Reading Japanese Intensified – Review of Tango Risto

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to improve your reading then you want to get Tango Risto. I have always struggled with reading comprehension. It is the hardest part of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and a must need for any level of Japanese. I try to read novels to improve this but that means I lack a core amount of Japanese vocabulary and grammar. Namely, the news. In the past I tried my own 2 Week Japanese Reading Challenge but going out of your way to find a good article for your level can be hard. Tango… Read More…

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How to Use Manga to Study Japanese

A lot of us study Japanese because we want to be able to understand anime without subtitles or read manga in Japanese. Being able to do either of these is incredibly rewarding, but many beginners think you need to be ‘fluent’ or that you need to live in Japan for a certain number of years before you reach this level. They convince themselves that being able to read manga is beyond their abilities, so why even try?! Well, what if I told you it is possible to be able to understand manga a lot sooner than you thought?   Why… Read More…

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Getting the Most out of Personal Japanese Lessons

From February 1st italki will be holding a New Year Language Challenge. This is simply just a matter of getting badges for completing a certain number of hours of lessons in the month. It’s a great way to motivate yourself to study more with a teacher if you struggle with motivation. You don’t have to take the ‘challenge’ but it had me thinking about Japanese teachers. I’ve had a few Japanese teachers through italki over the years and had mixed experiences. Never anything bad but there have been times when I’ve not gotten what I wanted and left lessons frustrating.… Read More…

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JLPT Practice Questions with JPDrills

JLPT Practice Questions JPDrills

With less than a month before the December JLPT it’s time to start doing some JLPT practice questions! Many people will go to the JLPT website and try their tiny quantity of sample questions. But these are often easier than what you’ll actually be given on the day. Then there are JLPT practice questions from textbooks you can use. Although these are useful they also cost a fair amount because they’re imported from Japan. Another solution is to use online quiz programs that test you with practice questions. Although there are a few out there I’d have to say JPDrills… Read More…

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14 Weeks: 1500 Japanese Words, 280 Kanji, 100 Grammar

This is a great tool to help you teach yourself Japanese for free! I made this half for the Speak Japanese Fluently in Just 1 Year Challenge! (Part 1) and half for someone else. It lays out 14 weeks (3.5 months) of studying the beginner JTalkOnline courses on Memrise. Instead of just studying 1, then moving onto the next, this guide combines vocabulary, kanji and grammar study all at the same time.   What is Memrise? For those that don’t know, Memrise is a website and app (for iOS and Android) which provides you with the software to make and… Read More…

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The Best Way to Learn Japanese Particles

Learning Japanese particles as a beginner is a MASSIVE pain in the butt! There are LOTS of guides online for how to use them, but they’re not very useful all the time. Sometimes the explanations are too complicated as they try to explain EVERY possible usage. But it’s mostly difficult because these sites offer no way to practice them. And often the best way to remember how they’re used is to use them yourself. But how do you use Japanese particles? Making up sentences is tricky as a beginner because you’re often tempted to directly translate from English… then things… Read More…

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Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 6

Advanced Reading Practice on Memrise Articles: ソニーがVRゲーム機器を世界同時発売 羽生結弦に「究極」を超える進化はあるのか Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud – Even if you’re just moving your lips (because you’re in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory. Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud – Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you’re more likely to skip over words and readings, which won’t help your comprehension. Tip 3: Time yourself when you read an article – Make a… Read More…

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 5

Advanced Reading Practice on Memrise Articles: 大手企業でのキャリアと英語力を活かしSEO対策を提供 お祝いしたいけれど・・・ 悩ましい「敬老の日」事情 Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud – Even if you’re just moving your lips (because you’re in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory. Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud – Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you’re more likely to skip over words and readings, which won’t help your comprehension. Tip 3: Time yourself when you read an article – Make… Read More…

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 4

Advanced Reading Practice on Memrise Articles: Pokemon Go の勢いがすごい、公開数日で米国の約750万人がダウンロード 営業マンの印象の良いビジネスメールの特徴 Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud – Even if you’re just moving your lips (because you’re in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory. Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud – Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you’re more likely to skip over words and readings, which won’t help your comprehension. Tip 3: Time yourself when you read an article –… Read More…

How to Make Simple Japanese Sentences

Japanese grammar is actually surprisingly easy once you get it. Basic grammar is at least. It’s like a maths problem; + x – etc., all have their own uses and places, it’s the numbers around them that change the meaning of the formula. In Japanese these are called “particles”. They are set sounds that have set uses. Once you know the basic ones it’s very easy to create a wide variety of sentences by changing the words. Here’s a guide to creating simple sentences using particles.   How To Practice Making Sentences I wanted to write this first because I feel… Read More…

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Passing JLPT N5-N4 Listening

This years round of Japanese Language Proficiency Tests are over! Yaaaay! Well done to everyone who took them! I hadn’t realized that taking the JLPT twice a year (in June AND December) was only done in a few countries. The US, I was saddened to find out, only holds the exam in December. Which at least means any US readers have a year to practice! Out of all the resources I offer on here for beginner learners I found out that I’ve been lacking advice for passing the listening section of the exam. For many of the people taking the… Read More…

