Most textbooks try to teach you Japanese with English. That want to teach you on the first page how to say, "Hi, my name is Smith," but they don\'t tell you about all the arbitrary decisions that were made behind your back. They probably decided to use the polite form even though learning the polite form before the dictionary form makes no sense. They also might have decided to include the subject even though it\'s not necessary and excluded most of the time. In fact, the most common way to say something like "My name is Smith" in Japanese is to say "am Smith". That\'s because most of the information is understood from the context and is therefore exluded. But does the textbook explain the way things work in Japanese fundamentally? No, because they\'re too busy trying to push you out the door with "useful" phrases right off the bat. The result is a confusing mess of "use this if you want to say this" type of text and the reader is left with a feeling of confusion about how things actually work.
The solution to this problem is to explain Japanese from a Japanese point of view. Take Japanese and explain how it works; forget about trying to force what you want to say in English into Japanese. Another thing is to explain things in an order that makes sense in Japanese. If you need to know [A] in order to to understand [B], don\'t cover [B] first just because you want to teach a certain phrase.
Essentially, what we need is a Japanese guide to learning Japanese grammar.
This guide is an attempt to systematically build up the grammatical structures that make up the Japanese language in a way that makes sense in Japanese. It may not be a practical tool for quickly learning immediately useful Japanese (for example, learning common phrases for travel). However, it will logically create grammatical building blocks that will result in a solid grammatical foundation.
Another fine feature of the excellent About.com Japanese Language site. There aren\'t a ton of entries yet (more added regularly) but the ones that I have read through are explained very well and target useful and/or tricky areas of comprehension.
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This is a pretty basic site, but what makes it worth a studied visit is the "appendix articles" section. This section, designed with the intermediate student in mind, offers about a dozen articles that analyze and break down concepts that many beginning students find difficult to understand.
This site offers an excellent assortment of free-to-use online study materials, including:
- Japanese-English Quizzes in Romaji
- Japanese Kana Quizzes
- Kanji Study
- Words from Japanese Newspapers in Order of Frequency
- CGI Flashcards: Randomly Chosen Japanese Words for Reading Practice
- Matching Quiz: Words You Should Know
- Reading Japanese Signs
- Japanese Language Proficiency Test Vocabulary Lists
Try this site!
This CAI program is designed to help you practice and review basic Japanese grammar. It covers many of the grammar points taught in elementary Japanese language courses.
The program is based on A Course in Modern Japanese (CMJ), Volumes 1 & 2 (Nagoya University Japanese Language Education Research Group, University of Nagoya Press, 1983). If, while working with the program, you have any questions concerning grammar, please refer to the grammar notes in the textbooks. Volume 1 covers lessons 1 to 12 and Volume 2, lessons 13 to 24.
The original version of this program was developed by Kazuo Otsubo, Toshiko Kanda, Yuriko Fukao and Yoko Otsuka.
Offers lyrics (mostly romaji with some English translations) sorted by artist. Also has links to other lyrics sites.
An Internet Broadcasting Site developed by Richard Harrison in the Education Center for International Students, Nagoya University, Japan. Includes multiple lessons geared toward intermediate, advanced and superior levels.
According to several of my Japanese friends, this is the best online dictionary available. That said, it is far more useful to native speakers than non-native speakers. Still, this is a great "secondary" source to help when your primary source (e.g. WWWJDIC) leaves you unsure. Another strength is its sample sentences which really help figure out if a word is appropriate for your intended use.
This video series (originally TV and DVD) now has a web version. Each episode features two skits (basic and advanced) focusing on a grammar topic, discussion of the grammar and various cultural videos.
The skits and cultural videos are subtitled in normal japanese, kana only, romaji, or japanese + English making them open to many level sets. The navigation is currently in Japanese only but an English version is planned. [Hat tip to jyuichi ]
On this LiveJournal site you can post some Japanese text and ask for corrections, suggestions, etc. Or use it to post a grammar/vocabulary question. I haven\'t used it much, but a quick check looked like postings do indeed get quite a few responses so give it a try.
This page contains mnemonics for the kanji taught in the first six years of school in Japan (i.e. 1,006 kanji), as developed by Professor Kenneth Henshall. They have been extracted from his book: "A Guide To Remembering Japanese Characters" (Tuttle, 1995). The book covers all 1,945 general-use kanji.
This page has been prepared by William Clausing and Jim Breen with the kind permission of Professor Henshall and Tuttle Publishing.
