Updated: Feb 1, 2019
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Things are still under construction here, but we don't wanna leave you hanging ( ; While we're busy compiling all of our favorite resources for studying Japanese, here's a mini post to tide you over.
Let's talk about what you can do to start studying Japanese(nihongo) today as a beginner.
First things first. Have you heard of quizlet? It's a free website where you can create your own flashcards to study whatever subject you like! You can either study them as flash cards, or there are even more interactive ways to review such as mock quizzes and matching games.
I recommend using quizlet to memorize vocabulary, and even kanji and hiragana/katakana. When you get into your first textbook (Genki all the way), it will be helpful to create study sets for each chapter to help you remember all of the new terms.
Speaking of memorization, once you've learned hiragana and katakana, you need to sign up for Wanikani. Wanikani is a memorization program for kanji I've been recommending to my friends pretty much since I started studying Japanese, and I'll tell you why.
Wanikani has over 2000 kanji, complete with meaning, readings, vocabulary, and example sentences, all with a built-in automated review system set in place. If you are consistent with your reviews, Wanikani boasts that you can memorize all of the kanji they have to offer, in a little over a year and a half.
Just imagine that for a minute. In as little year in a half you could be able to read any Japanese text you want to, even newspapers and more difficult texts. 2000 kanji is actually more than a lot of native Japanese people know! The only downside to this is that if you want to also memorize how to write all 2000+ kanji, you will have to do that on your own time. For everything else, WaniKani has you covered.
Wanikani isn't completely free, unfortunately, but it is worth it. The first three lessons are free, so that you can see if you like the app for yourself and after that they offer a subscription service. The subscription is $9 a month or $89 a year, where you actually can save a bit of money. They have a $299 lifetime subscription as well, but I don't recommend this because if you put in the work you can get through all of the reviews in a year and a half, costing you at total of $162 for the monthly subscription and $178 if you buy two years.
When I was using the Wanikani program I went with the monthly subscription, because at the time I was a poor college student. To be honest, at first even $9 a month seemed like a lot, but I signed up for it and kept my subscription going because it is such a great, scratch that, the absolute best app for learning kanji and vocabulary currently out there.
Just give it a try with the first free 3 lessons and decide for yourself.
Next, we're going to move on to discussing the number one physical resource for beginners in Japanese. You may have actually already heard great things about this textbook series.
It is, the one and only, Genki series.
Genki 1 was not the first book I used to study Japanese when I was a beginner (my university used Nakama, which we'll talk about later), but it is the best. Out of the many textbooks I tried when I was just starting out, Genki stood out for these 3 reasons:
1) Organization- one of the most important aspects of a textbook is organization, and Genki takes the cake. It has a very straightforward dialogue -> vocab -> grammar lesson -> practice problem flow, so that you can make the best of your time instead of flipping back and forth confused about where you left off, taking away from quality study time.
2) It's interesting- Genki follows a "story line" of sorts and has a set list of characters, including the famous メアリー and たけし. It's easy to get bored while studying, especially with certain other textbooks which we won't name here, but Genki draws you into each and every single lesson. Before you realize it you've finished the series! The practice exercises are also fun and engaging, and when you're first starting out writing full sentences out in Japanese feels really cool.
3) Quality- There's just something about the content included in genki, the relevance of the vocabulary, the thought put into the explanations, and the way that the exercises make you think, that sets it a part from the rest. If you use other textbooks, you might learn from them, but I truly believe you will struggle with the vocabulary and concepts a lot more than you would if you were using Genki. I like to consider Genki a smooth ride from start to finish. You start out not even knowing how to write a single hiragana and end up close to being able to pass the N4 of the JLPT.
I have always and I will always push Genki on beginners because it is the highest quality textbook series for beginners on the market. If you're interested in giving Genki a try you can buy the first (of two) books on Amazon here.
Or if you have a bit more cash and you want a better deal, you can get this bundle featuring both Genki books, PLUS the practice exercise books for Genki 1 and 2 filled with tons of extra practice problems to really help the material stick. If you have the cash to spare, I recommend this, as you will probably run through Genki 1 pretty quickly.
That's all for today! Come back tomorrow for our first lesson where we will be discussing the Japanese 自己紹介（jikoshoukai), or self introduction.
Feel free to leave your comments or suggestions for future posts/lessons down below, or contact me directly via the Contact page. And sign up for our newsletter to be notified everytime we post!
Until next time, がんばってね！