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The Best Way to Study Grammar for the JLPT

I have this bad habit of avoiding grammar every time I study for the JLPT. I’ll either avoid it altogether or leave it until the last minute. But now I’ve found a great way to study grammar for the exam! It takes a lot of work but is really effective. This is, I think, the best way to study grammar for the JLPT. 1. Buy Yourself a JLPT Grammar Drill Book Even if you don’t like spending money it’s well worth buying yourself a grammar drill book. Do this asap! I suggest starting this at least a month before the exam… Read More…

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More Tips for Studying for the JLPT N1

Over a year ago I wrote Tips for Studying for the JLPT N1 and Tips for When you Take the JLPT N1. The I gave general studying advice as well as what to look out for and tips for taking the exam. This post is all about some useful resources for studying for the JLPT N1. As I said before, I’ve noticed that some people find the N1 very easy and others find it a real challenge. Everyone learns differently and work differently, so some of what I’m suggesting will work for you, some might not. — How to Get Your Bases Covered+… Read More…

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Review of Japanese Kanji Study Android App

  Japanese Kanji Study is probably the best app I’ve ever used for studying kanji. I’ve studied kanji in many different ways over the years. Books, classes, apps, drilled kanji, read kanji, my own flashcards, etc. But nothings worked in quite the same way as Kanji Study has. Here’s why…   Japanese Kanji Study Android App Features This app has a LOT going on. I love how much it has. The creator, Chase, worked incredible hard to create an app that would suit how he wanted to learn. He was using the White Rabbit kanji flashcards but found they weren’t practical… Read More…

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Review of Nihongo Tango Speed Master

日本語単語スピードマスター (Nihongo Tango Speed Master) is a relatively unknown series of books which focus just on Japanese vocabulary. And I’m surprised it’s unknown because all the books contain a lot of vocabulary, and lots of vocabulary that doesn’t appear in other books! There are 4 日本語単語スピードマスター books: Basic, Standard, Intermediate and Advanced. These books are based vocabulary that appears in the new JPLT. Basic (1800 vocabulary for N5 and N4) Standard (2400 vocabulary for N3) Intermediate (2500 vocabulary for N2) Advanced (2800 vocabulary for N1) (Each range between $27-$31)   I like this series because they are simple. Each chapter is… Read More…

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Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 3

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 3

Advanced Reading Practice on Memrise Articles: 「オゾン層に回復の兆し」 米研究グループ ネット動画で広がる被災地応援 Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud – Even if you’re just moving your lips (because you’re in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory. Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud – Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you’re more likely to skip over words and readings, which won’t help your comprehension. Tip 3: Time yourself when you read an article – Make… Read More…

How to Prepare for the JLPT

How to Prepare for the JLPT

Another session of JLPTs are over in some countries which means the next ones are only 6 months away in December! Whether you’ve just taken an exam or are taking one for the first time it’s good to start preparing for the next batch of tests now. What you study specifically for each exam will be different, but here are some tips for preparing for the JLPT.   How to Prepare for the JLPT Have The Basics Covered It’s time to go back over the basics. It doesn’t matter what level you’re studying going over the basics can always give… Read More…

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Context is Everything in Japanese

“The Japanese are Masters of Context” When you start studying Japanese you will probably read about the sentence pattern 「___ wa ___ desu」 . You’ll probably then go on to learn about verbs and how they fit into sentences 「___ wa ___ wo ___ verb」. You’ll use these to make simple sentences such as 「わたしはりんごをてべます」 (watashi wa ringo wo tabemasu) = “I eat an apple”. Then you might learn about tenses so you can say “I ate an apple” or “I am eating an apple”*. Simple right? (*If you need a recap on these see The Basics of Grammar) Yet… Read More…

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I’m Afraid of Kanji

I’ve noticed that lots of people want to start learning Japanese but the prospect of kanji is intimidating. A lot of people tell me they’re afraid of kanji, and don’t want to learn it! It’s not like hiragana and katakana which seems simple and phonetic. There are lots of lines and shapes, and the idea of having to memorize over 2000 is even more frightening. But you don’t have to be afraid of kanji, and once you start studying you might even find it fun!   Take Baby Steps No one’s saying to need to learn all 2000 in one… Read More…

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JLPT N3 – Study Methods and Resources

A long time ago I talked about taking the JLPT, but I felt like I was a bit vague when it came to beginners as there aren’t actually that many specific text books for the lower levels because there are plenty of others that cover the basics of Japanese. As a result I wrote this post on taking the JLPT N5 and another for JLPT N4 with what the exam is, resources and study methods (which is why the  posts are very similar, and by very similar I mean practically identical but with the links updated and text changed slightly). This guide is exactly… Read More…

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Tips for When You Take the JLPT N1

