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Using Anki to Master Japanese – Japanese-English Alliance — 234 Comments

  1. Great insight of your method! When I am going to eventually start the sentences, this will help lots.~~

    Thks~

  2. I really like your writing style, it’s quite clear and makes sense. I haven’t actually studied sentences yet but from learning and very casual understanding I do get the gist of some things.

    I’m currently learning Kanji (although, i’m doing non japanese keyword style atm..though i’ll be done in 20 days or so) and was wondering how to approach sentences so finding your blog is a huge help, it’s good to read!

    I have a few pre-made decks that I downloaded, specifically the smart fm core 2000 + 6000 with audio and images, are they worthwhile editing for the J-J stage, or is it that genki pretty much covers all of that anyway?

    I figure i’ll hear plenty of audio via immersion to get the neccessary listening for my self inputted sentences. Did I just answer my own question? As a beginner it feels like anything with audio and text is gold..

    • Thanks for the comment. Congrats on almost finishing the kanji. It’ll feel great once you move on to the next step.

      I’m not sure exactly what is in the core 2000 + 6000, but I’d assume the Genki books cover a good amount of it.

      I’m always a little skeptical about using pre-made decks, so I’d be very careful if that is the route you want to take. At most though, I would only use it for the J-E. The audio sentences may be beneficial at that stage. But once you get to J-J, your immersion environment will provide more than enough audio for you.

      Remember though the type of audio that is included in those sentences. Even though they are provided by Japanese speakers, they are textbook sentences read in a textbook way. Natural audio will always surpass textbook audio.

      Anyway good luck! And keep me updated on your progress.

      • Just to clarify, should I be focusing on adding the meaning relevant to the sentence, as opposed to the multiple meanings/conjugations. So rather than add いる, i’d add いました います etc and わかりません: I don’t understand わかりません: I don’t know, each time?

        I have been doing this, but I suppose it’s no different to having a english sentence with ‘was’ or whatever, i’m trying to focus on just adding words and it’s interesting reviewing them. When I experiemented with sentences before i’d often read it with a general meaning and understand it, but get the translation wrong..anyway thanks again.

        • Hey Neil,

          Multiple meanings: Add a sentence for each meaning. Don’t get to carried away doing this in the E-J phase, because a lot of basic words have dozens of meaning, and at the beginning levels you don’t need to know all of them.

          Conjugations: Add these as separate cards until you understand how to do the conjugation. Since they all follow patterns, once you understand the pattern, only bother with 1 card for the root word.

          • Cheers again, although i’ve got one more..
            In Genki, should I be ignoring the questions and just adding from the dialogue/useful expressions? The only hiccups i’m getting is from adding stuff with new vocab from the question sections, I know you said to ignore those but did you mean even if they have new words/grammar etc? I can read some, find out what the words mean but have no idea what it means without notes. I’m currently on 230 cards on page 130.(Unless the new words thin out throughout the book I feel like i’d be over 1000 quite a bit) I’ll run out of beginner questions eventually :(

    • Yes, using the question examples as sentences is fine. As long as the question contains one word you don’t know. But try to avoid too many repeats of the same question structure.

      For example, if there are 10 identical questions using the same question format, with only one vocabulary word changing, you might not want to include all those sentences. This is because it is important to get a good amount of grammar words in addition to vocabulary before you reach the 1000 mark.

      You’ll definitely have 1000 cards before the end of Genki 2. If you still want to continue to add sentences from the book that are left, just make sure to add them in J-J. Take the Japanese sentence, don’t use the English definition in the book, but use the Japanese definition from a dictionary.

      And don’t worry, you’re doing fine. You’ll pass the beginner phase in no time.

      • I’ve finally finished Genki I, It did start to feel like there was a lot of fluff near the end, paticularly with sentence patterns so even adding a new word didn’t seem too worth it as it was usually followed by です, though in general I did make sure to add the useful ones. Added about 450 sentences which is actually alot less than I thought. I didn’t skip much, but past the dialogue and grammar notes there wasn’t much worth adding. (maybe an example answer from the questions)

        Some stuff was and still can be difficult to remember, but I think that can be fixed with some exposure, and in some ways I do feel like i’m memorizing the word before the Kanji rather than all at once, I don’t think I could write many words I know.. (Whether that’s related to the fact I only reached 1600 of Heisig i’m not sure..but I felt I had to move forward) Occasionally i’d forget the context of the sentence too since I didn’t put many notes, or have to wait til I reviewed the card with the details on it. In general I avoided english sentences though.

        Stats are looking like this:
        Correct Answers
        Mature cards: 0.0% (0 of 0)
        Young cards: 81.2% (914 of 1126)
        First-seen cards: 76.6% (330 of 431)

        I’m hoping Genki II kits me out to go straight to J-J stage, since at the moment I don’t seem to be seeing or hearing much of what i’ve learnt! But of course being in an early stage of reviewing, I probably don’t know many readings by heart yet.

        (Just to note I feel a bit odd talking about this what with what’s happening in Japan, just in case I appear oblivious with going on about progress)

        • Congrats on finishing Genki I. That should feel pretty good. Don’t worry about the writing so much. That comes more naturally with constant exposure.

          Your stats are looking good. Make sure you continually do the reviews of the kanji.

          Genki II should probably give you enough sentences to hit the 1000 mark. If not, “An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese”, which is really Genki III with a different title, should finish it. Either way, if you hit 1000, I’d add the sentences from this 3rd book in J-J, which should really balance out your grammar.

          You’re almost halfway through the beginner/elementary levels so keep up the hard work.

          • I was a bit taken aback at how much ‘harder’ genki II gets, the dialogue uses grammar that isn’t introduced til later.
            Some things i’ve seen multiple times and i’m not sure what they mean..though maybe that is due to the english translation of the sentence getting further away from what it actually means, thus making it harder to look up those grammar points tacked on the end of verbs or sentences.

            I skipped adding dialogue for a while because it was a bit dry, but I realised that missing the vocab and extra hints of grammar which really seem needed in this since it moves so fast!

            It’s defintely easier to get bogged down in minor details.

            Almost up to 700 now,probably at least half way through (ignoring the questions + writing practice at the end) and am trying to add regardless of full understanding of some things.

            Mature cards: 90.8% (109 of 120)
            Young cards: 80.0% (2361 of 2953)
            First-seen cards: 82.8% (545 of 658)

            At least with building some framework, I can see why people would see SRS methods offputting if those figures are anything to go by, Japanese media is still feels out of reach except for those few simple sentences! (but it’s much easier to guess what something means)

  3. I have a question regarding what you said as to not using too many sentences that use the same structure. I lived in Japan and went to a language school there and got up to an intermediate level or so before coming home. I’ve been looking for methods to help me in learning and so far the AJATT method seems amazing. There is one thing that concerns me about this method, but I seem unable to find an answer on. (YOUR site is SO awesome for actually breaking things down and explaining things!!!)

    Ok what I want to know, for example, is that if we aren’t suppose to take sentences that are similar or explains the grammar, how would you fully understand the grammar without making mistakes. Below is an example.

    Here is a simple sentence, and let’s pretend we’ve pulled it from a website or book.

    私はどんなに暑くても、寝るときはクーラーを消して寝ます。

    So the specific grammar point I’ll use for this example is the 暑くても.

    So we know that in THIS sentence that because it’s the adjective 暑い we take off the い turn it to く and add ても.

    BUT had we only taken this sentence, we wouldn’t know that the conjugation is different for nouns, -na adjectives, and verbs.
    So then people may end up saying something weird like “犬ても” or あそぶても instead of 犬でも、or 遊んでも. (I know those don’t make sense in the above sentence but I’m just making a point)

    So I’m really curious about how a person would avoid mistakes like that with only copying sentences from random places that do not explain grammar fully? Is it because having 12,000+ sentences would likely make it so that will eventually covered each conjugation?

    I appreciate any input you have. If I can find a way to get around grammar and make learning Japanese fun I’d try anything! HELP! lol

    • Good question.

      Your example sentence:
      私はどんなに暑くても、寝るときはクーラーを消して寝ます。

      You won’t fully understand the full grammar immediately, you’ll learn only one part of it from this sentence. As your sentences and listening time increase, you will learn the other parts of it naturally.

      Since your speaking and writing come from your listening and reading, mistakes are kept low since you will have never read or heard “犬ても” or あそぶても. Grammar is always in every source you use, so just being exposed to constant materials (whether in your SRS, or through TV/movies, etc) you will figure out the patterns naturally.

      You don’t need to get to 12,000 sentences to be able to cover everything. Remember, just because it isn’t in your SRS, doesn’t mean you don’t know it.

      And I’m glad this site is helping you out. これからも勉強を頑張ってください!

  4. Hey man, this is a great read as I am in this phase now.

    I guess my question to you is, is any media alright with putting into Anki? I know I should have a variety of resources but for now I am using 双葉ちゃん(2chan), watching shows such as アメトーク and also finding sentences from my Japanese friends 日記 (from mixi).

    Do you recommend any other types of sources?

    Thanks

    • My main recommendation for the first 1000 sentences is usually the first 2 genki books + integrated guide to intermediate Japanese, just because it gives you a wide range of the important words/grammar that you need to know to build off on. There is nothing wrong with putting in sentences from other sources such as variety shows, mixi, or 2chan, but just make sure that you aren’t putting in things that are too specialized just yet.

      For example, if you add 100 sentences about a topic on アメトーク about Ramen, it is giving you an unbalanced 1000 J-E sentences. Once you get past the 1000, you can add anything and everything you want, but those first 1000 are important to how your progress will be when you switch to J-J.

      Good luck!

  5. Sweet, thanks man.

    I don’t have the Genki books, but I do have Minna no Nihongo so I will just use that.

    :)

  6. Thank you very much for your site – simply great stuff!
    I heard about the sentence method before at – of course – AJATT, but never really figured out where and how to start. Your explanation make some things quite clear at last. Just one question about what kind of sentences to add: E.g. if I today would start to enter sentences, and every sentence should contain just one unknown word, wouldn’t I have to stop at sentence number two? Because just having successfully added it doesn’t mean I really know it. I have to do my SRS to learn it before I may add new stuff? I am getting something wrong for sure. Would be happy if you could explain that a little further.
    Thank you very much in advance!
    Deja

    • You can add sentences in blocks of 10, 20, 30, or whatever. So yes, technically while you are adding sentences, you haven’t yet reviewed those sentences so you don’t “know” them yet. Just review them later and alternate back and forth between adding and reviewing. The process will work itself out.

      • Oh, I see! So I guess I will just start and see how everything works. Thank you for your reply – and again: Great Site! Very helpful!

  7. I’m currently using “Understanding Basic Japanese Grammar” to start with since it’s packed with sentences.. Do you have any recommendations of what book I could jump to afterward? (I’m not sure if it covers the grammar in Genki 2).
    Would this and Taekim’s guide be enough before starting J-J?

  8. Hey Adshap, quick question. Is it necessary to finish Heisig before you begin adding sentences? The reason I ask is because Heisig reviews are…well, extremely boring, and it would be nice to start reviewing sentences. At the same time though, I’d rather not get too far ahead of myself. What do you suggest?

    • No you definitely don’t have to wait till you are finished. I always encourage people to do it together because the one thing you want to avoid is burnout. Make sure that finishing Heisig is your priority, but add sentences as well. Good luck!

      • Thanks so much! Can’t wait to get started :)
        One more question- should my sentences be in the same deck as my kanji? Or should they be kept in separate decks? (Does it really matter?)

        • Either way is fine, but I think it is more convenient to have them in one deck. I started off as separate when I first started but merged them together.

  9. Hi. I have just rediscovered this site as I found it at school last year but only just found it again.
    I am taking maths and japanese at uni, and we are using the genki books in the first year. I am doing rembering the kanji using the kendo lazy kanji mod as it has kept me doing kanji compared the basic method. I am only up to about 500 kanji but I have a question about the j-e sentences.

