The best way to study vocab lessons?

Hi! :slight_smile: it’s my first post!

I was wondering, how do you study your lessons, specifically vocab ones? With radicals and kanji, I study the lesson and before doing the quiz, I go over it once more, trying to recall all the meanings and readings by myself. If I can’t, I go through it until I can. But with vocabulary, I’ve just been skimming through. This used to work just fine, but now it seems like I’m not remembering vocab as well as I used to. What’s your strategy with vocab?

My strategy is pretty simple:


In all honesty, just doing the vocab lessons should be fine. If you end up messing it up, read through the mnemonic again and try again later, and if you mess it up again, read the mnemonic again and try again later. Lather, rinse, repeat. You’ll find with time that you remember them a little easier every time you make a mistake and have reread the mnemonic. Good luck!


Thank you! This is what I’ve been doing, but my accuracy has been going down and it really bums me out… But maybe I should not worry about it that much.

i’ve noticed a decline in accuracy as well but what i try to remind myself is: that is actually a good thing. kinda. sorta :smiley: getting things wrong means you’re learning and the SRS will make sure you’ll see those items again soon. if you strip away the gamification aspect of wanikani it’s actually not a big deal to not immediately remember a vocab or kanji after so little exposure with only bare minimum context.

other than that you hinted at a solution yourself - spend more time on the lesson with vocabs too or maybe only with the ones where the kanji don’t represent the meaning very well or those with weird readings. that’s what i have begun doing. 頑張って! :slight_smile:


Thanks for the response! :slight_smile: I think you’re right, I’m going to also try to start thinking it’s not a bad thing to get something wrong or forget an item. It might be a good solution too to spend some more time on lessons like you said! I will try it~

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FWIW I also had a very noticeable decrease in accuracy around levels 22-23-24. The complexity and abstractness of ideas seems to increase rather suddenly around those levels, and it stays that way. My accuracy has never recovered. The same thing has happened (for me) at level 37 as well, decreasing accuracy even further. Together with leeches, I’ve gone from about 10 days per level (during 1-22) to around 16 days average since 37.

I think it’s just a matter of the ideas becoming more complex, exceptions becoming more common, and the transition of moving from understanding bits and pieces to actually learning the language.


My best advice is don’t use wanikani to study vocabulary. You just can’t boil down most Japanese words to a single English word, and if you try you’ll just end of confused. Add your own user synonyms that you know you can remember but are still in the ballpark just so you can pass wani kani, and then go out into the wild with native sources to try to experience these words in context and get a better feel for their meaning.


I’m going to Japanese class in uni at the same time, so this is not my only resource for vocabulary. But it’s true I should add more synonyms - I’m actually not a native English speaker, so sometimes I’ve added the right answer in Finnish if the word is difficult in English. But I should definitely do it more, it might help! Great advice, thank you!

That’s very good to know! Some of the vocabulary combos seem complicated and abstract like you said, but I thought it was just me :joy:

Considering that you have reached more than a third of what Wanikani has to offer the strategy for keeping that knowledge “fresh” eventually will go hand by hand with using that vocab more often, as memory, even SRS assisted, it’s not enough (or fun either).

Reading more and more is something that helps a lot in this regard. You will see vocab in use lots of times before the due dates in a SRS, plus you will see similar words that add dots to connect related vocab in long term memory as well.

As @bnheise mentioned, Wanikani might not be the best place to review vocab (specially when you start to be able to DO things with what you’ve learnt). I needed more context (than kanji alone or the sample sentences they provide), so I came up with a routine to search for sentences using the words that Wanikani dropped with each new level but not in the vaccum of Wanikani but in my own shows. That helped a lot, specially when I wasn’t reading much, still does now, though reading adds much more to using vocab when it becomes something regular.

Anyway there’re great tools for vocab, some made by users of WK too. If you reached a point where kanji and grammar basics are covered, then it’s mostly vocab from here on. So it might worth to look for some specific routine for that :wink: … there’re some interesting book clubs in here as well.:hugs:

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My accuracy also has dropped at level 22. At least I think so.
On the other hand WK doesn’t feel this fast anymore. I’m learning about 100 vocabs a week, but beginning from level 20 it FEELS slower.

A big problem of mine is, that there are many vocabs doubling. I know one word for this meaning, now a second and third come in. These new vocabs with the same menaing don’t stick as good as the first one.

My tip: if I get a doubled vocab or a very abstract one, I try to connet it with something. One way is to search for some images on (for example for foods you don’t know) or you could search for it on (a very good dictionary, which is explicitly made to translate context). I use this dictionary very much when I chat with Japanese people.

~T :lion:

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Thank you for the tip! That dictionary looks very useful. I have some of the same problems too so it should be a good resource for me :slight_smile:

I really think it’s ok to get vocabs wrong a lot. WK’s vocabs are not meant to teach you vocabs, they’re there to strengthen your kanji knowledge. I prefer skimming through vocabs always, I focus on using them as a means to get more familiar with the kanjis that are being used, in particular to learn more and more readings and to differentiate similar looking ones more. Vocabs should be learned contextually while doing things you like, such as reading a book/novel/manga, watching a movie/anime.

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Nothing to contribute to post…

I just wanted to say… Great, now I’m dreading level 22+… I haven’t even been using mnemonics… Im doing my own vocab course, but wanikani way ahead.

First goal was to pass 15, now its to get to 30…

I already have enough leeches like 表す. Look at that…

Omg, this picture totally scares me to death!


Don’t be afraid! It’s not that bad! For me personally, I just feel like it takes more time to learn everything now. But that’s not a bad thing. Also you should see how many leeches I have :joy:

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My personal goal isn’t just to learn kanji, but Japanese as a language. So, I read all of the vocab sentences and copy and paste them into if necessary for understanding any other words or kanji I don’t already know (I also save sentences with words I don’t know into an Anki deck). Carefully reading through the sentences and trying to absorb them also helps the vocab words stick.

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I just mentioned in another post that level 21-22 had a lot of noun compounds that don’t have obvious meanings and you have additional learning. Seems I’m not alone here. I kinda skimmed the vocabulary mnemonics and I realized I need to go through them and spend the time to customize a bit more along with the verbs. Sometimes the vocab doesn’t reinforce the kanji learnings and this level has a bit more. I’m also seeing a lot fewer kanji that I’m already familiar with so just another challenge. Time to double down, practice outside of the reviews. These levels do have a lot of common words so encountering in the wild will be useful. Best of luck!


i started to have trouble around the same time, 24 in my case. but i compensate by doing drills with the new kanji, vocab isn’t generally a problem.
there’s always the odd word or two in every level, the rest is straightforward.

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