Keeping a Diary in Japanese

You may or may not have ever considered keeping a diary in Japanese. This is actually a really, really, great way to practice Japanese and learn new things! It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or at an advanced level, keeping a diary is great for learning Japanese!   Why Should I Keep a Japanese Diary?   Improves writing. Improves memory. Introduces you to new words. You use more words relevant to you. Practice words you’ve learned.   What Kind of Diary Should I Use?   To be honest, anything that you know you will use on a regular basis.… Read More…

The Minimum Japanese You Need to Know

How much Japanese do you need to know? What Japanese do I need to know? These are tricky questions but ones that beginners really want to know. The following tries to answer these by clearly laying out the minimum Japanese you need to know.   The 80-20 Rule Ever heard of the Pareto Principle? Or maybe the 80-20 rule? To boil it down the idea is that 20% of the efforts bring in 80% of the results. In the context of Japanese you only need to know about 20% of the language to be able to get by 80% of the… Read More…

Why You Shouldn’t Study 1 Hour A Week

I have been studying Japanese for so long that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t need to study too much (unless I have an exam coming up). So I haven’t felt what it’s like to be a beginner in a long time. Then I started learning Korean and my early days of Japanese came flooding back. When I started learning Japanese it was before the era of smart phones and easy-to-make websites. Which surprisingly enough wasn’t that long ago! I would spend 1 hour a week with a teacher and then would sometimes study on my own and… Read More…

How to Draw Kanji

how to draw kanji

by Gabriel from Koipun Why learn to draw Kanji? In the era smartphones and computers, is it still worth it to learn how to draw kanji i.e. Japanese handwriting? Nowadays even native Japanese speakers are having a hard time maintaining their handwriting skills. Why should a Japanese learner bother with handwriting? There are actually several great reasons why you should learn Japanese handwriting in this day and age. It is magic. Being able to write kanji by hand from memory feels like being able to cast magic spells, and it is! Being able to write out so many different characters by… Read More…

The Benefits of Studying in Japan

A lot of people who learn Japanese do it in their home country. Which is great, but they often never consider actually studying it in Japan. Visiting Japan, sure, but never to go for a long period to study it. But there are so many benefits from studying in Japan! It was my friend who suggested we studied in Japan and I’ve studied there two more times since then! I loved it so much, it’s well worth going if you’re serious about Japanese. NOTE: It seems like many people think I’m talking about studying at University in Japan. But no! There… Read More…

10 Ways to Study Japanese After You’ve Stopped

Study Japanese After You've Stopped

Sometimes when you’ve been studying Japanese for a while you just stop. Often for seemingly no reason. A day goes by, then a week, then a month, then 6 months without learning anything. Even I’ve been guilty of this! It can be really difficult to pick up learning a language after you’ve stopped studying for a while. Often this is because it starts to feel like a chore… but you know you need to keep studying… but studying is boring… So what’s the best way to study Japanese after you’ve stopped?   Here are 10 ways to study Japanese after you’ve… Read More…

Study Japanese When You’re Busy

study japanese when you're busy

Studying another language can be a challenge, especially when you’re busy. Even just sitting down for even 20 minutes a day can be hard! But it’s really not impossible. Here are some tricks to help study Japanese when you’re busy.   1. Label Everything This is a great trick when you’re starting out. Label all the objects in your house/office in Japanese. Don’t write the English, just the Japanese. That way you can read the Japanese for those objects every day. It doesn’t take long to label things and it’s great practice. You can even cover the labels with another… Read More…

I Don’t Have Time to Study Japanese

“I want to learn Japanese, but don’t have the time to study.” Have you ever said this to yourself? Have you thought about studying Japanese but then it’s suddenly 10pm and you did nothing? Yeah, we’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s hard to put aside the time to study. Especially everyday! You have real life stuff getting in the way like that one TV show, or school, or work. At least… that’s what you tell yourself. If you really, really, really want to learn Japanese then here are some suggestions for fitting it into your busy life. – Find Little… Read More…

Achieving Japanese Goals

Happy New Year!!! With the new year we all set ourselves goals. I want to learn Japanese, to pass the JLPT, to be able to read a manga. I’ve had similar goals in the past, but actually achieving Japanese goals has never gone quite as planned. There can be a number of reasons for this. The following is suggestions for achieving Japanese goals in 2017! Break Down Your Goals Saying “I want to teach myself Japanese” is a great goal! Buuut it’s not easy to achieve because it is so big. Even saying something like “I want to read manga” can… Read More…

How Not to Use Memrise

Memrise is one of my favorite tools for studying Japanese. That’s well known to people who have read previous Japanese Talk articles. I’ve created many courses for others through JTalkOnline as well as lists for my own study. What is Memrise? For those that don’t know, Memrise is a free online community created flashcard program with spaced repetition software. You are rewarded for studying by gaining points, and can compare your points to others. Because the courses are created by the community there are a HUGE number of courses for Japanese (and other languages). Some are made by people like myself… Read More…

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…

Videos About Learning Languages

Videos About Learning Languages

Often in the process of studying Japanese I’ll hit a point where I need inspiration and advice to get me motivated again. The best thing for that are videos about learning languages. This post looks at some of the best inspirational and useful videos for learning languages and a breakdown of their core lessons (an idea I got after Japan Therapy posted one on her facebook page). These videos mostly talk about learning a language through speaking it to the point where you can have conversations in a foreign language. I’ve written down their core tips but do watch every… Read More…

Video Game Japanese

When I was 11 my sister got our very first video game, Final Fantasy IX. Little did I know it would greatly shape me to be who I am today. I’m sure many people who fall in love with video games have found the same thing, but for those who fall in love with Japanese video games, it can be so much more. For many it’s not anime or manga which is their gateway drug to studying Japanese language and culture, but video games. And for many of these people, being able to understand games in Japanese is the sole… Read More…

