Quality Japanese Self Study Techniques

The majority of Japanese Talk articles focus on “Tips & Tricks” to study Japanese. These focus on study methods for improving speaking or reading, or studying in general if you’re busy, etc. Memrise is normally my go-to learning app for studying Japanese. (Lord knows there are a lot of Jtalkonline.com courses on Memrise.) But I’ve been using a new method recently that’s been a lot more effective.   The Drill Method (aka Quantity) Here’s a quick story. In 2015 I took the JLPT N1 for the first time. I used the Nihongo Soumatome books and studied their kanji and vocabulary using… Read More…

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Why You MUST Read in Japanese

When I started learning Japanese I drilled vocabulary, grammar and kanji. In my young mind language = words. For many years that was all I focused on, figuring that listening and reading was only achievable from learning this core information. Yes, vocabulary, grammar and kanji are incredibly important. But they mean nothing if you don’t read. You don’t magically learn how to read just from learning this information. You learn to read by reading. Reading then supplements and adds to your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and kanji. But reading does SO much more than that.   First Attempts to Read… Read More…

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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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Cheap Japanese – You Don’t Need to Break the Bank to Learn Japanese

I was at a convention the other day talking about how beginners can learn Japanese for anime and manga. At the end one person asked me. “I was thinking of starting Japanese with Rosetta Stone, but is it worth the price tag?” I’d never used Rosetta Stone but after asking others everyone said: nope. Which got me thinking, do you need to break the bank to learn Japanese? Here are some cheap Japanese language options for beginners and intermediate.   There are plenty of free resources online (such as flashcard programs Anki and Memrise) that are easy to find. But… Read More…

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How to Be Productive When Studying Japanese

It’s incredibly easy to constantly think “I’ll do this later” and then not. Then the day ends and you haven’t studied. Then the week, then, if you’re not careful, the month! It’s incredibly easy to do. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’ve not studied in over a week until it’s too late. Even I struggle to be more productive with Japanese, but you’ve got to find a system that works for you. This could just be a single app and/or a combination of productivity techniques. Here are a few suggestions that you can implement to become more productive when studying… Read More…

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Speak Japanese Fluently in 1 Year Challenge (Part 2)

Speak Japanese Fluently in 1 Year Challenge (Part 2)

This is a step-by-step guide from complete beginners who want to challenge themselves to speaking fluently within 1 year. This is aimed at beginners but these techniques can be picked up by anyone who wants to speak Japanese fluently. These tips and tricks focus on speaking only although knowing how to at least read hiragana and katakana is necessary.   NOTE: This guide is broken down into 4 parts for every 3 months of studying! Speak Japanese Fluently in 1 Year Challenge (Part 1)   Here’s the challenge: to be able to speak Japanese fluently in 1 year! Ok… but… Read More…

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How to Acquire Japanese Naturally

Acquire Japanese Naturally

I have always been a firm believer of the importance of combining study and using Japanese. Actually, that’s a lie. I used to be very lazy when it came to using Japanese but enjoyed studying immensely. It’s only in recent the last 5 years that I’ve been using Japanese more and more. Acquiring it through natural means while also studying. Using Japanese when you’re not used to it can be surprisingly difficult. However, using Japanese can be a far more effective way to remember Japanese long-term.   It was a few months ago that someone directed me to the work of… Read More…

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The JLPT is Over, What Now?

JLPT's Over, What Now?

The JLPT is finally over! You’ve slogged for months and months (or at least weeks and weeks?) studying vocabulary, kanji, grammar. You challenged yourself and whether you pass or failed you did it! Now it’s the winter holidays, your life is getting busy and your brain wants to rest. It’s so tempting to just stop studying for a few weeks! And you should! But also shouldn’t! Here’s why and what you can do to stop your Japanese getting dull.   Stop Studying (But Only for a Bit!) If you’re suffering from burn out it’s sometimes healthier for your brain to… Read More…

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Techniques to Improve Japanese Pronunciation

Pronouncing is a huge part of speaking Japanese. You can speak Japanese but if you can’t say it with a clear accent then native people are going to have trouble understanding you. They can still understand you most of the time but sometimes they might mis-understand what you’re trying to say. Even if you think you have a good Japanese accent there are still times when it’s not quite right and you sound foreign. Here are some techniques you can do to improve Japanese pronunciation. You can take these are far as you want. You can just train yourself to… Read More…

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Using Twitter for Japanese

Social media can be a great tool for learning and practicing Japanese. Not just the language, but the culture and current affairs too. Actually it has so many benefits for learning and practicing Japanese that I don’t know why people don’t do it more often. This post will be focusing on Twitter, although can mostly apply to other social media like Facebook, YouTube, LINE, etc. Benefits of Twitter for Japanese Learn vocabulary and grammar specific to your own interests. See native interactions & natural language usage. Find out about current affairs. Make friends. Able to practice writing and reading.  … Read More…

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Techniques to Improve Speaking Fluently [For ALL Levels]

Improve Speaking Fluently シャドーイングとは?

Speaking Japanese can be particularly frustrating for all levels if you don’t practice it. But it often feels like a catch 22. You don’t feel good enough to speak it, so you never practice, which means you don’t feel good enough to speak it! So how do you improve speaking fluently? These are tips and tricks that you can do without a speaking partner to help you get more confident with speaking Japanese fluently.   Say Everything You Read Outloud I’ve touched on this in more detail in A Simple Way to Start Speaking Japanese but you should read everything… 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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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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10 Ways to 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…

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How to Talk About Hobbies in Japanese

Talking about hobbies is a great way to get to know someone when you first meet them! It’s also a good way to use and learn a lot of new verbs and interests in Japanese.   Talking about Hobbies in Japanese “What’s your hobby?” / “What are your hobbies?” 趣味(しゅみ)は何(なに)?                 [Casual] 趣味(しゅみ)は何(なん)ですか?     [Polite] (しゅみは) [noun] だ。              [Casual] (しゅみは) [noun] です。          [Polite] Note: You see lots of articles online saying 「わたしのしゅみは___です」, but this is a very “textbook” answer and sounds very wooden… Read More…

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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…

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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…

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Studying Anime Japanese – Intermediate Techniques

A while ago I wrote some basic techniques for studying Japanese anime. This was followed by a number of articles focusing on common basic vocabulary and grammar found in anime, manga and games. This is a look at studying anime Japanese – intermediate techniques. Popular media can be a great tool for learning and practicing Japanese! Studying Anime Japanese – Basic Techniques A quick summary of this article: Watch lots of anime. Listen to the anime – turn off subtitles. Make notes of vocabulary and phrases. Study basic vocabulary on the side. Study intermediate grammar.   Studying Anime Japanese –… Read More…

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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…

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How Not to Use Memrise

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…

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Top 10 Japanese Talk Online Articles

Japanese Talk Online is 3 today!!! 誕生日おめでとう!!! Japanese Talk has actually been a thing for longer than 3 years, but it became Japanese Talk Online 3 years ago today. I never imagined I would keep it up. That I would have so much to write about studying Japanese. Or that I would have helped so many people learn and improve and have fun with Japanese! It’s just crazy! I have written a lot of articles over the last 3 years, and had a number of guest posts too! So many of them are easily missed unless you’re bored enough to… 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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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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