    Before finding this site I started mining genki up to lesson 7. However I was using japanese sentences in the definition and was doing the sentences like this: http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/chinese-project-notes-8-ch-ch-changes-stuff-that-applies-to-japanese-too. And I also had the English translation in it and was finding kanji for every word that had kanji, even if it was rarely used. I hadn’t started reviewing them but I have managed to get 600 sentences already.
    Now i found this articles again, I have realised that i should only do 1000 j-e sentences. However the problem is this. In class and for weekly tests, we use the vocab the is in the vocab lists. Also when I entered sentences, I also found the kanji for everyting available if it had a kanji.
    I want to restart mining from genki again but I need to know the vocab aswell without making too many sentences.
    Should I create sentences from the vocab lists even if there aren’t example sentences in the genki textbooks? Also, which sections should I mine from and which should I avoid so I don’t make too many j-e sentences?

    Hope that made sense.
    thanks

    • Yes, you should create sentences even if they don’t give sample ones. You can find sample ones either by using Yahoo dictionary, using a website like 知恵袋, or like someone previously suggested in a comment, using Tweets. As to which sections you mine from, this is really your personal choice. Remember, you are trying to use the 1000 J-E sentences to give you enough variety in grammar and vocabulary to get you ready for J-J.

      • So i should create cards from the vocab and verbs in genki lists but use the sentences from a dictionary? What about verb conjugations and their different forms? should i just do the same thing as with other j-e sentences?
        Thanks
        If only universies knew about anki and this method. :D

  10. Sorry for continously asking questions, but how exactly should my setup be for the first 1000 English-Japanese sentences?

    Should the question be the Japanese sentence (with Kanji?) and the answer the Englisch sentence or the other way around?

    Thanks in advance.

    • I have now started taking sentences from Genki1, using the Japanese sentence as question and English as the answer.

      Seemed to make sense to me, as what we are trying to achieve is to be able to understand spoken and written Japanese.

      60 sentences in the first session, I will reach 1000 in no time.

    • Correct. The question should be the Japanese sentence with Kanji and the answer the English definitions (and/or English sentence if need be).

      • I needed some time to believe it myself but this method really makes a lot more sense than translating English (or any given language) into Japanese.

        For once, it is good to develop a feeling and view for certain word- or particle connections and I realized I was still “thinking in English” instead of Japanese when doing it the other way around.

        Also, as you said, it is way more efficient and satisfying to study complete sentences instead of just vocabularies.

  11. Dear adshap,

    I started setting up the deck, the questions containing Kanji. The reviewing however got frustrating very soon, do you really think it is possible to recognize a certain Kanji as, say, “library” just by seeing it in Anki when doing the reviews?

    • Give it some time. Anki is a very powerful tool that just takes a little time getting used to. Anki is to be used in conjunction with all other immersion materials (books, media, etc), so when you see the kanji for library in Anki a few times, and then you see it in a book, and on a website, and a on a TV show it will be imprinted in your brain.

  12. Adshap,

    Thank you for putting such a great resource together.

    I’m on Day 1 of using Anki and I have a few noob questions about getting started/the daily process.

    I believe you recommended doing 20 kanji and 10 sentences per day.

    I’ve downloaded your RTK1 deck. I just went through the RTK 1 paperback book and reviewed the first 20 kanji. Then I added my first 10 sentences from Genki 1 to your Anki deck.

    I hit ‘Review.’ I go through the first 20 kanji characters, and now I’m looking at kanji #21 that I haven’t studied yet from RTK.

    I’m stuck — how can I review the 10 sentences I added? And am I following the process correctly? Do I need to edit any settings in Anki to tell it how many new cards I’d like to view each day in order to hit your 20 kanji / 10 sentences per day mark?

    Thanks again for your help.

    • Anki doesn’t currently support multiple new card queues within one deck (it will in 2.0 but that isn’t quite even in beta yet.) There are various possible workarounds; including:

      ・Use separate decks for kanji and sentences.

      ・Set selective study to only show new cards that are tagged “for-review” (or some tag you prefer) and then at the beginning or end of each day open up the browser and add the tag to 10 sentences and 20 kanji.

      The advantage of the first is that it is less work and you have the option of working completely within ankiweb or ankimobile. The advantage of the second is you get the slightly more interesting review experience of having your cards mixed.

    • Either use any of the methods カイエン provides above, or just go through all the kanji first and then hit the sentences. But since you asked the question, you probably want variety. Unfortunately since you are adding the sentences after the kanji it is making you do the cards that were entered first (the kanji). If you decide to do separate decks while you are finishing up the kanji, I highly recommend that you merge them together once you are finished with the first round of kanji reviews.

  13. I’m not yet at the point of really making use of your advice (yet on the early stages of learning the kanji), but there’s something that caught my eye: your “how do I do the physical reviews” images suggest you have a furigana effect going on for the readings. Is this the case? And if so would you mind explaining how to implement it?

  14. Is it okay to use the Japanese Core 2000/6000 for sentences…? They come with audio on ANKI, and so far are very understandable to me, as a uber!beginner. Entering in cards in ANKI is really time consuming. >_<

    • I don’t know whether you should use those sentences or not. But I do have some thoughts that might make the alternative more appealing:

      The Google TTS mass mp3 generator plugin makes it easy to get audio on any card. I really like this.

      If you use an online source like Tae Kim’s grammar guide you can copy and paste, which is pretty fast.

      Remember that the amount of time spent entering anything is less than the amount of time you’re going to spend reviewing it so time entering good sentences is worthwhile.

      If you do decide to use the pre-made deck, you can make it better by selecting the most useful sentences from it and deleting the others, and if the answer side is a translation you can rewrite it to have the format this post describes.

  15. I don’t quite understand what sentences to choose from. I actually have Genki 1 and 2. Your example with “Teacher is beautiful -> Japan is beautiful” is simple enough but I think it could be rather difficult to find sentences that build upon each other in Genki 1.

    Furthermore, say if I to entered sentences in my Anki deck and I did the reviews of them. Now, if I don’t understand a sentence or mess up the pronunciation of a kanji in it, wouldn’t I be ill-equipped when doing the next card since I was unable to did the one before it in the first place?

    • The sentences of course won’t build on each other quite simply as that. However, for the most part Genki sentences build on each other chapter by chapter, so it is set up very nicely for input into your Anki deck. Take every example sentence from the book that has something new in it to you (grammar or vocab). The 2 books combined should be enough to get your 1000 sentences.

      If you don’t understand a sentence or mess up a pronunciation, the card will be repeated again soon, so it will balance out with the sentences that are connected to it afterwards.

    • I’m not sure whether this is what you’re asking or not… but to avoid something like this I put definitions on the answer side for every word that is new at the time that I make the card rather than just those words that will be new when I review it. The idea is that I want the answer side to contain everything I might possibly need to be able to understand the sentence. So I would define both 日本 and 綺麗 on the 日本は綺麗 card even though 綺麗 was on a card before that. If I ever look at the answer side and still don’t understand, I add what I need to (usually this means searching for the word in my deck to find the card that introduced it and copying and pasting.)

      Partly this is fine because when I’m completely confident of my understanding (usually I am after the first few reviews; I fail the kanji readings often enough that I never get to the point of forgetting the meanings) I don’t bother to read the answer side, so this isn’t adding much reading overhead. I started doing this so that I was minimizing reading of English even in the J-E phase but it seems to work pretty well.

  16. So I was following the quest walkthrough (I already know 800+/- kanjis from RTK1 and some basic grammars), but now I have some problems:
    It’s necessary to read the books to learn some kanji-grammatics before adding E~J sentences? (or you learn as reviewing O_o)
    So far I’ve only learned the very basics with kanas, so I have problems using kanji for the sentences. Probably I’m in level 5, so I have no very clear that part. I was thinking of reading the books just to learn the vocabulary and grammars, and add the new things with kanas.
    Saludos from méxico ñ_ñ

    • You learn the kanji at the same time while using a beginner textbook like the Genki series. You take the sentences directly from the beginner textbook and add them to anki which will teach you grammar and kanji readings at the same time.

      Good luck!

    • You are more or less where I was a month or so ago, so here is my advice, with the caveat that I’m not that much more advanced than you are:

      Try to add sentences with as many kanji as you can. Do note that in the beginning stages Genki uses less kanji than normal native text would, so you should try to replace the kana by the corresponding kanji if you can. The resource I use for this is http://www.nihongodict.com/ (more explicitly: if there is a string of kana in a sentence I suspect might correspond to kanji, I just input it into nihongodict to check if so, and if the meaning is right). You don’t need to obsess about getting every single one possible, but try to get as many as you can.

      This will have a few effects: allow you to start linking readings with the kanji; make the next more natural, and even make it simply more readable, as the lack of spaces makes Japanese very hard to read without the Kanji.

      Also, if your worry is that using kanji means you will fail the cards more often at the beginning, DON”T BE. Yes, having kanji you are not used too will make you fail more, but you will actually also learn more.

      Finally with all that said, your main focus should still be finishing Heisig: having a few sentences to review is good for variety and for doing some work that feels more related to the actual language, but sentences themselves are much more satisfying as you start being able to recognize the kanji you see in them.

  17. How would we put grammar and the different forms and conjugations of the verbs into the flashcards?

    • Until you learn the patterns, each conjugation can be its own card. For example, りんごを食べました and バナナを食べる could be 2 separate cards where the only words you don’t know are 食べました and 食べる. Grammar is added like any other card. If you don’t know に yet, have a different sentence example for every different use of に。The Yahoo dictionary usually does a great job with these examples for J-J.

      • Thanks for the reply. That’s fine for the beginning part, but what about later on when there are lots of different grammar like てもいい、のほうが、ないで、-しようと思っています。。etc. do you explain the grammar in the flashcards, or not because its not vocab?
        Sorry if that doesn’t make any sense. I’m just unsure about what to put in the cards.

        • Explain the grammar in the anki cards. Treat each card with the goal of defining one item you don’t know, whether a grammar item or a vocabulary item (or something else such as Japanese names, cities, etc.)

          • Thanks for the reply。I’m nearly finished with genki 2 at uni, but am now going through it all again with your method, and this really clears things up. I think explaining the grammar for genki 2 would be useful for flashcards.
            Thanks so much. Hopefully I will be able to finish adding an integrated approach to intermediate Japanese before the summer.
            It’s unbelievable how good this site it. Good job adshap

  18. Queeestion.
    The Core2k deck has been brought up here a few times – before I found this site I’d already started getting through this deck and I’m at a bit over 700 cards now + I’m also adding sentences from Tae Kim’s. The Core sentences are fine for learning vocab, I guess, but they don’t get all that advanced in grammar, as far as I can tell, yet it’d feel kind of like a waste if I stopped now. My question is – do you think it’d be beneficial to get one of the textbooks you mentioned (perhaps not Genki I, but Genki II or the Intermediate Japanese one) and add sentences from it, or just dive into J-J after finishing Core2k and Tae Kim’s?

    • I know that Tae Kim’s guide gives a very good coverage of grammar, but I’ve never gone through the Core2k. I think it depends on whether you think you have gotten a somewhat good understanding of grammar after completing the two (which should usually be obtained at the 1000 J-E sentence mark).

  19. This seems like a great method – I can’t wait to try it!

    One question, though… I’m not sure if anyone else has this question and just isn’t asking it, but how do you get the pronunciation of the sentence’s words that you put in the brackets to appear above the kanji? Such as [ばか]over 馬鹿? I entered the same sentence in exactly the same way, but it’s just coming up as 馬鹿[ばか]… Any tricks to fix this?

    Thank you for such an amazing site!

    • There is a shared plugin in Anki called Japanese Support. Download and set that up. You’ll need to install mecab as well (which the plugin should provide instructions on how to do). After that, when you create your cards, create them using the Japanese template and they will automatically fill in the furigana for you.

      Just a note, mecab can be wrong, so try to pay attention to that as well. ^^

      • Thank you so much! I’ve downloaded Japanese Support now, but I’ve searched for MeCab and I can’t find it… I found the webpage, but it’s apparently been moved to some place that doesn’t exist.

        But seeing as MeCab can be wrong anyways, is there any possible method to enter the readings above the words manually? Maybe as HTML coding or something?

