Sunday, April 02, 2006

Some Japanese themed resources

Since I have been studying Japanese (only from resources Ive aquired on the internet etc, so from lack of structured lessons I'm probably not that good) I have searched around, been linked to and generally tripped up over some pretty good websites and pieces of software either in japanese or to do with learning it.

So, I think I'll start with links to sites and software especially good for learners of japanese and then go onto things like podcasts in native Japanese.

The quick and dirty guide to Japanese - This is a useful read and possibly quick reference that covers a lot of the basic points of Japanese grammar in a relatively short text. Its all in romanised Japanese so you don't have to know how to read Japanese to get something out of it.

Japanese is possible - This site includes some vocabulary as it goes through explaining various gramatical points of Japanese. This is mostly in romanised Japanese, so its good if you want to start studying before picking up any of the writing system.

Guide to Japanese - This site is an excelent resource that takes the point of view that the best way to learn Japanese is to think from a more Japanese sort of perspective rather than trying to make it sound very english in translations. You do need to be able to read kana (the hiragana and katakana sets of characters) and at least become familiar with some Kanji (the borrowed and adapted chinese characters) but gramatical points are explained thorougly and example sentences are provided throughout.
Tea Kim (the author of the site) has included links to charts of the kana so that you can study those and become able to read basic Japanese.

Oshiete kudasai (please teach me) - While the website may be a little poor, there are some Japanese lessons which are taught in IRC, logged to text, edited and put on this site. This is a good one for beginners too as it starts off with gramatical points like how to deal with adjectives and moves onto verbs all in romanised Japanese.
I couldn't link this site without mentioning the related irc channels so, if you log into and join #japaneselessons (the channel which lessons take place in, once a week. Though i think the person giving them may be taking a short break at the moment) and #learnjapanese which has many of the same people in it along with a dictionary bot, and sometimes a trivia bot.

Moving on to some less grammar centric links..

Learn Japanese (podcast) - This is a fun podcast by an English guy (Alex) who is living in Osaka, Japan who speaks pretty fluent Japanese. Accompanying him for most podcasts is the lovely Beb, a Japanese woman who likes to make music and helps provide the natural Kansai dialect Japanese. The podcast pretty much focuses on natural sounding phrases and tries to explain what they mean and how they are used.

Beb and Alex's Podcast (podcast) - The same 2 excelent people from Learn Japanese, but this time talking about nothing and everything completely in Japanese. Another fun podcast, even if I don't understand enough of it. ^^

Beb Goody Goody! (podcast) - My last link related to Beb and Alex! hehe. This is a podcast by just Beb talking about whatever is on her mind. Again, I don't understand nearly enough, but great anyway.

***Note that 'standard' Japanese is what is generally spoken and on TV etc and The previous podcasts are kansai dialect (not standard, but spoken in the Kansai area of Japan which is oosaka and some places around there.. my geography isn't great), so there are some slight differrences. but its definately japanese!

Oosaka Dialect (podcast) - Another kansai dialect podcast by a Japanese woman with very good english. Her target audience is learners of Japanese, but I think it would be equally useful to learners of English from Japan. She sais everything first in Japanese and then follows with the English. The dialogue from each episode is also posted on the blog in full japanese, romanised japanese and english.

Traditional Japanese childrens stories - A very fun way to study if you can read kana, basically this person has taken traditional Japanese stories page by page and translated it to English (and in most cases put notes on little bits of grammar/phrases/vocab that crop up). Its not standard japanese like you would hear in conversation (obviously) but its both good reading and comprehension practice.

MLC Japanese shool for English speakers - The meguro Language Center have quite a lot of flash animations and PDFs that you can use to study gramatical points and such from. Worth a look to see if these are useful to you. (another resource that does not romanise the Japanese).

I tend to favour resources which do not romanise the Japanese, maybe I'll go into why romaji 「ローマ字」 (romanised Japanese) is a good habbit to get out of and why it isn't all that good an idea for someone actually studying the language to rely on it some other time.

kurage no tawagoto (podcast) - The name of this podcast means something along the lines of nonsense jellyfish, and its a completely Japanese podcast about any topics that the woman who makes it feels like.

Nippon Voiceblog (podcast) - Nippon Voiceblog aka Japanese voiceblog is a Japanese podcast about various Japanese cultural points and life in Japan in general. The dialogue is included on the website in Japanese also.

