The Best Way to Learn Japanese Vocabulary

By OptiLingo

If you want to answer the question of “How to learn Japanese vocabulary?” You might find yourself with an unclear answer as Japanese itself is an incredibly unique language that doesn’t bear similarities to others; This is especially true if you only speak English or other languages that only use a traditional A-Z alphabet. However, there is a best way to learn Japanese vocabulary that we’ll be focusing on explaining to anyone who may be interested in learning Japanese. It may be difficult learning the Kanji, the definitions of it and the reading of it in general, add the fact that the language has thousands of words in Kanji and you’ll realize that you have a daunting task to complete. Don’t worry though, once you finish learning Japanese vocabulary, you’ll only have to memorize words and most people who have learned the language feel that its vocabulary is the hardest and longest part in the learning process and that the rest of it came naturally; We’ll also focus on providing you with the fastest way to learn Japanese vocabulary.


You Shouldn’t Focus on Learning Japanese Vocabulary Just for a Class or Test

Simply memorizing vocabulary isn’t the best way to learn Japanese vocabulary. You may be thinking this way because you learned the majority of your English vocabulary from grammar tests or otherwise in school, but it really isn’t a method focused on how to learn Japanese vocabulary quickly or in the best way possible. Tests and schoolwork related to vocabulary may be an excellent way for teachers and professors to get a value on someone’s mastery of a language, but it isn’t an effective way to learn the vocabulary for a student.

Of course, memorizing vocabulary, whether it’s Japanese or for any other language, for schoolwork and tests is the most common method that people utilize to learn vocabulary. The method primarily focuses on using index cards with preselected words to memorize them. This may be a great way to prepare for an upcoming test, but it really isn’t the fastest way to learn Japanese vocabulary, nor is it the best. This is because it limits you to learning certain words and it convinces you that you’re “only” learning these for a test; This means it is far from a good answer to the question of “How to learn Japanese vocabulary?” Learning Japanese vocabulary with a common memorizing method may also leave you in a state where you never commit to fully learning the language. Now then, we’ve discussed what makes learning vocabulary in this fashion bad, but what do we recommend for learning Japanese vocabulary?


How to Learn Japanese Vocabulary Quickly and in the Best Way Possible

The first thing you need to recognize with learning any language, not just Japanese, is that it isn’t a reasonable process that can simply be memorized and done with. Instead, you need to focus on the fact that mastering any language requires training; You may remember learning how to ride a bike and originally thinking it was impossible to do so and learning a language is exactly like that. For proof of this, think about how you write and speak the words of your own language, as you’ll probably recognize that words just come to you like its an “instinct” when reading, writing, listening or speaking. This is the goal you want to aim for with learning any language or its vocabulary, but it’s especially true for Japanese.

To learn Japanese, you’ll want to train yourself to read, write and speak in Japanese. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you need to think of it in this way. To do this, you should start with getting and using a Japanese dictionary, which you’ll be using a ton to find words you don’t know; Don’t worry about what dictionary you choose though, it doesn’t matter if its an actual hard copy or an online resource, although it is much quicker to use an online or digital dictionary. Once you have your dictionary, find a Japanese article or any other piece of literature to start reading. This will be daunting at first, but you should just focus on looking up each word you don’t know, even if you don’t recognize a single one; You should focus on starting small though and perhaps selectively choose a short piece of work or just small sentences to learn a few basic words. Keep doing this until you recognize the full sentence’s meaning. Lastly, you’ll want to read the sentence one final time so you can retain each word in your memory and reinforce the learning process. What this is doing is simulating your mind actually reading this with a full knowledge of Japanese.

An example of this method in action is reading the sentence 「今は忙しいから・・・」 and not recognizing 「忙しい」. You should immediately look the word up in your trusty dictionary and then proceed with reading the sentence. Focus on continuing this process again and again until you fully understand the sentence’s meaning. After that, just repeat this to work on learning the words and their specific usage.


Focus on Reading Material That’s Interesting to You

Learning a language might seem like a boring or dull thing that just eats up time, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You wouldn’t read a book or article you find boring or uninteresting in English, so why do this in Japanese? Focus on picking up materials that are inherently interesting or fun to read and you’ll find yourself gaining gratification from learning both a story and a language at the same time. One example of something you could choose to read is a manga, or Japanese comic book, that provides an exciting story with interesting characters; Another thing you could do is choose one of your favorite books that have been translated to Japanese. This, ultimately, makes the learning process fun, while also tricking your mind as you read it like a favorite book or interesting newsarticle that you’d read like you would in your own, native language.



This method is one of the best ways to learn Japanese as it is focused on being engaging and exciting over dull and repetitive. Index cards might be a good way to memorize vocabulary for a test, but it simply isn’t a quality or quick way to learn a language. So, what are you waiting for? Find an accessible dictionary you can use and a Japanese work you’d like to read and get started with learning Japanese and its vocabulary immediately!