例解学習:国語辞典 (Reikai Gakushu: Kokugo Jiten) [UK Shop Link]

This is a Japanese-Japanese dictionary aimed at children. Japanese-Japanese dictionaries can be really useful for vocabulary study. Let me show you around the layout of the book.
CONTENT

Here is a standard page of the book. On the central part we can see the words listed in alphabetical order (the whole book is traditional Japanese ‘back-to-front’ order)Important and commonly used words are listed in red. In this example, ねこ[猫, (Cat)]. All words are listed in hiragana and then the Kanji is provided underneath. This does mean that sometimes there are several listings for the same reading, and it’s up to you to decipher which Kanji is correct based on the definition - this isn’t useful for a quick look-up, but is worth the challenge!
As you can see there are also illustrations, and on other pages there are charts, graphs, pictograms, and various other diagrams which helps break up the pages.
EASINESS OF USE

From this view you can see the design of the pages which makes looking up words easier, ordered by the starting hiragana.
The first thing I found most difficult with the book was the fact it was backwards, and I wasn’t entirely familiar with the order of the kana. Of course you probably know how to write them… but can you recite them in order? This can make looking up words a little tricky, and I often found myself going the wrong way. But you’ll either get used to it, or you’ll already be used to it!
As for discovering words through definitions, this is a FANTASTIC way of learning words because you’re constantly challenged to look up more words in the description, and it’s great reading practice.
HOW TO PUT THE KOKUGO JITEN TO BEST USE
Look up words you don’t know, highlight them, and then if you have to look them up in the future you can think… ‘I should already know this!’, or ‘Oh man, why didn’t I study it more in Anki!’ which leads me to…
This is a great way to add definitions to your Anki deck. Why have the English translation when you can test yourself with Japanese language definitions?
If you give up trying to understand the definition, look up the word and then re-read the definition. Understand it better now?
PROS:
Excellent learning resource
Full to the brim with vocabulary
Cute pictures, nice presentation
Definitions!
Lots of extra charts at the back of the book with various word tables
Comes with a huge Kanji checklist poster!
CONS:
Availability worldwide
Price
Not a good resource for complete beginners
June 27, 2014 VIEW POST
LANGUAGE PARTNERSHIP TOPICS (L-PAL)
DOWNLOAD LINK [HERE]
Having a language partner is great, but finding what to talk about can be tough with a limited language ability. You may find yourself sticking to mostly English for ease. A system like this can really help.

This is an assortment of 8 initial topics for you and your language partner (any language) to discuss at your meetings. I normally spend 1.00-1.30 hours on each topic and meet with my partner once a week.

Spend the first half of your meeting answering questions in your studied language. Then, ask your language partner the questions in English.

If your language skill isn’t great at the moment, take a few minutes before your meeting to look up vocabulary you might want to use in your answers.


TOPICS:1. GettingTo Know You2. Entertainment3. Food4. Travel and Transport5. Accommodation6. Daily Routines7. Sport8. Education

SEE ALSO:TOFUGU: How Not To Find A Japanese Language PartnerThis was produced by the University of Manchester language department. I take no credit for the content of the document. I just want to share how good it is.
June 26, 2014 VIEW POST
TOBIRA (とびら), Gateway to Advanced Japanese Learning Through Content and Multimedia [Amazon] [Website]
Have you completed Genki/Minna no Nihongo? Can’t find resources or textbooks that are at your new early intermediate level? Look no further than Tobira.
This is a fairly new book, which means all the content is up to date (unlike the old Genki editions). I completed this textbook for my second year Japanese degree. I highly reccommend it and here’s why…
The main textbook

The textbook consists of 15 chapters, which are divided into a 2-4 page reading passage, vocabulary chart (around 80 per chapter) conversation script, and then questions relating to these.
Topics range from technology, to popular culture, to Geography; there really is a wide range here. There are also separate pages on relevant cultural notes and how these relate to language.