        • I went ahead and looked it up this time, so I’ll be able to give a better explanation. =p
          Go here:
          http://ankisrs.net/docs/JapaneseSupport.html#Windows
          and download anki-reading.exe and run it. If you’re on a different OS, go ahead and follow the instructions for those instead.
          After you run it, restart Anki.
          Now when you make a card, whatever you put in the expression field will have a reading generated and placed on the card.
          While mecab can be wrong sometimes, it is actually pretty accurate most of the time. I would, and do, just stick with it. Things I’ve noticed it get wrong are words that don’t appear often「揺藍」 and words with multiple readings 「行き(ゆき・いき)」 I was able to fix them thanks to my sources having either audio or furigana though.
          Again, these instances aren’t too common and the majority of the readings have been perfect. I just thought I would point out that it isn’t flawless. Anyway, if you catch it being wrong, you can simply edit the card with the correct reading.

  20. Firstly I would like to thank you for this site- it’s brilliant. I passed JLPT 3級 ages ago but gave up at the dreaded intermediate stage you have discussed elsewhere.

    This has been great for getting me back into it, and I am starting from scratch to really consolidate what I already know before tackling intermediate again.

    Because I am not a “pure” beginner, I don’t find myself feeling the need to include as many sentences as someone genuinely starting from scratch. I have finished 皆の日本語I and only have 180 sentences. Is this something to be concerned about? Am I doing it wrong? They are all varied and cover all of the grammar aspects in the book- new vocabulary only really came in towards the end because of previous knowledge.

    I am assuming this number will increase as I advance- perhaps 皆の日本語II will give me double the amount of sentences and my intermediate textbook will take me over 1,000.

    What I basically want to know is if I’m on the right lines?

    • Yea, you are doing everything correctly. People who restart there studies have a base to begin with, and there would be no point in inputting all the material you already know from 皆の日本語I into Anki. So as you said, you will have more than enough to fill the 1000 J-# sentences with II and possibly an intermediate textbook.

      Good luck with your restart!

  21. I just thought I’d share with everyone a great website called Lang 8. I don’t know if it’s been covered on here…

    It’s a journal/blogging site where anyone learning a language can write and native speakers correct what you are saying. This can be anything from a few basic sentences to full blown essays depending on ability.

    I think this brings a real personal flavor to your deck because you are adding sentences that native speakers have corrected, and unlike other resources, they are sentences that you personally would use.

    Obviously like any language learning tool you have to approach it with the right attitude- don’t get discouraged if whole sentences are crossed out and rewritten, it’s not about writing perfectly, it’s about learning how to say things in the most natural way possible (which in my experience are pretty different to how they would be printed in a textbook).

  22. Okay, I’m finally near the end of the J-E sentence phase! All the RTK 1 kanji are done (deleting the unnecessary kanji, of course), and I’m 800 sentences in! I sentenced-mined Genki 1 and 2 (reading them from cover to cover) and am currently on the 3rd chapter of the Intermediate book. Thank you Adshap for sharing this method and for this site, it’s been a huge help! I have a question, though…

    I will probably get to 1,000 sentences before I finish the Intermediate book… And to be honest, I am tired of sentence-mining these books… I know the grammar is important, but if you say that it is possible to reach 1,000 before touching the 3rd book, doesn’t that mean it’s also not necessary to go through it? I’m currently playing through a couple of Japanese video games and am having a blast, I really want to take sentences from these sources rather than continuing on with the book… Do you think this will come back to harm me in the long run? Should I push through the final 200 sentences, taking them from the 3rd book, or can I start the J-J sentence phase now?

    I’m really anxious to start the J-J sentences (perhaps I will use MCD cards, too…), I think that’s truly when the fun begins and the method shines brightest. Thank you for your time!

    • I guess it depends on how you feel on your basic grasp of grammar and vocabulary. Most people actually prefer to do more J-E sentences as it feels most comfortable for them. But if you are ready to and have the drive to dive in to J-J at 800, I don’t see any reason why not to. Genki 1 + 2 definitely should be enough to give you your first solid understanding.

      The worst thing that could happen is that you start J-J and felt you could have used a little more J-E base. But then you can just go back and add the last 200 J-E sentences if you feel the need to.

      • Well… That did not go well. After reading all the articles about J-J sentences, I knew I was in for a rough time, but… I think I’ll hold it off until I get to 1,000 J-E sentences. There are still some useful grammar and constructions to read up on in the intermediate book…

        After my little experiment, I have just one question I hope you can clarify…

        I understand the logic behind the definition branching process, and I think it it’s a great way to acquire more vocabulary while at the same time learning definitions, but… What about the readings? This is what floored me. While branching upwards 20 cards, how am I supposed to memorize the reading for each and every new word? I know using Anki will eventually stick the readings, but during the first couple reviews… Won’t that mean I will have an incredibly high fail rate for new cards?

        What I’m trying to say is; Should I focus on understanding the definition, and grading the reviews based on my understanding, even if I don’t quite hit the readings? Or should I consider a card failed if I don’t understand both the reading and the meaning? It’s a bit… overwhelming to add 50+ cards a day and wake up to a lot of kanji you don’t know how to read. What do you think?

        Thanks again!

        • What exactly do you mean about memorizing the reading for each and every new word? You did that in J-E as well, since for every new word found on a new card, you also had to learn how to read the kanji for that word.

          Same goes for J-J. Regardless of branching, each new card should still have 1 (preferably) to 2 new words (where you probably both don’t know the meaning or the reading). The only area that you will not know a lot of meanings and readings is in the definition section of the card. But since you will be creating new cards for every word in the definition section that you don’t know, they will be handled with separately.

          A card is wrong if you don’t know both the reading and the meaning. It is difficult, but just overcome the beginning J-J struggles, and everything will work out smoothly, guaranteed.

          Adding 50 new J-J cards a day sounds like it may be too much in the beginning. As you said, you will have a much higher failure rate when you start J-J. This will increase your reviews much higher than when you just did J-E. But after some time, things will settle.

          • Thank you for your continued replies, Adshap! It’s because of this site that I can play my favorite JRPGs in their native language and (sort-of) understand them (the ultimate goal is to fully understand them)! I plan to give back to this site as soon as I can.

            Concerning the J-J difficulties, I think I understand them better. I had pictured the beginning of J-J with this video game image: Entering a cave you’ve been training for and slowly but surely creeping further into the unknown, eventually finding a torch or perhaps developing night-vision along the way. But in reality… It’s more like running head first into the cave, sword in hand, under-leveled, shouting a battle cry and taking as many monsters as you can before you run away and try again another day… Eventually the monsters will stop being scary and you will have gained enough experience points from them that you decide the cave is your new favorite training spot.

            Crude, but effective! I will reach 1,000 J-E sentences then immediately switch over to J-J, promise. You say 50 new cards a day might be too much at first (I agree), does that mean I can cut the branching process before I reach 50, even if I don’t fully understand the definitions yet? At least in the beginning?

            • I say rather than cut the branch short due to adding too many cards in one day, just stop and continue the branch the following day.

            • I recommend making use of the bury option when you have branches that are larger than your new-cards-per-day. When you get a new card where you don’t understand the definitions after showing the answer because you haven’t seen the related cards yet, bury it instead of failing it. That way you’ll be able to move on and fill your quota of new cards for the day with ones you do happen to understand rather than having it in your review queue for the day without the chance of getting to the cards you need in order to make sense of it. It will show up again the next session/day, and you might have been exposed to enough related cards by then that you can understand it.

  23. I would just like to get a feel of what other people are doing with their first J-E 500.

    With words like “やりましょうか” I have just been putting “やる: To do.” as my hint.

    I’m still working through my first RTK and I just want to make sure I get it all right before I start my 500 and realize I have made it too hard on myself.

    I just thought by having the hint in its plain form, once I have mastered it, It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to figure out the different variants of it. Or do you guys think its a bit much for a beginner?

    • That’s how I did it. The plain form is the way to go, I think. Here’s an example from an old card of mine (from Genki 1):

      Expression: でも、時々映画を見ます。
      Meaning: 見る: to see
      Reading: でも、 時々[ときどき] 映画[えいが]を 見[み]ます。

      Here, you not only learn the dictionary form 「見る」 but also it’s non-past polite version 「見ます]! This example assumes you already know the meaning of the rest of the words. If you don’t, consider making a separate card for each word you don’t know. Also, I know やる is usually written using kana only, but… I would put it in as 遣る。 I think the more kanji you use, the better. For learning the readings and such.

      Good luck with RTK!

  24. I’m glad to hear other people have/were doing the same thing as me. A lot of my cards have two words that I don’t know, and a few have three. If I wanted to go back and make a separate card for them, how can I make the new card not become out of sequence with the rest of my deck?

    For example, If I was to go back and break card 51/500 up into more cards. The new cards I add will appear as card 501 in the order of things, not card 52.

    Also, whilst I know it is ideal to only have one new word on each card, some sentences just have two or three words that I don’t know.

    I thought about breaking the sentence up into multiple cards but by doing so would destroy the context of the sentence.

    And isn’t reading and hearing tings in context the whole point of this system? Learning grammar and new words in their natural context rather than learning separate pieces on their own?

    • I don’t think it’s really necessary to go back and add separate cards for older cards. The point of adding extra cards is to help you better understand the grammar/vocab in an otherwise difficult sentence. If you are struggling with a certain sentence because it has two or three words/grammar points you do not understand, then perhaps it would be best to add a separate card for the individual word that is giving you trouble. In the beginning, it will be common to have a sentence with more than one word you don’t understand, but once you get past the basic sentences, it would be beneficial to keep it at 1 new vocab/grammar point: 1 new card.

      But I think you misunderstand, you don’t break apart a sentence and scramble the words into different cards. You keep the sentence that has multiple words you don’t understand, but you add extra sentences for the extra words. You keep the context of the original sentence. Let me give you an example: 全ての質問に答えなさい。

      Let’s say this sentence is giving me trouble because I only know what 「質問」 means. I add this sentence to Anki the way it is, but I will now add a card for every new word I don’t understand. I look for example sentences for each word. So now I have a card for 「全て」, a card for 「答える」 and for the grammar point「~なさい」. 4 new cards in total. Now the original sentence is not so difficult. Hopefully, these new sentences don’t have even more words I don’t understand, because if they do, it’s starting to look like the branching method you use once you get to J-J sentences!

      Good luck!

  25. I bought genki 1 and 2. I was entering just the sentences from the dialogue and the useful information sections, which I thought would cover sufficient information to get my 1000 sentences. However I am only at 420 senteces and im now a quarter through genki 2. Looking back there are some nice sentence in the grammer sections of each chapter that I would like to go back and add but I have a problem. If I got back and add a new card it will be out of order. I obviously want the genki 1 chapter 1 grammer senteces to appear when im reviewing my early sentences. However if I add them now, they will appear as being new cards and not get shown until 420 cards later. I have had a look on the internet for a way to reorder my deck to my liking, but I havent found anything. Its really disheartening because I do not want to have to start my deck from scratch again. Any help would really be appreciated.

    • I don’t know how to reorder cards, so if anyone knows anything about this, definitely chime in here.

      But I don’t think it will be a big deal. I wasn’t sure from the context of your comment, but you should be reviewing the cards after you add them (if you weren’t, start doing that now). If the cards are slightly out of order, the only thing that will happen is that you will fail them (which can be done quickly). Eventually through reviews in Anki, everything you add is going to become out of order depending on how well you remember things, so there will be no long term negatives by being just a little out of order now.

      It will just require multiple fails in the beginning. Definitely do not restart your deck. You will be perfectly fine.

    • I haven’t done it myself, but I think you can reorder the cards by exporting to CSV, reordering them in spreadsheet software, and then importing them into a new deck.

      I think creating a large collection of cards is the great use of the energy you have at the beginning without creating an unsustainable review situation. When you do start reviewing them, either because you’ve finished RTK or you decide you’d like to start learning the content, you will have all of the benefits of both a pre-made deck and a self-made deck.

  26. Thanks for your reply. I havent started reviewing them yet, because I wanted to finish RTK first. I was just getting the 1000 deck ready whilst I was learning RTK. Is this incorrect?

    • I think it can be beneficial to review as you add otherwise suddenly you have 1000 cards at the end and it becomes a sudden mental “I have to now do 1000 cards.” Also, while you are adding the cards, you are probably learning them, so you don’t want to waste that first read through knowledge you are gaining by not keeping yourself up to date with Anki.

