pensées aléatoires

Saturday 6 December 2008

online tools to learn japanese

Filed under: 日本 — skolem @ 3:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

the gateway

Originally uploaded by Dan65

Last Thursday i was asked by my Japanese class in Bielefeld if i could give them some links for a few online services i used to help me learn japanese. After some though i decided i could just transform it in a blog post.

My first acknowledgement should be that it is mostly based on a review from tofugu, i first saw there youtube video, but they also have it written down here. One thing one should say is that they address people of all kinds of level, some of the tools aren’t that great for bloody beginners like me… Anyway i would advise people to follow there blog since they always have nice information about everything surrounding the japanese language, sometimes even free classes!

When you are a beginner like me, there is only a few key things you should focus on i believe:

  • Vocabulary, you can’t learn enough of it, you have a whole language to learn at the start the learning curve is really steep. The absolute winner in that category is it’s absolutely great, completely free. Since Dafi (san?) was asking me about it, here’s how you can change it so that everything is in hiragana (no Kanji):

The iknow interfacefirst open the iknow interface, click on setting (top right corner)

options for the exercise

then go in the Quiz tab and choose Kana mode

Feel free to add me on iknow, i also created lists for the lessons we had. So if you prefer to focus on what we learned at class, thats not a problem either.

  • The second thing one needs is grammar, hands down best for that is Tae Kim’s Guide to japanese Grammar it’s really clear and good. Probably works best for my style of study since i favor theoritical approach and generally abstract rules a lot (I’m a mathematician what else could you expect…).
  • Now in order to understand how to use the vocabulary you just learn, you need a lot of good examples (at least i need), thankfully iknow is taking care of that in a really great way, having an audio file for each sentence by a native speaker is also a gift from heaven.

Those 2 services are by far the one i use the most for active learning. There are two other things i’d like to mention in that part:

  • The Yamasa Kanji online Dictionary is also very usefull when you study Kanji, they have three different fonts when displaying a Kanji, one of them being dynamic so that you can see how to write it. Onyomi, Kunyomi readings are also there which is convenient.
  • The second thing i will try to use, as a heard a lot of good about it, will be “Learning the Kanji”, but it’s a book and neither free nor online, so not so much in the scope of this post. They have a website though, where you can track your progress if i understood it correctly.

One thing i’d like to mention here is Lang-8, even though i have the impression it’s a little bit too early for me to write there (i hope to write an entry this weekend if i have time). This site is definitively worth a try, i think it will cost a lot of time to be active there, but that’s also where you will make the most progress, since you have to actively write in japanese i see it as a kind of ultimate test, you are only able to write what you truly know. It looks like a formidable site, i’m just a little bit scared of using it (and i haven’t foung the time till now).

Last but not least, if you happen to stumble on a site with some japanese text, or want to translate a few things, there are 2 option who are really great:

  • Rikaichan an absolutely great firefox add-on that translate on the flight the stuff your mouse is hovering on, defiitively a must have (firefox as well 😉 )
  • WWWJDIC even though it has a slightly nerdy and ugly interface, it has a lot for it. It’s probably the most exact tool you can get for translation having a lot of usefull dictionary entrie (type of verb/adjective and so on), there is always a few sentences as example which is nice.

That’s it! I use frequently each of the service mentioned here, they’re all really good at what they do. At the end, I’d like to point out something Koichi mentionned in his video, these tools are not meant to replace a japanese class, there are here to support and help you improve your learning process, keep that in mind!

P.S. I completely forgot, you always can follow gefrierpunkt [de], to test how much of the old stuff you know, it’s a really nice read.


1 Comment »

  1. I also wrote a little bit about the iKnow! site.

    Comment by tokyo5 — Saturday 6 December 2008 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

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