This is all then followed by Grammar points. There are around 15-20 Grammar points per chapter (per week if you’re going through it at our pace), and this is a lot. This is a real increase compared to the 4/5 per chapter in Genki. However, you can of course look back, or go at a slower pace. The main point is there are a LOT of grammar points in this book, and your reading and translation skills will grow a lot because of this. Each grammar point also comes with (usually) very good explanations in English, as well as several varied example sentences.

One of the best things about the book in my opinion is the clarity and ‘fun’ (as much as you can get from textbooks) of the presentation. It’s really clear and simple to read and get through. Also, the reading passages have a variety of images, fun little mini-exercises, and there’s a whole lot of manga (yay!).


The Supplementary Kanji Book

Also divided into 15 chapters is the supplementary Kanji book. A list of 297 pre-requisite Kanji that you should know is listed on the website (basically the Genki 1+2 Kanji, and a few more), and in addition to this book your Kanji is expected to grow to around 800 (or lots more, if you study all the extra vocabulary).
There are around 30-40 Kanji per chapter, which is a lot to memorise if you learn a chapter a week. But, if you use Anki, this is perfectly achievable and your Kanji reading skills will really progress, fast.
Each Kanji is followed by a fairly standard pictogram of stroke order, sometimes helpful illustrations (though not on all), 1-3 key vocabulary, and then extra vocabulary.
This book is meant to be used in addition to the textbook above, and the Kanji corresponds to the chapters in the other. However, I see no reason why it can’t be used standalone to broaden your Kanji knowledge.
The best thing about this book is the exercises in the chapters, which text the Kanji you just learnt, with the answers in the back so you can check your own answers.



The Supplementary Grammar Book

There appears to be an extra Grammar book in the series, but I haven’t actually seen inside or used this. I imagine it is of the same quality as the others in the series.
Pros:
- Great presentation- Huge range of vocabulary, Kanji, grammar points- A great gap between beginner and advanced- You really notice your improvement- Fast pace for full-time study
Cons:
- A lot to take in if you are made to study one chapter per week- Price and availability- May be difficult without a tutor to help explain some things, especially at first
Questions about Tobira or anything else? Ask!
June 25, 2014 VIEW POST
Comic Walker: Free Digital Manga for Web and iOS Opens Today!
 I was just linked to this fantastic web and iOS app that launched today and I just have to share it with you guys.

What is Comic Walker?

Comic Walker is an online Web and iPhone app that gives readers the chance to read a wide variety of Manga in the original Japanese, English and also Chinese. Not all manga are translated (numbers as of this post are JP: 116, ENG: 18, CN: 22) but there is more than enough to keep you going for now, and the service is set to grow. Current manga include Neon Genesis Evangelion ,Gundam, SGT Frog, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, among others…!

How can Comic Walker help me learn Japanese/Chinese?

You can also use Comic Walker to learn Chinese but I will be focusing on Japanese here. Comic Walker has a built in function to switch between the Japanese and English versions, meaning you can read a page in Japanese, and if you don’t understand a phrase or word you can check with the English version. This is somewhat like a parallel text but I have yet to have seen a service like this for manga.



However, the transition isn’t entirely smooth - you cannot switch a page at a time so you have to switch to the entire other version each time. This does mean the process is a bit slower, so I’d recommend going through the whole manga and making notes of what to check once you’ve finished.

The iOS app is well developed and it’s easy to navigate while reading the manga. Some of the manga are in black and white but a few are available in full colour. (For example, I am reading Neon Genesis Evangelion and the quality is fantastic). This would be even better on an iPad though unfortunately I don’t own one!

Also integrated into the iOS version is a push notification system, so you’ll get a notification the next time a chapter is available for the manga you are reading, as well as recommendations and personal lists. The web version is just as good and offers all the same features, but I personally prefer to read on the go.

Problems?

Aside from the slow transition between languages, there is also the fact that this was not produced for the sole purpose of language learning. So there are no dictionaries or Kanji look-up options. However, if you want something that is free (compared to international manga shipping prices..!) then this is fantastic.

