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…

Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

“I’m going to Japan but I don’t know much Japanese”   This is great Japanese for if you’re studying in Japan and/or doing homestay. Well first thing’s first, try and learn the hiragana and katakana. I try to have all my posts in hiragana and katakana (not kanji for beginners posts) so that you can practice reading it. There are so many sites that just use romaji (western characters) and it hurts my head. Learning the alphabets are useful if you’re going to visit anyway (for things like menus and to help with pronunciation of words so people can understand… Read More…

Anime Talk – Vocabulary Found in Anime

I mentioned in a previous post how you can use anime and manga to practice Japanese. This is a vocabulary list of some of the most common words and phrases found in certain animes. If you learn these before you start watching a certain show you’ll probably notice them cropping up. This is a great technique as you’re understanding of Japanese will begin to increase in a more natural way as you incorporate learning with practising in a natural environment. Japanese used in anime and manga is often very informal Japanese. This makes it incredibly different from the style you’d… 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…