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Japanese

Japanese is a language spoken virtually exclusively in Japan, and some enclaves in other countries around the world. Around 130 million people speak Japanese. It is a member of the Japonic language family.

This page gives access to online courses, Japanese/English/Japanese dictionaries, grammar, vocabulary activities, writing forms and characters - Hiragana & Kanji, tutorials, podcasts & blogs, current events, cultural information, free and fee-based software, other resources and information.

Courses/Tutorials

Language Courses

  • Easy Japanese
    Basic introduction via grammar, the writing system, useful structures, more.
  • Elementary Modern Standard Japanese
    Course run at York University in Canada. This site provides access to videocasts, lecture notes, dialogue, reading/writing [PDF, HTML], exercises, cultural material in Quicktime Video, more.
  • Introductory Japanese
    Learn with stories and linked audio files. All areas including kanji, kana, vocabulary, grammar.
  • Japanese for Beginners
    ‘This is the page for beginners or people who need a quick reference’. Multiple lessons covering different topics. Links to related information.
  • Japanese Lessons
    For multiple languages. This is the English page.
  • Japanese Online
    Free lessons, maths lessons, dictionary links, newsletter, audio support. You need Quicktime.
  • Joyo 96
    Virtual internet school for learning Japanese.
  • Learn Japanese Language
    ‘Gives you the basic Japanese writing concept as well as the most important and most-used Japanese words and phrases for real communications. Also teaches you how to speak Japanese by podcasting, so you can read, write, speak and understand Japanese as though you have lived there all your life’.
  • Learn to Speak Japanese
    Free online lessons - Basics, Grammar, Words and Phrases, how to read Kanji, write Hiragana and Katakana. Learn via multimedia, practice and exercises, other links.
  • Online Japanese Lessons
    ‘Online Japanese Lessons.net offers affordable Skype Japanese lessons to students from all over the world. Our Japanese lessons on Skype are a full 60 minutes and can be taken almost anytime and almost anywhere’. Free Trial available.
  • Study Japanese Online Or Wherever
    ‘Enjoy our many free downloads to help you learn Japanese ! E-books, podcasts, study lists and more’.
  • Teach Yourself Japanese Complete Course
    Book with CD downloads as well. Fee-based.

Tutorials

  • Japster 2000 !
    Thinkquest. ‘20 lessons that include dialogues, vocabulary, key phrase explanation, cultural tips. The Japster webpage is an ideal studying environment for beginners of the Japanese language. Writing the Japanese alphabet using Flash, sound files for the dialogues’.
  • Video Lectures from York University
    Elementary Modern Standard Japanese. Audio and video files [Quicktime], PDF files. Tertiary level presentation from Canada.

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Language Tools

Dictionaries

Other Sites

  • Digital Dialects : Japanese
    ‘Features free to use online games for learning languages. Language resources include games for learning phrases, numbers, useful words, spelling, verb conjugation and alphabets. Games use Flash Player’.
  • Free Japanese Lessons and Courses
    ‘Free language lessons and courses for those learning Japanese, other Japanese language resources, such as Japanese online newspapers, Japanese dictionaries, Japanese internet radio sites, other sources relevant to the student of Japanese’.
  • Japanese Language
    Links under headings of general language, written and spoken language. Language forum.
  • Japanese Language [About.com]
    Links from anime to writing systems. Most clearly annotated.
  • Japanese Language Lessons : Let’s Learn Japanese !
    British site. Use the Category Menu on the left to select the relevant topics.
  • Jim Becker’s Japanese Page
    Collection of links for Japanese. Culture, grammar, games, dictionaries, search engines, more.
  • Tom’s Links for Studying Japanese
    Annotated links in multiple groupings.
  • Wikijunior : Languages - Japanese
    Writing system used, how many people speak the language, where it is spoken, the history of the language, some famous authors or poets using the language, basic words in the language, a song/poem/story to learn in this language.
  • Years 1-10 Languages other than English
    Sourcebook modules. Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
  • Yes Japanese
    A fairly small but growing number of lessons provided for free. These cover the basics plus specific language areas. At present there are 10 lessons.

