Using Anki To Master Japanese – The J-E-J Bridge

Japanese-Japanese (going monolingual). One of the major cornerstones of the Jalup method, and something that has been featured on this site since its inception on this defining 4-part “Intro to Anki.” These are the 4 most viewed posts on the site, and it’s time for the long awaited part 5, which is a major addition to the core method.

I’ve given you more techniques and strategies than you know what to do with on the subject, but there is one unchanging issue:

The J-E-J Bridge 1

You want to be there. But you don’t feel ready. You fear leaving the comfort of what has worked well for you up till this date. You will get there. But the time is not right. Not now. Not yet.

You push off J-J by 500 cards. 1000 cards. 2000 cards. A year. 2 years. And by that point you decide you don’t need it anymore. Your Japanese is “pretty good” and you never needed J-J. Why start now?

Can you see the problem? You need to reach J-J, but the way things are now, many people never make it.

The 4 components of the Jalup method have been up to now:

(Note: the first 3 are all done together)

1. Remembering The Kanji
2.1000 J-E sentences
3. Immersion
4. J-J Sentences

There needs to be something that connects the massive gap that exists between J-E and J-J.

And now there is.

The J-E-J Bridge

This method, which some people have come across upon themselves, and have sometimes asked me about, was one of the “last resort” methods found in the Branch Annihilator.

But through my experience in creating the new Anki textbook on this site, The Jalup Beginner 1000, I now firmly believe the J-E-J bridge is exactly what many learners need, and it may finally solve the age old J-J problem.

What is the J-E-J Bridge?

500 new cards added to your deck after you finish the J-E, but before you start J-J.

And it’s simple.

For 500 cards, you are allowed to look up the definitions of the unknown words on your cards in English.


1. You must enter only the Japanese definition on the card. Not the English one.

2. When you review your J-E-J cards, you first try to rely only on your memory of looking up that card in English and the Japanese definition on the card. If you still can’t understand it, then you are allowed to look up the word in English again (until you are finished with these 500 cards).

This strategy has the following benefits:

1. You can still rely on English like you’ve done before, but only to a smaller extent.

2. You get used to working with Japanese definitions (adding and reading them), building habit and confidence.

3. While you can look up definitions you forgot while reviewing, it is a bit of an annoyance (it’s supposed to be), since they aren’t readily available, and require an extra step.

4. You can further cement any remaining foundations of your Japanese that still need work.

5. You get a chance to see that J-J isn’t really so bad, as you’ll have one foot in, one foot out.

6. You are more likely to try J-J after using this method, than if you just went straight from J-E.

Who is this method for?

Anyone who has finished at least 1000 J-E sentences, but hasn’t started J-J. This goes out to all of the J-E holdouts who keep thinking they’ll just wait a little longer.

The J-E-J bridge and the Jalup Beginner 1000

This new phase, inspired by the Jalup Beginner 1000, is also meant to be a perfect complement to it.

The Jalup Beginner 1000 focuses on giving you all the essentials that would be a pain to deal with without English guidance. It tries to set up the most efficient framework for your Japanese, so you can be independent when trying to fill in all the super easy gaps it leaves.

For this reason, it leaves out many common vocabulary (nouns, adjectives, verbs, numbers, people, etc.) because you can simply do this by yourself in J-J. You don’t need English to be able to know what the number 2 means, or to know what a cat is, or the 7 days of the week, or what hot is. Google images, common sense, and pattern recognition will go along way for you.

But these gaps that are created are the perfect opportunity to go back to for the J-E-J bridge .

This gives you a chance to hit on all those easy words, see their J-J definitions, and realize you don’t need to rely on English.

Confidence builder and maximum efficiency of your J-E remains in place.

(Note: of course you don’t need to use the Jalup textbook for this to work. The J-E-J bridge will work well with any beginner foundation in place)

Time to cross the bridge

You have a firm, solid bridge to cross with now. No more trying to swim through violent waters to get to the other side. Cross over without worry. And welcome in a new era of unstoppable Japanese progress.

Part 12345

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese. On a quest to become 日本語王 (king of the Japanese language).


Using Anki To Master Japanese – The J-E-J Bridge — 33 Comments

  1. I think I might try this out. I have been at this stage for too long. One more thing what about the branching would we keep that up as well?

    • For this J-E-J, you don’t really need branching, as branching is what allows you to navigate when you don’t have English help.