Hidechan rajio (podcast) - This is Konami's famous Hideo Kojima's podcast (maker of metal gear solid). Always a pretty light hearted show and they even read stuff sent in by listeners. Again, this is completely Japanese although they do have an english speaking person on the show.

and my final useful link for students of Japanese.. is an email magazine aimed at teaching English! ... to Japanese people.

eigo no magumagu! (English mag!) - A very interesting magazine which most notably contains part of a story each issue in Japanese and then followed up in perfect English. This link is to the archive page where you can read from the beginning and not have to sign-up for the mail.

As for software, I have certainly come across some which has been useful and so software links will now follow! Hope you havn't just seen teh huge length of this posting and ignored it. THAT WOULD MAKE YOU BAD! ..and with that:

Firefox web browser - OK, so this is not directly related at all and its my favourite web browser. BUT I need to encourage the use of this superior product (alternate to internet explorer).
There is a good reason to browse the web using this software for you Japanese learners too, as my next link should illustrate.

Rikaichan - This is an extension (add-on) for the Firefox web browser I previously linked. It essentially allows your browser to become a dictionary tool as well AND integrates with your web browsing (of Japanese websites) to allow you to look up words as you come across them simply by hovering the mouse over the start of the word you are interested in.
I cannot express how excelent and useful this is in words, take a good look at their site and find out how to install and use this excelent tool.

Wakan - The most featureful dictionary software you are likely to find anywhere ever, and its free. You can use it to make study lists, look up individual kanji info, look up whole words from a traditional style dictionary, input japanese text into a special editor which allows you to see the translation of each word you enter and probably some other features I havn't thought to mention. You can even download seperate dictionary files to include Japanese people and places names.

Jquicktrans - A more standard dictionary, which you may want to use if wakan is just a little too much for your needs, or if you just want a faster simpler way to look up the odd word. The free version contains the basic edict dictionary and kanjidic so you can look up japanese words or individual kanji information. You can purchase this and get some extra features such as being able to add your own dictionarys etc, personally I'm happy with what the free one offers but please check it out for yourself and decide if you want to purchase or go free.

Kanji gold - A nice simple piece of software that allows you to drill the meanings and readings of Kanji by grade (the grades they use in the Japanese school system). It has modes both for being shown a kanji and being asked to select the correct english meaning or japanese reading from a list and also the other way round where you are shown the english meaning or japanese reading and have to select the correct kanji from a list.

and lets end this horrifically long list of resources (before I think of more) with a game designed to teach the writing system.

KICL - The name stands for knuckles in chinaland, this has no baring on which language it teaches and the name was derived from some game released in 1998. The game has an actual story and is set out much like an RPG but the battle system requires you to remember what a japanese character is. There are modes designed to teach katakana and hiragana (the sylabic writing systems), kanji (the chinese characters which have meanings to them as well as readings which are used when you see the kanji used in context) and a mode to build vocabulary simply by testing you on the english equivalent of a japanese word.

Thanks for reading (YOU DID READ RIGHT?) and I may come back and edit this posting later as I come across new, exciting and useful Japanese and Japanese study links.

==> very early edit, firstly it seems I have been dugg by one of my friends, so thanks for your support if you came from digg (great site)

and secondly I just found another site that should really be in the list (and was reminded by the first post on digg by greatdevourer of another resource)

nihongo wo narau (learn japanese) - This site has everything, from Grammar and vocab lessons (and reviews to practice what you have learned) to guides to pronouncing and writing the kana. Now I've come across this site I'll definately be checking it out in more detail in the coming days. - Learn Japanese - A site with a lot of content for leanring Japanese, although from what I have seen of the site it takes pretty much the opposite approach to Tae kim's guidetojapanese and so I havn't used it very much so far. Still a more than worthy resource for the list!

==> editing to include a good resource (which was new to me till it was mentioned on digg)

Japancast (podcast) - This is a good podcast for teaching some Japanese and includes common phrases and words but also some more complicated japanese dialogues taken from manga and anime etc for intermediate learners. Another great thing about this podcast is that Hitomi, the Japanese speaker who does the majority of dialogue, is from Tokyo. So this is one of my few learning podcasts which uses the more common hyoujungo (standard Japanese) dialect.


Blogger paulrus said...

Strange you didn't list our podcast. We have one of the highest rated and most listened to Japanese podcasts in iTunes.

Search for "Learn Japanese" in iTunes to find us.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Norgus said...

As I mentioned on digg, its not that I hate you or something. I hadn't heard of that podcast till today.

Now I've listened to a few of the lessons you guys put out, I've included you in the list and I'll definately be listening.

Thanks for checking out my posting.

7:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home