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Nov 30, 2010

Tool Pack - Part 1

There is a very important element of this learning method that I have not stressed or even really mentioned up to this point – that this learning method is intended as a way to learn Japanese entirely on your own and by your own power. This means that you will be taking the role of both teacher and student, and in order to really pull off both roles you're going to need some tools at your disposal. I'm going to post some tools that I have found to be extremely useful in learning Japanese (some of which can be applied for uses other than Japanese as well).

Anki – This is the greatest tool in the arsenal. It's essentially a flash-card or quizzing program that utilizes a special spacing system for the “cards” or “questions.” This system which uses spaced repetitions is often called an SRS (spaced repetition system) and it makes retaining knowledge much easier. You are presented with a question or sentence, which you then attempt to answer before “flipping” the card. You then score yourself on your response – if you did poorly on the question then you will see it again soon, if you could answer the question easily then you will see the question again after a longer period of time. This system will make the things you know appear less and less often, while making the things you do not know appear more and more often (until you know them, and then they appear less). Watch the tutorial videos on the Anki website to better understand how to use the program. I will also make a more detailed post later on. – This website is really great for starting out. I've already linked to the hiragana and katakana courses in my post about learning the kana, but there are many other great courses available for your use. In particular, the Core 2000 course is a great way to begin building your vocabulary. The course uses a quizzing system to introduce and ensure retention of the words presented. No matter what, do NOT use the romaji mode on ANY course – learning romaji will do you absolutely no good. Just do the recommended number of questions (or whatever is comfortable for you) per day and let your vocabulary begin to expand. Try to begin recognizing kanji as well.

EDIT: Since writing this post, has become a subscription service at the URL

Dictionaries – I actually have quite a few dictionaries that I use, so I'll be posting multiple. When it comes time to begin building vocabulary and finding example sentences, you'll probably want to use multiple as well. However, for the beginning steps a single dictionary should do the trick. Initially you're going to want to use the Japanese to English dictionaries, but as your vocabulary builds you should eventually switch to using Japanese monolingual dictionaries (most of the sites have both).

Yahoo! Japan's Dictionary (Japanese monolingual is the top section, the Japanese to English dictionary entry is usually the third down)

goo Dictionary (Japanese monolingual is the top section, the Japanese to English dictionary entry is usually the third down)

ALC (This one is really more for example sentences)

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