Language learning can be best thought of as a marathon except you’re not competing against others. Your biggest competition is your determination to push through the highs and lows of studying. On this adventure you will sometimes feel lost, especially in the early stages of your studies.
‘Where do I start?’, ‘What are the best books to study from?’, ‘How should I practice?’ are all questions everyone asks themselves when starting out. Compound the fact that Japanese is one of the most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn, your journey will require some helpful tools and resources to get you off the ground and running towards fluency.
Tagaini Jisho (互いに辞書)
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Tagaini meaning the Japanese word ‘Reciprocally’ or ‘Mutually’, this electronic dictionary is completely free and open-sourced comes with a database of over 120,000 words and 12,000 Kanji Characters to help you go from zero to hero! At every stage of learning Japanese you will need to go back and forth between dictionaries and other resources to look up new words, character stroke orders and parts of speech. Tagaini conveniently allows you to add notes and save all of your searched words for review.
Similar to Tagaini Jisho, Tangorin (Japanese for ‘Vocabulary Forest’) is an online alternative to Tagaini Jisho with a large database of vocabulary, characters and other freemium features. One fantastic key feature is the availability of example sentences that match to almost every word or phrase found in the dictionary.
Create an account to save words, characters and sentences to your profile for review at a later time. Features like this are what make Tagorin and similar applications vital resources for steadily progressing through a difficult language such as Japanese.
Once you have a grasp of the fundamentals, you are going to need to find some real-world applications in order to practice all the words, grammar points and phrases you are learning. NHK (日本放送協会 Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai) is the national public broadcasting network in Japan and a major news outlet. They publish articles daily in Japanese on domestic and international issues. ‘Newspaper Japanese’ one of the most difficult aspects of the language to learn, however NHK has done a great job at simplifying articles down to one or two paragraphs, allowing even beginners of the language to enjoy articles about the day-to-day happenings in Japan.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
SRS (Spaced Repetition Software) learning is a big deal and Anki is at the forefront of it all. Users can choose from a variety of community created flash card decks to practice Japanese. The application keeps track of all the words in each deck that you have studied and will recall them for you over time, allowing you to improve your understanding and likelihood of complete memorization.
This is where we put the pieces all together. You have plenty of free resources to study and learn the language, but how are we going to get around the biggest hurdle of them all? One of the best uses of HelloTalk is your ability to take everything you have studied and practice it with native speakers who will help correct and provide you with feedback in real time via text, voice, or video conversations.
With all these in mind, the only limitation now to reaching your language learning goals is your commitment. I hope you all can benefit from these resources and others I will share in the future.
What resources do you regularly use that you feel that other people could benefit from? Let me know on HelloTalk! 👇