone has better advice for this, I’m also very interested :eyes:)

That being said, if you want audio → meaning cards in srs form, anki + yomichan might be an option? Because with that you can add cards including audio with a single click. For example you could just quickly add each new word whenever you do vocab lessons on WK.
Takes a bit of time to set up though :laughing:


This is a problem I have as well. I wasn’t able to handle a second SRS in addition to WaniKani, I tried several times. Once I’m done with WaniKani I’ll probably start up Anki for vocabulary that I hear and read in native material.

For now, I just keep checking Jisho when I come across something I didn’t remember and hopefully it will stick. Sometimes I don’t even need to complete the search since, while typing, the kanji appear on the screen and I remember the word visually.


Yep, I have this problem. If possible, I drop what I am doing and search the word immediately.
I struggle a lot with homophones though… I don’t know if I ever will be able to get over them unless I get so good that I can understand words between them and sort of guess based on context…
Hey isn’t that what we do in our native language anyway? Based on context we know if I am allowed to do something, or if someone is saying something about speaking aloud. :slight_smile:


I’ll echo what @AndyMender said. My listening skills improved when I had the audio autoplay after a review.


I’m also still struggling with this when it comes to numbers and time expressions, but it’s definitely an exposure thing - one needs to practice different number and time units in different combinations to let the brain learn the sounds and be able to associate them with meanings instantly. I’m also still at the “familiarity” stage - recognizing the sound, but not associating it with meaning yet.

I kind of compare stuff like that to math. When you’re asked to do math in your head, do you actually perform the calculation or just pull the answer from your brain, right? At some point your brain learns the more common combinations and just returns the answer. Same with time expressions.

You will for sure, don’t worry :). There will always be some sort of context to help you with that. Also, pitch accent and the length of individual sounds may differ (for instance, 居室「きょしつ」 vs 教室「きょうしつ」).


Can’t really remember moments when I couldn’t distinguish between two homophones. Context gives you so much clues you don’t even think about it, really. Great source of jokes, though.


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