4- **** GOOD. I like it.
3- *** Decent.
2- ** Not impressed.
1- * Don’t bother.
What I’m Currently Using:
TextFugu | WaniKani | Anki | Denshi Jisho | Tae Kim’s Guide | JALUP | JapanesePod101 | Lang-8 | Evernote | Rikaichan | A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar
(This page was last updated 6-5-2015. I will soon be updating with college/scholarship/etc. info for those who want to go to Japan that way. Check out all the new links! I still have a lot more to add… Some links are affiliate links, but I only affiliate with products and sites that I personally recommend, so no worries ^^)
- XE currency converter
- Evernote ***** I use this to keep track of lots of things besides Japanese too. I highly recommend it!
- Using Evernote to learn Japanese: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 **** I don’t use it exactly like this, but it’s a good starting point!
- Anki (SRS software and app) ****
- Why do you love Japan? (*Login required to view)
- “So you really want to learn Japanese?”
- “How I Taught Myself to Read Japanese in Six Months”
- JapaneseLevelUp (JALUP for short) **** This website guides you with the mindset that you are the main character in a video game, and your special power is Japanese. I really recommend this!
- Inspiration also from Tofugu, TextFugu, Danny Choo, and GenkiJapan.Net!
+_Kana & Kanji
- WaniKani ***** WK is a kanji web app developed by the Tofugu team. You have to be able to read hiragana and katakana before you begin. The first two levels are free, so you can see if you like it or not (you will).
- WaniKani Stat Measurer ***** This one is my favorite. You of course need a WK account to use it.
- Drag-n-drop kana ***** I find this more fun than RealKana because it’s more like playing. 😛
- RealKana ****
- RealKanji ***
- Vector Poster (2230 kanji) *** Neat vector “poster” of kanji color-coded by levels.
- JoyoKanjiKai *** This website shows you if the kanji you search for is jouyou or not.
- Yahoo!JP dictionary **** A really good, general, online dictionary with good sentences.
- Denshi Jisho ***** This is the online dictionary I use the most!
- Rikaichan / Rikaikun / Rikaisama – ***** Amazingly useful browser plug-in that pulls up reading (pronunciation) and dictionary definitions when you hover over a word, phrase, or kanji. It is highly customizable. ^^ I haven’t used Rikaisama, but I would like to–being able to export it to Anki is a nice feature.
- Random House Japanese-English English-Japanese Dictionary **** While it’s not as recent as other dictionaries, it is still useful as it has some words my other paper dictionary doesn’t. I used this a lot when I had dial-up internet. Now I mainly use Denshi Jisho.
- Langenscheidt Pocket Japanese Dictionary ***** I have the 2005 version. The link is to the newer version. It’s very useful, as it has a list of kanji by stroke order, a list of ordinals, numbers, and dates, and a chart of hiragana and katakana. It’s also easy to carry around and has some updated terms. I still use this sometimes.
- TextFugu ****
- Studying grammar is boring. Help! *** (*Login required to view)
- A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar (Basic) (Intermediate) (Advanced) ***** Though I only have the first two, I can definitely recommend the set as a great resource as it has plenty of examples and explains things well. They’re a bit pricey, but worth it, I think. The only thing I don’t like so much about them is the presence of romaji, but since it’s not walls of romaji it’s not too bad. Read Tofugu’s thorough review on the series here.
- Nihongo Resources Guide to Japanese Grammar *** I have the PDF and I use the online version as well. A lot of history is explained and it talks about things I haven’t seen any other guide or textbook talk about yet, like vertical writing and different styles of fonts. I do prefer Tae Kim’s guide to this one though, because this one is definitely more taxing to read.
- Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar **** I have the updated PDF (2012) and am using that in combination with the Japanese LevelUp method. The online version has some exercises and there are comments, which might help when there are further explanations (including by other people). Tae Kim works from a different approach with grammar, starting out with だ instead of です and giving different titles to things so as not to confuse you. (For example, が does not mark the subject of a sentence. It is an “identifier particle” that indicates the speaker wants to indicate something that is unspecified.)
- Imabi // Since the site is undergoing a lot of edits I’m hesitant to dive into learning with it, but it is a wealth of information!! You can ask questions or point out errors in the forums and the author will respond very quickly with an answer and/or a fix, which I think is great.
- The Japanese Page ***
- Maggie Sensei (mini lessons) ****
- Japanese Abbreviations, etc
- Japanese Sound Effects ***
- (J) Colloquial/Slang Dictionary ***
- (J) Articles covering modern colloquial “odd” Japanese ****
- Lang-8 ****
- Lang-8 Prompts **** (*Login required to view)
- How to use Lang-8 effectively **** (*Login required to view)
- Getting the most out of Lang-8 ****
- (J) Natsume: Japanese Composition-Writing Support System – I’ve linked to the explanation on Nihongo-e-na because it is definitely needed in order to use this. It’s a bit complicated.
- (J) How to Write Easy-to-Understand Passages – It starts out by saying, “You don’t need to have skillful Japanese. Your goal is to write easy-to-read, easy-to-understand writing.”