    • I was actually in a similar situation, i.e., looking at Genki while doing RTK. What I did was to add a few new Genki cards (as low as 2 or 3 even) each day. My reasoning was this:
      – It allows me to clearly keep RTK as the thing I’m committing my time to.
      but
      – It allows one to start some “genuine” contact with the language even while coping with the drier experience that is RTK.
      – This “dipping your toes” approach allows the eventual transition to just sentences to be much smoother (since you will already have started doing “at least a few” for a while then)
      – It also allows you to start viewing how different types of study you do start interacting with each other.

      So, to sum up: while in the early stages you want a clear focus on RTK, I found little dash of variety can be very nice.

      • “I was actually in a similar situation, i.e., looking at Genki while doing RTK. What I did was to add a few new Genki cards (as low as 2 or 3 even) each day. ”
        I should maybe clarify this: I was adding them to the deck in larger groups (usually 20/30 or however many a chapter has), and adding beginning to review them maybe 2 or 3 at a time).

  27. Why am I supposed to press 2 regardless of whether I fail or not in the second try? I don’t understand that…

    • In the case where you fail a card on the second try (which means you failed it a second time in a time frame of about 10~20 minutes from the 1st try), it’s better to let the sentence settle in your brain and see it 8 hours later rather than repeatedly try to force short-term memorizing. What may not click now may click later.

  28. But when I click good, anki will wait until the next day before showing me the card again. Do you recommend hat I change this?

    • Sorry that was a mistake. You’re right, it no longer is 8-10 hours with the way Anki runs now (it used to be like that). Depending on when you do Anki, 8-10 hours is mostly the next day anyway, so yes, wait until the next day.

      • Okay, I see. :D

        That will probably cut down at least 50 percent on my reviewing time. I think I should have included 引換券 and 動物園 have been bothering me quite a lot. (As the genius I certainly am, I didn’t consider learning 動物 and 引換 first…).

        (And yes, I’ve been F5-ing this page every 30 minutes or so. :p)

  29. Hi. Nice post.

    I’ve arrived at an almost identical method by my own trial and error, except the method I came up with was to include the whole English translation. Even though I was isolating the individual word I want to learn, I have still been using the whole translation. I have about 500 cards at the moment. I like your idea of only including the meaning of the single word, so I’m going to try that from now on.

    For what it’s worth, I’m about half way through book one of Japanese With Ease. I think it fits your recommendation of using beginner text books as sentence sources perfectly, it covers a wide range of conversational topics, and comes with recordings of all the sentences so you can add audio too.

  30. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to keep this site up. I was thinking about boring you to tears talking about how I got motivated to start learning Japanese after six years, but I would be missing the point. Searching for learning methods on the web I came across this page. The concept of learning through Spaced Repetition is completely new for me.

    Now I’m trying to finish the katakana and adding a few kanji to my personal list, but I kind of sidetracked a bit and started looking for phrases on Genki I. There goes my first problem.

    I’m completely unsure about where to start.

    I picked up a few basic words before I even knew about Anki or this site. And when trying to pick a sentence from the book a lot of questions pop up in my mind. “This looks like a composite word, should I include it?” being one of the most frequent. The vocabulary sheets thing is scaring me a little bit as well because of the fact that I try to stick with complete sentences.

    Once again, thank you for the effort you put into this page.

    • Just take all the sentences from Genki 1 and 2 and put them into Anki. No vocabulary lists. Anywhere you can take a sentence that has at least one word you don’t know is good.

      Composite words, conjugated words, anything, just put them in like you see them.

  31. This kinda related to the last poster’s question. I just got genki and I’m not sure what counts as a sentence.. for example the first stuff are like..
    おはよう。
    こんいちは。
    さようなら。
    And things like that.. should I add those? or should I only put the dialogue things like
    すみません。いま なんじですか。
    ? Because if I jump straight to that I don’t know any of those words, but the way you / people are talking, I shouldn’t add the first examples.

    • If you don’t know the basic greetings/phrases, go ahead and add them. I mean, having to have gone through 20 extra cards to learn them isn’t going to hurt you in the end.

    • My criterion was not to add anything as simple as:
      おはよう。
      こんいちは。
      さようなら。
      The main reason being that they make for reasonably contextless cards: since they are cards with a single word, either you already know what it means perfectly already or there is no way you can use context to recall. A good rule of thumb is that one of J-E’s main goals is to get you through the basic japanese grammar; so cards with no grammar at all are wasted opportunities in that regard.

      Also, you’ll probably want to steer away from kana only sentences as fast as you can. For instance, it is recommended that you do NOT input a card with すむません。いま なんじですか。, but rather that you kanjify it as much as possible: すみません、今何時ですか。
      A great resource for this is http://www.nihongodict.com, which is a really great J-E E-J online dictionary (in fact, these days I wish there was a J-J dictionary that did some of the things this one does).

      • yeah I know about the website I was just copy pasting it from the book and not bothering to kanjify for this question :P as for the greetings I guess that makes sense, the only reason I was gonna input them is more because I Know them orally but I’ve never ever seen them written so I figured I should but then again whenever I start reading manga I’ll probably see them all the time and get used to them then :P

        So in other words I just put the sentences from genki that have (new words and) grammar right? thanks

        • “So in other words I just put the sentences from genki that have (new words and) grammar right? thanks.”

          Almost all my sentences from the Genkis where either from the dialogue sections, or from the grammar sections that followed them. I would usually skim the remainder to see if I could find anything else that qualified as a sentence with new content, and in those rare instances there was, I’d add those too.
          Also, you might find, as I did, that it is more sensible to add the grammar sections sentences first, and only then add the dialogues, as you’ll often only understand the dialogues after seeing the grammar points.

          • I should point out that I should have said:
            (…) if I could find anything else that qualified as a sentence with new content (and translation), and in those rare instances there was, I’d add those too.

            • Ahhh makes sense, I didn’t think about going further first so I didn’t know it would explain the grammar for the dialogue just after.. silly me… Well thanks a lot! Now I’m ready to start adding sentences when I’m done learning katakana (already know hiragana, of course) :)

            • Finishing the kana should be a breeze with Anki.

              Be aware, though, that if you haven’t done Kanji yet, you’ll find everything substancially harder. J-E is probably feasible, but I don’t think you’ll be able to effectively transition to J-J without that.
              So I’d recommend you consider doing a bit of RTK too.

  32. I’ve actually done 400 kanji :P I was following AJATT and decided to do kana after kanji but I was tired of not being able to read the pronunciation of anything so I learned every hiragana in 2 days and now katakana looks like it’ll take 3 days (today being the 2nd day). It’s causing me a bit more trouble but now I have about all of them down, just need to remember them a bit more hehe.

    And yeah I’ll be alternating between kanji and sentences, like for now I’ll get to 100 sentences so I can finally get level 5 even though with my system I should already be lvl 7-8, then just go with the kanji first, then sentences, and keep going that way.

    Thanks for all of your answers!

    • “decided to do kana after kanji”

      That’s certainly a weird choice. I’m actually kind of curious about what would make someone even consider that…

      And 2/3 days for each syllabary is certainly par for the course. Once you have a basic hang on them, anki can take over the “remembering them a bit more” part.

      “And yeah I’ll be alternating between kanji and sentences, ”

      If you find it works for you, go for it, definitely.
      But personally I actually preferred to instead simply do mainly Kanji with just a little bit of sentences simultaneously. This way I got to experience both worlds at the same time while still focusing on finishing the Kanji, and not losing momentum in them. And I also think find something regular like this is probably easier to fit into whatever routine one has than to do constant shifts.

      • The reasoning on AJATT is that after doing 2K kanji, the kana will seem so much easier than if you start by doing that.. and doing kanji really isn’t hard just long so :p
        As for the 2nd part that’s what I was thinking , I don’t mean doing 1 kanji for 1 sentence but more like 2-4 kanji for 1 sentence :P although really I might just get done with all the kanji at once and then get a bunch of quick levels when I do the sentences, although itll mean I’ll be stuck at level 4 for a while but oh well at least the exp will still keep racking up :p

  33. What do you do when you come across a sentence that you don’t understand yet you know what every single word and particle means? I’ve had this happen a few times now and it’s really disheartening. I’m assuming this is because I’m still at that stage where I’m translating everything (I seriously can’t switch out of that habit no matter how hard I try) so I’m still trying to read Japanese as if it’s English with different words/sentence orders. Is this just a case of ignoring that until a later date or should I make a conscious effort to truly understand why the sentence is set up in that way?

    • When you come across this type of sentence where you know all the words but not the sentence, how much of the sentence do you understand? If you can get the gist of the sentence, and probably feel that it means “this” but don’t 100% understand it, then you should be okay. Eventually as you see those different words in different contexts, that sentence will work itself out on its own.

      However, this shouldn’t be happening that often, and if it is becoming frequent, than you might want to add new sentences to those words you think you know.

  34. I have a question about an observation I have noticed about myself when reviewing senteces in my j-e 1000 anki deck;

    Sometimes I wonder whether I am remembering each individual word/kanji combination within a sentence or whether I am just remembering the sentence itself as a whole.

    Sometimes (not all the time) a sentence will appear in my deck, and without even reading the whole thing I will automatically remember the entire sentence, how to say it, and what it means.

    It is great, but does it mean my brain is skimming over things and not taking them all in? Sometimes, I force myself to stop and read each individual kana/kanji slowly in a deliberate attempt to make my brain not skim read. Is it only me?

    I am worried that even though I can recognise certain kanji combinations within a sentence, if I then encounter the same kanji combinations in an unfamiliar sentence would I still be able to understand it?

    • I have this same “problem,” actually.
      I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because I noticed in English I recognize word/letter combinations when I read more so than reading every word in a sentence.
      If you remember a set phrase/kanji combination/grammar point, when you see it elsewhere you’ll still remember it.
      I also think that, because we’re in the 1000 J-E sentence part, we still have a lot more to go, it’s just a momentary thing. Which will introduce tons more sentences and such, where we could possibly have the same combinations of things in many cards, in different situations. So eventually we will be able to learn how the combination of kanji and such apply to different situations.
      Which is why I think it will all work itself out in the future when we have, like, a ton of J-J sentences under our belts.

    • This is fine. If you understand the sentence, don’t pick it apart to make sure you understand each individual part thoroughly. As Machine Citizen says, this will work itself out eventually and naturally.

    • “I am worried that even though I can recognise certain kanji combinations within a sentence, if I then encounter the same kanji combinations in an unfamiliar sentence would I still be able to understand it?”
      My experience with this is that for many kanji combinations/words, it is very easy for this phenomenon (recognizing it in the deck but not in a “wild” sentence) to happen if you only have a single card with that word. But the moment you start seeing that word in multiple cards the problem tends to go away. Basically the deal is that your brain will try to take the path of least resistance: if there’s a single card with the word it’s probably easier for it to memorize that x sentence uses y word; but if the word starts appearing everywhere it becomes easier to just recall the word outright.

  35. I have a serious question. How do I understand?! I can only translate. It’s so frustrating. I understand greetings but not sentences. I end up translating. Can someone give me advice on how to understand? Thank you.

    • If you understand the meanings of all the individual words (grammar/vocab/phrases), usually it leads to an understanding of the whole sentence. This is not always the case though of course. However, in the beginning you will naturally tend to translate. This is something that fades and turns into understanding with time.

      • When you say understand words, does this mean I can understand a word by picturing the item in my head as an image. That’s what I’m doing alongside translating it into English.

        Thank you anyway for the tip.

        • From my understanding, you will slowly be able to do it more and more with practise. There are many words / sentences now, that because I have used them so often I don’t think about the english counter part at all. To the point where when I am talking to my English-speaking friends I have to hold my self from responding naturally with Japanese in certain situations. (and I am only around level 10.)

          When I am learning a new senteces for the first time I am not at this point yet, and I cant help but metally translate a little in my head. But I am sure like the other senteces I have learned this will eventually pass will repitition and practise and it will all just happen naturally.

          • Thank you. You’ve made me more determined now. I’ve noticed that I can introduce myself without translating and can understand when someone introduces themselves as well (of course with basic vocabulary).

  36. I’m not sure if the numbers in this article refer to the new or old anki. I’ve only used the new version so I’ll ask anyway. The numbers being 1, 2 and 3 (after finishing a card).

