When I started learning French, I simply exposed myself to the language and after a few hundred hours of listening and reading I reached an "okay-ish" level in French. 6-9 months ago I started learning Japanese with the same approach but it seems like "just expose yourself to the language" is much less effective.
That´s why I´m experimenting with some "techniques" that are supposed to help with vocabulary learning. --- 1. Linking words to gestures and actions
After opening a door in my apartment, I sometimes say "Boku wa doa wo aketa" (I opened the door). When I take out the trash, I sometimes say/think "Kusai!" (that stinks!). I learned "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" in Japanese and did the "dance" a few times...you get the idea.
Whenever it´s possible, I associate homophones with different senses/actions. "Hana" either means "nose" or "flower". I associate "hana" with the action of touching my nose and I imagine a girl with a flower in her hair to get the other meaning. When I read "Ame ga futteimasu" I don´t only think "That translates to 'the rain is falling'" I visualize that it´s raining outside.
3. Describing what happens around you
When I go to the supermarket, I try to name everything I see around me (cars, grass, street, street light etc.) and try to come up with sentences ("Those people are in love", "The car is turning right", "The baby is crying...etc.)
Making up stories to learn the Kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese) http://kanjidamage.com --- What are your experiences with "techniques" like that? Are there any good techniques that I haven´t listed?