      But it may be helpful to get used to doing a little branching as well, so maybe on the last 250 it might be good to try some.

  2. I am just wondering do you think the j-e-j 500 sentences should be taken from an intermediate level textbook, or is it better to use natural media like manga for this transition?

    • I say a mix can be good with a much stronger focus on real native materials.

      Native materials are what you will be using once you are in J-J so it is important to get used to them. And you want to start having some fun already, right?

      However you definitely don’t need to use an intermediate level textbook for this phase. It’s more of a self preference call.

  3. Excellent timing. I am just finishing up “Japanese With Ease” today and planned to start J-J this weekend. I have about 2000 J-E flashcards. This has taken me about two years in my spare time (+1 for kanji). I’m a bit concerned with my lack of ability to have basic conversations at this point, which is probably keeping me below level 20, but I’m hoping J-J plus a bit more putting myself out there will improve this quickly. Anyway I’ll give this a go. :-)

    • This phase sounds like it will be perfect for you, as it will finally push you out of your lengthy J-E phase.

      And don’t worry about conversations. They will come later.

  4. I found that it makes an easier time if you create sentence cards that include the Japanese definitions of words you are unfamiliar with, with a translation of words you don’t know from the definition below this, you can then get used to Japanese definitions and not run to the English dictionary every card.
    an example being:
    明日からの夏休み 皆さん 有意義に過ごしてくださいね
    有意義=意義のあること。意味・価値があると考えられること。また、そのさま (意義=いぎ、 価値=かち)
    意義=meaning, significance
    価値=value, worth, merit

    I’d like to know what you think of this?

    • That’s actually an alternative that a few people I know have been trying.

      I think it focuses on the same goal of this method (using only a little English to ween yourself off of it), so I think it can work as well.

      The only concern that I have is the tendency for the eyes to shoot to the English first. Especially when it comes to doing Anki reviews quickly. When you answer a card, you may end up just skipping to the English part without even looking at the Japanese definition to see if you can understand it.

      In your example, the 意義 part is actually in the original sentence, which means seeing the English “meaning, significance” pretty much allows you to understand it without anything else.

      The goal is not to run to the English dictionary for every card. It’s forcing you to avoid that. Sometimes it’s just a reassurance that you can do that if you need to.

      And remember, originally you already looked up the English definition once. When you review it, there is a good chance that you will still remember it. That is the point of Anki after all (to put the right interval to keep something in your memory).

      But I would definitely be interested in hearing at a later date how well this “Japanese definition words with English” works for you.

  5. I am currently using cloze sentences for learning which i find is a pretty usefull for quicker learning. I was wondering if each cloze would count as one sentence (because i can have up to 5-6 cloze per sentences sometimes) or 1 sentence for 1 sentence even with many cloze.

    Ex: {{c1::論}}{{c2::文}}を書く{{c3::のは}}とても{{c4::大}}{{c5::変}}です。

    I also separate the kanji compounds of a word, this method was based on the AJATT cloze delete method.

    Now i am nearly at 1000 sentences but they all have some sort of cloze delete so i was wondering if i should continue my sentence mining of switch to J-J soon.

    What’s your opinion on this? Thanks!

    • Hmm, I would count it as one sentence. Because the cloze parts are only vocabulary.

      For your example, how do you know what the right answers are? Since there are so many words that can fit in there.

      I’m not really familiar with the type of progress one makes with cloze, but I would assume that 1000 cloze would make you just as ready as 1000 regular.

      If anyone here has experience with cloze sentences, it would be great if you could chime in here!

      • His example is confusing because it’s in raw form, but here are the five cards that it generates:


        It takes practice to get fast but after a while these kinds of cards on average rep much faster than a full sentence card. I have tons of similar sentences in my deck and even the ones at 2-3 year intervals don’t cause me an context issues.

        At the very beginner stages you can put English on the front to give you the missing context. For example:

        This is a pen.

        This can be very effective for early grammar points because a sibling card will be:

        This is a pen.

        and …

        This is a pen.

        Which absolutely forces you to focus on the copula and the particles associated with it. Basically it prevents you from just focusing on the katakana, flipping it and seeing the word pen in English, and then you assume that you are completely familiar with XはYです。While this might not sound that interesting with such a trivial example it gets very powerful as you get to grammar concepts that are less easy to pick up. (My personal eureka moment was when I used it to learn transitive and intransitive pairs and their correct particles without having to spend several seconds thinking about which was which.)