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Software

  • Computing and Japanese
    ‘Free or “Close to Free” downloads’. Links to other Japanese resources.
  • Declan Software
    Japanese Language Learning Software. Primary/Secondary.
  • DreamKana
    Primary/Secondary. ‘A freeware hiragana and katakana flash card application for students of Japanese’.
  • Eng-Jap Dictionary
    ‘Japanese to English and English to Japanese Dictionary with information about Kanji and Stroke Order’. Net 3.5 required.
  • Hiragana Tiles
    ‘Simple game designed to allow rapid learning of the most basic of Japanese symbol sets. Hiragana consists of well over forty characters, which correspond to Latin vowels and syllabi. Designed to allow for learning the sounding of the Hiragana symbols’.
  • JapAlpha
    Hiragana, katakana, kanji, 14 000 words. Full version.
  • Japtra
    ‘Japanese words and phrases to assist you while learning the language. Vocabulary is user-defined, extendable, editable’.
  • JDrill
    ‘Program for multiple-choice testing of Japanese Katakana and Hiragana scripts’.
  • KanaLearn
    ‘KanaLearn is a program to study the Japanese alphabets [hiragana and katakana]. It consists of 3 modes : memorise to learn the characters, recognise to test your knowledge, and reorder to check if you know the order in which the kana appear in the Japanese alphabets’.
  • Kana no quiz
    ‘Educational tool, simple yet efficient, to memorise the transcription and pronunciation of Japanese kana [hiragana & katakana] in a quick, easy, flexible fashion’.
  • KanjiQuick 2.1
  • Learn Kana Easy
    ‘Free application for learning the Japanese alphabet. Runs on Windows’.
  • Learn The Kana
    ‘Guides you by teaching you the kana [the two fundamental Japanese writing scripts]. Designed to give you certain mnemonics, stroke order, patterns of speech that will help you remember all of the kana in the easiest and most efficient manner’.
  • LexiKAN Japanese Kanji Flashcard Software
    Primary/Secondary.
  • Michio Teaches Japanese
    Primary.
  • Pazuru Alfabet
    ‘Flash card game for learning Japanese phonetic scripts’. Primary/Secondary.
  • Tell Me More Japanese
    Primary/Secondary.
  • Zkanji
    ‘zkanji is a free, open-source Japanese language learning tool and also a kanji and word dictionary software providing many useful features for those who are interested in the Japanese language’.

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Writing Skills

Hiragana

  • Hiragana
    Click on “Self-study Room”. One section covers Hiragana and Katakana with charts, flash cards, quizzes home page covers topics including this one, flash cards, listening quizzes, more. Usagi-Chan’s Genki Resource Page also has extensive help for Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji, setting up your computer and vocabulary.
  • Hiragana [2]
    ‘This homepage is divided into nine sections [What is Hiragana, Hiragana Chart, Pronunciation, Writing Hiragana, Hiragana Word, Hiragana sentence, Synthesis, Practice, Bibliography]’.
  • Hiragana Lessons
    ‘Following is the complete list of my hiragana lessons’. 18 Lessons are provided plus links to others.
  • Hiragana - Workbook [Writing Hiragana]
    Online or download [PDF or Text].
  • Japanese Writing Tutor, Hiragana
    ‘Click on any box below and up here you’ll see an example of how to write using the Japanese writing system called hiragana. Remember, when writing in Japanese, strokes tend to go from left to right first, then from up to down’.

Kanji

  • Japanese Kanji - Characters
    ‘Download free content from Emory University on iTunes’. Requires iTunes to be installed.
  • Jii-chan’s Kanji Flashcards
    ‘Around 2 000 of the most frequently used Kanji with their pronunciations and approximate meanings have been assembled from KANJIDIC and divided into 107 lessons. These may be viewed and reviewed directly. The most frequently used characters are found in lesson 1 and so on for each lesson’.
  • Kanji [Japanese Writing Tutor]
    ‘See an overview of Kanji and how they are used’.
  • Kanji Practice
    ‘Helps learners of Japanese to master reading and writing kanji. Kanji are grouped in sets of 50. For each kanji, the site offers a brushstroke image, a brief video clip demonstrating stroke order, sample sentences for On and Kun readings with accompanying audio clips, print variations, the English translation of the kanji. So far, kanji 1-400 and some supplementary kanji are available’. Try their Japanese Exercises.
  • Kanji Site-f
    ‘An easy-to-use guide for the Japanese language’. Several sets, printing, links.
  • The Kanji Site
    Information including examples, explanations, descriptions, links.
  • Speedanki
    ‘An interactive flashcard system designed to aid memorisation of Japanese kanji and kanji compounds for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. This system of memorisation will be useful to any students of Japanese looking to improve their Japanese reading ability. The flashcards can be viewed in kanji or hiragana form. Both sides of the card offer the option to display the English meaning and an example sentence. Register for a Free account and the status of your cards will be saved’.

Other Sites

Sites related to characters, calligraphy and other writing information.

