Vocabulary English to Japanese

I manage to read most of the vocabulary in Japanese in wanikani but I cannot remember the words if I try to find them starting from English. Wanikani is so good for Japanese to English vocabulary but I wonder if other tools help the English to Japanese vocabulary part.

There is Kaniwani and KameSame for that. Personally I don’t use either because I feel its better to learn applying the word in a sentence as compared focusing on translating your thoughts from English to Japanese.


I think some amount of translation is inevitable initially, or at least with new words (I still do it from time to time even though I’ve been studying Japanese on and off for three years), but it’s probably better if you find more organic ways to remember natural structures. I think one good way of doing this is exposing yourself to Japanese media, like anime, documentaries, dramas and simple texts. You may not understand everything at first, but if you keep your ears pricked for words you know, you’ll start to notice that certain structures resurface very often. After a while, these phrases will come to you automatically because they’ll be very familiar. Don’t be afraid to use English subtitles in the early stages, because that will make it easier for you too pick up what everything means and occasionally identify new words using context. Once you’re more advanced, you can try deciphering the Japanese in its entirety without subs, or using Japanese subs/transcriptions.

PS: I’d say one advantage of this approach is that it’ll make it easier for you to identify sentences in English and Japanese that feel the same. I love keeping my translations as literal as possible so that metaphors and images are preserved, but there are many things that really just don’t translate literally because Japanese says things in a different way altogether, so you have to become aware of what’s natural in Japanese (but not in English) as you progress.


I use the Torii app in English > Japanese mode for this. It’s a bit problematic because there are a lot of synonyms but it has really helped me with recall during conversation and where words are written in kana rather than kanji.

Yeah, I’m mostly the same. I view becoming able to output more or less just as a natural consequence of getting better at comprehension. And once I am able to output I feel that I can only really practice it by actually outputting.


I use Kaniwani for English to Japanese, though I’ve heard that KameSame has more features. I chose Kaniwani because I just wanted a simple E to J counterpart for WK and didn’t need the other features. With both programs, you’ll run into the synonym issue, though I think KameSame might have more of a fix for it implemented. Personally, I honestly benefit from having to manually add synonyms, because it forces me to think about the words in more detail and decide if they qualify as synonyms. For the most part, I don’t bother learning all the nuances of the words that mean roughly the same thing (this is something that seeing words in context will eventually teach me, given enough exposure), but it was helpful to learn the difference between (まる)い and (まる)い, for instance.

Generally when learning vocabulary, I’ve found it’s helpful to draw as many different connections to a word as possible, so English to Japanese practice is really helpful in this regard. It helps me remember the Japanese words if I think about them during my everyday life, or if I wait to hear or see them while watching Japanese media and either get the word I’m expecting or something completely different.

Kaniwani has also given me a lot of practice with using a Japanese keyboard, which has been very useful to me. It’s also interesting to see which words I struggle with J to E and which I struggle with E to J. Often they are different words! Some words have similar looking kanji but completely different meanings, and some words have really vague meanings that I haven’t really connected to the kanji, and doing both WK and KW really highlights some of the things that are tripping me up. I also have an extension installed that automatically plays the WK audio for KW, which also helps me associate the actual sound of the word with the kanji I just wrote (I have the autoplay turned on in WK as well). I’ve found that repeated exposure to the audio of the words is absolutely essential for me to learn to recognize the words when I hear them spoken aloud.

A lot of people in this forum feel pretty strongly that practicing recall isn’t necessary or is a waste of time at this stage because recognition is all you need to be able to comprehend Japanese media. But in my experience, if I don’t practice recall, the vocabulary slips away from me a lot faster. Plus, it’s just frustrating to learn a bunch of words and then not be able to call any of them to mind when you’re trying to think about what you’ve learned!

I’d take a look at Kaniwani and KameSame and see if either program seems to be a good fit for you, then try it out for a bit and see how it goes! You probably could get by without practicing English to Japanese, at least with the WK words, but there definitely are benefits to it as well, and I’m certain that practicing both directions strengthens your memory of the items overall.

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Another nice option is the Self Study Quiz script which allows you to do E to J translation along with many other options and filters for customization. You can launch this right from the WaniKani dashboard once installed.

I definitely also recommend using the self-study quiz! I use it every day to reinforce my lessons. However, the self-study quiz doesn’t have its own SRS review intervals like Kaniwani and KameSame do. So if you want a true WK counterpart, you’ll need a more involved program, especially since like I mentioned, you’ll likely find that you struggle with different words E to J than you do J to E. But the self-study quiz is an option if you only want to practice some E to J and don’t want to add another full SRS to your workload.

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Thank you for your reply! I try to built sentences every time when I revise the words: I look at the list of vocabulary in English, try to remember the word in Japanese and then make sentences. But I have no regular interval when I do this and it is rather boring to go through lists!

….if I don’t practice recall, the vocabulary slips away from me a lot faster. Plus, it’s just frustrating to learn a bunch of words and then not be able to call any of them to mind when you’re trying to think about what you’ve learned!…

YES! I went through Japanese for busy people for 2 years and so I know very little vocabulary but a looot of grammar. Now that I am learning more vocabulary, I feel that I need to optimise all this knowledge :expressionless:.

Well “all this knowledge” for me at least :slight_smile:

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Thank you! I will give it a try!

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iKnow has this, but it’s paid. You can sync your level progress with it too.

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