How to learn Japanese
While there may be up to 50,000 kanji, you only need
to know 2,136 to be considered fully literate.
ni day, sun
hon book, present, main, origin, true
go word, speech, language
Each character has a meaning, and (usually) at least
two readings (one from Chinese, one native Japanese)
写 Chinese: sha
Generally, the Chinese reading is used in compounds,
and the native reading for stand-alone words.
Meaning: copy, photograph,
shashin ni wa utsuranai
“[It] is not captured in
Some kanji have many more readings!
生 (life) has 10 common readings, and 25 obscure ones.
Kanji: Stroke order
There is a correct way to write each kanji.
It's up to you to decide how much you care, but many
dictionaries' kanji recognition systems are quite
sensitive to stroke order.
How to study kanji
Anki, KanjiBox, etc.
White rabbit press
Heisig: Remembering the Kanji
Mnemonic technique based on radicals and using
Heisig for the MTV generation
Typically volunteer-run, so inexpensive
Listed on AIR Yamagata website (URL in handbook)
If there is nothing at your level in your area, make your
Get kana versions, avoid romaji!
Minna no Nihongo ( 皆の日本語）
Used at many of the evening classes
100% Japanese, with separate translation book
The JET course
Crash course in grammar points
Best used as review?
Children's books, movies, manga, anime, short stories
Spaced repetition program
More efficient than traditional flashcards
Written by amateurs, so a little sketchy
Must either make your own 'decks' or find some
online, in which case quality control can be
Technology: Electronic dictionaries
More-or-less essential for serious study
Kanji drawing recognition is a very useful feature
If you have a smartphone, tablet, etc., get an app!
For Android: Aedict is recommended
For iPhone/iPad: Kotoba, Chinese Etymology, Denshi
Jisho, The Wisdom
Technology: Useful websites
Vaguely RPG-styled kanji and vocab practice
An excellent 'cheat sheet', and some useful tips
Reviewing the Kanji
Goes with Heisig method
The best online dictionary out there
Talk in Japanese whenever you can! (But not to
Enkais represent a good opportunity
Learn Japanese songs for karaoke.
I recommend Rinda Rinda by The Blue Hearts
JLPT: Japanese Language Proficiency Test
Worldwide, most officially recognized test of Japanese
Five Levels: N5-N1, N1 is the hardest
Multiple choice, so no writing kanji
Tested on vocab, kanji, grammar, reading, and
Offered twice a year (make sure your level is being
Not held in Yamagata prefecture. You must go to
Niigata or Sendai to take the test
Sometimes test study is not congruous with language
Is quite expensive, and any level below N2 has no
JET Lanugage Course 日本語講座
Beginner → Intermediate → Advanced → Translation
and Interpretation/Linguistics and Pedagogy
Class-by-mail, take a test once a month for 9(10?)
Basically a crash course in grammar, includes self
study kanji books at intermediate and advanced
I have heard beginner is really stupid and all romaji
Nothing to lose in signing up, but make sure if you
DO sign up, you DO the course
You must test into the final two courses, and the test
is super hard
In terms of what level you should go for, I say
By far the hardest part of studying Japanese.
"I already finished school, why in the sekai would I ever
want to give MYSELF homework?"
I present to you ------
THE JERRY SEINFELD MOTIVATION TECHNIQUE
Stay accountable! Get a study buddy. For instance, if I
don't learn 15 kanji a day, Alex gets to spank me 15
times. Then I spank him cause he likes that stuff.