- (handwriting) Kanji Alive //
- (handwriting) Guessing kanji stroke order
- Chokochoko’s Great Library *** This is a great resource, although it’s unfortunately no longer updated…
- 多読 (Read More or Die) ***** A month-long contest that challenges you to read as much as you can in Japanese for points! Held in January, June, and October. You can use it for other languages too, but Japanese is default.
- Japanese/English parallel text Bible (NIV + 新改訳 [New Japanese Bible]) ***** I really like and recommend this if you can get it! It’s quite expensive (partially because it’s hardback), but both translations used come from the same main source–the original Hebrew, Greek, etc. texts–which is very important. Though the margins are not large, there is ample space for notes in between the English paragraphs, and there is furigana on all the kanji, which I normally don’t like, but find really helpful when reading in this case, because it makes it easier to quickly look up words I don’t know.
- (J) “Chick Tack” // This is an online resource for Japanese junior high students learning English grammar. Using L2 (in this case, Japanese) resources intended to teach your L1 (for me, English) can be helpful, like using a J-J dictionary instead of J-E.
- Soup **** Girls’ fashion magazine [link is outdated; I’ll find the new page again]
- Liana’s Tadoku resources // Includes a variety of resources, often classical or children’s books.
- WK Reader Resource List *** (*Login required to view)
- (J) Nihongo Day by Day ***** This is a blog written by a Japanese teacher (who is Japanese). She teaches grammar points, explained in Japanese with minimal English, and also offers lessons via Skype, as well as in-person if you live in her area in Japan.
- (J) Keurig Cat Cafe blog – The posts on here are good-sized and have lots of cat pictures! They are located in Fukuoka.
- (J) Maru blog – ***** Blog of the owner of the famous cat Maru and his new friend, Hana, which is updated nearly every day. While English is used so foreign fans of Maru and Hana can understand what’s going on, the Japanese offers more insight–definitely try to ignore the English! If you read it on a smartphone reader (I use Newsify) then wait to scroll down to the English line until after you have read the Japanese line. ^^ (I find this blog’s content makes for good Anki cards because the pictures help reinforce the sentence you want to learn from!)
- (J) Ochikeron’s recipes – This is one of the places Ochikeron posts her recipes entirely in Japanese.
- (J) 日本人の知らない日本語 – ***** The drama is a book and vice versa! I have the second book because the first one was sold out at the time I placed my order, but the first book is back in stock, so I linked to that one. These are really…wonderful, actually. There are manga pages, and then pages in between chapters that are written more like a novel would be, with row after row of text. For someone like me, who hasn’t quite made the jump to reading novels in Japanese (at the time of writing this, I read them so slowly QxQ), it provides a nice transition. The text is entirely in Japanese, but most kanji have furigana.
- JapanesePod101.com – The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed **** Podcasts everywhere! Look past the constant sale ads and there really is a lot of good content. I recommend visiting the forums soon after signing up, and either search for or ask about the recommended lesson orders, since they have lots of older lessons that have been built upon with new seasons. I can write a post about this too.
- Japanese audiobooks // This is a forum thread with a lot of audiobook info! It’s also cool to read through and see the progress updates~
- The Podcast Thread – A list of podcast recommended by forum users (same RTK forum as above).
- Streaming Japanese TV recommendations – (*Login required to view)
- Hikakin’s Shobon no Action “Let’s Play” – Hilarious. (Playlist here.)
- 日本人の知らない日本語 drama – I’ve linked to the channel it’s uploaded on, but the first video is here. It’s great because it has Japanese subtitles! (It also has Chinese subs, but that’s fine for me because I can’t yet read Chinese.)
- Tokyo Animation College’s アニラジオ – Monthly radio show done by students.
- Ochikeron – The lovely Ochi-san shows you how to make all kinds of delicious things! She does most of the talking in English, but includes Japanese subtitles, and at the end of her videos, she usually talks in Japanese and has English subtitles.
- 中村幸の明日も幸あれ！(SachiHappyTomorrow) – Nakamura Sachi is an 18-year-old Japanese girl who makes daily videos in which she is usually talking about some happy thing. You never know what she will talk about as it changes day to day. Topics can range from trying out snacks to seeing a movie, from showcasing clothes to taking photos. She also talks about Hello!Project groups and other “idol” groups. She talks in a quiet room and has fairly clear pronunciation, which makes her easy to listen to. *Update: Sachi has decided to stop daily videos in order to focus on her acting/performing career. Her Twitter account is @sachi_0130.
- Chika (Bilingirl) (cyoshida1231) – While her recently-created Japanagos channel is good too, I prefer her original channel because I get more Japanese listening practice that way.
- Kanna & Akira (potemi926) – Two adorable little girls who put together toy kits of all kinds, including edible ones. Lately their youngest sister, Asahi, is also getting more involved.
- kougeisha – This channel seems to be run by the father of Kanna and Akira. They all go out for trips, eat at restaurants, collect Youkai Watch disks and other collectibles, and are altogether funny and adorable.