This is probably not the best app for beginners but that doesn’t mean it won’t be useful or fun if you don’t understand most of it (it just might be a little frustrating).

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Do you know any other apps like this? Comment below and let me know!

Visit the Comic Walker website HERE or download the App HERE.
March 22, 2014 VIEW POST
Lingocracy : Build Vocabulary Through Having Fun
A lot of people messaged me saying that they wanted a way to build vocabulary. Others asked for more reading material. Here’s the solution to both! I love this website. Read on to find out why and how it can help you learn Japanese.
What is Lingocracy?
Lingocracy is a relatively new website where you can learn vocabulary through reading passages of text in your desired language. For Japanese there are a few examples already up online, but you are also welcome to add your own - simply copy and paste the URL into the site and it will Lingocracy-ize it for you.
How does Lingocracy Work?
After adding or finding an article, it is presented to you as below with the words underlined. By clicking a word you don’t know, it will change it to red. Hovering over it gives the definition. It remains red throughout the article, so as you come across it multiple times you will recognise it as one that you don’t know, but should know!

There are also audio recordings for words so you can simultaneously work on your pronunciation and listening.
Lingocracy then arranges your learned and unlearned words into handy graphs which encourage progress.
How do I learn vocabulary through Lingocracy?
So you’ve found a bunch of words you don’t know in that pesky news article. Then, you use Lingocracy’s practice app to learn it for good! This is my favourite part of the site because it, unlike other services, makes you review vocabulary in the context of sentences. This helps solidify the words even more than seeing them standalone, and can also help with their definition.

