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Useful information for living in Japan.


Japanese Language Learning Resources

Japanese Language Learning Resources
Learning styles vary and sometimes learners need supplementary materials to help them succeed in their language acquisition efforts. Learners of the Japanese language are no different so we’ve compiled a list of useful resources to supplement your everyday language studies. Whether you need more practice reading, writing, or listening, there is probably something out there for you. Here are some ideas of where to start.


Online Resources


WaniKani is a web-service by Tofugu offering its users ways to learn kanji, radicals, and Japanese vocabulary through the use of mnemonics and spaced repetition in daily lessons and reviews. It is a useful memorization tool for people at all levels of Japanese. The project started in 2012 and has since expanded its dictionary to include over 2,000 kanji characters and 6,000 vocabulary words. It also has 60 levels of difficulty, the first 3 of which are free to try.

Jisho is the Japanese word for the dictionary and that’s just what is. Using several data sources including JMdict, Tatoeba, KanjiVG, DBpedia, and WaniKani audio, is a fantastic resource that offers not only definitions, but also stroke orders, and audio for the vocabulary in question. Don’t know how to read a kanji? No problem! You can use the “draw” search option and draw it instead. Not too sure of how to write the character? You can search by radicals or even just say the word.

NHK – News Web Easy

Nihon Hōsōkyōkai (NHK) is Japan’s national television broadcaster and one of the go-to sources for all Japan-related news. They have several services including online broadcasting of news in 18 different languages (NHK World). Aside from this, NHK also has their News Web Easy website offering news and other information about current events in an easy to read format that is great for Japanese language learners. By default, the website displays furigana (character reading in hiragana) above kanji but this can be toggled on or off when you start reading an article. You are also provided with options to listen to the article which provides great listening practice as well. Each article also provides a link to the regular versions witch the original and more difficult Japanese for those who want a bit more of a challenge.


Browser Plugins

Rikaichamp and Rikaikun

If you regularly browse the internet in Japanese, come across words you can’t read or understand, and have to copy and paste them into an online dictionary, the Rikaichamp plugin for Firefox and Rikaikun plugin for Google Chrome are fantastic resources that can save you a great amount of time. When the plugins are toggled on, one can simply hover their cursor over the word that they do not understand and information regarding the meaning of the words and individual kanji will show up on the screen. These are great resources for those who have some understanding of the Japanese language and need a little help here and there. We do not recommend using the plugins for 100% of your browsing as it will ultimately only serve to hinder your growth. A little bit goes a long way.


Mobile Resources

Japanese (Renzo Inc.)

At its base, Japanese is a dictionary app that can run with or without an internet connection. It is complete with handwriting recognition, conjugation search, and a text reader for when you need help reading sentences on a website or in a text message. Aside from its dictionary function, Japanese also offers study tools in the form of flashcards, text-to-speech, and JLPT study lists. You can even create and share your own flashcard study decks and share them with friends.

Satori Reader (Brak Software, Inc.)

For those who are struggling with reading and listening in Japanese, Satori Reader is a wonderful app that can address both of these areas. Offering a variety of reading materials, Satori allows users to adjust the difficulty of each reading by choosing to have furigana displayed all kanji, base what furigana are displayed on your personal skill level, or not at all. Many readings have audio available to listen to and even download. Use the text and audio to improve reading and listening comprehension or even as tools to improve your speaking through shadowing. The two episodes of each series of content are available for unlimited use without a subscription. A pro subscription opens up the complete library of more than 350 episodes (more added regularly), audio, annotations, and human feedback.

TangoRisto (Javier Artiles)

Like Satori Reader, TangoRisto offers reading materials of varying genres. The difference is that these readings are sources from other sources including NHK News Web Easy, NHK News, Japanese folk tales, and Matcha travel magazine. Readers can take advantage of features allowing for the sorting of articles by difficulty level, vocabulary highlighted by JLPT level, verb conjugation identifiers, bookmarks, and even furigana settings similar to those of Satori Reader. There is also audio content available for listening. TangoRisto is a free app and a great resource for those needing a bit more reading and listening practice that is regularly updated.


That’s a Wrap

This list is definitely not exhaustive of all the resources available to Japanese language learners around the world but these apps are definitely worth a look at if you are in a slump or need to add a bit of variety to your studies. Enjoy!

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