On this site you can find various songs to listen to along with their lyrics - most available in Japanese, Romaji and English translation. Some of the artists include:
- Toshinobu Kubota
- Dragon Ash
- Ken Hirai
- Southern All Stars
- Katsuyuki Kurai
- Ayaka Hirahara
- Hikaru Utada
- Chitose Hajime
- Crystal Kay
This volume is one in a continuing series of books prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army. It describes and analyzes the political, economic, social, and national security systems and institutions, and examines the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors. The study is written by a multidisciplinary team of social scientists. The authors seek to provide a basic understanding of the observed society, striving for a dynamic rather than a static portrayal. Particular attention is devoted to the people who make up the society, their origins, dominant beliefs and values, their common interests and the issues on which they are divided, the nature and extent of their involvement with national institutions, and their attitudes toward each other and toward their social system and political order.
Chapter topics include:
Chapter 1. Historical Setting
Chapter 2. The Society and Its Environment
Chapter 3. Education and the Arts
Chapter 4. The Character and Structure of the Economy
Chapter 5. International Economic Relations
Chapter 6. The Political System
Chapter 7. Foreign Relations
Chapter 8. National Security
A thorough set of links on all aspects of Japan. Featured resources include:
- NIPPONIA, a quarterly magazine introducing contemporary Japanese culture and society to people all over the world
- Trends in Japan, short, engaging dispatches on the latest trends in Japanese business and economy; science and education; society; sports; and fashion, arts, and entertainment.
- Japan Access, concise introductions of typical topics related to themes such as Japanese geography, economy and culture.
- Japan Atlas, easy access to the unique features of Japan (Historic Sites, Festivals, Architecture, Nature, Traditional Crafts, Advanced Technology and Communities)
- The Virtual Museum of Traditional Japanese Arts
- Japan Insight, offering a deeper understanding of Japan through in-depth articles on Japan\'s trends, its aging society, the changing job scene and the growing problem of urbanization.
- Statistics, offering most everything you could want to find!
- Japan Directory, offering contact information for government-affiliated bodies, nongovernmental organizations and more. Links to administration, industry, media, society, culture and education.
- Regions & Cities, offering a virtual tour of Japan by accessing information resources and Web sites of Japan\'s prefectures and major cities
- The Japan of Today, offering info about present day Japan with this online databank covering Japan\'s government, economy, science and technology, society and culture
One of the most thorough and useful sites on the Internet - I have links to various sub-sections of this site elsewhere, but this is for the directory page.
A nice comprehensive site about Japan. Find topics including:
- Sightseeing guides
- Hotel search
- A job search feature
- Cellular Phones in Japan
- Travel News
- Living in Japan
- Information pages
- Shopping and Business
- Photo Gallery
Make sure you also check out the members area where you can search for penpals and place/view classfied ads.
Editor\'s Note: formerly Schauwecker\'s Guide to Japan
Harvey Beasley has produced a new blog based on the idea of learning Japanese through print ads and posters. Japanese Ads features one ad per post and Harvey\'s dissection of the meaning and cultural nuance therein. It is, like all great ideas, simple in its elegance and a great way to learn Japanese in the context of real word usage. Harvey does a great job of explaining how Japanese actually works and has a good time in the process. [courtesy of Nihongojouzu.com]
This is a cool site that offers a database of Japanese grammar entries. Search for a specific (or partial) grammatical point or look at grammar by JLPT level. Also, register and set up your own study lists. Very cool!
This site is an absolute god-send for those studying Japanese! I live by it. Use it as a simple dictionary or use its much more advanced features which include:
- Translate (great for inputting an entire email sent to you in Japanese for example)
- Find Kanji (multiple methods)
- Handwritten Interface
- Mobile phone access
- Check out Kanji stroke order
- Learn the Basics
This page offers up the 214 Kanji radicals along with their names, mnemonic names, and hyperlinked Kanji that contain the relevant radical (clicking these characters brings up all their relevant information along with compound words that contain them).
At kanjistep.com you can find information about the Japanese language, culture and other Japan related topics. Our goal is to help students of Japanese to master the language and build a global community of people interested in Japan, its language and culture.
On this web site we offer free language teaching materials of all levels for self-study. Currently there are over 200 pages and over 600 sound files available.
- JLPT placement tests
- daily expressions
- japan forum
- language exchange
- mail friend (penpal service)
Let\'s Learn Japanese is a video-based Japanese language study course for English speakers produced by The Japan Foundation. It consists of 52 video lessons, divided into two parts (Basic I and Basic II). Each part consists of 26 episodes, and the episodes explain grammatical structures, new words and cultural information about Japan.
