I’ve been doing my best to make the Ultimate N5 deck the only deck you need for N5 vocabulary. I went over the definitions one by one and tried to boil them down to the essence of what you need to know. It also includes some enhancements to help you remember the words better and easier. Last month, I added N5 kanji, so that you can master these cards faster without having to master all the kanji.
This time around I added real audio, not computer generated. The audio has been collected and curated to provide the clearest examples I could find of each word. I also cleaned it up and compressed the audio so that it should all sound very crisp and clear. The volume should also all be balanced so you shouldn’t hear any surprises while you are drilling your N5 words.
I think having the audio along with the words and meanings is critical for internalizing the form of these words and being able to recognize them automatically. What is especially important to note is the long vowel sounds (like the difference between e and ee or mo and mou). Longer vowels don’t change the meaning of so many words in English, but it does in Japanese.
What is Anki?
In a world filled with online vocabulary training systems like Memrise, FluentU, jPod101, etc.., it is easy to forget that there are some great tried and true off line tools to help you lock in vocabulary as well. These are programs you can use without a mobile link, so no matter where you are or what your data plan is, you can still drill your vocab.
And Anki is the original spaced repetition system. It helped me master a huge chunk of vocabulary so that I could get my reading comprehension up to a healthy N2 level. It laid a good foundation for me that I reinforce now with a lot of supplemental reading. And it still has its uses in the real world.
Apps like Memrise or jPod101 have good systems that you help you to remember words. Memrise has done a lot of work creating a system where you can still practice Japanese or Chinese without having to actually install an IME. They also help you with multiple kinds of tests that you can use to lock in the words beyond the standard flashcard setup.
But, Anki can be pretty useful as well because you are able to fine tune when you see a card again. The Memrise spaced repetition system is a bit of a mystery, you could get swamped with a 100 words to review in one day, and then suffer a drought for a few days. But, with Anki you can actually take a look at when you will get new cards, and you can also decide as you practice a card when the next you want to see it.
So, if you had a lot of trouble recalling it, you can elect to see the card the very next day. On the other hand, if you have no issues with it, you can elect to see it in 10 days or so. This can make it a more customized experience.
There are also a variety of plugins to help you import words and phrases for you to use. Also, you can change how cards are displayed very easily as well as change font types and sizes. Once you dive into all the options, you quickly realize that you can learn the exact way you want to. For those who like to tinker and find a good balance with their studying. It is still the best option.
The audio for this deck was provided by a website called Forvo.com, which is a huge online dictionary of words and phrases pronounced. They have several different language and typically have a few samples to choose from for each word in their dictionary. They are invaluable for finding audio clips of single words and even short phrases. They limit the recordings to just 2.5 seconds, but you can squeeze a lot in there.
They have a pretty liberal use policy. If you are looking to use their audio in your own deck, you can easily download any of their samples. If you are looking to distribute the deck, you just need to cite them as the source. They are truly an invaluable source of the snippets of audio you need in order to master the language.
In order to download any of the clips, you will need to create an account, but it is totally free and pretty quick and easy. After that, you just need to click the down arrow below any of the words and you can get a clip of the audio in mp3 form. Then you can use it in your Anki deck or your course on Memrise.
Don’t just Listen
Listening to the word will help with your ability to recognize it later. There has been some pretty solid research that points to people being able to recognize words pretty easily after listening to it a few times. Of course, you will still need to practice using it and hear it in real situations before you can really master the word.
Listening to the word is all good and all, but don’t waste the opportunity to say the word as well. Every time you say something you are reinforcing your muscle memory. After awhile, you will stop thinking about who to sound the word out or the individual sounds, you’ll just say the word automatically.
This is something that I preach a lot in my JLPT guide, you need something to be automatic for you before you can say that you actually know the word or grammar point. And that involves over-practicing that particular point.
Check Out the Update
You can pick up the new deck on AnkiWeb. If you are currently studying the deck, you might have to re-sync the deck in order to get the audio. If you do download the deck be sure to give me a rating. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.