Monday, February 23, 2015

Informational Japan Pt. 2 - Japanese Language

"Where can I get Japanese language learning resources for free on the web?" I know this is a really popular topic because I see it on forums and other sites all the time. So here is a partial list of the online resources I currently use to learn and practice my Japanese.

Erin's Challenge - Recommended to me by my college Japanese teacher, this is my favorite online resource. It's free, fun and really helpful for language learning. You register with the site and it keeps track of you progress, you can even personalize a little avatar and your profile. The site centers around a foreign exchange student named Erin coming to Japan to study and her adventures with language and culture. There are great videos (both beginner and advanced) featuring Erin or other Japanese people in everyday situations as well as grammar and vocabulary lessons all with transcripts that you can review line by line. There are also cultural learning videos that are really interesting, especially if you've never been to Japan. The site also offers vocabulary lessons, quizzes, a fun role playing game using your avatar and a ton of other resources. Seriously, if you haven't already seen it you should really check it out.

Lang8 - There's a good chance you've already heard of this site because it is mentioned a lot by other bloggers and vloggers but it is really is worth another mention. I used this site a lot when I was taking Japanese classes so that I could check my homework and get some extra practice. It's basically a blogging website where you are able to blog in the language you are learning, but the twist is that native speakers of that language can read and correct your language. This is super helpful when you are learning to write but you don't know if you are making mistakes. I've also seen people post speeches they are going to be giving and letters they want to send to pen pals among other things. I'm slightly disappointed with it because you can no longer post pictures in the free version so it's not as useful in a purely blogging sense (I usually put my blogpost on Lang8 and then copy the corrected text to a blogger site so I can add images). But all in all it's a great resource.

Japanese Class - Lately I've been using this a lot to practice my vocabulary. It's basically a flashcard/quiz sort of site where you start as a beginner and work your way up to more kanji by earning points. There is a ranking system so if you are competitive you can try to earn more points than the other users and show up on the ranking board. It keeps track of your progress and how often you are practicing and suggests that you practice at least 20 words a day (I do it right before I go to bed). It does have an article reading section but I find that the articles are way beyond my current level and have vocabulary that isn't relevant to me personally, but the option is available. I find that this site is a good resource for reviewing and practicing what I've already learned.

Learn Japanese - Japanese Pod 101 - This is technically a free resource that you can get on iTunes and Stitcher Radio but I wanted to preface this by saying I like it so much I buy the compilation on Audible as audio books. The downside to the free version is that you have to figure out what order they go in, because they release different levels at the same time so it isn't as easy as listening to them in order. However, if you can get around that problem (the episodes are clearly marked with the level and episode number) then this is a really fantastic resource. The hosts are interesting and easy to listen to and the lessons are great for listening comprehension and learning new vocabulary and grammar. I love to listen to this while I'm doing chores or taking a walk and I always learn a lot from every episode.

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