Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Japanese Learning Methods

I would like to make list of online resources for learning Japanese for those interested and my reviews of them (a lot of these websites can be used for other languages or even entirely different subject matters as well). Also, please check out this article posted by Koichi over at Tofugu:
That is the page I found some of these awesome resources, and there are also some that I haven’t written about too, so take a look!

Now my own thoughts. I’m not really listing these in any particular order…

First, a couple of dictionaries.

Denshi Jisho
An extremely useful English-Japanese dictionary where you can not only look up words, but sample sentences or individual kanji. The interface is nice and very comprehensive, and I refer to this all the time.


Yamasa Online Kanji Dictionary
Also a very nice tool, I usually use this to study kanji as when you look up a kanji character, it shows you the stroke order along with an animation to help you visualize exactly how one should draw it.


There are many other dictionaries out there and I’m not saying these are necessarily the very best, but they serve their purpose well and I use them all the time. (^^) Moving on to the learning-based websites

A simply brilliant website. I really, really urge you to at least visit the site, even if you’re not studying Japanese, as you can be taught so many things here – heck you can even teach and make some money yourself. At EduFire you can find a personal tutor to help you with a certain language or subject matter and meet them by webcam. You can also look through a long list of different classes, where the teachers present their lessons via webcam to a group of people instead of an individual. Several of these classes are free, and most of them are probably cheaper then teachers you would find off-line. Seriously, it’s worth taking a look! To top it all off, the community is so warm and friendly, so even just participating in the forums is nice~ (^^)


An awesome website for practicing any language(s) you may be learning! Here you can write journal entries in the target language and people who speak that language will be able to correct your entries and comment on them. This system is very effective, as they can literally cross out a word, add one in a different color, italicize something they want to emphasize, etc. In turn, you can help other by correcting journal entries written in English (or whatever language you know). You’ll understand how useful this is when you try it, so please do! Everyone there is always so nice too~


This is a Firefox extension that can help you learn Kanji from any webpage that you are visiting. It is a dictionary extension, and when you hover your mouse over a Japanese word, you can look up its reading, meaning etc. The application can also characterizes your webpage so that the first letter of certain words becomes the Japanese character that signifies that word. You can set this according to the study method of your choice – for example, I’m using the Remembering the Kanji profile, but I know there are others such as Kanjidic and Kanji in Context. Sometimes this can get a little confusing if you’re reading something important, so what’s nice about this characterizer is that it’s very easy to turn on and off as it’s sitting right in your browser.

And finally, a more specific types of learning systems - the SRS systems.

An SRS system (space repetition system); there are many different kinds out there that work just as well, but this is the one I use. It’s basically flashcards on your computer, but based on how well you remember the answer on the card, the system shows you that card when you need to see it again to maximize effective learning. It makes a lot of sense once you try it, and it can truly revolutionize the way to memorize and learn things. You can create your own flashcards for just about anything, and there are also many decks that other have created that you can download. The most popular one is for learning kanji based on Heisig’s book Remembering the Kanji. I use this myself, and it’s one of the best tools I’ve ever used to study Japanese.

This is also technically an SRS, but there’s more to it. Instead of downloading the program to your computer, the whole thing is online, so you can access it from anywhere if you have internet. It’s also “prettier” and more interactive, and the process is a little different: instead of you rating how well you know the piece of information, you’re playing more of a game where you get the answer right or wrong. Again, you can make your own list of anything you want, or use the ones that others have made.


Here is my method concerning SRS systems (I use both of the ones I listed, but for different situations). Anki is very good for the long-term stuff – a very large amount information you want to learn over several months but retain for longer., on the other hand, is great for the short-term and smaller amounts of information (so if you have a quiz the next morning or something for a class or a trip coming up quickly). Of course, both systems can be used for both situations, that’s just my personal preference, so experiment a little and see what works for you.

I hope this can help some of you! I realize many of you are probably aware of many of these awesome websites, I’d just like to help spread the word. So are there any other good educational sites you know of? Leave a comment and tell me about them!

1 comment:

  1. I definitely spent about five minutes deciding whether to log in using Twitter or Google. Oi...

    And how is it that I actually didn't know about some of these? o.O *bookmarks*

    Thanks again, pretty girl. You make my life easier. :)