Learning Japanese: My Journey, JLPT & Helpful Resources

Occassionaly, I’m asked by my friends how I study Japanese. Now, I’m nowhere near fluent. However, I can easily understand simple sentences. It definitely comes in handy when I’m on the prowl for the latest trends in Japan. Click the link below to find out more.

My History Studying Japanese

I started learning Japanese when I was around the age of 13. I started when I got into Johnny’s idols like Arashi and KAT-TUN. By watching variety shows, I felt this need to live in Japan. Now I’m not delusional, I don’t think Japan is a magical land without flaws. I think it has its strong points and its weak points. Like every other country in the world.

Learning japanese: resources and tips | Naomi N Doll
Nonetheless, I was inspired to at least visit the country. I started learning the language on and off, first using the Japanese blogging site, Ameblo. However, o one is going to tutor you, like I first thought. Regardless, I soon learned how to write like other bloggers and learned nuances for my demographic as well.

My Japanese Language Level

Only in the past year, did I start going to formal lessons. The lessons are only an hour long, each week and we study using the textbook Minna no Nihongo. Recently I took a hiatus from class as I had exams at school and Economic after school classes. I won’t lie that I’m far behind Dawn and I have homework that have piled up on me since February. Even now it’s my fourth day of planning to do it but I’m just not getting the motivation.
But what I want to do is to help you learn and get the resources to learn Japanese.

Motivation

One word that comes up a lot in studying Japanese, the motivation to study and keep working consistently. Tofugu wrote a great article for that here, I recommend reading it before embarking on this journey. I feel like it’s important to work towards an end goal. My goal is to reach N1 in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Right now I’m to the point of N5 -> N4.

I feel like one to two hours of study a day is sufficient. This also comes in the form of blog posts and twitter conversations, practice makes perfect. I also try to dedicate a day to practicing kanji, not crunching, but just learning to use them in sentences or writing them

JLP – Japanese Language Profiency Test

Here are the requirements of each level of the JLPT with N5 being beginner and N1 being fluent.

JLPT N5
Kanji – 100 characters      Vocabulary – 800 words    Learning hrs – 150 hrs
Summary: Can understand classroom phrases with hiragana and very simple kanji. Can understand patterned phrases and glean needed information.

JLPT N4
Kanji – 300 characters      Vocabulary – 1,500 words    Learning hrs – 300 hrs
Summary: Can understand daily-life conversations, if spoken slowly. Can read simple materials aimed at non-native speakers.

JLPT N3
Kanji – 700 characters      Vocabulary – 3,500 words    Learning hrs – 450 hrs
Summary: Can understand native materials if rewritten with simplified vocabulary and kanji. Can follow everyday conversations at natural speed.

JLPT N2
Kanji – 1,000 characters      Vocabulary – 6,000 words    Learning hrs – 600 hrs
Summary: Can read written materials on general topics and understand conversations and news at natural speed.

JLPT N1
Kanji – 2,000 characters      Vocabulary – 10,000 words    Learning hrs – 900 hrs
Summary: Can understand speech in a variety of challenging situations. Can grasp nuance and progression of ideas in abstract and complex materials.

Don’t let N1 intimidate you, it all comes with time and practice. Language schools estimate that they can get you to N2 – N1 in two years time. So if you work consistently, you can get there in that time too.

My Tips for Learning Japanese.

  1. First of all learn hiragana and katakana. You’ll be using them a lot, so for the sake of learning, give up on using romaji. Last thing you want to do is become dependent on it to the point where you can’t do without it.
  2. Hiragana and Katakana can be learnt in one to two days, write them repetitively and recite them until it sticks.
  3. Rosetta Stone doesn’t, I repeat, doesn’t help you past listening practice.
  4. It’s not about how long you were studying but how much work you put into it.
  5. You need to know 3,000 kanji to be considered fluent in Japanese.
  6. Interact with Japanese people on twitter, use the conversations as practice.

 

Japanese Resources

This is basically covers a lot of the resources from books to sites to guides.
Step by Step Guide For Learning Nihongo
Japanese reading material list : Resources

Dictionaries

ALC
Goo dictionary
Weblio
WWWJDIC
JWPce
Idiomatic Expressions
Counters dictionary
Colloquial Dictionary

Browser dictionaries

Rikaichan for Firefox

Kanji

Jisho
Yamasa
KanjiDamage
Associative Kanji Learning
Anki
ReadTheKanji *NEW*

Speaking

Japanese pronunciation guide
Interactive Hiragana Pronounciation table
6 Secrets for the Best Japanese Language Exchange
Bubbly
Audioboo

Listening

“Real World” Japanese

Blog Sites

Yaplog
Ameblo
CroozBlog

Books

Japanese for Busy People
Minna no Nihongo
Genki

Writing practice

Lang-8
www.Japan-Guide.com
Shiritori

Podcasts

JOQR (Cultural Broadcasting)
TBS Radio’s Junk
TOKYO FM
NHK

YouTube

Afternoon Hirusagari
Jet Daisuke
BilinGirl English Conversation
Analog TV Forever

TV

KeyHole TV
Feng Yun LIVE Japanese
Eiga de Manafu Jissen Eikawa

Tumblr

Kanji-a-Day
Holy crap Japanese
Nihongo ga Suki
Jumpstart Japanese
Nihongolog
Nadine Nihongo
That Japan Addict
J-Vocab of the Day

Websites

JapaneseClass.jp
The Japanese Page
Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese
Erin’s Challenge
Maggie Sensei
Textfugu

Other resources

JLPT Resources
JLPT Guide
Tanso
MLCJapanese

If you have suggestions for posts, please comment below or tweet me at @naomindoll
I hope to track my progress and give more tips and guides.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    2013-07-23 / 8:06 pm

    Did you use all genki books?

  2. Kuuri
    2013-07-23 / 8:46 pm

    I do actually. I got them a couple yrs back on torrent but didn't use them until my Japanese teacher did. If you want to understand the more technical side of Japanese, the translations and grammar book is a must have.

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