Interesting fact about the Jalup deck series here on this site: you learn more about pens, Suzuki-san, and apples than any other Japanese learner course in existence. Why? Because Jalup Beginner doesn’t focus on vocabulary. It works with the bare minimum, carefully building your grammar. But who needs grammar? You want vocabulary, right? You may start thinking that you’ll need to add in a little supplementary magic.
First, remember that the lack of vocabulary is intentional. You learn the numbers 1 and 3. You learn 1 day of the week. You learn 1 month. You learn 1 food. The reasoning is simple. Vocabulary is easy to learn in a Japanese-only environment, but early grammar absolutely requires English. So I shifted out the vocabulary to focus on creating 1,000 cards that are going to allow you to go Japanese-only upon their completion. 1,000 cards goes by quicker than you think, and early vocabulary expansion was a necessary sacrifice.
Without vocabulary, how are you going to talk? How are you going to thrive?
Jalup Beginner is all about grammar. But every deck after that moves increasingly towards growing your vocabulary, until you reach Expert, where it becomes the major focus. You will eventually get the vocabulary you crave, but need to give it a little more time than a typical textbook.
But do you need to?
If you feel you need to use that vocabulary immediately, then yes.
The thing to remember is that the Jalup decks were never intended to teach you basic conversational Japanese or to improve your trip to Japan. They were created to make you fluent. They are long term, and for serious learners who truly desire fluency in a reasonable amount of time. But “reasonable” is not today, or tomorrow, next week, or even next month.
Problems and solutions to supplements
Quick vocabulary lists can sometimes interfere with the process I’ve laid out. If you are trying to rapidly expand your vocabulary early on, you must likely will be doing so using English. When you get to Jalup Intermediate and later, you are going to miss out on a lot of the Japanese dictionary training (and internalizing your Japanese world) with new vocabulary, as you’ll already know them in English.
The best way to build your vocabulary in addition to the Jalup decks is through immersion (TV, movies, anime, etc.) and native reading (books, manga, websites, magazines, etc.) Regardless of what path you take, you will end up at immersion. It is and will always be the most natural and powerful supplement to your Japanese studying that you will ever encounter.
Let’s sum up:
1. Do you need to learn separate vocabulary while studying the Jalup Decks?
No. The focus changes to vocabulary, and your immersion experience will have you covered.
2. Can you learn vocabulary in addition to the Jalup Decks?
Of course. You can do whatever you want. It’s your game.
3. Should you learn vocabulary in addition to the Jalup Decks?
That depends on your goals and what/when/how you want to create your Japanese ability.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.