So far we have covered tools for memorizing Japanese words and phrases, learning and reading kana and kanji, and of a great dictionary. Today we are going to talk about a program I used to use quite a bit when I first started working in Tokyo, JapanesePod101.
When I first started using JapanesePod101 is was basically a podcast, and a pretty good one. It had interesting (sometimes odd) conversations in Japanese, with explanations of the meaning and culture in English. It was very helpful for both hearing spoken Japanese and learning a lot of new words. I had a long commute so it worked perfect to help fill the time and keep me learning Japanese.
Since then, JapanesePod101 has expanded into a much more complete Japanese learning suite. There is still a free podcast, but if you choose the premium membership you also get an audio dictionary, a kanji dictionary, a grammar section, video lessons, transcripts for all the lessons, and a scheduler to make sure you stay on track with your goals.
The JapanesePod101 is a great podcast for practicing your Japanese listening skills. It has gotten even better as a full Japanese learning suite. You can check it out at the link below:
The last two tools I have written about (Remembering the Kanji and Reviewing the Kanji) have all been about learning the kanji. When learning kanji it’s important to not lose focus of why we are studying in the first place, “to read Japanese”. And it just so happens, that this next tool is a cool website called Read the Kanji.
Read The Kanji gives you Japanese words in Kanji or kana (depending on what you are studying) and asks you to type in the correct reading. It automatically converts to hiragana so you don’t even have to worry about having Japanese input set up on your computer. The words are also used in sentences so you will learn even more words, usage, and some grammar along the way as well. The site keeps track of your progress and shows you new words and kanji once you have mastered the ones you’ve already seen. It also tracks how well you know the different readings of each character.
The website is great for seeing new sentences and learning new Japanese words and Kanji, but there is actually something about it I like even more, it’s addictive. The feeling of always wanting to do “just one more” means that you will spend ample time learning Japanese. I recommend that you head over to the page right now and check it out. You can find it at the below link:
Read the Kanji
Yesterday, we covered what I consider to be an essential set of books for learning the Japanese kana and kanji. By themselves, Remembering the Kana and Remembering the Kanji are great tools for learning Japanese. So great in fact, someone has created an entire website to help you use them more efficiently. Besides being a website, Reviewing the Kanji is an SRS (spaced repetition system) that contains all the the kanji in the Remembering the Kanji series.
It keeps track of what you need to study, when you need to study it, and also keeps track of all your progress with various charts and reports. One of the best parts about the site is the social aspect. You can write your story for each kanji and also see what other people are using for theirs (this will make more sense once you get the books).
As far as I know, there is currently no way to sync Remember the kanji and Anki, so you will have to choose which one you want to use from the beginning. Though there does seem to be a plugin for Anki to import “Reviewing the Kanji” progress. Both have pre-made decks containing all the kanji, and in fact the deck for Anki even contains links to the Reviewing the Kanji page. I recommend you try them both out and see which one you like the best. You can find a link to Reviewing the Kanji below:
Reviewing the Kanji
Next in the line of helpful Japanese tools are a set of books. Remembering the Kanji 1 & 2 and Remembering the Kana are extremely useful tools, and combined with Anki, will hep you learn the Japanese kana and kanji before you know it. The system used in these books to teach the Japanese characters in not orthodox, but it works. If you are struggling to learn the kana or kanji, or maybe have been putting it off because the task looks to daunting, then you need to get these books. Once you get started you will be wishing you had started sooner.
If you want to get the books now, and I recommend you do, you can find links to purchase them in the right sidebar.
If you want to get started while you wait for your books to arrive, you can download the sample containing the first 276 Kanji now:
Remember the Kanji Sample
You can find more information on the books at the below link:
Remembering the Kanji
In the last couple of days we have covered Anki, an easy to use flash card program that will help you learn Japanese words and kanji quicker. We also discussed Denshi Jisho, a great Japanese dictionary. Today we will discuss two tools for reading and learning Japanese online (let’s face it, we spend a lot of time on here). Firefox is a browser and RIkaichan is an add on that will give you the meaning and reading for any word you mouse over. Rather than write a long post, I have listed links to two other posts describing both Firefox and Rikaichan in detail. There are also instructions for installation.
Using Firefox to Learn Japanese
Reading Japanese Words with Rikaichan
Download them and try them out. Rikaichan is an amazing tool that everyone learning Japanese should have at hand!