What is your preferred vocabulary learning tool?

What is your preferred vocabulary learning tool?

  • Anki
  • iKnow.jp
  • Memrise
  • I use another tool/website (please comment below)

0 voters

How do you learn and memorize your vocabulary?
Why does Anki/iKnow/Memrise work best for you and the others don’t?
Are there any vocabulary learning tips & tricks you would like to share with your fellow language learners?

Personally I’ve used Anki several times in the past but I always stopped using it after some time because
-) I don’t like the way it works
-) I don’t like the UI design
-) it’s too easy to cheat oneself

Right now I’m considering whether I should go with iKnow or Memrise for Core 2k/6k/10k. I’ve already tried both of them but I can’t really decide…

I’m curious to hear your opinions on that topic :slight_smile:

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I have tried using premade decks on Anki, but found it never worked.
I switched to making my own cards and found the information to stick better.

I personally think that Memrise is one of the worst ways to learn vocabulary. I know that there are various types of questions that it asks you (fill in the blank, pick the correct answer, listen…etc), but on most of them, the correct answer is already displayed for you. There isn’t really a lot of recall…I found that a lot of it is short term memory coding, as opposed to long term.

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I have this app on my phone, simply called Japanese… It is a dictionary, but also has all kinds of big vocab sets with SRS! =D

It is what I used before WaniKani though, not used it since… Might go back and use it again, or go over to Anki… I have dabbled in Anki but not used it much.

Top left:

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HouHou desu


I happen to be paying for iKnow, but I don’t think I learn best from it, I should stop paying for it.

I use NihongoMaster for pretty much everything, mostly grammar and vocabulary as they teach me it. I also add vocab and kanji from WK.

If Houhou could save progress across my pc, phone and tablet, I would use that. Right now I just have it installed on my pc and don’t use it.

Right now I’m just trying to read more, flash card based aps/sites haven’t been working well for me these days.

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I’m…kind of doing all of them right now, except iKnow. I don’t really know why, I honestly have no method to my madness xD It just sort of happened.

I started out doing Genki vocab in Memrise. I’m still sort of keeping up with that course, but I also recently started using a premade Anki deck for Genki vocab that is basically formatted to be similar to WaniKani. I think that with Anki, it really does depend a lot on how it’s set up, because I couldn’t stand Anki either (for a lot of the same reasons) until I found this deck. Now, it’s ok, and I’m starting to like it more than the Memrise thing I was using because it tests you on the words in different ways (there are cards where you have to type what you hear, cards where you have to type the meaning from the kanji, cards where you have to type the kanji from the meaning, etc). I feel like I get drilled on things more often and more effectively with Anki. HOWEVER, I have no idea how to make my own cards look nice like that and I frankly don’t want to bother trying to figure it out, so I use HouHou for all the vocab I want to add from reading materials. xD I haven’t tried iKnow yet, but it’s on my to-do list.

I only use memrise on web browser, never mobile, because I agree with an earlier post. Mobile memrise has a lot of things like “select the correct answer”, which doesn’t help me learn well. However, on web browser, you must
type the answer, so it forces you to recall. I’m learning from two basic vocab/grammar courses and two specialized vocab courses based on books and games I’m currently working through. I like how easy it is to make my own courses, and the selection of courses made by others.

I really don’t enjoy anki, even though I’ve tried to use it a few times. And I just can’t bring myself to pay for iknow. I had a free trial for awhile and I liked it, but I just wish it was cheaper.

I also try to read everything I am able, of course.

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I’ve personally been using Duolingo and it’s been pretty useful for me.

First off, it’s free, though you can get a premium version to remove the ads but it doesn’t lock any features away. It also has courses for a lot of other languages, like French, Italian, Hebrew, Esperanto, Swahili, Chinese, and even High Valyrian (from Game of Thrones) or Klingon (from Star Trek). Among others. You don’t have to pick a single one, either :wink:

It doesn’t teach any kanji but it does immediately throw you into the hiragana, rarely using romaji except for sometimes early in the matching sections. There are a couple of different formats that it uses, both in browser and mobile: matching text pairs (including katakana to hiragana), forming sentences out of a word list (or the option to just type them outright), filling in the blank in sentences, translating what you see, and matching what sound you hear, It’s all mixed up.

My favorite feature thus far has been has been one that doesn’t come standard. By various means, like maintaining a daily streak or earning achievements, you get ‘lingots’ which work like in-app currency (which cannot be bought, only earned). With these lingots, you can buy the Timed Practice upgrade, which I’ve found to be really useful. If you can’t translate the sentence in a few seconds, then you probably haven’t practiced it enough to really know it.