    • This uses the old Anki. In the new Anki though it’s pretty much the same the first time you hit a card. The only thing that changes is when you get a card wrong and you see it again and are only given 2 options (in which I would choose the one that shows you the card the following day).

  37. I’ll ask another question when I’m at it. I’m slowly creating my 1000 card J-E deck. When it comes to picking sentences from Genki, it seems like it uses mostly (or always?) the polite verb conjugations in sentences.

    Is it worthwhile to mix it up and use some of the informal conjugations as well?
    How often does one actually need one or the other? I’ve never found any good answer to that question anywhere.

    • “How often does one actually need one or the other? I’ve never found any good answer to that question anywhere.”

      Roughly speaking people are expected to use the formal conjugation when talking to strangers, and to use the informal one between people with a good familiarity relation (at least provided they are peers, i.e., that there is no substancial difference between them in age or rank).

      This means they are both crucial, though at earlier levels you might find you need them in every different circumstances: as a beginner you’ll most likely to be expected to use formal language when you are talking, but at the same time you’ll probably find informal language much more useful when reading/hearing media, because the most accessible conversations will use informal language.

      One solution (and what I did) is to use Tae Kims Guide in parallel with Genki (while Genki does basically everything in formal language, Tae Kim does almost everything in informal one). And since there is a shared Anki deck with the example sentences from Tae Kim you won’t even be needing to input those sentences yourself (though I found myself editing the majority of them, since new words aren’t always defined).

    • I don’t remember where in the book, but I believe somewhere towards the middle, Genki 1 teaches the informal forms. And then provides sample sentences and mixes informal versions throughout the rest of the book and into Genki 2. So it pretty much covers everything.

      If I am wrong on this someone can correct me. I haven’t looked at Genki in a long time.

      • Thanks a lot for the answers Kure, Uvauva and Adshap. I’ll look into Tae Kim and keep doing Genki and see where it leads :)

  38. I’ve recently started adding my sentences into Anki, and I’ll know the word if I look at the flashcard in Anki, but if I try to remember it like an hour later I can’t. Is this normal? Will I eventually just remember it without having to see the word or do I need to practice more? Also I just started Kanji, so I can’t read it at all, so I’ve been translating the Kanji under it in the sentences. Should I do that or should I just try to remember them?

    • “I’ve recently started adding my sentences into Anki, and I’ll know the word if I look at the flashcard in Anki, but if I try to remember it like an hour later I can’t. Is this normal?”

      More or less the same happened (and still does really) to me, and I don’t think it’s unusual. In particular, I tend to find that happens more with words that appear in fewer cards: say, if there is a hard word that appears in a single card, it’s very easy to just memorize that “a word meaning X appears in card Y” rather then associating the meaning X to said word. This might seem like a problem, and on occasion you might need to take action yourself, but a lot of the time, this just gets corrected as you start seeing that word in more and more contexts.

      “Also I just started Kanji, so I can’t read it at all, so I’ve been translating the Kanji under it in the sentences. ”
      Hum… what do you mean by “translating Kanji”?

  39. What’s your opinion about the “new” MCD method that AJATT supports?
    They say there that it is great, but i have my doubts, what do you people think ?

  40. So if I’m not mistaken, this is what I’ll be doing at this point:

    Using the RTK to study 10-20 Kanji a day.
    After studying RTK, use the RTK Level Up Deck in order review learned Kanji.
    Search for 10 sentences J-E, put them into the Level Up Deck (or separate) then study them.

    I think I may be confused so I just want to make sure.

    • You use the RTK mod deck to study the kanji. It is a deck made by Adshap with all the uncommon kanji taken out. This will save you learning 1000 kanji that you will probably never encounter. After this, you then start making your J-E deck from sentences sourced from beginner textbooks. Adshap suggests using the Genki textbook series. If you find it confusing or too time consuming to create your own J-E deck, check out some of the premade decks on Anki shared decks. I have uploaded my own J-E deck to anki web using the Genki textbooks. You may find it a useful starting point, even if to just get an idea of the layout. Just look for the Genki Annihilation series on ankiweb.

      • Ahh I see. So basically I start creating my J-E after RTK? I assume after RTK I continue w/ the level up deck + then do the J-E deck at the same time.

        • 1. As you are going through the physical RTK book (+ stories) you are using the JALUP RTK deck. For example: read through 20 stories and kanji in the RTK book. Review the same 20 kanji in the Anki deck. Continue reviewing old kanji as they become due in the Anki reviews as you proceed.

          2 (option 1): create and continue your J-E deck as you are doing step 1 (this is how it is set up in the walk-through at the top of this site).
          (option 2): completely finish the RTK book and deck, then start your J-E deck.

          Either way, you always continue reviewing the RTK deck even after you finish.

  41. I’m kinda confused with the J-E sentences thing. Me personally, the only books I have on hand are Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide, A Handbook of Common Japanese Phrases compiled by Sanseido & Japanese Core Words and Phrases: Things you Can’t Find in a Dictionary by Kazuko Shoji, these were the books I planned on getting a lot of sentences from. I also planned on using a dictionary like Denshi Jisho, look up a word related to a recently learned kanji from RTK & then use one of their example sentences to learn another word. Is this a good way of doing the sentences?

    Also a specific question, when you say add 10 sentences a day, do you mean:

    1. Search for 10 sentences
    2. Make the 10 anki cards
    3. Review in anki right after or the same day those 10 sentences each day?

    Sorry if somethings I said don’t make sense, kind of in a rush. I REALLY appreciate your help!

    • 1. It’s better to follow the order of beginner textbooks for adding J-E sentences. You want to make sure you are creating a good and even beginner base for your Japanese before you enter J-J. Those sources are fine.

      2. It’s fine to do all 3 steps every day if you want. But at the very least, always aim for step 2. You can prepare a lot of cards in advance you want to add or you can review the newly added cards the following day.

  42. Hello – thanks for the great website! I’ve been to Tokyo once, and didn’t do too well with speaking and understanding. I had worked through about 7 or 8 chapters of Genki at that point, and found it to be of little use. My new approach is just massive sentence memorizing, focusing on practical matters. I’ve started using physical index cards, because writing it out helps me, but I will eventually transfer them all to Anki when it gets to be too much. I find that creating the cards helps me more than the actual reviewing of them.

    My question: I’m having a hard time finding sources for sentences that reflect my experience of actually being in Japan. Ideally, I’d like to find a source that will give me as many possible in-depth variations of situational sentences that would actually be spoken in real life. For example, a restaurant scene that is both realistic and covers 100 different things that could really be said (instead of the usual 10 textbook/phrasebook sentences that no one actually uses in reality). Does such a resource exist? I’d like to be able to go to an izakaya without a chaperone! :)

    • Transferring handwritten index cards is going to be a bit complex since you won’t have the Anki algorithms working with you from the beginning. If you really want to write the cards by hand, you could scan them, then add the scanned images to Anki cards. While this is an extra step, it will save you in the long run.

      I don’t know of any beginner textbooks of the type you are looking for. They might be hard to find, because most beginner textbooks are focused on rounding out the basics for you, so that you can then take your own direction from there.

      • I’ve actually already switched to Anki. The writing part wasn’t doing me as much good as I initially thought.

        So I have about 85 sentences so far, mostly just Japanese with kana translations for the kanji I don’t easily know on the back, and occasionally English if it’s a really hard word. I also use an English translation in a reverse field for handy spoken phrases, so I can go both ways. I’m also starting to integrate some cloze deletion cards as well.

        The problem so far is that it feel like rather than actually recognizing the kanji itself, I’m just translating in my head and plugging in the word that fits the sentence (literally for cloze cards, and mentally for the rest). I’ve played around a little on Read the Kanji (good for Anki mining, by the way) as well, and have the same issue. Does this fix itself eventually?

        Is learning how to learn Japanese actually harder than learning Japanese? ;)

        • “The problem so far is that it feel like rather than actually recognizing the kanji itself, I’m just translating in my head and plugging in the word that fits the sentence (literally for cloze cards, and mentally for the rest). (…) Does this fix itself eventually?”

          A good rule of thumb is that your brain will always try to take the easiest way out when trying to pass on an Anki card.
          Here’s what that means in practice: suppose for the sake of argument that you are trying to learn the word 準備. Let’s explore some options:

          A) Suppose further that you find the kanji composing the word a bit hard, and that they appear in no other of your cards. Then the easiest way to pass the card including 準備 is to just memorize that “card A has a word which is read “じゅんび”, and which means “preparation””. The upshot: you will barely glance at the word when reviewing, meaning you associate neither the reading nor the meaning to the word itself. Is this a hopeless situation? No, read bellow.

          B) Now let’s say that the word 準備 appears in several of your cards. Now the situation changes, because memorizing that “cards A,B,C,D and E all have a word which is read “じゅんび”, and which means “preparation”” is actually more work than just memorizing that “準備 is read “じゅんび”, and means “preparation”, no matter the fact that the kanji look complicated. There’s just one snag with this case, which is that you are probably memorizing that 準備 as a whole reads じゅんび and means preparation, but have no feel for what the kanji themselves each mean. Read further bellow.

          C) Now let’s say that the word 準備 appears in several cards, and so do other words with the same kanji, like 防備 or 基準. Now the “easy way out” becomes to actually associate the readings to the individual kanji (rather than the words), and even to recall the meanings of each of the words by getting a feel for the range of ideas associated to each individual kanji.

          So long story short: the answer to your question is that these problems do fix themselves when you start knowing enough Japanese such that noticing the patterns is actually easier than memorizing lists of facts.

  43. Hi! Love the articles as always. Just wanted to say you wrote “An Intermediate Approach to Intermediate Japanese” which made it kind of hard when I googled it, just trying to be helpful! :) Love the site, keep up the good work!!

  44. Fantastic site and study method Adshap. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your Anki settings for the J-E deck? What settings do you have in the New Cards, Reviews and Lapses tabs of the Options screen for the deck? I read through all the comments and haven’t seen any information about this. Many thanks!

    • All the time intervals are the defaults. I don’t set a daily limit on reviews of new or old cards, and I use the new cards mixed with old cards setting. I also don’t use leeches.

  45. Love the site, Adshap. I just finished RTK1, and I’ve used a number of your articles to get started (and to get motivated) on the next steps. I’m having a bit of trouble getting started with sentences, however. This point has kind of been touched on in earlier comments, but the one thing I’m struggling with is the switch from the very systematic, mnemonic-based study of RTK to what seems like straight-up rote memorization of the pronunciation of the kanji. It’s nice to be able to recognize the kanji characters now, but I’ve usually forgotten the pronunciation by the next day, and when I see the new characters, I have no frame of reference for how to retrieve the pronunciation from memory. Can anyone offer any pointers…?

    • I know this was directed to Adshap, so sorry if I have cut in here…

      It just comes through repetition, I believe RTK just helps with making the kanji combinations less daunting. For example, lets just say you come across 大学生 (university student) in a sentence but you don’t understand this word.

      From your RTK studies you can determine that 大 is large. 学 is study, and 生 is life.
      So to me ‘large study life’ kinda makes sense to mean university student.

      Going back to your original question on how you remember the pronunciation of 大学生 (だいがくせい) you just have to remember it.

      Personally I don’t get right down to the nitty gritty of actively thinking what individual kanji’s pronunciation is, when my brain sees a combination of kanji with the appropriate context from the sentence, it just knows what to say.

      Eventually over time through repetition and the magic of your SRS it will eventually sink in. I have had cases where it would take me up to a week just for something to sink in, but eventually it always does.

      Hope this helps.

      • It was directed at anyone who had words of recommendation or encouragement, so thanks a lot for the reply. It’s a big help to know that it’ll sink in eventually — especially because right now some of them just don’t stick at all. As I said, it just seemed really jarring to go from the hyper-systematic approach of Heisig to a “just do it” style of rote learning, and since I haven’t seen anyone else mention this drastic shift, I wanted some confirmation that I was going about this the “right” way.

    • Nayr answered this question very well. Just to add to this, there are 2 reasons why this memorization will eventually stick, even though now it may seem like there is no order and it is hard to remember the pronunciation.

