It’s been a while since I wrote about this, but I’ve been diligently keeping up my Japanese studies. And while I’m still far from fluent, my current self-study methods have helped me dramatically, and I wanted to share them with you. So without further ado,
Anki is a free and open-source spaced repetition flashcard program. “Anki” (暗記) is the Japanese word for “memorization”. The SM2 algorithm, created for SuperMemo in the late 1980s, forms the basis of the spaced repetition methods employed in the program. Anki’s implementation of the algorithm has been modified to allow priorities on cards and to show cards in order of their urgency. The cards are presented using HTML and may include text, images, sounds, videos, and LaTeX equations. The decks of cards, along with the user’s statistics, are stored in the open SQLite format.
I’ve been using Anki for about 6 months now, and already it’s ingrained more vocab in my brain than 2 years of Japanese classes and a lifetime of watching anime. Right now I’m using the Japanese Core 2000 Step 01 Listening Sentence Vocab + Images and Japanese Core 2000 Step 02 Listening Sentence Vocab + Images shared decks available from this page. Another great thing about Anki is that you can use it to study other languages such as well. > Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish
Memrise is a user-generated learning platform which uses flashcards as memory aids. It specializes in language learning, but also offers content on a wide range of other subjects.
Ah Memrise. Along with services such as Duolingo and Reji, most of you have probably already heard about this one. While I admittedly don’t use this one everyday, there’s just something about it that makes me use it over the others. And while I didn’t initially think it was helping as much as Anki, I have found that it’s lessons tend to be easier to remember because of how it puts its vocab in sentences. The main difference though is that Anki doesn’t make you type them out.
However if you’re restricted to using a phone and want your lessons for free, I would recommend Duolingo over Memrise as the latter is only free to a point.
Japanese Ammo with Misa (YouTube)
Misa, an enthusiastic multilingual ninja, eager translator, manga lover, and happy world traveler. Tell her what you would like to learn and she will help you!
Misa has been instrumental in helping me with Japanese grammar lately. In fact, it would be a disservice not to mention her Grammar Lessons for Absolute Beginners playlist. While I wouldn’t consider myself an absolute beginner, this playlist really pointed out my weaknesses with grammar and helped me through them. The lessons are 15-20 minutes on average, and she breaks down conjugation in a way that just clicks for me like nothing has before. I’m sure it’s the combination of visual, auditory and repetition she uses, but she’s really someone you should just check out for yourself!
Japanese Grammar Guide PDF – Tae Kim
Admittedly I haven’t used this source nearly as much as the others yet, but from what I have used I can guarantee it’s usefulness. This 353 page PDF tackles grammar from a Japanese perspective, building the foundation to learn the Japanese language the way it was meant to be learnt. And while 353 pages might seem daunting at first, it’s not necessarily meant to be read in the same way as your typical language textbook. I would actually consider it more of a reference guide to use when you get stuck. Fortunately I’ve typically been able to find a Misa video that covers the subject I’m stuck on, so I haven’t needed to use this PDF very often. However since some of her videos can be rather long, this PDF can prove to be a quicker solution to your problems.
And that’s the list! Admittedly I supplement these lessons with several other resources (including lots of Google Translate), but these are my big three right now! Let me know what you think, or if you know of any better resources out there!