        • Ahh interesting. So each of those notes introduces one new item.

          Thanks for adding your explanation on how cloze works!

          • Yeah, sorry i forgot to give you a full exemple, but it is as tokyostyle showed you. You pick any sentences and hide the parts that are difficult for you like a particle, verb tense, compound, etc…

            Front Card Ex:
            Many people smoke in Japan.

            Back Card Ex:
            Many people smoke in Japan.
            煙草 – tobacco (por: tabaco); cigarettes
            吸う – to smoke; to breathe in; to inhale;
            煙 = smoke 草 = grass

            So with this sentence i have 4 cloze:


            The advantages of this is that for the same sentence you review it more and each time you see it it’s kind of different because you have to search for a specific item. It also makes your learning more active than just reading a sentences and hit a button, you actually have to work for your answer. At first i was doing normal sentences review and i had so much difficulty to remember compounds, sometimes i had to review a sentence more that 10 times to remember it, now it usually takes me between 1-3 times to remember all the parts. I took the same approach at nearly half of my RTK deck, if you want i could show you an exemple too! Thank you all for your replies!

    • Did someone say clozes?! :D

      Assuming you are using Anki I personally count it by notes as opposed to cards. The main reason is because of notes exactly like your example. It’s one sentence so in a sentence method like JALUP it would only count as one card, but when you make clozes out of it you get five cards. Thus if you want to get exposure to 1,000 sentences then you need to make sure you have 1,000 notes and not just 1,000 cloze cards.

      I do believe clozes give you a deeper understanding of any individual sentence because you have to focus more on the vocabulary and the particles, but that does not equal 3-5 times the amount of exposure.

  6. Hi everyone!

    I’m currently trying to pick back up a language that I took in college, but never became great in: Urdu (slash Hindi to some extent). I’ve been immersing and using Anki for sentences, albeit not systematically, but I feel like I have made some progress. I really like what I’ve been reading here at JALUP, and would like to try your system of 1000 J-E then 1000 J-J (in my case U-E and U-U).

    I have a problem though.

    Urdu-Urdu dictionaries suck. Very very badly- specifically in that they are not dictionaries, rather they (at least the two major ones easily available) are actually highly flawed thesauruses(?). The header word is followed not by a definition, but by a string of somewhat similar words. For example, the word for “hat” would be “defined” by “cap” “cowboy hat” and “crown”. And, rarely are there example sentences. There were some sentences in an online U-U dictionary, but I believe they are all very obtuse, poetic Urdu, and not too helpful for a learner. :-(

    I do have an English – Urdu dictionary meant for Urdu speakers (didn’t realize when I bought it) that has few usable sentences, and a regular two-way dictionary, also with few sentences. There is also a basic English – Urdu meant for Urdu learners of English that has many example sentences.

    Do you have any advice?

    • If your problem is finding good sentences, you’ll just have to find them from natural sources like books, websites, and TV shows. If you want a sentence for a specific word, the best I can recommend is to Google it.

      If your problem is getting good definitions, I recommend that you make your own U-U definitions. For example, let’s say you see an unknown Urdu word: تاج. First, look it up in the U-E dictionary. Then, imagine how you would define the word crown in very simple English, “The metal hat a king or queen wears.” Translate that simple definition into Urdu, and you’re done.

      • Thanks for responding, Wataru!

        I don’t have a problem with sentences, I have a couple textbooks for that, then later I can use any number of sources (in U-U phase).

        I had thought of your suggestion, but wouldn’t that introduce a lot of errors in my SRS-ing? I would hate to implant incorrect Urdu as a result of my translating my own definitions. I suppose I could just stick to simple sentences I’m completely sure of, but it still feels a bit dangerous.

    • Have you also tried googling in Urdu “what does [insert word] mean”, like an Urdu speaker would if googling the definition of a word in their own language?

      I do this often in Japanese, such as [insert word]とは or [word A]と[word B]の違いは? the second one comparing two words.

      If you can find this, you can find definitions more natural than the one’s you make on your own, since you aren’t a native speaker.

  7. I think I might use this phase for a lot of the basic words found in this article:

    Do you think this would be a good idea? I’ve seen a lot of talk (well, okay, Khatzumoto and a couple of AJATT commenters don’t constitute “a lot”, but still) about how important and overlooked things like basic action words are, because they end up constituting a major portion of your vocabulary in any language. This phase seems perfect for learning them while setting up the transition to J-J.