  • Cracking the Code
    The Learning Federation. Activities to develop understanding of Japanese characters [and also Chinese characters].
  • Katakana [Japanese Writing Tutor]
    ‘Below is a chart of the basic sounds found in Japanese, written in Katakana. Click on any of the boxes below and up here you’ll see an example of how to write that character using the Japanese writing system called katakana. Remember : when writing in Japanese, strokes tend to go from left to right first, then from up to down’.
  • Learn Japanese Characters
    Hiragana and Katakana - Quickly & Easily ! ‘Works with any computer that can connect to the Internet with a Java-enabled browser’. Use drills for both of these.

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Language Usage

Grammar

  • A Guide to Japanese Grammar
    ‘A resource for those who want to learn Japanese grammar in a rational, intuitive way that makes sense in Japanese. Explanations focus on how to make sense of the grammar, not from English but from a Japanese point of view’. For a broader approach to Japanese try The Complete Guide to Learning Japanese.
  • Japanese for the Western Brain
    ‘I present some of the basic principles of grammar and usage in a way that probably doesn’t resemble your textbook. I have written it so that people who have a working knowledge of English grammar will be able to compare and contrast English and Japanese grammar’.
  • The Nihongoresources Book
    ‘This is the dokuwiki for the first publication issue of the grammar book associated with Nihongo Resources’ Download an Offline Copy via this link.
  • Tim Sensei’s Corner
    A selection of topics on different aspects of grammar as well as other aspects.

Vocabulary

  • A Touch of Japanese
    ‘Take these phrases with you on your mp3 player and as a printout’. BBC.
  • English-Japanese Vocabulary Quizzes
    ‘Quizzes to Help You Learn and Review Vocabulary. Part of The Internet TESL Journal’s Activities for ESL Students’. Large collection !
  • Japanese Vocabulary Guide
    Audio files for all sections. In Japanese with English translations, either direct or on mouse over.
  • Japanese Words and Phrases
    Most commonly used words and phrases, hiragana and katakana.
  • LanguagePlus
    ‘Designed to help students memorise Japanese vocabulary learnt in class and practise their Japanese grammar skills’. Free Registration provides full access. Grammar, reading, writing, listening exercises.
  • Learning Chocolate
    ‘Welcome to Learning Chocolate ! This web site aims to help students to memorise vocabulary in an easy and efficient way, by using pictures, sounds and games. Try our games and enjoy learning, like eating chocolate’. Also allows for Chinese vocabulary learning [see menu at the top].
  • Photographic Vocabulary Aid
    MIT. ‘Presents photos from Japan, and vocabulary items associated with them. It shows you how words are written and pronounced [sound files in .mov - QuickTime]. Provides quick vocabulary-check pages enabled by JavaScript and Shockwave’.
  • Speak Real Japanese
    ‘Useful Japanese words, slang words, conversational phrases that Japanese people use in everyday life’. Useful words, basic phrases, alphabets, photo gallery, blog, Japanese news, links, your name in Japanese.

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Other Information

Culture

  • A Day with Kentaro
    Follow the life a young boy before and after school. Done in time blocks with text and images.
  • Anime Web Turnpike - Online Resources
    Annotated links covering culture and language, including links to sound clips of Japanese language.
  • A Primer for Newcomers
    Japanese Culture. ‘This site is to familiarise you with a few basic characteristics of Japanese culture and behaviour that the westerner will encounter’.
  • e-Asia Digital Library
    Of main interest is the e-books section where you select the country of interest [e.g. Japan]. Images, audio, maps, database, even a toolkit.
  • Japanese Culture
    ‘Over 120 pages of Japanese culture : Geisha, Samurai, Japanese Language, cherry blossom, Japanese clothing, kimono, Japanese New Year, Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese gardens, Christmas in Japan, Japanese music, more’.
  • Japanese Culture [2]
    Links to cultural information. Performing arts, contemplative arts, royalty, cultural events, costume, foods.
  • Japanese Language and Culture
    Still being developed but links to earlier version.
  • Japanese Reference - Culture
    Religion, Lifestyle & Relationships, Cultural Issues, Traditions & Etiquette, more. Part of the Japan Portal which covers a range of information on Japan.
  • Kids’ Web Japan
    Some language, material [some interactive] to help with culture, other information.
  • Learning Japanese with Akira Kurosawa
    Using the films of Akira Kurosawa as a means of learning or improving your skills in Japanese. Mahalo.

