japanese

Lingualift


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    Lingualift is essentially the lovechild of the traditional textbook and the internet. It retains much of the structure and formatting you’ll find in a good textbook, while at the same time doing away with the pretentious wordiness and academic pretense that turns so many people off. You’ll find yourself drawn to using Lingualift because it feels like you have a cool teacher and textbook rolled all in one: although each language varies in the kind of tools it offers, all languages have very nice resources for building upon your vocabulary and grammar. It currently offers five languages (Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, French and Russian) under one subscription, which is a really nice deal considering what other web-based courses charge for only one language.

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Japanese Pod 101


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    Innovative Language’s “Language Pod 101” series exist for over 30 languages, and it’s a good thing they are, because they’re tremendously helpful! Innovative Language does indeed offer paid courses, but what I wish to bring to your attention is the following three free resources for Japanese:

    Japanese Word of the Day: A must for beginners. This little applet in Japanese Pod 101’s site is deceivingly complete. Not only do you get a new word every word, but that word also brings with itself just about everything you’d want from it: its pronunciation, definition and even part of the word. But it doesn’t stop there! You also get several examples from each word, providing you with much needed context and new situational grammar. And as though this wasn’t enough, you can go back to any date you’d like (to see every word that’s been added to date), and use the quiz mode to hide all translations and definitions, if you’re feeling brave!

    Vocab Lists: wait, wait, no rolling of the eyes yet. These are not your regular vocabulary list: new lists are being constantly updated with real, relevant vocabulary in the form of sentences (with audio, of course, and kana spelling for beginners). Not only they’re an amazing source of new vocabulary, but they’ll also offer you a sneak peek into Japanese culture. These are so good, I wish these had existed when I was studying Japanese!

    100 Core Words: if you’re just starting out, go here. These 100 words will literally become the foundation of your Japanese learning, and get you asking all the right questions to start understanding Japanese!

     

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Imiwa?


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    I suspect that every poor college student going through a Japanese course must’ve cried tears of joy when they found out about Imiwa’s existente. It is an iOS dictionary based on Jim Breen’s legendary JMDict project (on which only God knows how many online dictionaries are based), filled with just about every search function you could wish for and with a favorite’s list function so you never forget a word again.

    And how much do you pay for 130,000 English-Japanese entries? Well… zilch. (But if you do find it useful, it’d be nice to donate something to Pierre, Imiwa’s creator.)

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Weblio Japanese-English Dictionary


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    There are few online Japanese dictionaries that are quite as good as Weblio, although in all honesty it’s more a dictionary for intermediate to advanced students. For starters, it has so many criteria with which search a word (such as field of interest, first kana, part of sentence, etc) that it almost seems enough to get lost in, but generally, typing the word you’re looking for, in English OR Japanese, will get you the same word in the other language, its meaning in the other language, how can it be used, synonyms, and more. Not all the dictionaries it draws from have spelling written in furigana, but a few of them do, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t read the kanji!

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Erin’s Challenge


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    Erin ga Chosen (Erin’s Challenge) is a free multimedia Japanese course designed by Japan Foundation, the organization in charge of spreading Japanese culture and language all over the globe. There is no need to register to use this website, although doing so is a bonus because it opens up all the benefits of this site, as well as the possibility of recording your own progress.

    Each lesson carries a main video that you can see with modifiable subtitles: for example, if you know hiragana and would like to leap forward into learning kanji, you can make it so the subtitles come up like that. Inversely, if you’re only starting out and want the subtitles in your own language and romaji (to get used to the sounds), you can also set it up. Additionally, all lessons carry a cultural tidbit, explanations, word lists, and interactive games.

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Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese


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    There’s a reason why Tae Kim is one of the few resources in the library with a full rating. Tae Kim’s Complete Guide to Japanese holds a God-like status among Japanese self-learners all over the Internet. Tae Kim wrote it for students like himself, so it is easy to understand but at the same time doesn’t expect you to learn Japanese in English. It spans many more grammar subjects than any textbook you could buy, all for the ridiculous price tag of $0.00 (although if you’re interested in giving back once you’ve used it, you can either donate to him or buy the printed version of the guide).  It’s been divided so that you can easily find what you need, so you don’t have to use it as a textbook but rather as support, too.

    Recently, it was converted into an iOS and Android app, making this essential piece of reading for Japanese learners a lot more portable.

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Nihongo e-na


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    Nihongo e-na is the largest online collection of links to sites dedicated to learning Japanese. “E-na” actually means “nice!” (as in “niiiice, dude”) in Kansai dialect, which tells you a thing or two about where they want to take things with this website.

    You can find these sites by the following categories: Reading, Writing, Hearing Comprehension, Speaking, Grammar, Vocabulary, Kana, Kanji, Tools, Dictionaries, Culture, Society, and Others. They recently also launched iOS and Android optimized websites, too!

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