      1. You will start seeing the same words in multiple cards. While your new cards aren’t targeting the same words, they will be recycling the same language. This means that all the important to remember pronunciations will stick a lot quicker.

      2. You will continually see and hear these words in whatever native media you are using. While you may not remember pronunciation of a word just from seeing it in Anki, after seeing it in a manga, then again on a website, then again on a TV show, it is highly likely to have staying power.

      • I’ve since experienced both of the reasons you outline, Adshap, so thanks for the clarification and encouraging words.

  46. Hey, ive been studying japanese for about 3 weeks now. Id like to start learning the kanji as well as writing these sentences. I have 14hrs a day of time I could use for or all for studying. Is it okay to do the first 500 sentences in kana? Reason being is I want to do the sentences and RTK at the same time.

    • I wouldn’t put sentences in as only kana. You want to have sentences in natural written Japanese, and you need kanji for that. Also, you don’t want to waste your J-E English sentences without picking up the important kanji pronunciations.

      That being said, you can do sentences and RTK at the same time. I even recommend it in the walkthrough (see world 5) on this site, since most people don’t like to wait to get finished with RTK to get started.

      http://japaneselevelup.com/japanese-quest-walkthrough/

      Since you have an extraordinarily large amount of daily free time for Japanese, you might want to check out: http://japaneselevelup.com/power-leveling-1-speed-learning-japanese-in-record-time/

      • ty for fast reply although im still a tad confused.

        1. Learn Kanji through Anki and RTK
        2. Make 500-1000 J-E sentences using Genki 1&2

        For learning Kanji on anki. When you say add japanese keywords, does that mean the kana word of the meaning of the kanji symbol. Browsing through RTK vol 1, I notice there is no japanese translation of the actual symbols into the word. So the kanji (-)= one. Would the japanese keyword of this symbol be いち, is that what you mean by keywords?

        Also for kanji learning again. Can i not reverse it, so the Kanji symbol is in the question and the meaning is in the answer. I dont care to much to be able to write kanji or even japanese at all for that matter. My short-mid term goals are simply understanding and reading, followed by speaking and then writing I suppose.

        Now for the J-E sentences. I take sentences from genki. Put the Japanese sentence (which will be a mix of kana & kanji) into the question field. In the answer field, at first I can put the entire english translation. But once I get a better comprehension on grammar structure and remember the vocab and particles that keep appearing. I should then aim to have only the new vocab words in english translation?

        so example:

        Question1:
        おちゃをください

        Answer1:
        Id like a cup of tea

        Question2:
        あついおちゃをください

        Anser2:
        (hot)おちゃをください

        Is that the just of it? This already seems hard lol

        • The Japanese keyword is one possible reading of the kanji you are trying to learn. There are multiple possible keywords and pronunciations. I usually chose a common one.

          All studies and opinions of those using RTK show that keyword to kanji is the most efficient way to do them.

          With sentences, in the beginning full definitions of the sentence are acceptable. However, this is in addition to the meaning/use of each word in the sentence. In your example above, you should know what every word in the sentence means by answering the Anki card.

          おちゃ

          ください

          Also, I would just put in the answer field the unknown word(s) and its definition, rather than trying to mix an English word in a Japanese sentence.

          Also, on your example, you put

  47. Question: What if I want to build up my vocabulary but I already know the majority of the vocab in these books? How will I be able to build up my vocabulary if the only time I do that is through sentences, sentences which have no new vocabulary (since these are beginner books).

  48. I was also wondering…is there any value in either after reviewing you 20 new sentences a day or even at the end of all 500 J-E senteces. To flip the card order, and try to translate from the english meaning to Japanese. Similar to that full circle technique from polyglot luca?

    • I think it is better not to flip the cards. Eventually you want your reviews to be:

      You see and read out loud the Japanese sentence, you understand it, and you don’t even need to look at the answer field. You then move on to the next card. This means that the English will slowly stop getting in the way, but will be there just in case you forget a word.

      If you reverse it, you are constantly looking at English, and translating it in your head to Japanese. These are 2 unnatural things you don’t want to be doing.

  49. So I am going well with Genki 1 and with the Kanji. I have learned almost 200 Kanji or so. I am having problems with the sentences. I haven’t started it. I am halfway through Genki 1. I don’t know whether to add a whole sentence from Genki 1, or just the words, if so, how should a card look on Anki?

  50. Does it matter if the sentences I’m doing in Genki contain Kanji that I haven’t learnt yet through RTK? I really don’t understand how RTK affects my sentences other than being able to write them, and recognise them with an english keyword. For that reason, I have no idea if it matters if I haven’t learnt the Kanji (RTK) yet when learning a new Jap word, or does this not matter? I mean, I’m guessing it doesn’t matter since when you conjugate Kanjis they get a completely different meaning from the English Keyword assigned to them in RTK. I don’t know how RTK affects my reading ability, and I don’t know if it even matters if I know… I just know that people that are a lot better at Japanese than me recommend it, so I’m taking a blind leap of faith with it. What is important, I think, is that I know whether I need to do a kanji in RTK before using it in my J-E sentences.

    If anyone wants to enlighten me to how RTK affects sentence learning too, I’d be really appreciative. Thanks for anyone that takes the time to read this/reply.

    • Well, if you know RTK, you can understand the meanings of a lot of compounds without having to look them up.

      For Example
      凝視(ぎょうし)
      凝 = Freeze, Congeal
      視 = Inspection, stare, look hard

      What a coincidence. The definition is 目を凝らして見詰める事, which means the Stare at something with your eyes frozen.
      So basically an intense stare, or a cold stare. Great job, you used the RTK keywords to know the meaning of a word without looking anything up.

      Another Example
      最適(さいてき)
      最 = Most, utmost
      適 = Suitable, appropriate, qualified.
      That was a no brainer. Most + Suitable = Most suitable.

      And a last example
      利用規約(りようきやく)
      利 = Profit, Benefit
      用 = Use
      規 = Standard
      約 = Promise, Approximately
      Profit/Benefit + Use = Something along the lines of Using the product for your benefit
      Standard + Promise = A set of standards that you Promise to follow.

      What a coincidence, the meaning of 利用規約 is along the lines of “Terms of Service”
      Woohoo.

      ” I really don’t understand how RTK affects my sentences other than being able to write them…”
      You don’t want to be literate?

      Also, if you were to ask me, I would suggest you Finish RTK before you do any sentence so you will rarely have a moment where you find Kanji you haven’t learned.

    • I had the same mind set as you and this is what I did:

      I suggest taking your first 20 J-E sentences (or however many new cards you like to add per day), then, pick out all the kanji that appear in them, and move the corresponding kanji card from your RTK deck into another deck. Call it kanji focus deck or something like that.

      Study your new kanji focus deck first, then study your 20 J-E sentences. Rinse and repeat.

      After a couple of thousand cards your new kanji focus deck will be exactly the same as the RTK one anyhow. Yes, you will be learning kanji in a different order than what is in RTK. But surprisingly I found it didn’t make much of a difference, and using anki I still remember how to remember and draw them, even though I was learning primitives all over the place.

      I have picked 650ish kanji just from my first J-E 1000. It wont be long until I have 2000 isn kanji. In fact I have added a few kanji that didn’t appear in the RTK mod deck.

      Saves you lots of time. And you are only practising the kanji you are currently using in your sentences.

      I found it made the kanji seem more relevant. And I seemed to have an earlier time reading and understanding my sentences. Not to mention way way less reviews.

      There is more than one way to skin a cat.

      Remember to try new things and see what works for you.

      Hope it helps.

      • Hum…

        I’m actually very suspicious about this approach.
        More specifically, I’m sure this works great while you are still in the J-E phase, but I really expect that you doing this will make the transition into J-J even harder than it already is. Basically speaking, in the initial stages of J-J I didn’t find myself so much “reading definitions” as I did “making educated guesses about the meaning of the words I was trying to learn and seeing if there where enough Kanji I recognized in the definitions to validate said guesses”. And the key to making said guesses and recognizing said Kanji was having done the full RTK.
        Now, I’m not saying it is impossible for one to transition into J-J by looking up all the Kanji in the J-J definitions as you go along, but I’d say one is increasing the probability of being overwhelmed by what is already the hardest phase of the whole learning method.

        • Maybe, only time will tell I guess. I personally think I will be fine, but then everyone is diffrent.
          I must add, that I did finish RTK the traditional way first. I then changed to what I am doing now a month or so after I finished RTK, so maybe it is easier because I already have a mental connection with the kanji.

          I also added reverse cards for everything, so not only do I draw the kanji from the keyword I also look at the kanji and say the keyword. I found this to be useful as well.

          • Oh man now I’m left more confused than ever… I’m about 950 through the kanji and I only just started my J-E sentences 2 days ago. Although your idea sounds interesting Nayr I am very lazy (I’m actually using your J-E cards I found you uploaded, you’re amazing).

            So Alexandre are you saying I should finish RTK before I think about my J-E sentences… If that’s what’s necessary I will do it, and it does make more sense in my mind than starting Genki without recognising some of the kanji.

            I guess I see what you mean now about it helps me read them. So these kanji retain their english keyword (assigned by heisig) regardless of if they are used in conjuction with other kanji or kana to make a larger word. That’s interesting. Though I did notice some of the Kanji I have read have combinations of words that aren’t as straightforward as the examples you chose. But at least I know they approximately true for most Kanji and now it does make a little more sense in how it can help me. In terms of remembering the Japanese word/meaning I’ll just have to experience how that unfolds with time.

            Did you finish RTK first before doing your sentences? I’d love for Adshap to chime in here since he recommends doing both at the same time, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of doing RTK if you’re doing sentences and not recognising the kanji. It’ll probably equal out eventually once you learn themthrough RTK and review the Kanji you didn’t recognise, but you’d be giving yourself a lot of added frustration wouldn’t you??

            • Glad you are finding my J-E deck useful. I believe Adshap says to do it while your doing sentences, just so it isn’t so boring. But yeah I would also like to hear his views on this.

            • “So Alexandre are you saying I should finish RTK before I think about my J-E sentences…”
              No, I’m just saying I recommend finishing RTK before transitioning into J-J. My reasoning is that you shouldn’t make an easier phase even easier at the cost of making what is by far the hardest phase even harder.
              Starting J-E midway through RTK should be just fine, and indeed I did so (though at a very light rate: during that period I was doing 23-26 RTK cards a day but only 2-3 J-E cards). In fact, I’d even say I recommend this.

              As for Shirobon’s examples of extracting meanings of words by combining keywords, you’re right that it’s not always that straightforward. A few problems tend to pop up at the beginning:
              – The English keywords sometimes have multiple meanings, and you were focusing on the wrong one.
              – The English keywords have connotations that aren’t present in the actual meaning of the Kanji, making the keywords of each Kanji hard to link.
              – The keywords are just fine, but there are too many ways to combine them, and it’s not clear which one is right.
              When you put this all together (and a few more wrinkles I’ll skip over), what you get is that the percentage of words you can correctly figure out when fresh into J-J will be pretty low, but it just turns out to be enough to bootstrap yourself up, because every single word you do figure out makes you better at dealing with the problems above, and that in turn improves your ability at figuring out other words.

    • James Kyprianos/Nayr,

      As Nayr mentioned, the advice I give about doing both together is to prevent burnout. I’ve seen too many people try to knock out RTK before moving onto sentences, only to completely give up studying Japanese altogether.

      Technically, completing RTK first before you touch sentences may be more efficient. But it becomes a non-issue once you get through both.

      I like Alexandre’s suggestion on having a high RTK/low sentence ratio as you proceed.

      • Thanks so much everyone that has responded (shirobon, alexandre, nayr and adshap). Your input has been invaluable to me, and I appreciate it heaps. being at the 950/1901 for Kanji I will add 5 J-E sentences a day until I’m finished(RTK)… then ramp it up. Can’t wait to start my J-J phase, though with a bit of hesitation due to its infamous difficulty. I’ll be sure to pick up the branch annihilator and the one deck when that time comes.

        Seriously such a great user base on this site, so supportive and well informed. Not many other resources out there, for anything, with people as generous and patient to newbies. Thankyou!