- Rino & Yuuma (rinozawa) – This channel gets updated quite frequently with videos of Rino (4 at the time of writing) and her little brother Yuuma (2). I like watching these kinds of videos because simpler Japanese is used and it’s almost like you’re getting to be a part of the family, especially if you follow the channel for a while. ^^
- nozamama – Rino and Yuuma’s mother’s cooking channel. For each video, she cooks something and records her kids’ while they eat it to capture their reactions and table talk. (Sometimes Rino and/or Yuuma help with the cooking.)
- Ashiya (fujiashiy) – A Russian girl living in Japan. She makes lovely videos and does most of her speaking in Japanese with Russian subtitles, which is good if you’re like me and don’t know Russian–you have to be able to understand what’s going on from the Japanese alone! Her pronunciation is also very good, and she speaks clearly.
- Shadowing: 日本語を話そう！ (Beginner to Intermediate Level) **** This book comes with a CD that you listen to and repeat after. No romaji, but there is furigana. The translations of the sentences/conversations are in English, Chinese, and Korean.
- Shadowing: 日本語を話そう！(Intermediate to Advanced Level) // Book two of this Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese! series.
- JLPT official website
- Official JLPT workbooks (free PDFs)
- JLPT Boot Camp **** Great, comprehensive website about studying for the JLPT.
- Nihongo no Benkyou **** No longer updated, but it’s got good encouragement and inspiration along with tips. 🙂
- JLPT Study // General JLPT study site.
- Renshuu.org ** I listed it here, but it’s a general study site for Japanese learners. Take the tour to see all that it offers. The paid package ($20 for 6 months is the cheapest option) seems affordable and includes a whole lot more than the free or guest packages. I tried the free version, but didn’t seem to get much out of it.
- Tanos // Another general JLPT study site.
What I Previously Used
- I was using SpeedAnki (JLPT kanji flashcard website) sporadically, but it seems the site has shut down, so obviously I won’t be using it anymore! I only made it through half of the new N4 deck before it shut down. I liked it though; it was a good resource for drilling and included example sentences.
- GenkiJapan.Net *** Richard has wonderful tips and advice on more than just learning Japanese! Practically everything he says in his videos is useful. His website design is rather basic, but the content is good, especially for beginners and for those looking for little bits of cultural insight. I used his website and videos mainly for inspiration.
- MIT Japanese Language Program *** Their website has some online resources that I used briefly. I downloaded the homework too. ;P It would probably work together a lot better if one were to actually be attending the MIT Japanese classes, but it’s kind of neat to peek into a college class schedule. ;P Some of the resources have been put behind student log-in walls (I’m surprised it wasn’t like that to begin with!), so it’s probably not very useable anymore.
- Living Language Japanese Coursebook: The Basics *** I have the 2005 version, so the one I’ve linked you to is an updated version. You can get the full set here. While this book helped me a lot initially, it started me off poorly in that I knew what a lot of words were in sound and meaning, but I couldn’t read them if they were shown to me in kanji because the book taught exclusively in romaji until the last few pages of the book. In addition, I only had this coursebook. I had no audio CD, workbook, or any other part of the course.
- Tuttle Learning Hiragana and Katakana Workbook ***** I bought this when I decided to get serious about learning to read and write the kana. It’s really interesting in that it gives you the history behind the kana and lots of practice areas to, well, practice.
- Rosetta Stone * (I’m not linking to it because I don’t recommend it, but it’s not hard to find if you do a search.) We bought both the Japanese and French levels 1-3, homeschool edition. Long story short, Rosetta Stone did not really help me much at all, and I’m glad we got it at a discount because it’s not worth it in the long run. If you have it and want to make the most out of it anyway, only practice reading and writing with it, NOT listening or speaking.
(Edit: Apparently the newer versions or a newer service has come out that makes this program marginally better, but it’s still not entirely worth the price. See Benny Lewis’s in-depth review on this here.)
Other Resources and Links
// Japonin (Online Japanese classes, with a variety of options. Haven’t used.)
+_Foreign Exchange Programs…Learn Japanese in Japan!_+
http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/japanese/ (St. Olaf College, located in Minnesota, offers classes on campus and has options to study abroad)
Katayanagi Institute (A language school located in Kamata, Japan. You have to have graduated from high school in order to apply, because the courses are designed for college prep.)
MIT’s MISTI program (The MIT college campus is located in Massachusetts, obviously. Their MISTI program allows students to go to Japan to increase their learning.)
GenkiJACS **** (This is the one I’d like to go to. It’s a Japanese language and culture school, located in Fukuoka, Japan. GenkiJACS also has an online program you can take, where the lessons are conducted via Skype.)
Go Go Nihon
+_Other Resource Collections_+
- Link collection by AussieEducator.org *** This is a collection of resource links (mainly links to websites) for learning Japanese. Some of the links do not work, and some resources are sub-par, but I did find SpeedAnki through this site, so it’s worth a look. 😉
- Nihongo-e-na **** Another collection of links, combined with a blog.
- Tofugu’s 100 Best Resources for Learning Japanese **** Mega-list!
- Mikoto’s Corner (Links) **** Found this blog through 多読. The authors offer many tips and have good resource pages as well. 🙂 *Update: I became the artist for the team behind this website, which is relocating to Japanese in Action. All new posts will be there.