Archive for category Japanese

13 useful Japanese learning sites

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Next week Final Fantasy XIII will hit Japanese stores and because a lot of European/North American people pre-ordered this game I think it’s a good idea to share my Japanese learning tools with you. I’m only learning Japanese actively since last year on my own rate so I’m not yet a intermediate speaker. The websites below have proven to be great learning tools for Japanese students. Don’t make any illusions, you won’t be able to master Japanese in 4 days, but knowing the basics is always helpful.

I’ve divided the sites in different categories with my own comments.

Writting:

Kanjistep: http://www.kanjistep.com/

When I first started Japanese last year I learned Katakana and Hiragana with this site. A great, but relatively unknown, site with a very good Kana chart and exercises. If you’ve pre-ordered FFXIII and don’t know anything about Japanese, I’d advise you to learn Katakana here. It can be recognized in one week and you’ll be able to read a lot of names, locations and attacks with this.

Japanese About: http://japanese.about.com/od/writing/u/Writing.htm

The About.com page for Japanese is loaded with lots of content, so it might be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for but has very good explanations and grammar.

The Kanjisite: http://www.kanjisite.com/

For those who want to learn (more about) Kanji this is a great site with lots of information. There is a basic step-by-step guide but besides that the website will probably be more used as a “dictionary” for Kanji. Remember JLPT4 = Easy –> JLPT2 = hard.

Grammar

Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar

Even if this site is the 4th item, it is definitely the best site for learning Japanese grammar. I can’t say how much I love this site so I’d advise to click the link and read the introduction to see for yourself how this site distinguishes itself from other expensive learning books.

The only problem I have with this site is that it teaches you a lot at high speed and “newbie’s” will probably have something like “WTF is this?” when reading the first 6 lessons. I’d advise you to use this site if you’re sure you can handle it or as a summary and wider explanation of what you learned somewhere else.

The Japanese page: http://thejapanesepage.com/

A lot of lessons; videos, audio and a nice community wrapped under a bad template design but still a good source.

Vocabulary:

Smart.fm: http://smart.fm/home

This is a very good learning tool which I use a lot. I recommend to use it if you want to learn Japanese (or other languages)

Verb conjugations:

 Japanese Verbs: http://www.timwerx.net/language/jpverbs/index.htm

Japanese verbs have a lot of conjugations. Unlike English verbs aren’t conjugated according to the subject of a sentence. The verb endings determine a variety of expressions, from “easy to do” to the conditional forms (if…). Since the sentences are written in Romaji (the way how you pronounce the Japanese words) this site also serves as a good exercise to write the sentences again in Hiragana/Katakana.

Japanese online dictionaries and translators:

WWWJDIC: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C 

Very popular (and powerful) tool developed by Jim Breen. If you have an iPhone/iPod Touch, I’d advise you to download “Kotoba!” . This free offline application makes use of Jim Breen’s database to provide translations, writing instructions, examples and detailed word info in English, French and German. It has a much nicer interface than the above site. I always use it when playing Japanese games or watching Japanese videos because I’ve always been able to find every word. You can download it from the iTunes store.

Excite!: http://www.excite.co.jp/world/ 

A very good translator which still is able to give some wonky results sometimes. When you’ve to translate a Japanese text, it’s best to do with this one and Google Translate below

Google Translate: http://translate.google.com/?hl=eng#

You’ll probably know this. Alternatives are Babelfish or Bing Translator.

YouTube:

Nihongo Dekimasu: http://www.youtube.com/user/momo3149#p/u

Online lessons that have proven to be quite helpful for people. While completely in Japanes (with dialogues translated in English) it still is a very good and fun learning method.

Books:

The JapanShop: You can find a variety of Japanese learning books here: http://www.thejapanshop.com/home.php

I personally advise you to use the “Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese” books. They are easily the best Japanese learning books containing understandable grammar, vocabulary and Kanji (as well as Hiragana and Katakana)

Other:

Me and the others! I’m still upper-beginner but I’d love to help you. I’m sure that people like Tae Kim and the other sites I mentioned above will help you too with professional advice when you’ve got questions.

Feel free to contact me: the13thcrystal@hotmail.com


 

If you’ve got time and are importing FFXIII, you should follow theses steps the next 4 days:

For Beginners (when you know absolutely nothing about Japanese)

1. Learn a bit of Japanese culture on Wikipedia

2. Learn about the Japanese writing systems and start learning Katakana from Tae Kim’s guide.

3. Start using smart.fm and learn Japanese Core 2000: Part 1

You can’t finish this in four days but it learns you some very good vocabulary. Be sure to use iKnow (not the embedded tool) and change the difficulty setting to display only Katakana/Hiragana/ABC… of your choice. There’s a relentless amount of lists including some with RPG vocabulary.

 For (upper)-intermediates (when you know already a lot of Japanese but need to improve it further)

1. Extend your Japanese grammar even further with Tae Kim’s special expressions and advanced topics

2. Start an RPG specific list on smart.fm

3. Look at the Japanese FFXIII screenshots to review what you’re able to understand.


 

I hope these 13 sources really help you if you’re wanting to learn Japanese (or even if you’re learning it already. I hope I peeked someone’s interest in studying Japanese.

がんばって!

Follow me on Twitter:  13thCrystal

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