  51. I’ve been using this format for my J-E cards, but now I want to start going J-J.

    So, for example, today I learned the word ぬるい, I then entered 1) 熱くない. (2) 厳しくない. into the definition part. But what happens if I forget the reading for one of the words in the definition.

    How did you and others set it up so that the J-J cards don’t get messy and confusing? Thanks

    • You’re doing sentences and not individual words for your cards, right?

      I personally don’t think it matters if you forget a reading for a word in the definition. If you know what ぬるい means it doesn’t really matter if you forgot how to read 熱い because that’s not what you are being tested on in the SRS.

      Though, if you don’t know a word in the definition, you should definitely learn it.

      I’ve used this format for my J-J cards which I currently have 7226 of.
      FRONT:
      この歪な家族の中でお前が何時も笑える様に、誰よりも優しく見守ってきた
      BACK:
      この歪「いびつ」な家族の中でお前が何時も笑える様に、誰よりも優しく見守ってきた
      歪(物事の状態が正常でないこと)

      For each word I don’t know, I will put the reading next to it in quote marks on the back of the card.
      I will put the word and then the definition next to it.

      Lets say I don’t know a word in the definition.
      慄然(恐れ戦くさま。恐ろしさにぞっとするさま)
      ↑↑ This is my original word, I don’t know what 恐れ戦く means in it, so I will go under a line, indent and put that definition there, and repeat if needed.

      Like This

      慄然(恐れ戦くさま。恐ろしさにぞっとするさま)
           恐れ戦く(恐ろしさのためにからだが震える。ひどく恐れる)

      They never were Messy or confusing for me

      • Yeah, that’s right, I’m using sentences instead of single words (but I’m using a J-J dictionary designed for children).

        Looks like It’s not much to worry about then!

        By the way, 7226 J-J sentences is impressive, how long did it take you to get there?

        • Yeah, and I’d say it shouldn’t take longer than a few months before you can start using adult dictionaries. I used to have trouble with Yahoo Dictionary a long time ago, so I used sanseido because it had concise definitions, but after a few months I switched to yahoo, because they might be harder at first, they give great definitions. I mean, try to understand what 態度 means using the Sanseido dictionary, the definitions are so vague :P

          At the current moment my deck has 7275 sentences and is 2.4 years old. I’ve been doing this is Spring 2011, so for a long time I guess :P

          I sort of highly regret it though, because up until now my average card adding per day is at 8.2 because there were times when I added very little for very long times, and I still regret it because I could’ve been so much better.

          However over my whole time I have added 8714 cards to my deck, but over these 2.4 years I’d deleted like 1500 cards. Funny part is I never even noticed I was deleting them.

      • Thats interesting, your layout sounds cool Shirobon. In the beginning though, did you end up having cases where a single card has 5-6 definitions on it?

        • Here was one of my first J-J cards, lol. So yeah. Though now I rarely not understand the first definition, so with time it gets a lot easier and a lot faster

          FRONT:
          それは私の襟巻きです
          BACK:
          襟巻き(防寒または装飾用に首に巻くもの)
               防寒(寒さを防ぐこと)
               装飾(飾ること)
               巻く(軸にそって丸める)
                    軸(回転するものの中心(-の棒)
                    丸める(丸くする)

            • Haha, yeah, but I didn’t know what that was either, and the definition is 防寒用の細長い襟巻き…so uh, yeah.

              And also, taking the easy way out isn’t going get you as far.

              And who cares? That was over 2 years ago just after I started doing sentences. I was just giving an example of a card that had a lot of recursive lookups.

              And if I hypothetically knew what a muffler was, and used that for the definition, I would have had to wait longer to come across the other words that I didn’t know. Where is the gain in that?

  52. Quick question, I recently started learning japanese. I’ve recently started running into sentences that have Kanji in them. Since I know no Kanji at all this makes it so even if I know the word I can’t read the kanji, so I won’t be able to tell what the word is until I click show answer. Should I be having it so it shows furigana on the front and not just on the back? It seems like I won’t ever be able to learn the word without having furigana since I can’t read the Kanji. But then again I’m new at this. So, What should I do? Keep it how it is and hope I remember the Kanji or put furigana on the front so I can read the kanji and learn words faster.

    • Don’t use furigana as that would defeat the whole purpose. You are testing whether you remember the reading of the kanji. If you forget it, you check the answer. And then next time or the time after that you don’t forget. That is the beauty of Anki.

  53. Just a somewhat quick question for you Adshap.

    I’ve been immersing for about two months now. I just started RTK with Anki. I got Genki I+II and An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese with all the audio files for all three books. While doing RTK should I be inputting those sentences from the books into Anki? Just to save time so I don’t have to do it after I finish RTK? What about Vocab decks? Should I also be learning vocal as well? Or will I learn the vocabulary from the sentences in Anki? That is probably the thing that confuses me the most. Please reply soon.

    • If you can finish RTK first, that is the best way to go. However, inserting sentences into Anki while doing RTK is nearly just as efficient and the route many people take.

      Learn vocabulary from sentences, not seperately.

      • I also forgot to ask about verb conjugations and such. I already know a lot of them but will that also come naturally with the sentences?

        • The Genki textbooks will create the verb conjugation foundations. A lot of your earlier cards should count a new word as a new conjugation of a verb you already know. This will even continue into J-J. Eventually as you continually see more patterns, they will begin to come naturally.

  54. I just finished doing RTK and started doing sentences with genki; the only thing I’m wondering is should I read what genki says about grammar, or really just take the sentences and move on?

    • First, congrats on finishing RTK!

      The sentences will contain the grammar that those explanations are written for. While you don’t have to read them immediately in one burst like they are set up, when the grammar is first added to a card in a sentence, you may want to include the explanation.

  55. I’m on chapter 4 in An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese and I really like the structure of the book, just like in Genki 1 and 2. Because of the intermediate nature of the book I often find it difficult to grasp the meaning of a sentence though.

    In some of the sample sentences in the grammar sections of each chapter, the specific grammatic rules they point out seem logical enough to follow, but sometimes they have grammatic segments in those sample sentences that aren’t covered elsewhere.

    One example, from chapter 2 covering the word つまり.
    “A: ここ二、三年は、ベビーブームで高校生の数が多いそうですよ。
    B: つまり大学に入るのが難しいということですね”

    In that example there’s “ということ”. I’ve seen っていうこと and just っていう and so on elsewhere, and I find the meaning of these expressions elusive to say the least. The only explanation I can remember is from Genki 2 I think when they said XというY means “Y is called X”, and って being the informal equivalent of と as a quotation particle.

    There are a couple of chapters in Kim Tae’s guide covering some varieties of those, but I still find it difficult.

    • Yeah, I would say the one issue of that book is it provides less of a guiding touch than Genki 1 and 2.

      っていうこと is a slightly more casual version of ということ.

      It doesn’t really have a smooth Englosh translation, but in your example it has a feel of “so what you are saying is…” or “… is what is being said.”

      It has a lot if variation though, which may be why it doesn’t explain it.

  56. hey again
    So while I do Kanji I also want to start the thing with the sentences, that in itself is not that hard, I did a few years of Japanese lessons I just totally neglected the Kanji because of my frustration… so I’m curious how it will go with the sentences since I take care to put as many kanji in them as possible but since I know like 100 by now… *gulp*
    since I do it at the same time as learning Kanji I will do German – Japanese sentences for the moment, would be too much to handle
    just one question: I know its great reading sentences for the grammar… but what if you don’t know the grammar? I mean how would I even tell present tense for some future or what ever? should I e.g. make “行きたい” a vocabulary for “I want to go” although I know the vocabulary for “to go”? Because since the sentences, for now, are out of any kind of context it might get hard to guess (for now I know lots of grammar but… you never know)

    • You don’t need to know the kanji from somewhere else to put it into a sentence in your J-E deck. Even if you finish RTK, you will still have hundreds if not thousands of sentences containing kanji not found in RTK.

      In the J-E phase, grammar should be in its specific use form for each card. So 行きたい would have a meaning of “want to go.”

  57. I had been getting frustrated doing sentences since I didn’t know any kanji so I decided to put adding sentences on hold until I learn some of the kanji. I asked a question on the WaniKani forums about what I should do in the meantime while I wait the pace to pick up. Everyone said I should focus on grammar. Someone also said since I don’t know the kanji I should just learn the words in hiragana instead. They all said I should go through the Genki book doing the lessons, and the exercises, but I don’t want to do that. I think your way of doing it is better, but I’ve been getting extremely trying to do sentence reviews. Since I don’t know most of the kanji I find it very difficult to remember anything, and though most of the time I’ll know the word in Japanese, which most it even more frustrating. Originally before I made the post on WaniKani my plan was to learn some of the kanji, then go back to adding sentences, but now I’m not sure. So, what should I do? Should I just hold off on adding sentences like I was going to? Or should I just change all the kanji to hiragana until I learn kanji?

    • If you are really having a problem remembering the kanji readings in the sentences without learning the kanji first through RTK, why not just do both at the same time, except giving a greater focus on kanji. So for every 4-5 kanji you do, add a sentence. That way you don’t burn out on either.

  58. Pingback: From 0 to 1000 sentences in Japanese | The Handsome Linguist

  59. I started studying japanese a year ago then stopped after about a month or so. I was learning the basics + learned about 200 kanji.

    A year later I remember about 60% of words/dialogue I learned, well probably more now after watching some anime and hearing it all again.

    Anyway I remember maybe a handful of the kanji.

    What I am wondering is — I really only want to understand it, then speak it, then maybe read and write it. Is it possible to do the 1000-10,000 sentences from the three genki books without learning any kanji?

    If I was to truly learn this like a baby in that country, I wouldn’t learn kanji well until I could understand and speak the language anyway. And I’d much prefer to not divert resources to memorizing pictures, as its not exactly productive for solely understanding the language.

    • It’s perfectly possible if that’s the route you want to take. And if you ever hit a wall or an intermediate slump, doing kanji will likely bring you out of it because you’ll be able to complete it quickly and with noticeable results. As Adshap has said before, it’s exactly what he did.

      • I may be misinterpreting his question (so I’m giving him both answers below), but I of course did learn kanji from the beginning. However, it was just the natural learn to read, understand, and write as you go way, instead of using some kind of system to categorize and master them (like RTK).

        Just adding this because there is a big difference between not using a system to learn kanji, and not ever learning any kanji at all.

    • To clarify, do you mean you want to learn kanji naturally as you go (as opposed to a specific method like RTK),or you don’t even want to learn any kanji at all?

      If you are talking about the former, check out this post: http://japaneselevelup.com/hate-remembering-kanji-rtk-now/

      If you are talking about the latter:

      While the Genki books (1 and 2) do use furigana, not learning the kanji would give you a major handicap. The access you have to most written material will disappear, stunting your growth ability. While it is true that babies do learn to speak without ever reading, adults don’t have the patience or support (Japanese mother) or time to learn like babies.

      That being said, I have met people that speak fairly good Japanese and yet have terrible or nonexistent reading. So it can be done. I just wouldn’t personally recommend it.

      I’m not really familiar with his methods, but I know that Benny from Fluent in 3 Months does exactly that (only focuses on speaking). So his website may be helpful for you.

      • To be honest I hadn’t thought of learning kanji naturally, though I am not opposed to it.

        My idea was that I simply felt it would be a whole lot easier tackling this language if I am only fighting one beast at a time. Where my mental resources can be more targeted.

        My main priority is understanding. Then speaking. Then I feel I will be in a much better position to learn Kanji/Read/Write. AKA it will snowball easier.

        Yea I thought of your baby analogy with the mother too. However, that’s what I’m hoping the sentences and audio immersion would help simulate.

        Basically what I was wondering, is if there are enough resources for me to create 1000 – 10,000 sentences from simply romaji or furigana sources? Im pretty set on not learning RTK until I can understand most Japanese I hear.

        • You may be thinking about it the wrong way. For me, time spent on Kanji doesn’t slow down vocab/grammar learning – it actually *speeds it up*. Each of those little characters is packed with meaning, and though I’m only ~500 in on RTK, it’s already paying off. While working through my sentence deck, I have a much easier time retaining words when they’re constructed from familiar Kanji. Having an “image” to tie the meaning to is very powerful. That connection then boosts not only writing, but listening and speaking as well.

