In this section I provide some tips and resources for
learning new languages, and most specifically for learning Japanese. One of the
most important factors I've found in learning another language is interest.
Even difficult languages such as Japanese can be learned, provided one is
seriously interested, or has a day-to-day need, such as living in Japan.
That being said, in my experience, good study materials and methods help a great
deal. My method is best summed up as: use a Spaced
Repetition System (like Anki) to study sentences, use a grammar guide
(like Tae Kim's
to learn about structure and how things work, and use the language in the real
as a beginner, you can try to read or listen to media, and eventually
try language exchange groups online, or in your city. (I
would, however, warn against going to language practice groups where there
aren't any native speakers, especially if everyone's a beginner, as this has a tendency to
reinforce bad pronunciation and habits.)
General Resources and Tips for Learning Languages
Perfect for traveling or picking up basic phrases, Wikitravel
has phrasebooks for many languages, although some are still incomplete.
Free resources for a variety of different popular languages.
Free Spaced Repetition System program. It works as a
"smart flashcard" review system, where you review harder material more often
than easier material, based on your response of how easy a given phrase/vocabulary
term was to remember.
Site with over a million example sentences, translated
between many languages.
Language exchange writing practice site - correct other
learners of you native language, and have them correct your practice as well.
Mixxer Language Exchange
Find Skype partners to practice with around the world.
Use both a English-Foreign dictionary, and a Foreign-English
dictionary. I've found the ones published in that language are usually
pretty accurate, especially if it is a site for learning English.
Japanese Study Materials and Resources
Tae Kim's Guide to Learning
Online textbook for learning Japanese - has a wide variety of
useful lessons and description about Japanese grammar and other topics. A
great place to start, also has
for enabling Japanese support on your computer.
Denshi Jisho (電子辞書)
A Japanese to English dictionary, also includes Kanji lists
and animations showing how to write them. Good for beginners and quick
A Japanese to English popup translator for Firefox,
Thunderbird, and Seamonkey. Perfect for looking up unknown words directly
Bidirectional Japanese ⇔
English dictionary, also includes some sentences. Quite comprehensive -
site is in Japanese, but easy to use.
Yahoo 辞書 (Japanese Dictionary)
Has a variety of Japanese dictionaries, including Japanese ⇔
English and Japanese ⇔ Japanese. Useful for
looking up more complex or hard to understand words, site is in Japanese.
How to Type Special Japanese Characters
With the Japanese input enabled, quite a few interesting
special characters can be directly typed, and this site has a comprehensive
listing of them.