I have finally decided to learn Japanese, again. My first attempt was a few years ago and had been going quite well. I failed when I stopped keeping a consistent schedule and began to forget words and structures. I had been working out of a Genki workbook and making flash cards to learn.
This summer I intend to restart my learning process. I have spent the last week or so researching, looking for resources, reviewing the basics, and seeing what I remember.
Here are the resources I have settled on (and some I haven’t but will share in the event they work for you):
- Tofugu: This website is a treasure trove of tips and learning tools! (Check out this particular link: https://www.tofugu.com/series/japanese-learning-resources/) I am not a big fan of the podcast. It’s quite long and a bit rambly, chatty for my taste. The lessons are important though so if you can get a feel for the skip ratio and cut through to just the bits that matter maybe then. I have simply settled on a different podcast for my lessons.
- Manga Sensei: This podcast is amazing! It’s very short, clear, to the point. I love the examples and the clarity. It’s very easy to learn in chunks. I also appreciate that if I am a little confused it’s short enough to just listen to again. The only downside is that the website is janky. The links don’t always work (I may just be using very old portions as I am starting for the very first podcast post). This is where going to Tofugu’s website for support content is useful.
- Look for the podcast in the Apple Podcast app or any other podcast app. The podcast is much, much better than the website.
- News in Slow Japanese: This is another podcast that is excellent for listening. The podcast is released as a set with one slow read version and one native read version. The articles are labeled by language level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). I have enjoyed trying to keep up with this podcast. It really shows just how much I have to learn, especially when in an entire monkey (saru) onsen article the only words I could hear were monkey (saru) and onsen, ahaha!
- Her Confidence Her Way: This podcast is currently way out of my league. However I hope to achieve a level of understanding that one day I can enjoy a cup of tea while listening to this podcast. Per the description it is about working women, particularly Japanese women, and their lives. It’s a bilingual podcast so some interviews and discussions are in English and some are in Japanese. I am aiming to be able to understand the Japanese interviews featured here.
- OJAD: Online Japanese Accent Dictionary. This website essentially helps you learn words accents, pronunciation, and spelling. There is a limitation to the amount of words but for now it will be more than enough for me!
- TakoAki Japanese: This is a youtube channel hosted by a native Japanese speaker. He has videos helping to teach the language. I have only seen a few videos and will likely have to rewatch. I think it will be helpful in picking up a correct accent and understanding basic day to day language.
- Dr. Lingua: This is a drag and drop, matching alphabet(s) game which will help challenge my visual learning.
- RealKana: This is another alphabet(s) learning game but more like a visual type in quiz.
- Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese:This is a very neat website. There are some videos. I am considering this as another support material to learn from.
- Abroad in Japan: This is a combination of video-podcast-website content. I enjoy the conversational format and love the Fax Machine read outs and replies. There is a small langauge learning portion which I wish had a page on the website. Otherwise it is a geniune insight of foreigners in Japan from a living and traveling perspective. Lovely to listen to!
- Deep Dive from the Japan Times: This is a news podcast which is mainly in English. It is a good way to hear about what is going on in Japan currently and learn a bit about the culture.
- Samurai Archives: This is a Japanese history podcast. I have yet to listen to it so not sure on the style. However I look forward to learning more of the history and culture of Japan through this podcast. Certainly the references and interviews should be good begining research points.
I will continue to grow my resource list as I learn more. I am excited to not only learn the language but also about Japan, the place.
I am still debating on a network that will put me in contact with a native speaker to practice speaking, listening, and writing. I have found a few but am not certain of their safety and engagement levels. I will keep searching and certainly post when I find a good one!
Maybe you aren’t particularly interested in Japanese. Maybe you have another language in mind? If so here are some language learning tips I have found helpful as I try and learn.
- Look for multiple kinds of teaching kits. Books, websites, podcasts, videos, flash cards, etc. Essentially try to get these kits so you are simultaneously learning the language by seeing, writing, speaking, and hearing.
- Look for things you are interested in that aren’t necesarily teaching tools. A TV Show in the language you are learning. Music. Magazines. Books.
- Keep 2 notebooks or some version of this. Essentially you take all the crazy notes on one and then rewrite cleanly what you have learned in the notebook.
- Highlight. I assign a single color to a certain thing and then highlight accordingly through my notes. This helps connect related topics so I can study across my notes. A quick example for language would be conjucation rules and the words they apply to.
- Use a little bit everyday. The more you practice it and use it day to day the more you will remember and improve.
- Find a practice partner! At least for languages, which are used to communicate, it is important to be able to use it. If you can, travel and put your studies to the test. This bit might be easier in say Europe than the US.
So with all this in mind, Good Luck! Let’s practice and study lots! Hopefully I will be able to write a short blog in Japanese by the end of July!