          It will take ~80-120 hours of effort to get through RTK, ideally spread over a few months, but IMO it pays big dividends.

          Anyway, that’s my experience. If yours ends up being different and it works for you, then cool. Best of luck! :)

          • The only problem is RTK teaches english translations. Which seem to be essentially useless without the japanese keywords. And even then it is still confusing.

            An example of my confusion:

            水 = mizu
            水 = water (heisig)

            mizu = water

            水曜日 = suiyoubi = Wednesday

            水曜= suiyou

            水曜日 = water-weekday-day = english individual translation
            水曜日 = mizu-heijitsu-hi

            water-weekend-day = wednesday / mizu-heijitsu-hi = suiyoubi

            It seems like even if I knew every kanji’s english meaning as well as every kanji’s japanese keyword I still would not understand this for some time.

            There seems to be A LOT more than just RTK to get this down.

            • 水曜 (すいよう) are onyomi pronunciations, which you will find most often in kanji compound words (although there are exceptions even there, where onyomi and kunyomi are mixed together, etc), so if you learn kanji/RTK combined with the movie method or something similar, you’ll know the onyomi as well as the English keywords. If you come across a kanji word you don’t understand, you can most often guess the right pronunciation for it, and then the English RTK keyword will give you a general idea of its meaning (although not any exact meaning or nuance).

              For example, the first time I came across the word “原子力発電所” (nuclear power station) in NHK Easy News, I could both correctly pronounce it (knowing the onyomi) and guess its general meaning (due to knowing the keywords). At least for me that saves a lot of time, and makes things easier to remember.

            • RTK doesn’t help by teaching you Japanese. It helps by creating a sort of “mental address space” where the Kanji can live. You have a clear image of the character in your head, with meaning attached, which allows you to distinguish it from other, similar characters. That in turn makes it easier to assign additional meaning to it down the line as you learn more Japanese.

              Example: I haven’t done 友, 夜, or 彼 in RTK yet and they all look very similar to me. I had a very hard time telling them apart and remembering how to read them when I first started J-E. By contrast, Kanji that I’ve already “cleared” in RTK like 毎, 魚, and 母 are easy to tell apart and I was able to learn their associated words much more quickly.

              Termy’s point about being able to guess unfamiliar words is really good, and I’d add that because you have that imagery and meaning attached, it also becomes easier to recall those new words for use in conversation.

              Of course, the RTK method does require a significant short-term dedication of time and effort. If you don’t feel good about it while you’re doing it, then you shouldn’t force yourself to do it (see AdShap’s article on the matter). However, the biggest thing I wanted to share by way of my experiences is that you should find *some* Kanji method that works for you. If you skip it entirely, you risk missing out on opportunities to pick up new words in written context, which plays a big part in growing your other skills.

  60. Would it be a good idea to use Tae Kim’s Complete Guide to Japanese, instead of Genki I and II? Because in Tae Kim’s guide, kanji is used since the very beginning, unlike Genki, which uses a lot of Hiragana. Even though I try to include Kanji, I am always insecure about if I used them correctly.

    Thanks in advance!

  61. I just started doing J-E and Im having some trouble on how to push forward. I keep thinking in english and the problem is japanese is very different. The sentence structure is throwing me in for a loop. Any advice or suggestions? Does it start to make sense halfway through J-E?

  62. Thanks for the speedy reply. It really helped alot. I do have one more question regarding the sentence decks in this post. I just want to make sure I am doing the sentence reviews correctly. When you say hit 1 is it the “again” button, and 3 for easy? When the card first appears the options are again, good, and easy. Later on its again,hard,good, and easy. Would you be able to explain just a little bit on how to do it? Thanks for the feedback ^__^

    • This was originally written before Anki split the button options depending on whether it was a first review of it or not. But yes, for the first review, the equivalent would be “again” or “easy,” and then upon review number 2+, “again” or “good.”

  63. Hi,

    I’m in the process of entering sentences in my J-E deck, while learning RTK in parallel.
    Going through the Genki I book, there are vocabulary lists not always used in sentences in the book.
    What should I do? I don’t know if it’s a miss when you don’t learn some words because they are not used in sentences. For example, I think of the medical terms in the 12th chapter (dermatologist, surgeon…). If I put them in the deck, they are words only. If I don’t put them in the deck, I will miss some words.
    What is the best choice?

    Thanks again for your wonderful method, it motivates me one more time to continue! (RTK alone is so boring, I stopped a year ago…)

    • Simply ignore the vocabulary lists altogether.

      The whole point of using sentences is to get the double benefits of both learning the words and getting used to the grammar. This is crucial because when you are at a low level not understanding the grammar can easily be the main obstacle to understanding what you are reading (and while you may be worried about missing the words “dermatologist” and “surgeon”, if you actually found them in native material you were trying to read those would actually be easy words to look up, unlike most grammar).

      • Thanks for your advice, you’re so right, because to memorize something, it’s better when we think of something in context. For example, if I had to learn the word dermatologist alone, it would take me so much time compared to a sentence I’d pick up in a drama or anime, containing the word dermatologist…

        To summarize, just pick up sentences, ignore words in a list, because it’s better to memorize words in a context.

        • That’s essentially it, though I’d expand your summary as
          “To summarize, just pick up sentences, ignore words in a list, because it’s better to memorize words in a context AND because it allows you to practice grammar”.

          In my personal experience I really think that at the earlier stages the second benefit of practicing grammar actually outweighs that of context (particularly because textbook sentences are so simple that they actually provide very little context compared to real native material).

  64. I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m using japanesepod101.com for sample sentences. If you do Newbie s2 -> s3 then beginner s4 -> s5 -> s6, it’s written to introduce grammar and vocabulary in a similar way to a textbook. Then there’s plenty of sample sentences in the PDFs. Maybe not for everyone, but I’m an auditory learner so it’s really helpful to me to do things this way.

    I’m sure I’ll be able to get 1000 sentences (especially if you add newbie s5, which covers informal japanese more fully). It then moves on to lower intermediate, where the hosts start speaking in more japanese (though there’s a slow increase in japanese the whole time) which I think will be a good place to start J-J.

    This is an experiment so far, of course, but I’ll try to remember to report back when I’m done, to let you know if it worked out as well as it seems to be so far.

    • I think that will work well. I started with jpod101 and I realised that it is more like a textbook than listening practice, it’s just an audio textbook. Since I was putting most of my effort into Jalup I didn’t give it a fair chance, but I think it’s a good product.

  65. Hey Adshap!

    I found this website very beneficial!

    Just a quick Q.

    I really like the fact that you put together these decks you have up in the store. For whatever reason, lets just say my only goal for Japanese is reading comprehension. Thats it, thats all. Will going through your decks bring me to the level of reading and understanding anything I choose given the fact that I went all the way up to and completed your highest deck?

    • Obviously I can only answer for myself but, I think your question is extremely difficult to answer. (Forgive me if this is obvious but I really didn’t understand this, I’ve heard people say this, but never understood until I faced this problem). First of all I’m only at an intermediate level. Anyway, let’s say there are 2 people. One person has studied 10k sentences, and one person has studied 8k sentences. The one who studied 10k only studied in Anki, that is their only exposure to Japanese. The one who studied 8k spent massive amounts of time reading manga, books, websites, simple news articles, interviews with their favorite celebrities, texted on their phone, wrote in message boards etc. Obviously the person who studied the 8k (plus the above) will blow the 10k sentence person out of the water. So, it’s not just the number of sentences you have under your belt, but how much time outside of Anki you spend in Japanese. My first time reading Yotsubato was an eye opener, so many different fonts and ways of saying things I never saw in Anki, this type of reading is just as important as the number of sentences.

      Much more difficult to quantify is, how much effort was put into each sentence? How well do you know each sentence? Do you just know, or do you really know? Did you go through the pain of making the sentences yourself?

      One trap I fell into was “if I only get to this deck or know this number of sentences I will be fluent”. That led me to cut corners like not going JJ cold turkey, or marking sentences as knowing them when I really didn’t. It got so bad, that I just recently restarted the intermediate deck from scratch (I was about 100 away from finishing it). I just got to the point where I was having trouble understanding the sentences, I relied way to much on looking up the words in English instead of Japanese.

      Anyway, to answer your question, I don’t really know. But if you combine Adam’s decks with massive amounts of reading outside of Anki (by Japanese for Japanese) and really truly study all his decks, your level of reading should be pretty darn good.

    • Hello Jake.

      Welcome to the site.

      Kevin above gave some good insight on the subject. To add to what he said, completing up to the highest level will prepare you well for reading Japanese books. However by itself it won’t be enough. You need to actually read Japanese books along with the decks to actually get good at reading Japanese books.

      The decks will set you up with the core ability to read books, but the actual process of reading books is what will really develop your reading skills.

      To sum up: doing the decks alone even up to the final level will not make you a reading master. Combbining the decks + reading a lot of books will.

      • I’d add to the above that even if your only goal is to get good at reading, you are missing a lot of potential additional study time each day if you skip the headphone-style immersion advocated here and by AJATT. Listening to Japanese passively for hours and hours each day does so much to really cement the things you’re learning via SRS, especially if you find something that has narrative and you can repeat listen to many times such as audio dramas or audio rips from anime or drama.

  66. I HIGHLY recommend getting the companion kanji assist beginner deck. It’s making retention much easier/better/stickier/.

    Question: I’m using JALUP Beginner 1000. My Anki is adding about 20 sentences a day. Could that be too much? Also I’ve been listening to the audio in my car. I think it helps.

    • 20 a day is only too much if it starts to burn you out. Some people do more, some people do less, some people do 20 a day. Keep track of how much time you spend studying, if you see that number start to go down, something is wrong.

  67. Hey, thanks for good explanation :) I have a huge problem however. I can read the words in kanji on my cards but I absolutely can’t write them from my head. I write out the sentence but if I try to recall the word I can remember maybe the first kanji(I have done the RTK). Should I try the reverse cards? It would generate twice the work through so I really don’t want to do that. Could you give me some advice?

    • When you reviewed RTK, were you writing out the kanji? Assuming you are still doing reviews you can start now if you didn’t.

      The way to be able to write kanji that you already know from your head is to just increase your experience writing them. Try starting a Japanese diary every night (when you can’t think of the character use your phone to check it).

  68. Hi Adam, I have a question.

    I read this post multiple times and you mention that each card should have something new on it, vocab, verb conjugation, grammar point etc.

    I’m not learning Japanese but I am learning a language where it is encouraged in the textbooks and by teachers that when you learn a noun, you also learn it’s plural with it. And the plurals don’t follow one pattern like in English, ex. Book book(s), car car(s) etc. There is about 30 different types of plural patterns. And that noun can fall under one of those 30 and you can’t guess. What do I do? Should I just add the plural on the back of the card next to the definition of the unknown noun? Finding and making an example sentence is very hard for me.

    Also, with verbs it is encouraged to learn the past tense, future tense and it’s verbal noun all together for ease. But again finding example sentences for all those is difficult for me.

    What’s your advice? Do I just add these extra info to the back of the card where my definitions go? Or just stick to just one new noun, verb etc on each card and maybe see it all in the future through immersion, reading etc. and add them in anki then?

    Sorry for the long question.

    • Just to clarify, no matter how many nouns and their plurals you learn, there is absolutely no pattern you will notice for the plural over time?

      If that is the case, rather than put them on the same card, why not just make 2 cards for each noun (using a different sentence for each). A sentence with the noun in singular form. And a different sentence with that same noun in plural form. Otherwise you have to remember two different things per sentence.

      With verb tenses, I think it is better to separate cards by tenses, because the more you have to remember on one card, the harder it is to do that card, the less likely you will remember it, and the more you will hate using Anki. If there are patterns for verbs that you eventually start to notice, you don’t have to continually create multiple tenses for every single verb (like the noun problem above).

      And you are right, immersion will help a lot with this. Because while you may not be able to instantly learn a new noun merely from immersion, I’m assuming that you’ll be able to learn the plural of that noun just simply by listening.

    • Sometimes rules and patterns exist where conventionally educated people may not realize there is a pattern.

      Most native speakers of a language can’t explicitly express what the rules for their language are, but they know implicitly the rule because they can correctly use the language and tell you what sounds right. The rule exists. (probably)

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