News

Other Sites

  • Charles Kelly’s Online Japanese
    ‘Free-to-use online materials I have developed to help people study Japanese’. Includes plug-ins, quizzes, Kanji materials, flashcards, common words, Japanese signs, Proficiency Test Vocabulary lists, Daily Startup Page, Japanese Language Study Sites, more. You should be sure to check the section covering A Select List of Japanese Language Study Sites.
  • How to Speak Japanese
    Created by the Mahalo Search Engine. Suggestions from Before You Begin to Resources for Studying Japanese. A good starting point.
  • Japanese Language
    Geographic distribution, sounds, grammar, vocabulary, writing system, history, see also, references, external links. Wikipedia.
  • Japanese Language Learning Resources
    Extensive listing, grouped under topic headings.
  • Japanese Language Learning Tools On Web
    Extensive listing of links in topic areas from dictionaries to information for speakers of languages other than English. Some links are annotated. Further links to information via the menu on the left.
  • Japanese Language Links
    Links for Books, food, grammar, lessons, kana/kanji, more.
  • Japanese Online Resources
    Provides Scenarios, Explorers, Space Voyage Games and teacher’s resources. Developed by the Commonwealth as part of the NALSAS Program. The first two sections can have individual components downloaded.
  • Japan Foundation
    Based in Sydney. Some activities restricted to there. Courses, articles, newsletter, journal, resources for loan and much more.
  • JGuide
    Stanford Guide to Japan Information Resources. Well annotated and maintained list of links for learning Japanese.
  • JLTAV - Useful Links
    The site lists several organisations as well as resource sites which are well-annotated in regard to contents.
  • Jim Breen’s Japanese Page
    ‘Links to some of the resources available on the WWW on Japanese matters’.
  • JP NET
    Tools, information, other resources for Japanese language, culture
  • Language Teaching Resources
    Use the items in the menu on the left to select resources for areas from dialects to words, dictionaries to sign language.
  • New South Wales HSC Online, Japanese
    While for the HSC, it provides revision on all aspects of senior secondary Japanese.
  • Online Learning Resources
    California State University. Listing in 5 major groupings including language and culture. A second page with less links but more annotation can be found here.
  • Read Japanese
    ‘We coach you how to read. We basically take you by the hand and show you how to read Japanese words, phrases and Kanji characters. We do this with video tutorials’. A related course is Speak Japanese, which follows a similar format of video tutorials. You can even get coaching to help you Pass the JLPT [Japanese Language Proficiency Test]. Again there are videos plus practice tests and more. Note that all are fee-based, but costs are very reasonable.
  • Sweets : Japanese Language Resources : Immigration Museum
    ‘These resources focus on the Japanese content of the Sweets exhibition, in the Community Gallery of the Immigration Museum. The resources are designed to be used in conjunction with either a staff led or self guided visit to the museum. Teachers can download the work booklets for students working at beginner, intermediate or advanced level of the language’. Victoria.
  • The Japanese Page
    Lessons, forum, articles, downloads, links for culture and language.
  • WordReference
    An extensive listing of briefly annotated link covering a variety of aspects of the Japanese language.

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Podcasts, Blogs, Videos

  • Japanese Beginner Phrases Podcast
    11 in the series at time of inclusion.
  • Japanese Lessons in English
    More than 80 lessons, Japanese words and more.
  • JapanesePod101.com
    ‘Our innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system is designed to get you speaking and interacting from the very first lesson, at your own convenience and pace with short, effective, fun daily lessons’
  • Japanese Listening Advanced
    ‘Here you can listen to natural Japanese conversations, at natural speed, with many slang expressions, so that you can learn real and natural Japanese conversation’.
  • Japanese Podcasting Lessons
    ‘Learn to speak Japanese and write Kanji symbols’.
  • Learn Japanese@Japancast.net
    ‘Free Japanese lessons in podcast format. We use examples from anime and everyday conversation to teach you Japanese that is useful for everyday life’.
  • Learn Japanese Language Blogspot
    ‘How to speak Japanese words, phrase and a basic conversation in Japanese. You will open your mouth and sound like a totally real Japanese speaking person’.
  • Learn Japanese Pod
    ‘A podcast and website for learning Japanese for free in a fun and easy way. These podcasts are recorded with native Japanese speakers who teach useful everyday conversational Japanese’.
  • One Minute Japanese
    ‘This course covers the absolute basics of Japanese. The course introduces the listener to basic greetings, introductions, numbers, language problems and common words and phrases’.

Japanese Proficiency Test

  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test
    Japanese Government [through their embassy in Brisbane]. Allows you to access information about the test, grades, course book, more. Worth considering if serious.
  • JLPTvocab
    ‘JLPTvocab is a program to review the Japanese vocabulary required to pass the JLPT level 3 and 4 exams [JLPT stands for Japanese Language Proficiency Test]. It consists of a list of all the vocabulary [including kana and kanji writings], a learning mode and a quiz mode’.
  • Resources
    You might consider downloading resources from the Consulate-General of Japan, Brisbane.

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