I have recently kicked my Japanese study into high gear, and to assist me with this, I did some digging on the internet to find some of the best apps/tools/websites to help with my language studying.
This time around I’m arming myself with some of the latest free and paid mobile apps and online website tools. I thought I would quickly share what I have found so far in preparing my personalized study program.
Here are some of the apps/tools/methods I am using along with some info…
1.) Evernote – this app/tool is amazing and I should have given it more time when I briefly played around with it a few years ago. Anyway, it has definitely improved and they have an iOS, android, MAC, and PC version of the software which will sync between all your devices and keep your files all in sync. You can easily grab a screenshot from a website, record an audio clip, attach a document, create to-do lists, create notes, and more. It’s amazing, download it and use it to start tracking your progress and keep all your notes organized and in one place.
2.) Japanese TV Dramas – This is a new one for me, but I think it’s about time I jump into this. I’m using this guy’s method of studying (http://www.tofugu.com/2011/06/10/studying-with-japanese-drama-how-to/). Basically, you find a Japanese TV show that you find interesting. I found HERO, which is a detective comedy show. Then you will need to get your hands on a copy of the Japanese and English subtitle files. The article provides you with a link to some. But I found a better site here: http://www.d-addicts.com/forum/subtitles.php?#Japanese. This site includes subtitle files for popular Japanese and Asian movies/tv dramas. They also have the subtitles available in a variety of languages, for example, English as well as Japanese. So I downloaded the subtitles for the HERO tv show (http://www.d-addicts.com/forum/viewtopic_158248.htm) and threw them into Evernote. Now basically, what you want to do is take the Japanese subtitles and go through and translate sections of the subtitle into English using Evernote and then have them up while you watch through an episode. This will help you to learn new words, how to use those words, etc. Once you have translated a section of the script, then proceed to watch the TV show and see how much of it you can understand. Watch the episode over and over again until you can easily listen and understand what you are watching. The English subtitles are only there to help you with translations if you get really stuck, but only reference them as a last resort. Looking up the words online through a dictionary like Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C) will help you commit these words to memory. Check the full write up on tofugu.com for more details on this study approach.
Here are some sites and mobile apps to help you find Japanese dramas.
- Dramafever – http://www.dramafever.com – they also have a mobile iOS app for watching on the go. Probably one of my favorite apps for Japanese TV shows.
- Viki – Another great mobile app for watching Japanese TV shows
- J Addicts – http://j-addicts.blogspot.co.uk/ – A variety of Japanese TV shows to watch online
- Another good article for advice on learning through subtitles – http://www.fluentu.com/japanese/blog/learn-japanese-subtitles/
- If you run into region issues with these tv services, check out hola (http://hola.org/) and media hint.
3.) Japanese Language Websites – here is a list of some of the best websites I found:
- http://www.textfugu.com/season-1/the-japanese-alphabets/2-4/#top – Textfugu is like an online textbook. It has great stuff and explained very well. Check them out
- http://www.tofugu.com/ – A great resource site with all kinds of info around Japan, Japanese culture, and Japanese language. There are also great articles on study tips, etc.
- http://www.fluentu.com/japanese/blog/learn-japanese-subtitles/ – This site is free and its concept is that you learn languages by watching high-quality youtube videos with built-in subtitles. You can hover over the subtitle text and look up the words and see how they are used. Japanese is currently in beta and they have other languages as well. Definitely check this one out.
- Read Japanese newspaper articles written for children – Let’s say your vocab and grammar isn’t up to the level where you could even get through a Japanese newspaper. Well, why not try reading a newspaper article written for children?
- Jim Breen’s WWWJDICT – An online Japanese dictionary – http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C
- iknow.jp – formerly known as smart.fm. This is great for self-studying Japanese. It is a paid site, however.
- http://www.tangorin.com – This is an online Japanese to English dictionary (with an accompanying Android app) which supports input in Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana, and Romanji. The cool thing about this website is that it provides you with sample sentences with the word being used as well as furigana display support and the translation of that sentence. You can also create a word list with a free account to go back and review the words you are trying to learn.
- http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/complete – Probably one of my favorite resources for simply learning new grammar rules or reviewing old ones. Tae Kim’s guide is free and exceptional. Grammar rules are extremely well explained and there are fantastic example sentences to help with understanding.
- http://quizlet.com/ – A simple and free digital note card quiz website
- http://www.skritter.com – Another way to learn Kanji characters and vocabulary. They also have mobile apps that accompany the site. This is a monthly paid service, but the app is really good at helping you learn Kanji characters and the proper stroke order.
- http://www.japanesepod101.com/ – Another monthly paid service for the self-studying Japanese student. Skritter and Japanesepod101 seem to be the main two sites out there right now assisting self-learners of Japanese. Give each a try and see which suits your needs.
4.) Mobile Apps
- Apps to watch TV Dramas – Viki, DramaFever, – Download a copy of these apps from the Apple store to watch free TV dramas with subtitles
- Skritter – Probably one of my favorite apps to study Kanji on the go
- Conjugation – A simple app that tests your conjugation skills. This app is perfect for those trying to improve your ability of conjugating Japanese verbs into the various forms. Download it here: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/japanese-grammar-conjugation/id914304316?mt=8)
- Japanese Lessons (NHK) – An app for the NHK Japanese language lessons. They basically run you through various dialogs of a worker that just moved to Japan. A great free resource to help with listening comprehension, etc. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/japanese-lessons/id570265834?mt=8
- Learning Japanese – This is a great reading resource for on the go students. It’s basically a digital book full of grammar rules and explanations. It’s Tae Kim’s web version in a mobile app format.
- Japanese Dictionaries – imiwa (for iOS) and Tangorin (for Android) are probably the two best apps I have found. They are created for looking up words, seeing the words used in sample sentences with translation, as well as support for furigana display.
Well, there you have it. I will update this post from time to time with my new findings, but I think that’s enough to keep anyone busy! Enjoy!