I’ve written before about how I memorize vocabulary such as here and here. To start with the usual disclaimer, everybody has different learning styles so what works for me may not work for you and vice-versa.
To summarize, the way I learn vocab is by sheer volume and in context. Reading, in particular, is how I learned most of the vocabulary I know. And boy is there a lot of vocabulary to learn. I know enough Kanji at this point that I can pretty much guess the reading of words most of the time. So I look up a lot of words and very quickly. Now, can I say that I’ve completely memorized all those words? Not by any means, but they’re definitely in my brain somewhere, one step closer to memorization until the next time they come up.
Here’s what my recent dictionary history looks like. Yes, after 10 years since I started my website for learning Japanese, I’m still learning all these words. Now, should you memorize my words? Absolutely not, you should encounter your own words in context of whatever you’re reading or hearing.
Boy, learning a language is a lot of work. Share some of your dictionary history in the comments!