The JLPT N1 is said to be an incredibly difficult exam even with years of studying under your belt, and a lot of it has to do with how good you are at exams rather than Japanese. I wrote previously about studying for the JLPT N1 and I even mentioned some other blogs which provide their own advice for studying for the exam. I’ve looked online but there are not many tips for taking the exam itself. So although many of you are probably masters of the exam by this point, here are some tips and tricks you can use when… Read More…

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Tips for Studying for the JLPT N1

For those that probably aren’t aware, I took the JLPT N1 exam a few weeks ago (July 2015). This was the first time I’ve taken the exam. I took the N2 in July 2013 in Japan and managed to scrape by it. I felt like I was significantly better prepared for this exam compared to the N2 and yet felt like the N1 had decided to clean house and use my face as the mob. It was painful. Whether I failed or managed to skim a pass I won’t know until September. But either way I plan on re-taking the… Read More…

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Try! JLPT Grammar Book

The 「Try! 日本語能力試験   文法から伸ばす日本語」or “Try! JLPT – Studying Japanese from Grammar” is the best Japanese grammar book I have ever used for learning JLPT grammar. I mentioned before that grammar is my weakness. I am so bad at grammar, partially because I don’t know English grammar (terms, I know how to use it naturally), and partially because I find it difficult and boring to practice. HOWEVER, this is the first time I’ve actually understood Japanese grammar and enjoyed learning them! Try! is a fairly new series of grammar books published in 2014, so unlike Nihongo Somatome and Shin Kanzen… Read More…

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JLPT – Hitting the Wall

With only two and a half weeks before the JLPT for July 2015 some of you may be feeling a number of things. Stress, anxiety, boredom. Keeping yourself motivated is something I’ve written about in the past but I feel like at this point it would help to go over some points, and bring forth some new ones specifically for the JLPT.   First of all DON’T PANIC You’re probably behind schedule and have found another 100 things or more that you need to study, but first thing is not to panic. Panicking causes stress and anxiety which begins to interfere… Read More…

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Translating from Japanese to English for Beginners

“I want to be able to translate…” This post is for people interested in Japanese translating but don’t know how to because they haven’t had any formal training. I am assuming that the people interested in translating are at a skill level of between N3-N1 Japanese. Understanding Japanese, and understanding Japanese to then turn it into English are two different skill sets. This is because you not only need to understand the languages you’re translating from, but you need to know the appropriate language to use in the language you’re translating to (which I’m assuming is English). For example, although… Read More…

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Japanese – Where to Start II

“What do I do once I’ve learnt hiragana and katakana?” In a post last year I advised that the first thing a person starting to learn Japanese should do is learn hiragana and katakana. This post listed various resources you can use to study hiragana and katakana as each person is different in their study approach. It’s important to learn hiragana and katakana as it opens up so many more opportunities for learning the language and helps with pronunciation and reading ability. Since then I’ve seen a lot of people asking “what next?” It’s difficult to pick a direction when… Read More…

Beginners Japanese Grammar 2

Hello everyone! A little announcement as I’ve just made my Japanese Grammar 2 course on Memrise public! This is the second of a series of grammar courses for beginners, covering all the grammar points (except particles) for JLPT N4 level of Japanese. Even if you’re not taking any of the Japanese language proficiency tests you can still use this course to learn Japanese grammar. The lessons are grouped together based on how the grammar is formed and assumes that you already know how to read kana and how to make stem, plain, て form, た form, ない form etc. If… Read More…

JLPT N4 Memrise Course

I am pleased to announce that I have completed the JLPT N4 Vocabulary and Kanji courses on Memrise. JLPT N4 Vocabulary Course   JLPT N5 Kanji Course Unlike the JLPT N5 course the N4 courses are separated between vocabulary and kanji. This was because of the large number of kanji and kanji based vocabulary in comparison to the N5 one. It’s a lot easier to learn kanji through vocabulary which have been grouped together so you can see the different uses and readings, which is what I’ve tried to do. Not only that but the kanji course focuses more on… Read More…

Reading Practice for Beginners

When you start learning Japanese you learn the hiragana and katakana along with vocabulary and grammar, but if you’re teaching yourself you won’t often get much reading practice to combine all those skills together in a useful way. So how do you practice? It’s good to start reading soon! It not only allows you to practice your vocabulary and grammar but also your understanding of Japanese sentences. This is particularly important at the higher levels where 80% of what you’re exposed to will depend on your comprehension of the language. The following are suggestions for beginner JLPT N5/N4 level learners.… Read More…

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Japanese Textbooks for Teaching Yourself Japanese

“What text books should I use for teaching myself Japanese?”   Using text books to learn Japanese can be tricky business because they are often made for class studying rather than self study, but it doesn’t mean they’re not useful if you can’t afford the time or money for classes. First of all when studying Japanese it’s good to know the answers to these questions: Why are you studying Japanese? What’s your goal? It could be to read manga, watch anime without subtitles, to be able to read/speak it while on holiday or for a possible career. Your answer will… Read More…