Best Japanese Study Resources

There are a lot of lists like this on the internet yet quite often I find they only list the most popular resources, not the best Japanese study resources. The following list are some of the best Japanese study resources that I have personally used in the last 10 years of studying Japanese that I highly recommend to anyone (not including dictionaries). I find that as you study what resources you find useful will constantly change, so it’s always good to research what will suit you best for that time. If you have any suggestions feel free to post them… Read More…

The Importance of Using Japanese

Do you find that no matter how much you study, no matter how many days in a row, how many hours you spend a day or points you rack up with apps like Memrise, that you don’t feel like you’re progressing? Maybe it’s because you’re studying Japanese but not using it? This blog covers the importance of using Japanese, now just studying it. In a previous post called Why Repetition is Important I talked about the importance of studying little and often, which focused on the practice of studying Japanese. In fact, most of J-Talk focuses on studying Japanese whether… Read More…

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…

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…

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…

Being “Fluent” In Japanese

“What does it mean to be fluent in Japanese?”   When I tell people I speak Japanese they often ask “are you fluent?” to which I often reply “no, not yet”. Yet I’ve been thinking more about this question, and realised that what you define as “fluent” can vary from person to person.  According to Google the definition for “fluent” is: 1. able to express oneself easily and articulately. 2. smoothly graceful and effortless. I mentioned before on the Why Repetition is Important post, that to me getting to the point where you can do something without even thinking about it, is fluent.… Read More…

How To Make a Memrise Course

  [I have two translation exams coming up in the next few days so I had to put my originally planned post on hold while I whipped this up super quick. Sorry about this, but hope people find it useful anyway!] It’s amazing how well a lot of the J-Talk Online Memrise courses are doing. I’m thrilled to see so many people using it to learn Japanese. Since I started creating courses in March 2014 (over a year ago!) I’ve made 20 courses with the most popular courses being the Anime Japanese for Beginners, Beginners Japanese Grammar 1, Japanese Counters… Read More…

Review of italki.com

italki.com is a website I decided to check out after watching this video by Rachel and Jun reviewing the site. Turns out I’d already signed up for the website at the beginning of this year, I’d just completely forgotten about it until recently! This website allows people to connect with people who speak the language their learning, it’s not just Japanese, but all kinds of languages! You can practice Japanese in a number of ways: Hire teachers who will give you lessons! Find language partners to type messages to talk to them via skype! Post notes and ask questions and… Read More…

Studying Japanese with Dyslexia

I am 25 years old (I’ll be 26 in May). I have gone through standard education and further education with a degree in Social Anthropology and am doing an MA in Japanese Translation. I just found out that I am dyslexic. I have gone through the entirety of my education without anyone picking up on it until my University lecturer did earlier this year. I had always had suspicions but when I had approached an adult in the past they just brushed it off. Now that I have the knowledge that I am dyslexic it puts the last 9 years… Read More…

Why Repetition is Important

“Practising for 15 minutes a day is better than 1 hour every 3 days” This is what a good friend said to me the other day, and it’s been stuck in my head all week. The thing is, is he wasn’t even talking about Japanese, but practising the guitar. It also reminds me of a guest lecture at the beginning of this year. The lecture was about the original Street Fighter and the level to which gamers would get to from practising so much that their moves came naturally. They fought without thinking. This is what I try to achieve with… Read More…

My Japanese Study Routine

As I mentioned in the last post on Finding Your Daily Study Routine everyone works differently using different resources and methods to learn Japanese. The following is my own routine, what works for me, what doesn’t and how this has changed over time and why. Hopefully this will help give people a better idea of how to study Japanese in your spare time.   Goals First of all, I don’t set a fixed number of hours aside a day to study. I’ve tried it in the past and it’s always been detrimental for me because I feel like I HAVE to… Read More…

Finding Your Daily Japanese Study Routine

Every person’s study routine is different. Not only does it change from person to person but can vary over time. This post talks about different study routines you can do, why it’s important to keep it varied, and how to find one that works best for you. For someone who is just starting out it’s hard to get into the swing of a daily routine, but persistence brings out the best results. How your study routine plays out depends very much on the type of resources you use and how you learn best, which is why the following has a… Read More…

Learning Japanese BECAUSE IT’S FUN!

Before you do anything else, please watch this video: I made a previous post about finding ways to motivate yourself. Since then I’ve come across a lot of useful videos and blogs on learning new skills, but this one blew my mind. I know the statements he makes in the video are pretty simple. And are probably obvious statements to many of you. But I have a confession to make… even after 8 years of learning Japanese I’ve fallen into some of the pitfalls that have stifled my Japanese… With the new year approaching fast I want to first tell you… Read More…

Japanese – Where to Start II

Japanese - Where to Start

“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…

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…

Using YouTube to Learn Japanese

Learning Japanese from textbooks and articles on the internet are great but sometimes your brain isn’t taking in the words and you need a change of pace. Watching and anime or dramas is good to give your brain something different but it’s not exactly pushing you unless you’re watching it without subtitles and really concentrating on learning the words. You might be an auditory learner rather than a visual learner and would prefer videos and audio tracks to books. So why not use YouTube to learn Japanese? If that’s the case there are a number of lessons on Youtube that are… Read More…

Studying Japanese Grammar

“I find it hard to learn Japanese Grammar” In the past I’ve tried to explain basic Japanese sentence structure and introduced “masu” form, but I’ve not gone into much detail on how to learn these. That’s difficult thing about Japanese grammar, you can’t just read about it and expect to know it. There are hundreds of websites that explain grammar to you and tell you what you need to know for the various JLPT levels, but not much on how you learn that. I guess to sum it up you just have to keep using it in different situations. But what’s the… Read More…