I’d say Duolingo is a very good source for things like reading the kana systems, particles, and basic sentence structure. You’d still need to look elsewhere for speaking and kanji though.

Oh, and Duolingo also has an associated app called TinyCards which are just digital flashcards.

I’ve been using iKnow for a while now and I love it! I suppose it is similar to Memrise in that it has a variety of different question types - multiple choice, fill in the blank, listening - and yes sometimes the multiple choice is way too easy cause the answer is displayed. But that doesn’t always help! What I love best about iKnow are the example sentences and audio - that helps a ton and you can practice shadowing for pronunciation as well.

And also, features that aren’t often mentioned about iKnow - the site has other features/games for studying. One game called “Rapid Choice” where it gives you a word or kanji and you have like 5 seconds to pick the correct one. “Sentence Trainer” where sometimes it scrambles words (similar to the Duolingo method) and you have to put them in the correct order, or where you get the English sentence and you have to write it in Japanese. And then there’s “Listening” where you get exporsure to lots of different sentences. Great for listening practice!

Anyway, I’m a big fan of iKnow and it’s undoubtedly helped me expand and improve my vocab breadth and knowledge. Doing it in tandem with WaniKani at the current level I’m at has also been great because there’s a lot of overlap, so I’m getting double the exposure. Highly reccomend!

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I just read, actually. Every time I tried SRSing stuff I read it ends up adding a huge pile of reviews on top of WK and KW. Since at that time I can either read less to add fewer words or quit SRSing them in the first place, I choose the latter.

A lot sticks anyway, and what doesn’t becomes at least familiar. Really enjoying this method so far.


I haven’t been keeping on top of vocab like I should, but Houhou is my favorite, personally. I like how its review style is similar to WaniKani’s (which I’m a big fan of lmao). The biggest issue is that it’s PC only (although I know someone who might try and make a mobile vers winkwink).

My strategy is basically to do lessons on LingoDeer (which I think is amazing?? I’m shocked that I don’t see it mentioned more) and add the vocab from my lessons to Houhou.

I tried all of those, but I never felt like I was learning vocabulary all that well. Especially with Anki, I felt like I was cheating myself a lot of the time. Ironically, it turns out that the most effective method for me was low tech.
I got a worksheet of the Iversen method, and within the two weeks that I’ve been using it, I’ve been able to recall in real time all the words that I’ve been learning in my everyday conversations at work and with my Japanese friends.

I really enjoy Houhou.

Once I “finish” Wanikani, my new vocab is coming straight from games into Houhou. It looks much nicer than Anki, has its own built-in dictionary lookup, and functions much like WK except you add and disable terms at will.

With all of WK and a playthrough’s worth of new terms behind me, it’ll be fun to replay the game again being able to understand nearly all the words in it without stopping at every other textbox.

I have been meaning to ask what advantages Anki might have over Houhou, because apart from having been made first I don’t see why it’s so heavily recommended instead.

I developed my own version of Koichi’s KanaAvo notetaking method. I write a mnemonic and the vocabulary one time on the right hand side of the page. Then when I want to study I cover up the mnemonic and just run my eyes down the right side of the page. This method is by far the most effective I’ve tried for vocabulary (and I’ve tried a lot). I find upwards of 90 percent of the words sticking with very little effort after the inital mnemonic writing.

Using this method I also came to the decision that SRS is just too time consuming to review. But with this method I have many words on one page and I can review twenty words in a few seconds. It takes longer to set up, but much less time to practice.

I can take photos of my notebooks if anyone’s interested.


I’m using houhou and a custom vocab list based on the sou matome n3 vocab book.

Between WK and houhou, I have a lot of reviews, but hopefully it’s all sticking.

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I use @hinekidori’s [Genki] deck, which is quite nice (although modified by others, with some fixes I’ve made). It fixes much of the UI issues, uses WaniKana to give an experience like WK for typing, syncs between my devices, etc.

Out of curiosity, what fixes have you employed? Anything I should update on my end?

To make it more Android Anki App compatible, I used JS to force AutoCapitalize for the input field to off; I would always get Katakana for the first syllable of E->J cards when using my touchscreen keyboard.

There were a couple meanings I updated or added some specifics to differentiate them, and からだに気をつける had a mismatch in the two kana reading fields so it didn’t auto convert. I’m not entirely sure if I can generate a list of cards I changed. I only remember that one cause I just edited it.

Specifically, in the recall card, in the script section after wanikana, I added the autocapitalize line. This makes it way less frustrating on a mobile device for me:

var deb = document.getElementById('debug');

document.getElementById('typeans').addEventListener("keyup", parseRep);
document.getElementById('typeans').autocapitalize = "none"