Beginner Resource Masterlist

So the other day I was asked by a friend of a friend for some free and cheap resources that I used on my Japanese language learning journey. I meant to just send over a few links, but one thing led to another and this masterlist was created, where I’ve even included things like travel and meetups. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I thought it’d be fun to share here for beginners to learn about new sites they haven’t tried and for more seasoned learners to compare against their own lists. Near the end, I’ve also included tips from mistakes I’ve made along the way. Enjoy! -L

All resources are free unless otherwise stated
 
Hiragana/Katakana
  • Kantan Kana Series – Video tutorials showing stroke order for both katakana & hiragana (First Video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zfBMDNkJuI)
  • Flashcard Game – I don’t have any specific resource, because back when I learned kana I used smart.fm, which is now iknow, a paid service. Anything that will test your knowledge and speed in a fun way will do the trick!
Vocabulary
Admittedly, not a strong suit of mine. I pick up a lot of my vocabulary in context when working with other resources like podcasts, textbooks and shows.
  • Jisho.org– Awesome online dictionary – http://jisho.org/
  • Anki – See Kanji Section for more info.
  • Textbooks – This is mainly how I’ve learned vocab. Textbooks provide lists of vocab that need to be learned to advance to the next chapter. See textbook recommendations in the Grammar section.
Grammar
Kanji
  • [NOT FREE] WaniKani – This is a site/app that costs $10/mo, but the first 3 levels are free. Try it and see if you like it. https://www.wanikani.com/
  • Anki – Flashcard program. There are pre-made decks with Japanese vocabulary, but most would recommend making your own from words that you collect from books, shows etc. I don’t currently use this, but many swear by it. http://ankisrs.net/
  • Read the Kanji – N5 Kanji levels are free https://www.readthekanji.com/
  • Genki/J4BP – If you decide to purchase one of the 2 textbooks I cited above, learn Kanji as they are introduced in the books. For Genki, make sure to do the reading sections in the back and write out the kanji while doing your assignments. This is my current learning method. Not the fastest, but it works.
Podcasts
As a beginner, you may not get all of the benefits from native podcasts, but it’s good for listening practice and getting used to the sound of the language.
 
Tips/Blogs/Misc
Travel
  • Japan Guide – Whether you’re planning a trip in the future, or just want to learn more about Japan, this is a great user-friendly and comprehensive site http://www.japan-guide.com/
  • Japan Travel – Sub-reddit. I wouldn’t check this out unless you’re planning on traveling in the following year. https://www.reddit.com/r/JapanTravel/
  • Tabelog – The Japanese Yelp. Find great restaurants http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/
  • Inside Japan Tours – Including this tour company bc I’m actually using them. Great if you’re feeling overwhelmed with information and just want the best possible trip planned, they do tours and solo trips. Can get pricey. https://www.insidejapantours.com/
Meetup
All meetups I’ve attended have been through meetup.com, but there are several depending on which area you’re from.
 
Tutors (Obviously not free)
I’m including this section because of how much progress I’ve made as a result of working with tutors. It’s not even that they can explain grammar better (they’re natives, they usually can’t unless they’re trained teachers), but the speaking practice is invaluable. They also hold you accountable for completing assignments, which was useful for me.
  • iTalki – I’ve tried in-person tutors, and this option was much more affordable. All the tutors are on Skype, and are of varying quality with prices all across the board. Here’s my referral code ($10 for me and you if you sign up). You can even go the free route and find language buddies to pair up with on this site, but you’d sacrifice some of your time to talk in English with them. https://www.italki.com/i/BdbdGe­

Edit: Found a really awesome post with tips on how to select a tutor and get the most out of your lessons. I’ve had quite a few tutors already, but this was still helpful.

 
Random Tips (Including Lessons learned from my Past mistakes)
  • Study/Practice Japanese nearly every day. Sure, the longer the better, but consistency is more important. You only have 10-15 min at lunch? Do it. Need a break? Watch some anime or J-drama instead of studying that day, but don’t spend a day without Japanese if you can help it!
  • Start learning kanji right away. Don’t put it off. Focus more on grammar, but don’t leave kanji out.
  • Work on your kana reading speed once you’ve mastered it. I practiced this by reading passages from my textbooks over and over and over, an assignment given by one of my past tutors. It really helps and will make everything else easier once you can read faster.
  • Do language shadowing!!! It will do WONDERS for your pronunciation. My conversation skills aren’t amazing, but the comment I ALWAYS get from native Japanese speakers since doing this is that my pronunciation is good. Do this by playing Japanese audio and repeating after them. The best way is using textbook cds and playing the passages over and over and over while repeating them as closely to the native speed as possible. Pay special attention to intonation. This matters so much in Japanese.
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About L

Interested in Japanese language and culture, J-Pop, K-Pop and Asian Dramas.
This entry was posted in Japanese Study, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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