The interface is simple, clean and nice. It reminds me somewhat of Memrise but both sites offer a different style of learning. (Memrise doesn’t use sentences/texts).
What things can I read?
Another fantastic thing about Lingocracy is that you can add your own content. This means you can work through NHK Easy News articles in a really effective way using the practice section.
Lingocracy also offers a Chrome plugin where you can instantly import your web pages into the Lingocracy site.
Bad points
Since Lingocracy is relatively new, the Japanese section is limited. But there are some great things on there already for beginners, and the fact you can add your own content means you can get started with things that interest you straight away. The problem with this is sourcing that content outside of news websites - which may be difficult, especially for beginners.
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Lingocracy brings together some features of other websites and a few new innovations of its own to round off a great learning resource. Although not great for absolute beginners, this is fantastic for those wishing to expand and keep track of their vocabulary that they learn while reading materials online.
February 22, 2014 VIEW POST
A new japanese notebook. Normal notebook to write japanese is inconvenient. It’s two different line spacing. Narrow line spacing is for Hiragana. Wide line spacing is for kanji.
http://tienyh.tumblr.com/post/77361224577/nihongo-note
February 21, 2014 VIEW POST
Mihongo - a Visual Dictionary of Japanese
(Message from the creator)
"Hi everyone,
I’d like to invite you to visit a new Japanese resource I’ve opened: a visual dictionary called Mihongo (見本語).
This dictionary is meant to offer an effective way of understanding cultural-specific words - for things that exist only in Japan and therefore cannot be accurately translated or explained using text alone. Or, to put it another way: things you have to see to be able to understand.
Have you ever come across a word for something uniquely Japanese, and felt that your dictionary didn’t actually give you a sense of what it meant? Have you ever wished to have one place to look up such items and see them in clear, verified pictures, instead of trying your luck finding them around the web? Then Mihongo is for you.
Please click this link to visit the website:
http://mihongo.wordpress.com
Mihongo currently contains several hundred entries, and more are being added. Right now most entries are related to traditional things, so the dictionary would be particularly useful for more advanced learners. But I’m looking for more pictures that can be used to define modern entries, such as types of food, wacky appliances, etc. If you happen have pictures that you’d like to incorporate in the dictionary and can be used for new entries, I’d be glad to upload them with your credit.
For more information, please see the “about” and “instructions” pages on the website itself.
See you at Mihongo!”
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I love the idea of this website. Some uniquely Japanese words can’t be explained merely through English, and need images. This is a great site for finding images for words of this kind. I personally add images into Anki, and this is a great place to not only source them but also discover some other uniquely Japanese things (the best kinds of things!)
February 13, 2014 VIEW POST
Nadine Nihongo Genki 1 and 2 Kanji Wall Chart
こんにちは!
If you’re studying using the Genki Textbook Series, I have created this wall chart free for you to download, print and use!
It includes all Kanji from lessons 3-23 (Genki 1 and 2).
It is A4 size, but if you want a larger copy feel free to request one in my inbox.
Download link [HERE]. Enjoy!
ネイディーン
January 31, 2014 VIEW POST
You want to read the news in Japanese, but you’re waiting ‘til you can read 1500 Kanji/15000 words/whatever else is the mythical level you need to be at…Wait no more! NHK Easy News has current news written daily for lower intermediate levels of Japanese learners. Here’s how I use the daily articles to study. [Translations aren’t necessarily accurate!]ARTICLE: ソチオリンピックの選手村がオープン[Link]STEP 1:一回 (聞いて翻訳する)[For the first time, listen and translate in your head.]- Rate yourself on the difficulty of this.STEP 2:二回 (聞いている間に、読む。それから、翻訳する):[For the second time, while listening, read the script. Then, translate.
ソチオリンピックの選手村がオープン
Sochi Olympic Athlete Village Open
ソチオリンピックは2月7日に始まります。30日、オリンピックの間選手たちが泊まる「選手村」がオープンしました。The Sochi Olympics begin on the 7th of February. On the 30th, the ‘Athletes Village’ where participating athletes will stay was opened.
選手村は3つあって、全部新しく造りました。1つは黒海の海岸にあります。開会式をするスタジアムやスケートなどの会場の近くです。
There are 3 athletes villages, and all are newly built. One is on the coast of the black sea. It is close to the stadium of the opening ceremony and the skating venue, among others.
ほかの2つは、スキーなどの会場がある山のほうにあります。海岸の選手村には選手など約2000人が泊まります。
The other two are located near the mountain with the Skiing venues, among others. There will be approximately 2000 athletes and others staying at these coastal athlete villages.
この選手村の村長は、棒高跳びの選手だったイシンバエワさんです。
The head of the athletes village is pole vaulter Ms. Isinbayeva.
イシンバエワさんはアテネオリンピックと北京オリンピックで続けて優勝しました。
Ms. Isinbayeva  won consecutively in the Athens and Beijing Olympics.
30日、お祝いの式でイシンバエワさんがテープを切って、選手村がオープンしました。
On the 30th, at the celebratory ceremony, Isinbayeva cut the tape, and the Olympic village was opened.
イシンバエワさんは「ここではゆっくり1人で海岸を散歩することもできますから、選手は静かに試合の準備ができると思います」と話していました。
Isinbayeva said, ‘Because you can take a leisurely stroll alone here along the coast, I think that athletes are able to prepare quietly for their matches.”
日本の選手は、30日にスピードスケートの選手がいちばん早くソチに着きました。この選手たちも海岸の選手村で試合の準備をします。
The earliest Japanese athletes to arrive in Sochi will be the Speed Skaters, on the 30th. These athletes will prepare for their matches at the coastal athletes villages.
STEP 3:新しい単語[Write a list of the new vocabulary you have learnt, and add them to Anki/your notes.]
開会式 opening ceremony棒高跳び pole vault
January 31, 2014 VIEW POST
Submit your own Japanese bookshelf [here] - would be great to post up a collection of them!
1. An old Famitsu magazine from a friend - I hope to post up a few scans and translations of this at some point!
2. Tobira Textbook and Kanji book - check out my review of this textbook series in the link!
3. Genki Series textbooks and workbooks - You’ve probably all heard of the Genki series by now! Great for beginners, but I still use Genki 2 for reference on some verb conjugations.
4. Kanji Look and Learn - made by the same people who make Genki, this textbook is great for your first 500 Kanji. Every Kanji has mnemonic images and stories, and it’s genuinely useful.
5. DK Eyewitness Japan - a comprehensive travel guide!
6. Donna Toki Dou Tsukau - A grammar dictionary with most of the grammar for JLPT N5 - N1. A really excellent resource - check out my review in the link above.
7. Kokugo Jiten - a Japanese - Japanese dictionary with lots of pictures and charts. Check out my review in the link above.
8. Kodansha’s Essential Kanji Dictionary - an excellent Kanji dictionary which I use on a daily basis to look up Kanji fast. Review coming up soon!
9. 英語で日本紹介ハンドブック - by far my favourite and most useful resource; meant as a learning tool for Japanese learning English, it can be used both ways. Read extracts here.
10. All about Particles a great book outlining simple but comprehensive explanations of the various difficult particles in Japanese.
11. Various Japanese-language Manga; Nichijou, Yotsuba and Reborn!
12. Oxford Japanese Grammar and Verbs - ironically written by my lecturer at the University of Manchester, it provides simple explanations for basic grammar with some great examples.
13. Exploring Kyoto - not so much a language guide, but a useful gift from a Japanese friend!
14. Japanese-English, English - Japanese Romanized Dictionary - good for looking up words fast that you’ve heard in Dramas or Anime without thinking about the Japanese spelling.
15. LonelyPlanet Japanese Phrasebook - a fairly standard phrasebook with lots of things you’ll never use, but many other things that are really useful and can’t be found in textbooks.
16. Mini Japanese Dictionary - enough common-use words to be useful in lessons (and small enough to carry), but not quite good enough to outweigh an online/electronic dictionary.
17. ひらがなトランプ - hiragana playing cards, keeping these because they’re too cute!