According to Wikipedia, the first part (Basic I) was made in the mid 1980\'s, and the second part (Basic II) was created in the mid 1990\'s as a video-based Japanese language study course for English speakers. And all episodes of both parts were aired on television.
Links to various Internet radio servers featuring the Japanese language.
Have your Japanese corrected by native speakers at this community, part of the LiveJournal site.
This is one part of the immensely useful Jim Breen\'s WWWJDIC Server. Here you can quickly look up kanji by radical(s). Sometimes this is a very useful method of finding kanji...
This book was formerly available under the more intriguing title Gone Fishin\': New Angles on Perenial Problems. I highly recommend this book for all intermediate- or higher students of Japanese. It has been one of the most helpful books I have ever read since it deals with perennial problems that Japanese students deal with.
MIT made an historic decision a while back to offer their course materials online to the public for free. This page is for their foreign languages and literatures courses where you can find various Japanese courses.
Meguro Language Center offers some examples of their original teaching materials here, mostly in Flash or PDF format. Materials are separated into flash, beginner, low-intermediate, high-intermediate, intermediate and advanced, JETRO Test, and JLPT. The JLPT materials are especially useful, containing requirments, kanji lists, vocabulary lists and grammar points covered.
Welcome to the NHK World Japanese Lessons web site!
NHK airs Japanese lessons for people of various languages on its international shortwave RADIO JAPAN service. On this site, you can listen to those lessons.
Languages included: English, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, German, French, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Malay, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese
Will Jasprizza offers this informative and useful blog focused on topics relevant to learners of the Japanese language.
Editor\'s Note: this is one I read regularly myself.
This is a "cheat sheet" for the Japanese language. It is an attempt to condense and organize as many of the basic elements of the language onto one sheet of paper as possible. The intended use of this document is for you to download it, print it on two sides of one sheet of paper and keep it wherever you need it (in your Japanese textbook, on your desk, in your pocket, etc).
The intended use of this document is for you to download it, print it on two sides of one sheet of paper and keep it wherever you need it (in your Japanese textbook, on your desk, in your pocket, etc).
OCha No Kanji is a free, simple software designed to map your knowledge of kanji. This software runs under MS Excel 2000 and above. There are currently three levels : 4 kyuu (80 kanji), 3 kyuu (245 kanji) and 2 kyuu (985 kanji) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
You can test up to 40 kanji at a time. The test consists in asking the pronunciations of each kanji in a few words of the JLPT list. You will learn all the pronunciations you need and only the pronunciations you need !
After testing, the software updates the colors of the kanji in the \'All Kanji\' table:
- Red means that the pronunciations tested were all incorrect.
- Blue means that some were correct some were incorrect.
- Green means that they were all correct.
The important point of the software is that the \'green kanji\' will fade progressively to an almost white color, simulating your forgetting process. The more often you test a kanji and get all pronunciations correct, the slower the green color will fade (see help for details). Therefore, the \'All Kanji\' table really maps your memory of kanji and prompts you to keep revising.
This site is fantastic. Masahiro Kudo posts famous old Japanese stories in both Japanese and English about once a month (there are more than 170 as of this writing). He has also posted some famous Japanese songs.
This is a great site! Enter the address of a webpage which has Japanese encoding into the URL box. In the Dictionary next to that, choose the type of translation you want to perform and hit GO. Now the new page will show pop-ups in English of the meanings of the words as you pass your mouse over them. Similar to Rikai.com - but maybe even better...
When you\'re at this site be sure to pick up the bookmarklets which lets you click a button on your browser toolbar to automatically call up the POPjisyo translated page from any page you are visiting - similar to the PetitKanji bookmarklets but useful for the whole page...
The site also has RSS/RDF word feeds that might be helpful in your studies...
The Reading Tutor was designed to help JFL/JSL learners improve their reading skills in Japanese. This system was developed specifically to help learners study written Japanese at their own pace, in their own way.
Here\'s what is in the toolbox to help you start reading Japanese or improve the skills you already have.
- Japanese-Japanese Dictionary Tool
Just click on the button marked "JP->JP" and you\'ll find all the words with an explanation in Japanese, their English equivalents, and furigana.
- Japanese-English Dictionary Tool
Click on the button marked "JP->EN" and you\'ll find all the words with an explanation in English, their English equivalents, and furigana.
- Vocabulary Level Checker
Click on "Vocabulary" and all the words in a text will be analyzed according to their level of difficulty. These levels correspond to the 4 levels in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
- Kanji Level Checker
Click on "KANJI" and the Kanji (characters) that appear in the text will be analyzed according to their level on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
This site is incredibly useful - just paste a URL or selected Japanese text, hit Go and you will see your page or text reproduced but with a twist - when you mouse over a word you will see a definition and readings for that word.
