Japanese Language Tools

During my time learning Japanese, I've tried many resources and have found that there's not just one magical source, but that it takes a multitude of tools to cover all the bases; and some are better than others. Here's what I am using to learn Japanese:

Language class
I have never learned so much, in such a short amount of time. Not only do you get informed and specialized instruction, but also the opportunity to put what you're learning into practice. The course I took dedicated an entire class period per week to speaking, pronunciation and conversation. The lesson focused not on learning new vocabulary, but on taking what you've already learned that week, and putting it to use. The instructor would give us prompts, and we would give answers aloud, in front of the class. We would also work on conversational skills and dialogues in small groups or pairs.

The Genki Japanese textbook is well designed and formatted, with a logical and well paced introduction of material. It does a good job at teaching vocabulary and providing the grammar necessary to put it to use. It's good in a classroom setting but can also be used for self-directed study.

Is a social network of language learners that revolves around writing journal entries in the language that you're studying. People who speak that language natively will then correct and comment on your writing. In turn, you are able to assist people who are learning the language you already know.

When I am writing something important like a letter or a blog post in Japanese, I post it on Lang-8 first. Almost immediately, native Japanese speakers will correct my mistakes in spelling and grammar, making my writing more accurate and overall more natural sounding. I am always surprised how quick and generous the users are on this site. Also, anyone can lend a hand because we're all native speakers of some language. Let's help each other learn.

I am using this primarily to study kanji and practice the vocabulary I've already learned, but don't know 100%. There are many existing vocabulary lists and users can contribute lists of their own. Lately, I've been making my own lessons, tailored to my method of learning. Let's practice together.

Unfortunately, I am unable to endorse the smart.fm platform. They've decide to shutdown the free service, exploit user-generated content, and charge an unreasonable monthly fee. I suggest everyone to stay away from any future releases from Cerego.

A good tool for learning vocabulary, basic grammar, and to practice pronunciation. It takes a well balance approach and I appreciate that I does not rely on English to teach new material. Although, I find it lacking the human interaction of a traditional Japanese language class.

Conversation group
A place to practice the things you've learned and actually put them to use. It's helpful for understanding practical Japanese and for getting over the anxiety of speaking; it's ok to make mistakes. It also acts as a support group, good for camaraderie and for keeping each other inspired. It's hard to toil away, learning a language on ones own; get out, make some friends and have a good time.

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