When to start learning regular vocabulary?

I know that there are tons of questions about which resources to use besides WaniKani, but when should I start learning those? I feel like adding regular Kana vocabulary on top of WaniKani could quickly become too much.

Should I reach a certain point of knowledge on this website before trying to supplement with additional resources? Should I start now?

How did you guys do it? Did you jump straight into multiple different areas, or start out with Kanji or maybe even Kana vocabulary first?

1 Like

The truth is quite simply : it depends on your goals and time commitment.

I would personally advice on starting with at least some other vocab, as WK will NOT cover your reading needs vocabulary wise, as it’s a Kanji reading tool as opposed as a general vocab builder. Whether it’s one of the CORE decks, specific vocabulary through JPDB, Kitsuon, Torii, … Just start with some common words, and for the rest I’d advice on starting reading once you’re at like 1.000 words or something.

But, it’s something you really have to feel out for yourself, no advice fits everyone and the good thing about picking up another resource is that if it DOES get too much for you, you can always drop it or put it off for a bit :wink:


I did find a pretty cool website containing a pretty detailed guide on learning japanese:

It recommends picking up additional vocabulary resources at around WaniKani lvl 10. I think even WaniKani itself recommends reaching lvl 10+ before starting grammar.
I think that would be a good goal for me to reach.

I mean it doesn’t matter that much to me. I’m just someone that needs a detailed structured plan upfront.


The Tofugu guide is quite a good one to follow, but you shouldn’t fear straying from that path either (I personally would advice starting grammar earlier than they recommend for example).

They share the advice because Tofugu make Wanikani :wink:


Ho boy I wasn’t aware of that lmao

Edit: Right now getting deep into grammar seems a bit silly, since I don’t know more than 150+ words lol. I have watched like 2 hours of content on particles and basic sentence structure which was definitely helpful tho


i only started getting into grammar a couple months ago😳
and somehow my grammar is alr much better than my vocabulary

1 Like

FWIW, I started grammar and vocab from day 1, even before I started properly studying kanji :woman_shrugging:

To me it sounds pretty silly to tie this to a specific WaniKani level. Kanji and grammar are totally unrelated, so like the others said, figure out what you want to achieve (i.e. do you want to be able to read stuff? which stuff would that be? or do you want to take JLPT? What timeframe do you have for this? etc.) and how many different things you want to take on from the start, and then decide based on this.


As others have sort of already talked about. I started with building vocabularly and grammar before touching kanji. I used ToriiSRS and built up about 500 words as well as learnt/became familiar with about 70% of N5 grammar before I started learning kanji through WK. I found that once I knew basic grammar, understanding the context sentences and use of the kanji on WK became a lot easier (plus every now and then you get a word you already know pop up on WK to learn and you can have a little fist pump).

In addition to the above, I enjoy watching japanese drama and anime and try to pick out the words I’ve learnt in the dialogue, and over time you’ll start picking up phrases, sentences and entire conversations.

It all depends on how much time you are willing to commit to study.


Other than grammar or basic vocabularies, getting into some exercises can be helpful. (Don’t just read.)

Like some regular workbooks. They have to be touched at some time, anyway.

If adding vocabulary on top of wanikani becomes too much, you can also slow down with wanikani a bit :wink:

It really depends on your learning goals. If you want to do anything more than reading kanji, you do need extra vocabulary lessons. You also need grammar lessons. Personally I decided to first add grammar lessons to my Wanikani studies, using bunpro which is kinda similar to wanikani but for grammar. It’s quite doable even at a low wanikani level. Later, I plan to use that same site to also learn vocabulary, I’ll add the vocabulary from the Genki workbooks in Genki’s order into Bunpro. Then I got 2 sites that help me with kanji, grammar, and vocab. Alternatively, torii-srs can also be good for vocab and its totally free! Just click the setting that it won’t show you vocab that will also be covered by wanikani.

1 Like

Personally I don’t think the “reach lvl 10 before starting grammar” thing is bad advice if you have limited amounts of time. If you can e.g. only study 5 hours per week, spreading that across WaniKani, grammar and vocabulary will feel like you’re not making progress in any. Focusing on WaniKani first and then shifting that focus to other things makes sense to me. However, if you’re already going full speed might as well get started on other things.

As others have already said though, if you’re not doing any extra study outside WaniKani you won’t be using your Japanese with any success. You need that extra vocab and grammar study to get to immersion.

I recommend the app Drops. With the caveat that it’s not really going to teach you well. Instead it’s going to expose you to likely useful Japanese.

How useful that Japanese is depends on your learning goal. I think it’s particularly good for people wanting to visit Japan, but if you want to read certain genres and not travel then it’s still useful, but probably less so.

The app is structured like this- you can study for about 5-10 minutes daily in 1-2 sessions the topic of your choice. Topics range from food to transportation to environmentalism to culture and beyond. There’s also kana (which you probably don’t need if you already use WaniKani?) and kanji, although WK’s kanji system is leagues better. This is the free version. I don’t recommend paying for drops because honestly, I think the free version is the ideal version.

Like I said, Drops doesn’t really teach you, but instead gives you language exposure. It’s almost like it pre-teaches language to you. This is because your accuracy on items (pictures or sound matched to how the word or phrase is commonly written) doesn’t matter. Even though I wouldn’t consider it teaching because it doesn’t help you retain words well, it does help build up an association of the word and picture. I find this useful because when I’ve found the same vocab on WK or in the wild, it seems more likely to stick well. And for the cost of 5-10min of my day, I don’t think that’s a bad tradeoff.

Additionally, Drops has a lot of kana words so you can pick up common words that aren’t on WK. It also seems like the audio (at least the male audio) is a real person and not a robot. On the downside, it does have mistakes like マスク for a Halloween mask rather than the infectious disease prevention kind, but these are mostly in the new or niche content. These mistakes are reportable, but as a learner, it’s not a given that you’re going to know it’s a mistake.

I’ve always disagreed with that level 10 thing. It’s important to understand how much you’re able to do in a day and adapt accordingly, but if you’re itching to learn more, don’t wait. There’s nothing that WK will teach you in those first 10 levels (or the next 50) that will make learning other aspects easier at a beginner level. In fact, there are things that are arguably more important if you’ve just come fresh out of learning kana, like basic sentence structure and grammar.

But for people who can’t do much at once and they’ve already covered the basics, there’s no harm in focussing on getting some kanji under their belt for a bit.


i used a textbook, Japanese From Zero, each Lesson comes with a set of vocabulary to learn.so that was my way to go. i would say, learn vocabulary straight away so that you can already say something in japanese. if you don`t to use any textbook, learn easy term or search for on of those “JLPT N5 vocabulary list”

I got to Lvl5 or so on WaniKani then I started with Grammar and picked up a Vocab-Deck for my textbook on Kitsun. Some of the Kanji I don´t know yet, but thats not a super huge deal, I can always look up the Kanji on WaniKani and already learn it´s meaning and reading, even if I can´t SRS it yet. Some simpler, and often used words are written with Kanji that aren´t taught until some of the higher WK-Levels and I don´t want to wait until Lvl22 to learn 寝る (to sleep) for example.
A few months ago I picked up a deck for N5 vocab to prepare myself for the JLPT in december. Additionally I have a deck where I add words that I encounter in books or mangas or other random sources.
If you think learning new Kanji or words with new Kanji outside of WaniKani is overwhelming for now, there are also plenty of words that are only written in Hiragana anyway, which aren´t taught in WK at all, so that might be an easier start

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