During my years of perusing textbooks and getting information on learning Japanese, I came across a variety of useful resources for gaining a better understanding of the language. Here are three websites which, I think, are the best sources for anyone seriously dedicated to learning Japanese.
Learning Kanji is pretty damn essential in being able to understand the written language in Japan. There are thousands of Kanjis but every school student, by the age of 16, should know approximately 2000 characters. Being able to read Kanji equates to being able to read the world around you during your travels in Japan. Although the underground stations in Tokyo do have Hiragana/Katakana and Roman letters as well as Kanji, other rural cities cannot be relied upon. You might find yourself faced with the prospect of having an entire food menu written in Kanji!! ‘Wanikani’ is an indispensable website for learning Kanji. It has 20 levels of Kanji, each level increasing in complexity. At the end of level 20, you would have learned 2000 characters. In every level, there are radicals, Kanji, and vocabulary which contain the Kanjis. ‘Radicals’ are constructed pictograms which form parts of the Kanji. Each level has new radicals that you must learn. These radicals make it easier to learn the Kanjis (because one radical may feature in several Kanjis) and in turn the vocabulary. Kanjis have two ways of reading; ‘onyomi’ and ‘kunyomi’. Wanikani will teach you the most commonly used way of reading. One lesson will contain a number of Kanjis and words to memorize.
Your progress will depend on the Kanjis memorized and the scores on your tests. Each test consists of Kanjis appearing on the screen and you either must write the hiragana ‘onyomi’ and ‘kunyomi’ readings or write the English meaning. You are also taught useful mnemonics which make it easier to remember. The website ranks every Kanji and vocabulary based on how many times you correctly interpret them. They might rate a Kanji or a word as ‘critical’ if you keep getting them wrong or as ‘master’ if you answer them correctly. Wanikani uses spaced repetition to help you learn. If you continually answer correctly, it will be listed as ‘burned’ and eventually won’t appear on your tests. After unlocking all the Kanjis in one level, you can move onto the next level. It’s easy and fun to progress and it only takes about 30-40 minutes of your day. There is also an app which you can download. The monthly subscription to this app is just 9 dollars a month. However, you should remember that using this website might make you an expert at reading Kanji in both hiragana and English but it won’t teach you how to write kanji. Here is the link to the Wanikani website:
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This website can be enjoyable for learning Japanese. There are tons of lessons ranging from beginner to advanced. They provide lessons on Japanese history and culture to give the learner more context for future language lessons. A typical lesson consists of audio lessons, which can be as long as ten minutes and is narrated by a super enthusiastic American man and a range of Japanese narrators. Every lesson starts with the people introducing themselves and asking each other how they are doing, which can be an essential tool for learning Japanese. The audio then features role-playing about a specific routine such as going to school or shopping in Tokyo. They use tongue in cheek dialogue and then at the end a breakdown of grammar points and new vocabulary which you will not find in many Japanese learning textbooks. There is an app to download so that you can immerse yourself in these audio lessons wherever you go. There are a variety of subscriptions and you can find further information via the link below:
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This website is not exclusively for learning Japanese, it is for finding language exchange partners. It will allow you to practice your speaking, listening, reading and writing. Sometimes it’s good to even get away from a classroom environment and practice day to day Japanese with native speakers. There are several different subscription packages which are not too expensive. You create your profile and state what language you would like to learn. You then use the search engine to find a native Japanese speaker who wants to learn English and you can also decide if you want a person residing in your country, what component and level of Japanese you would like to learn. There are many checkboxes for you to click so that you can decide if you want to meet the person face to face, have email exchange or a voice chat online. For those who want to learn in a classroom environment and find a qualified Japanese teacher, then this website also caters to the needs of those people. To subscribe to this website check this link out:
These resources, if used properly, will accelerate your Japanese language ability. If you are willing to pay for a small monthly or annual subscription to these websites, then I believe that your understanding of Japanese will increase exponentially. I have made friends via My Language Exchange and would not have increased my understanding of Kanji or grammar if it was not for the accessibility of websites like Wanikani and Japanese Pod 101. Do give these websites a try and see for yourself the impact on your learning!!
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