13 useful Japanese learning sites
Next week Final Fantasy XIII will hit Japanese stores and because a
lot of European/North American people pre-ordered this game I think it’s
a good idea to share my Japanese learning tools with you. I’m only
learning Japanese actively since last year on my own rate so I’m not yet
a intermediate speaker. The websites below have proven to be great
learning tools for Japanese students. Don’t make any illusions, you
won’t be able to master Japanese in 4 days, but knowing the basics is
I’ve divided the sites in different categories with my own comments.
When I first started Japanese last year I learned Katakana and
Hiragana with this site. A great, but relatively unknown, site with a
very good Kana chart and exercises. If you’ve pre-ordered FFXIII and
don’t know anything about Japanese, I’d advise you to learn Katakana
here. It can be recognized in one week and you’ll be able to read a lot
of names, locations and attacks with this.
Japanese About: http://japanese.about.com/od/writing/u/Writing.htm
The About.com page for Japanese is loaded with lots of content, so it
might be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for but has very good
explanations and grammar.
The Kanjisite: http://www.kanjisite.com/
For those who want to learn (more about) Kanji this is a great site
with lots of information. There is a basic step-by-step guide but
besides that the website will probably be more used as a “dictionary”
for Kanji. Remember JLPT4 = Easy –> JLPT2 = hard.
Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar
Even if this site is the 4th item, it is definitely the best site for
learning Japanese grammar. I can’t say how much I love this site so I’d
advise to click the link and read the introduction to see for yourself
how this site distinguishes itself from other expensive learning books.
The only problem I have with this site is that it teaches you a lot
at high speed and “newbie’s” will probably have something like “WTF is
this?” when reading the first 6 lessons. I’d advise you to use this site
if you’re sure you can handle it or as a summary and wider explanation
of what you learned somewhere else.
The Japanese page: http://thejapanesepage.com/
A lot of lessons; videos, audio and a nice community wrapped under a bad template design but still a good source.
This is a very good learning tool which I use a lot. I recommend to use it if you want to learn Japanese (or other languages)
Japanese Verbs: http://www.timwerx.net/language/jpverbs/index.htm
Japanese verbs have a lot of conjugations. Unlike English verbs
aren’t conjugated according to the subject of a sentence. The verb
endings determine a variety of expressions, from “easy to do” to the
conditional forms (if…). Since the sentences are written in Romaji (the
way how you pronounce the Japanese words) this site also serves as a
good exercise to write the sentences again in Hiragana/Katakana.
Japanese online dictionaries and translators:
Very popular (and powerful) tool developed by Jim Breen. If you have
an iPhone/iPod Touch, I’d advise you to download “Kotoba!” . This free
offline application makes use of Jim Breen’s database to provide
translations, writing instructions, examples and detailed word info in
English, French and German. It has a much nicer interface than the above
site. I always use it when playing Japanese games or watching Japanese
videos because I’ve always been able to find every word. You can
download it from the iTunes store.
A very good translator which still is able to give some wonky results
sometimes. When you’ve to translate a Japanese text, it’s best to do
with this one and Google Translate below
Google Translate: http://translate.google.com/?hl=eng#
You’ll probably know this. Alternatives are Babelfish or Bing Translator.
Nihongo Dekimasu: http://www.youtube.com/user/momo3149#p/u
Online lessons that have proven to be quite helpful for people. While
completely in Japanes (with dialogues translated in English) it still
is a very good and fun learning method.
The JapanShop: You can find a variety of Japanese learning books here: http://www.thejapanshop.com/home.php
I personally advise you to use the “Genki: An Integrated Course in
Elementary Japanese” books. They are easily the best Japanese learning
books containing understandable grammar, vocabulary and Kanji (as well
as Hiragana and Katakana)
Me and the others!
I’m still upper-beginner but I’d love to help you. I’m sure that people
like Tae Kim and the other sites I mentioned above will help you too
with professional advice when you’ve got questions.
Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve got time and are importing FFXIII, you should follow theses steps the next 4 days:
For Beginners (when you know absolutely nothing about Japanese)
You can’t finish this in four days but it learns you some very good
vocabulary. Be sure to use iKnow (not the embedded tool) and change the
difficulty setting to display only Katakana/Hiragana/ABC… of your
choice. There’s a relentless amount of lists including some with RPG
For (upper)-intermediates (when you know already a lot of Japanese but need to improve it further)
3. Look at the Japanese FFXIII screenshots to review what you’re able to understand.
I hope these 13 sources really help you if you’re wanting to learn
Japanese (or even if you’re learning it already. I hope I peeked
someone’s interest in studying Japanese.
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