Almost a year ago I started taking Japanese classes at my university. I already had some basic knowledge from self-study but the “pressure” of having deadlines helps me revise much better than having to do it all by myself. Also having a Japanese native teaching me the things I find difficult saves me a lot of time. Now I’m on my summer break, which means I won’t have any classes until the end of September! I’m definitely going to take some time to relax but I have to keep studying. Especially with languages, it’s super easy to forget very quickly. Consistency is key! Here are the resources I’m using to keep up with my language skills over the summer to make next year’s Japanese classes a little bit easier for me. If you’re not able to go to classes to learn Japanese I think this list might be very helpful with your self-studies!

Textbooks

1. Japanese for Busy People
In class we use the “Japanese for busy people” textbooks. In my experience they’ve been very useful in a classroom environment. If you want to get this one, please make sure you get the kana version and not the romaji version! I do feel that this book is best used in a classroom, rather than using it for self-study because I’ve needed some extra explanation from my teacher on the side.

2. Genki
Published by the Japanese Times, Genki is probably the most popular textbook when it comes to learning Japanese. I used it before taking my first Japanese classes at university and I love(d) using it! My teacher even recommended me to have a look at it during the summer. Genki has a clear lay out, easy grammar explanation and helpful exercises. It’s a bit pricy compared to Japanese for busy people but in my opinion it’s definitely worth your money.

Apps

1. Duolingo
Duolingo already had lots of languages available but recently they’ve finally released a Japanese course too! I’m really enjoying the way Duolingo teaches you new words, it’s very effective. You can set daily goals and reminders which makes it almost feel like a game. Duolingo is a free app, it does have some adds popping up every now and then but it’s not too annoying.

2. Memrise
Another great app designed for learning languages. What I love about memrise is that there’s so many Japanese courses to choose from. There’s basic courses, special courses to learn Hiragana and Katakana, there’s even a special course with vocabulary that is taught in the Genki workbooks! Memrise is also a free app.

3. HelloTalk
Hello Talk is another free app where you can chat to native speakers of your target language. You simply fill in what languages you speak and what languages you want to learn. Then you can find people who want to learn the languages you speak. For example, I chat with Japanese people who want to learn English. It’s a great way to learn and meet other people. It’s one of my favourite apps even though you obviously have to help your conversation partners with their language learning, but you get a lot for it in return.

Online resources

1. Tea Kim’s guide to learning Japanese website and Facebook group
Tea Kim’s guide is the place to go for me when I struggle understanding something, usually grammar related. There’s a clear explanation for a lot of grammar rules on the website that have helped me massively with my Japanese assignments over the year. They also have a great Facebook group where people post questions and help each other. It’s such a nice little community that I’m very happy to be a part of!

2. JapanesePod101
I have absolutely loved the Japanese podcasts on this website! I used a free trial because as a poor university student I can’t afford to get a subscription at the moment, but even in the free trail I learned a lot of new things. What I love about the podcasts is that you can listen to them at any time, on the bus, in the car, before bed, etc. It has helped me a lot with my pronunciation before taking Japanese classes because a textbook obviously isn’t the best when it comes to pronouncing words.

3. Tofugu
I follow both the website and the facebook page of this amazing blog! What’s nice about this website is that they have a great library filled with resources to learn the language, but also have a lot of information about the country and the Japanese culture. Learning a language is not only about vocabulary and grammar, it’s about understanding a whole new culture and experiencing that through the language!

4. Language sheets
There’s lots of fun and useful language sheets online! Sheets with vocabulary about body parts, colours, days of the week, animal names, etc. I’ve created a pinterest board to put my favourite ones together in one place. They’re fun extra’s you can use to broaden your Japanese knowledge.

If you have any websites, apps or books that you would recommend, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll make sure to check them out!

 

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