Note: POPjisyo.com offers more or less the same thing and is, apparently, an imitator of this site. You can\'t go wrong with either site, but I actually prefer POPjisyo a bit because it seems to include some non-Kanji words (not always accurate though). It also uses a different dictionary at its foundation which is sometimes better.
Another reason to migrate to Firefox - rikaichan, from Polarcloud.com , is a Firefox extension that displays a popup showing the English definition of Japanese words as your cursor passes over them. Enabled/disabled with a simple right mouse-click rikaichan is the perfect companion when you browse the 新聞、朝日新聞 or 日経新聞 online. But there\'s more. Installing rikaichan puts a Lookup a Word item in the Tool menu - click it and a dictionary search box appears in your browser navbar. Sweet. rikaichan was based on Todd Rudick\'s excellent RikaiXUL, but is faster and easier to use. It uses the EDICT and KANJIDICT dictionaries. [courtesy of Nihongojouzu.com]
Editor\'s Note: I LOVE this tool - it\'s more convenient than going to PopJisyo or Rikai.com and I have actually found it to be more robust in some ways...
A regular column from The Daily Yomiuri about the Japanese language and culture as well as education (including English education in Japan). A good read.
The Kanji SITE was launched in September 1999 as a way for its author, Chris Jennings, to practice his kanji in preparation for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). It originally covered only the 80 kanji required for Level 4 of the JLPT, but has since grown to include a total of 1,000 kanji, namely the entire official syllabus for Levels 4, 3 and 2 of the exam.
The Kanji SITE is aimed primarily at people who are studying for the JLPT, and as such the kanji are organized according to the syllabi for Levels 4, 3 and 2 of that test. The JLPT Level 1 kanji will start to be added in due course. It will soon also be possible to study the kanji in the order that nature (well, the Japanese Ministry of Education, anyway) intended, i.e. according to the government\'s official Joyo and Kyoiku Kanji lists.
Editor\'s Note: I love this site!
This is the Japan country section of the World Factbook by the CIA. This is truly one of the most useful resources for quick information on any country, including in this case Japan. Categories covered include:
- Transnational Issues
WaKan is a freeware tool to assist in learning the Japanese and Chinese languages. It contains a character dictionary, a word dictionary, a vocabulary manager, a translation tool, a simple text editor and many other helpful functions, including the printing of flashcards.
One of the main goals of this project is to enable students to read Japanese or Chinese text with minimum knowledge of the language. You can paste Japanese or Chinese text from a website or a document into Wakan. While browsing through the text, Wakan displays not only the meaning of the word the cursor is on, but also displays information about characters, adds furigana to text and allows you to print the text with the furigana. When you encounter a word or character you would like to learn, you can add it into vocabulary or get to know additional information about it. When you enter some Japanese or Chinese text into the editor, Wakan automatically displays relevant dictionary entries and lets you choose the right character conversion. These features enable you to learn the language and build a vocabulary in a natural way: By coping with the real texts written in the real way (with all the characters) without becoming frustrated with the difficult writing system.
On this site you will find lots of great tools for studying Japanese. For example, there is a weekly Japanese idiom explained. There is also a daily column with a short reading aimed at intermediate level students. Then there is a cool photo dictionary where you can see pictures of common events, items, etc. in Japanese life. Not enough for you? How about a daily kanji, book reviews and polls, and downloadable photos.
This feature, found on the main page of the Yahoo! Japan site is great for finding out route and time information. It was recommended to me by my Japanese businessman friend. He claims it is the most reliable and comprehensive site for this type of functionality. Basically, you just enter the starting and ending stations and then select from options, including: departure date, departure time, arrival time, last train, or none (default). Be warned that the site is Japanese only, but thanks to a good friend such as rikaichan you won\'t have too much trouble using it. Highly recommended!
Well, this is the Kanji a Day and Grammar a Day email service from yours truly - just adding a link to it here to be thorough...
Access various course materials from York University\'s Japanese Studies Program on this site. Materials include vocabulary lists, lesson notes and dialogues, reading materials, exercises, dictation practice sounds, and quicktime videos for the following:
- Elementary Modern Standard Japanese
- Intermediate Modern Standard Japanese
- Advanced Modern Standard Japanese
- Advanced Reading in Contemporary Japanese
Additional content includes:
- Brief History of Japan
- E -J Classified Vocabulary
- J - E Idiomatic Expressions (Advanced)
- Manuscript Paper (Genkoo Yooshi)
Useful Tips for Typing in Japanese and English in MS Windows
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