Recalling Vocab or Kanji

Hi guys, recently I’ve been taking Italki lessons and when it comes to forming sentences in Japanese I struggle to recall the vocab I’ve learned on the spot. I’m just wondering if anyone has any advice? Much appreciated.

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Being able to put it all together on the spot is very difficult when learning any language. In Japanese, I definitely have the opposite problem (I can think of words but not the grammar to form sentences)–but that’s because I’m simply less familiar / less advanced in grammar studies. So, when I’m put on the spot, and my mind isn’t firing calmly and evenly, it makes sense that I wouldn’t be able to walk myself through grammar lessons in my head in order to produce a sentence. If I knew grammar better, and it came to me more automatically, the fact that my brain was nervous on the spot wouldn’t be as big of a roadblock.

Long story short, I think the issue is that you haven’t actually internalized the vocab words yet. Other than continuing to study… try to make a concerted effort to think of the word in Japanese, as opposed to thinking of it in your native language and changing it to Japanese each time. (i.e. think “ginkou” in your head instead of “ok, bank is ginkou,” or whatever language you normally think in). It’s that act of translation that is not coming to you when your brain is distracted on the spot, so cut out the middleman.


I have also found that the more familiar the word or phrase is, the easier it is to say it right away. So I agree with you 1000%. But it does take time.


Yeah this is the state you want to get into.

If you can’t come up for a way to express the concept in your head with the Japanese that’s in there, you don’t “know” enough words yet.

The other thing is that you don’t just need recall, you need that recall to be close to instant. The only way to reduce that recall time is to practice it at speed.

Speaking is a good way but so is having a conversation with yourself. Don’t worry about the grammar yet. Just think of a situation and try to recall what words you have to use.

Let’s say it’s 7:30am:


Hmm, ok but that’s “I go to work”. The concept I want is that I have to go to work soon. I have to look up how to convey that. Etc.

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