Norman's Blog

Anki for Studying Japanese

Anki is a spaced repetition software (SRS) for learning and reviewing content over a long period of time. I use it for reviewing new Japanese words and sentences that I encounter.

I use these two Anki apps:

Why you should or shouldn't use Anki

If you're just starting to learn Japanese, I don't think it's necessary to use Anki at all.

You probably should just learn all the basic words that are introduced to you, and use whatever app you are already using to learn words. Many apps have their own built-in review system too.

Why intermediate learners should create their own word lists

At the intermediate level of Japanese, the specific selection of words that you learn starts to become more and more important.

Although there are broad general word lists (Anki decks) that other people have created such as this, I find it inefficient to study these because:

  1. They include many words I already know.
  2. They lack the specific words that I don't know and want to know or need to know.
  3. The notes created in these general decks lack the specific context where I encountered a particular word.

Instead, I recommend creating your own Anki deck, adding each new word one by one.

By creating a personalized Anki deck, you can the amount of time you need to review the words, and you can create exactly what you need.

You end up spending less time reviewing, reviewing exactly what you need, and hopefully having more fun along the way.

Adding new words on my laptop

With Yomichan installed, adding a card for a word seen while browsing a website can be done with just one keyboard shortcut.

The added card looks like this in the note browser.

See my Yomichan post for details about how I configure Yomichan.

I prefer to add cards on my laptop using this approach because Yomichan can save the surrounding context in the new note as well.

Adding new words/sentences on my phone

With the Kanji Study app installed on my Android phone, I can quickly create new Anki notes for new words or example sentences with just a few taps.

See my post about Kanji Study for more details.

When viewing a created note in the AnkiDroid note browser, it looks like this:

The only downside about these word cards is that they lack any kind of context.

So you may also find it helpful to also create sentence-based notes from sentences in Kanji Study.

Studying previously saved words/sentences

I study cards in both Anki for macOS and AnkiDroid.

When studying cards created by Kanji Study, they look like this:

When studying cards created by Yomichan, they look like this:

Manually adding new words/sentences to Anki manually

Several articles and videos online suggest creating new Anki notes manually. I think that's a large waste of time that could be better spent doing other things.

Instead, I always add new notes using one of the two mostly automatic methods above.