Japanese Learning Resources for Beginners

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Oct 7, 2013 04:10
Due to the fact that I study Japanese by myself, I rely on an array of learning materials on the internet to teach myself new grammar, vocabulary and the like!

I have begun to assemble a list of resources that can hopefully help guide beginners like me through the basics of Japanese - at least to a level where they can begin to communicate with native speakers.

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Input + Interface Modifiers:
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1) Google Input Method Editor (IME)

https://www.google.co.jp/intl/ja/ime/

Allows you to input Japanese characters using your keyboard - if you do not have this already, I recommend that you get it!

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2) Rikaikun and Rikaichan:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/rikaichan/

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/rikaikun/jipdnfibhldikgcjhfnomkfpcebammhp?hl=en

Browser extensions that translate Japanese words to English when you mouse over them! Includes data on kanji such as radicals and different pronunciations. Useful for unfamiliar vocabulary!

I would advise you not to rely on this too much, or at least use it in combination with regular kanji and vocabulary practice, as you may be tempted to use it as a crutch!

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Grammar + Vocab Resources:
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Tae Kim's grammar guide:
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/

An awesome guide to Japanese grammar to get you started!
This is probably the best guide around, completely for free. It guides you from kana and kanji through to high-level grammatical structures!

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Genki I and II:
While not technically an "internet resource", this is a useful textbook series that I understand is commonly used in universities.

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Spaced Repetition System (SRS) Program

Anki:

http://ankisrs.net/

SRS programs are very useful for remembering vocabulary! You only need to study a few minutes at a time - but you must do so at regular intervals! Anki allows you to create flashcards with vocab on them, and displays the vocab you struggle most with!

Japanese Anki decks can be downloaded at:
https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/japanese

Memrise:
http://www.memrise.com/

A website version of an SRS program!

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Japanese English Dictionary
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Jisho: http://jisho.org/

Data comes from http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C
but Jisho offers a friendlier user interface!

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Internet communities:
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Reddit LearnJapanese community

http://www.reddit.com/r/learnjapanese

Normally this community is very friendly and contains some interesting discussion. Topics discussed here range from beginner level to advanced level, although questions at intermediate level and above are most common.

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Stack Exchange:
http://japanese.stackexchange.com/

Stackexchange is a network of Q&A sites covering everything from programming to Japanese! Think "Yahoo! Answers" but less rubbish.

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Android Apps (May or may not be available on other platforms)
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Obenkyo:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Obenkyo&hl=en

App for android devices, contains a copy of guidetojapanese so you can study on the go, along with several quizzes and lots of kanji, kana and vocab resources!

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Japanese-English Dictionary:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.umibouzu.jed&hl=en

Another android app, with a massive library of words - a portable, electronic dictionary.

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Kotoba-chan:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ee.yutani.kotoba&hl=en

Yet another android app, this time purely vocab! Hundreds of thousands of words!

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Hiragana + Katakana Learn Experiment;

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.legendarya.helloandroid&hl=en

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.legendarya.katakana&hl=en

Two apps that assist with learning Hiragana and Katakana! Useful for those just starting out!

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Miscellaneous:
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Japanese children's stories:

http://life.ou.edu/stories/

These stories are quite boring, and get a bit repetitive, but they help you see how the language fits together!

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Kana invaders:

http://learnjapanesepod.com/kana-invaders/

A fun and somewhat frustrating retro-style game centered around teaching you to recognise and type kana at lightning speed!

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I hope that this list will be of some use to you!

I believe that the key to learning a language is to be actively learning the language as often as you possibly can! Try and think in Japanese (or at least "pseudo-Japanese") whenever you get the opportunity! If I go a week without studying Japanese I tend to find that I forget lots! :S

If you use any other useful tools, please feel free to post them in a comment - the more learning resources we can amass, the more perspectives we can learn from, and the broader our learning experience will be!

Good luck learning Japanese, and remember that the most important thing is that you have fun! :D
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