    • Looks good to me. As long as you put the words in sentences, sounds like it’ll be fine for the transition phase.

  8. I want to start J-J but I have an J-E sentence with nearly 4000 cards, so should I stop reviewing that deck when I start J-J, cos thats kind of a waste of all those sentences??

    • Have you already gone through the J-E deck and have most of the cards in your memory? If you have done this, it should be a low time commitment to keep reviewing. You usually keep reviewing your J-E deck far into J-J learning.

      However, if this is just a pre-made deck that you have only touched on a little, you might want to cut it down to what you need and move to J-J.

  9. I wouldn’t say I’m doing the J-E bridge exactly. I’ve completed 1500 J-J cards from Adshaps intermediate and advanced pre-made decks. I also own the one deck and have introduced roughly 500 cards from that.
    I would’ve liked to rely solely on the correct branches that Adshap has made for himself on his journey. It becomes quite time-consuming to branch yourself, and takes up a lot of time i could be using immersing myself in media. Not to mention the possibility for mistakes, with 5+ definitions and conjugations to deal with.

    In order to combat the necessity of card creation, I have taken the knowledge gaps between myself and the One deck and created an assistant deck. In this deck I take unknown words that have not been branched by Adshap (because he already knew them, at the time) and create new J-J cards off them. Some of the time, I’ll understand the sentence and definition. However, there’ll be many instances where these words have 4-5 definitions, 4-5 unknowns in the J-J definition, and a couple of unknowns in the J-J example sentence. Instead of creating 10 cards branching off all of these unknowns I’ll google image search the word. If that fails, I’ll then resort to English. I’ll never branch off words in my assistant deck, if I don’t understand the J-J definition straight up, it’s defined with pictures or English (I only leave the J-J definition on the card).

    Eventually, I hope to get to the point where these gaps have been reduced to nothing.At that point I’ll no longer need English and will be completely reliant on the one deck. I don’t really know how big the word gap is between Adshap and I at this point. With the last 500 of the advanced deck to come,that’ll be even further reduced. Luckily, I’m only resorting to J-E if J-J and Google Images fails me, so whatever that number is, they won’t all be J-E cards anyway.

    The end goal is to fill in these gaps and have complete reliance on the one deck, and as a result, pure J-J. Of course I’d like to be pure J-J from here on out. But I’m lazy and I don’t enjoy branching, I’ll be honest. Plus the high chance of picking the wrong definition and other potential mistakes only further validates my laziness.

    • I should also add that I by no means think this is the best way to use the One deck following the premade decks from JALUP. However, if you loathe the process of branching and fear the mistakes that come with it, it’s better than nothing. At the very least, it has the goal of pure J-J in mind.

  10. Can the J-E-J method be used with the first few hundred cards of JAL intermediate or should I make a separate deck just for the J-E-J method? Just started first few cards of the intermediate deck, seems extremely difficult so wanted to know if this was an acceptable time to use it as not clearly addressed in the above article. Thanks.

    • The first few hundred cards of the Intermediate is the perfect time for it. It really helps when you’re still getting used to the transition.

    • 3 Months ago, I, too, was struggling with J-J transition. Now I am fairly comfortable with it. Here are some tips (i think they might be useful):

      1. First ~100 cards will feel like hell.Fortunately the difficulty (and time to understand the cards) lowers gradually. 
      2. Have a great grammar foundation (~N4). Do you know である is neutral form of です?
      If you can understand everything here: , you are good to go.

      3. These two are absolute must read :

      4. Use RTK keywords as flexibly as possible.

      5. A tip for using J-E-J in the best way possible: Come up with a substitute English word yourself based on your initial understanding. THEN check for English word. If you are correct, move on. If not, stop. Analyze the definition once again. Do this for first 60 or so words.

      The primary goal for first few cards should not be understanding the “meaning” or even the “definition” of the cards. It should be understanding “how to understand the definitions”. English just aids this process. That’s why its called J-E-J method.

  11. こんにちは、みなさん!

    Where do there 500 J-E-J Cards exist? I did not see them in the store. I apologize if it’s something obvious. I’m guessing it’s a method and not an actual deck?

    • Since J-E-J is just using J-J cards, and temporarily looking at the English definition, this is meant to be done with Jalup Intermediate. The first 100 cards already have it set up for easy look ups and include a separate PDF file for doing J-E-J.

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