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…

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…

Getting Translating Experience I

“I want a job in translating but have no experience, and I can’t get any experience without a job…”   The catch 22 of the job world. This problem is even more prominent in translation as almost every position I have ever come across for Japanese/English translation demands at least 3-5 years experience. Many young graduates of Japanese related fields run into this problem. I find that many might not have the necessary Japanese skills to go into translating right after graduation and so often turn to teaching positions in Japan. Myself, and others, are stubborn and resist this approach until it’s… Read More…

Things I Learnt Studying Japanese

Tips for Studying Japanese Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt over the years studying Japanese. I hope these come in handy with your own study. Just because you feel like you should know something doesn’t mean you do.  There have been many times when I’ve been studying and gone “I already know this I don’t have to do it again.” But just because you’ve studied it doesn’t mean you actually know it. This caused me to waste more time going back over something I felt I should know but when I came across it outside of studying. I knew… Read More…

JLPT N4 – Study Method and Resources

So for those who don’t know I’ve talked previously 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 with what the exam is, resources and study methods (which is why the two 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…

JLPT N5 – Study Methods and Resources

I’ve talked previously 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. So this guide is made using those and other online advice for complete beginners wanting to take the JLPT exams whether it be for masochistic fun, to push your language ability, or for school.   What do I need to know to pass JLPT N5? First of all it’s good to know what exactly… Read More…

J-Talk Online Memrise Courses

So in the last few weeks I came across the flashcard program Memrise. I’d heard about it before but never really checked it out. It had been so long since I’d used AnkiDroid that I decided to try it out, and it is amazing! I entered in some vocabulary I was studying and managed to go over about 220 of them in a single weekend! When I hadn’t been doing much before hand this was a big confidence booster! So why is Memrise so great? Well for one thing putting vocabulary into a flashcard deck and getting other people’s is SO much… Read More…

Learning Kanji – From Beginners to Advanced

Kanji is an interesting part of Japanese that is not to be taken lightly, but not to be intimidating either. There are 2136 official regularly used (常用 / じょうよう) kanji, each with one to three or more readings but there is a pattern and a way to work out which readings to use. 1006 of the kanji are taught in Japanese primary schools, and the other 1130 are secondary level. After learning all 2136 you should be able to understand Japanese on the same level as a native 16 year old. But it’s important to start with small steps. The… Read More…

Motivation Studying Japanese

“I am having trouble studying. I want to study but I just don’t feel motivated to any more.”  Blaaaarrrrrrggggg…I hate feeling unmotivated. There are times (like recently) where I just haven’t wanted to study, resulting in me barely touching Japanese for well over 3 months 4 months! That is bad (and hypocritical) especially when I keep saying how important it is to use and study Japanese every day. I think, “I’ll sit down and do an hour of Japanese today….juuuuuust after I watch this episode of The Following”…4 hours later and nothing has been done! I’m sure other people have had this… Read More…

Cooking Japanese I – Customs and Vocabulary

“I want to be able to read Japanese cook books and online recipes!” Ever wanted to be able to cook Japanese food? Ever wanted to be able to read Japanese cook books? I certainly have. I love cooking Japanese food. You can find so many recipes online but some of the best are from native chefs. It’s difficult when you’re not in Japan with access to the ingredients, but there are ways to replace the ingredients and places in stores and online you can get hold of them. This is a two-part post with Cooking Japanese II focusing on practicing Japanese… Read More…

The JLPTs

If you are studying Japanese, even if you are doing so for fun, you should do the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (or the JLPTs). Many people learning Japanese have heard of the JLPTs but don’t know what they are. They are 5 Japanese language exams that are held twice a year in July and December across the world. They test learners Japanese skills for vocabulary, grammar, listening and reading (no speaking or writing). Tests are multiple choice. JLPT N5 is the lowest and N1 is the highest. Beginner levels test your hiragana/katakana reading skills and higher levels test kanji. But all… Read More…

