Recalling words outside of WaniKani

I’ve been using WaniKani for about 4 ish months now and have greatly increased my Kanji/vocab knowledge but one thing that I’ve noticed Is that I can’t really recall vocab when speaking. I have no problem recognizing readings from manga/ reading my phone (I have it set to japanese) but have a tough time recalling vocab without the kanji. Is this an issue for other people? If you’ve had this same struggle how did you overcome it? I’m assuming my active vocab will get better the more exposure I get but I just want to hear from other peoples experiences! Thanks for the replies in advance! (still a beginner as well btw)

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That’s completely normal. There’s a difference between recognition and production. Wanikani is pretty much all about recognition. You can use Kaniwani to practice the opposite (Using English keywords to recall the Japanese) but adding even more to the SRS pile can end up overwhelming, and your time might be better spent elsewhere. Like learning grammar.

Probably the best way is to simply try using Japanese to talk to others. You can try posting in the Japanese only section of the forums for practice. You’ll make mistakes at first, but actual use will help it stick better. You could also just put it off until much later if you don’t intend to be using Japanese to communicate with others.


I have started learning Grammer! I went with Kouichi’s recommendation of Genki, I’ve been slowly getting through the book on the side, plan on really getting through it this winter when I get off school. Again, I try speaking japanese at a very basic level but vocab/grammer aren’t really there to express myself the way I want to yet.


I only had / have an interest in the passive skills, but I know from learning English as a second language that you learn much more quickly if there is an element of output.

I’m in classes now, and it highlights how stark the divide is between recognition and recall.

Getting used to reading took me dozens of hours. Getting used to listening took me dozens of hours. Similarly, I know it will be dozens of hours of active usage for my brain to build up a big enough repertoire of instant-recall words for me to more comfortably express myself.

It’s very frustrating that recognition translates so poorly to recall (in my case, at least), but it’s simply a different skill, and has to be trained separately.

Here’s hoping we both keep improving as we put in the hard work. ^^


My production vs recognition is still awfully disparate, but since I’ve been practising with Japanese people I met, and talking to myself at work (I work nights so it’s fine, probably) I’ve noticed a massive improvement in useful/frequent word recall quite quickly.

My vocabulary is still too small to carry a conversation in practise, I rely on a lot of input from my friends (and a lot of patience) but simply using it, even if you get it wrong, is the way to do it I think. If your meaning isn’t quite there, you can find the right people, they’ll ask for clarification which lets you explore what you do know more, and hopefully teach you new ways to express yourself.

Finally, when speaking you have very little time to receive words, recall meanings, and produce accurate grammar, so be patient with yourself. How many times have you forgotten that one word in your native language? I forget them every day, so I can give myself a break in another language.


It gets better, don’t worry! :slight_smile:

Just read, learn, practice. Hop onto the Japanese Sentence a Day thread, tell us how your llama is standing outside of the window on your porch and if in need of help, senpais will jump in to give a hand :wink: