Recommended ways to learn Vocab?

I’ve been studying on and off for about 2 years, passed the N5 exam. I found Kanji and Grammar to be fun to learn and not too difficult so far, however when it comes to Vocab I’m lost. I’ve tried to read books and articles, play Pokemon in Japanese and whilst the grammar I can understand, infer or look up and get, I just can’t remember any vocab. I write it down and see it used over and over but it just won’t stick.

I did try Anki but I got a bit confused as to which was the best deck to start with. If anyone has any suggestions for methods or just let me know what you do when you encounter new words to make them stick I’d very much appreciate it! I’m tired of writing the same old words, it’s time to learn some new ones!


You can try playing/reading/watching something and then making your own Anki deck with words that you didn’t know. You can also write down in what context the word appeared to remember it better.


I also make my own anki cards. I record the word on a big list as they come up.
I go to the Japanese dictionary site and find an example sentence with the new word and then make an anki card with Japanese on the front and English on the back.
I mine sentences from books and try to find a sentence where I know everything but one word.

SRS has been the only thing that seems to work for me.


Torii is a free 10K vocab application. You can even exclude words you will learn in WK from the 10K list if you want. has a wide range of different vocab lists, from just simple 10Ks to katakana only words to even other languages.


Making my own cards is what works for me with Anki, starting from a deck just burned me out and didn’t keep me engaged. With my own I suspend cards that I don’t feel I need or just won’t stick, I reorder things depending on if a word comes up in a game or book that I find interesting.

I also have an empty field for a sentence on the front of the card, that I write myself once I feel comfortable with the word. I’ve tried copying example sentences from Jisho and here on WK but at the moment, most of the time the example sentence uses other words that makes me confused haha :stuck_out_tongue:


I tried using the core 10k when I was a wee level 30 and honestly, I think its definitely not the best way to learn new words. Its just the easiest and most convenient to set up, but the actual quality of learning suffers as a result.

My suggestions are to make cards of the words or even entire sentences that you come across and care about. I have used anki, houhou, and to manage my cards.

If you know where you came across them and how they were used, they’re gonna stick a lot better and its going to be more in depth knowledge since you’re actually seeing how its used in an authentic sentence.

1 Like

Incidentally, one “killer feature” for those apps that would make them far more attractive for me would be a deck dedicated to WaniKani users, which only contains vocab that is a) not in WaniKani at all or b) really important and at a very high level in WaniKani.

1 Like

Actually, that exists and is what I used as my core 10k deck.

Still wouldn’t recommend using it but I can try finding it if you want it.

1 Like

Yeah, that would be nice!

Pretty sure this is what I used, but honestly I can’t remember how I exported it to be used in anki and stuff.

You can learn by whatever level kanji they use or you can go by actual frequency.

I was also looking to learn more vocab and considering starting the Anki 10K deck. However I’m concerned about burning out on SRS, as I feel like I’m doing enough of that with WaniKani.

Just came across this video:

He argues that if you want to optimize vocab acquisition, you should do so with context. So rather than memorizing isolated vocab you should instead memorize phrases. And you should speak the phrase out loud, which activates some muscle memory and uses another channel to imprint the word(s) into your memory. I might give this a try but it does takes some work collecting phrases yourself from native content, so we’ll see.


Thanks everyone for the tips, I’ve downloaded and given Torii a try and I’ll give using context a try too, anything to make it stick! Here’s hoping something will work! :smiley:

1 Like

Read, read, read… Anything you can that is about your level, or only slightly harder…
Something that interests you… This way you learn new words in context and remember them a lot easier… Depending where you are in your Japanese learning journey, start with graded readers, move to NHK Easy News or Manga, and light novels after that… So many resources out there;)

I jumped into graded readers around level 8-10:

This is a bit more struggle but should get easier around lvl 15-20:

Another popular reader:

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.