So, show me yours! :)
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January 16, 2014 VIEW POST
Basic Verb Conjugation Cheatsheet
This cheatsheet covers the first basic verb conjugations you will learn (and all of those covered in the Genki 1 Textbook), organised into a colourful and handy chart.
The chart includes: - Conjugation forms & explanations - Examples of る, う and する・くる verbs, conjugated in all forms - Clear, simple layout
This is a high quality A4 size PDF, perfect for printing out.
This product will be sent to you via the email you use in the checkout.
Purchase now in the Big Cartel store for just 0.99!
Part 2 coming soon!
January 16, 2014 VIEW POST
Read Japanese Articles With Macaronics
A few followers asked for reading materials at an intermediate-higher intermediate level. If you’re moving past the point of the NHK Easy News series, it might be worth moving into proper news articles.
What is Macaronics?
Macaronics is a community powered service where native Japanese content is translated into English and vice versa. It gathers articles from the web and lets anyone provide translations, correct those translations, and learn from them, all for free.
How can I ensure the accuracy of other people’s translations?

Although the translations available may not be 100% accurate, “… translations are implicitly and explicitly voted on by others, resulting in the best translations rising to the top of each story (as the default view, accessible by anyone), as well as reputational recognition for the individuals involved.” *


How can I use Macaronics to study Japanese?
If your Japanese is good or you fancy a challenge, have a go at translating sentences from articles from Eng-Jp or Jp-Eng. You can do this on a sentence-by-sentence basis, switching between articles, or have a go at the whole article yourself. Some articles may only be half translated, and you can finish them off. 
Alternatively, you can check other people’s translations and if you find a mistake or something that can be said in a more natural way, you can change it and clarify the translation. This means that translations are checked by several different users, so you can better guarantee the reliability of them.
If you’re not so confident with your translation ability, you can still benefit greatly from the Macaronics service. Articles and translations are available to view freely by all members. You can view them sentence by sentence, turn on and off the parallel view (showing both Eng & Jp at the same time), and even download them as easy-view PDF’s (including kana-ization of the Kanji)

Have a go at Macaronics.com, either contributing, clarifying or just reading!
December 27, 2013 VIEW POST