10 ways to learn Japanese

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A keen home Japanese language learner, Daniel shares his top tips and 10 favourite resources for getting to grips with the language.

Following my previous blog, I thought that it might be beneficial to share the resources I use daily for any aspiring Japanese language learners out there.

My practice actually starts in an unconventional way – I count my push-ups in Japanese (that’s 170, if you’re wondering!). When I reach the point where I get back in my chair and lift weights, I watch something in Japanese. In fact, I’ve largely given up watching English television.

1. Rosetta Stone – Japanese language version

Rosetta Stone - Japanese language resource

After the full round of exercise is done, my study regimen begins at my computer.

The first cornerstone of my Japanese language lesson is Rosetta Stone. Admittedly my version is probably a bit old (it updated to Version 4 some time ago), but I still find it really useful.

If you have not yet completed this course, then do the activities in order and fully. I have finished but I still review it every day with the following approach:

• Core Lesson repeated daily until the material is thoroughly covered.
• Either a Listening and Reading or Reading lesson, depending on which is next in line.
• Then a Rosetta Stone “milestone”. I used to find them daunting challenges, but with practice it’s not a scary thing.

2. Rocket Languages audio course

Rocket Japanese audio

After completing the Rocket Languages course, use one of the three levels of role play. It takes dialogue from the lessons and puts you into a conversation where you speak the lines of an instructor for a whole level.

At level one of the role play, I have a technical issue so I just listen. But for two and three (24 and 30 minutes), I fill the role of Taro and speak all of his lines. I repeat the same level for several days until I feel that it’s covered. As I speak at 2 and 3, I use those ones far more often.

The immersive nature of Rosetta Stone and Rocket Japanese are vital to my success!

3. NHK world Easy Japanese

NHK World Japanese language learning

I can’t forget to do a ten-minute audio lesson from NHK world Easy Japanese; repeated daily until I memorise the material. I saved an earlier course and now use both the old and the new one.

4. Digital dialects – Japanese language

Digital Dialects Japanese language website

After that comes a list of activities from a website called Digital Dialects. I start by reading the Hirigana version of an eBook about the Edo period out loud. Once I finish the book, I do many of the activities on the site. Usually in this order: Animals, Vocabulary, Vocabulary Builder, all three Kanji quizzes, one katakana quiz, and telling the time.

From here I perform all levels of the Kana & Kanji Quiz Windows app. I repeat each level until I score 20 out of 20.

5. Hiragana & Katakana Trainer app

Japanese alphabet learning app

Next I use the Hiragana & Katakana Trainer app for the alphabets used in the Japanese language.

6. Read Japanese app

Listen to audiobooks on the Read Japanese app

I listen to Hikoichi and the Young Lord on the Read Japanese app.

7. YouTube – JapanesePod101

JapanesePop101 is an online resource to learn the Japanese language

YouTube is great for top ten word or phrase videos from JapanesePod101. The top ten words videos are only about a minute and a half, while phrase videos are typically about four minutes.

8. Lentil

Lentil is a website to learn the Japanese language from

Lentil is really useful for Top 25 or 50 Kanji words and phrases.

9. Teachmekanji

Visit teach me Kanji to learn the Japanese language

Teachmekanji is very important! Its scoring system aligns with the Japanese Language Proficiency test.

10. Watch Japanese television and films

Dragon Ball Z is a popular Japanese television programme
Dragon Ball Z

After all that there are things that I can watch any time such as Kamen Rider and Dragon Ball Z. Long shows like this are good for immersion in the Japanese language.

Never underestimate how useful combining your learning and entertainment can be. Learning from programmes and films means that I know words that may not feature in my other resources, like space pirate, vampire, spaceship, “I will defeat you!” and the like. The Blu-Ray format is your friend, as anything can be imported and playable in the UK and the US.

The only thing left is to wish you luck. The most important decision you can make is to learn it – speaking Japanese brings me so much joy.

Daniel visited Japan earlier this year with InsideJapan Tours

Daniel travelled with InsideJapan Tours earlier this year. Plan your trip to Japan today (and practice those new found Japanese language skills!)

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