Japanese | 日本語27 November, 2021
I've been learning Japanese on-and-off for approximately three years. While I've had a lifelong fascination with Japan, my desire to learn the language really blossomed in the wake of my travels in South America. Having felt the frustration of being unable to communicate with the wonderful people I met along the way, I decided I simply couldn't allow this to happen on my future trip(s) to Japan. I'm far from fluent (like...farrr) but I am making good progress.
Here I share some of the resources and approaches I've found useful for self-study.
I began by learning hiragana and katakana using Memrise. These days I stay sharp with RealKana and practice handwriting with downloaded sheets (important for learning the stroke order of each kana).
My approach focuses heavily on input, and especially comprehensible input, so I spend a lot of time doing passive and active listening. Look up Stephen Krashen's work on language acquisition if you want to know more about input-driven approaches.
I've only just really started to learn kanji (using WaniKani). I started reading manga a few months ago and I find it offers a great way to reinforce learning of kana, kanji and vocabulary. It's a thrill when I recognise kanji I've just learned. All the manga I'm currently reading include furigana alongside the kanji.
I'm nearing the point where I'd like to start taking private lessons to practice speaking. For now, my only output comes in the form of shadowing (repeating words or sentences after I hear them) and chatting to myself.
Hiragana and Katakana
- Hiragana chart from Tofugu
- Hiragana handwriting practice sheet from Japanese-Lesson.com
- Katakana chart from Tofugu
- Katakana handwriting practice sheet from Japanese-Lesson.com
- Memrise - basic hiragana and katakana courses with SRS (sign-up required)
- Real Kana - flash card study website / application (no sign-up required)
- WaniKani - kanji and vocabulary application with SRS and mnemonics (sign-up required)
- Radio Kishiwada (ラヂオきしわだ) - based in Osaka; featuring community news, talk and entertainment
Language Channels / Podcasts
- Comprehensible Japanese - short videos with drawing by Yuki
- Sayuri Saying Everyday-Japanese Podcast - casual (non-scripted) conversations (also on YouTube)
- Onomappu - short videos teaching Japanese onomatopoeia and other words / phrases
- Japanese with Ken - casual (non-scripted) conversations
- もしもしゆうすけ - walking monologues and casual (non-scripted) conversations
- Japanese Ammo with Misa - very detailed grammar and vocabulary lessons
Special Interest Channels
- bluelug - bike shop in Tokyo; videos include bike builds, trick tips, bike checks and casual conversations about bicycles
- 明日への扉 by アットホーム - short documentaries about Japanese crafts (pottery, bamboo, knives etc.)
- Japanese coffee culture（life and coffee） - product reviews and coffee geekery
- koromonokokoro - van adventures with Koromo and her dog Lugh