Grouping Topics for Easy Learning – Teaching Yourself Beginners Japanese

“What should I learn next?”   When studying Japanese the amount you need to learn can be really daunting but breaking it down into topics can make it so easier. It doesn’t make much sense to cram lists of vocabulary unless you’re using that vocabulary with a mix of other things. This is how Japanese text books work, they will give you some vocab along with grammar and then reading/listening/writing practice to enforce the two together before moving onto the next section. This gives you a steady stream of Japanese without overloading your brain. I’ve put together some topics and… Read More…

The Basics of Grammar

“I just don’t get grammar” This is something I say a lot. I admit grammar is a tricky subject for me, and I have personally struggled with it since I started learning Japanese. But it doesn’t mean you have to! If you’ve just started studying Japanese you might notice that sentences are structured a bit differently compared to English. You might be learning vocabulary and the kanas and focusing on how to listen to Japanese, but not so much creating your own sentences which are based heavily in Japanese grammar. Memorising vocabulary is fantastic but when it comes to speaking… Read More…

Practising Japanese with Natives

“It’s so hard to learn Japanese without practising it with someone who knows Japanese”   Believe it or not there are many ways you can meet native Japanese speakers and practice with them! Some are free and others can get pretty pricey, but all are worth it if you put the time and effort into it, and you might even make some good friends out of it! italki.com italki is a fantastic website for meeting Japanese people! You can pay for teachers or find language partners for free! Skype is necessary so you can chat to people. Full review of italki.com here!… Read More…

Learning Japanese Particles

“I don’t understand particles! How do I know which ones to use when?”   Particles are a necessary evil when you start learning Japanese. They can be tricky but once you understand them Japanese (and especially grammar) becomes so much easier! For complete beginners, particles are markers in the sentence connecting words together. Similar to “a” “to” “and” “or” ect. For example, in a simple sentence “I am Niffer” you would say “watashi wa Niffer” ‘wa’ being the particle in this sentence. You can see a list of all these particles at Nihongo Ichiban which might seem like a lot but they… Read More…

Using Japanese Popular Media in Self Study

“Studying Japanese can be so boring sometimes and I just don’t have the time for it”   Japanese can be fun, you make time for it if it’s fun. Many people who want to study Japanese, or are studying Japanese, are doing so because they have come in contact with some form of Japanese popular media and it inspires them to learn Japanese. This is not a bad thing and I think it’s really unfair when people of high Japanese level (often professionals) criticise young people for being interested in Japan and Japanese because they “only like manga and anime”.… Read More…

Retaining Your Japanese

“I’m trying to learn Japanese, but I keep forgetting what I’ve learnt!”  I hate it when I go to use a word in Japanese and I have to stop myself and think “I just learnt this! Why can’t I remember it!?” *Flips table* Well over the years I’ve found that you cannot retain information as soon as you’ve read it (if you’re like me; if you’re like my boyfriend and can then you can f-off right now because I am very jealous of you). So learning does take a bit of practice and although you might find it takes a… Read More…

Apps for Learning Japanese

If you have some form of small portable computer having apps on for Japanese practice is invaluable. They allow you to practice anywhere at (almost) any time. If you often find you don’t have time to set aside time to study Japanese using an app to practice if you’re commuting, or between classes, or even just in bed and can’t be bothered to move, is a great way to get that practice in every day so that you don’t forget too quickly. Use them for long enough and you’ll soon notice that you’re reaping the rewards. I only recently got… Read More…

Japanese – Where to Start

“I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese but I don’t know where to start.” When starting to learn Japanese I will always recommend learning hiragana (ひらがな) and katakana (カタカナ) straight away. Why? Because it is invaluable if you go to Japan (for reading and speaking), and most study guides will use these. They are the most basic foundation of the Japanese language. They are two of the Japanese alphabets and although there are 46 characters in each of these, it is not that difficult or scary to learn them! It can be done relatively quickly! When I started learning Japanese I… Read More…