End of 2013 Best Japanese Apps and Sites Review 2013年のベストアプリ

christmas tree with presents

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas everyone!

皆さん、メリークリスマスとあけましておめでとうございます!

最近、冬休みがあるのでどこかに出掛けましたか?誰かにプレセントを与えられますか?私は秘密のサンタという友達とのエベントがありました。プレセントの中が知らずに皆が無作為に選んでいました。

Lately, it’s been winter vacation so has everyone been going out? Have you been giving gifts to people? For me, I had to give a gift for a “secret santa” event, where we just get gifts from unopened package we don’t know what is in it.

私は皆に与えってあげるのプレセントは自分が一番好きな日本語の勉強アプリとサイトです。

Well for coming to my site this year I’m going to give you guys a special present, my list of top Japanese learning apps and sites I use and recommend!  For anyone that’s learning Japanese, I guarantee you there’s something in there for you that will help you out and improve your Japanese to the next level.  Hope everyone had a great 2013 and lets have a great 2014!


jasensei

[Android App] JA Sensei – 7.5/10

Personal Review: Good app for the android phone, goes over the basics and lots of vocabulary in various sections useful.  The Kanji stroke is useful for practicing writing Kanji.  The lack of detail and explanation will leave you looking to clueless on where to start studying from so best to use this as a reference on top of a textbook.

Pros: Breaks down vocabulary into different types(animals, sports, town), quizzes that let you favorite things you got wrong, counters, Kanji stroke and instant drawing, large vocabulary listing based off grade level, useful related words to vocabulary.

Cons: Costs money for app, no sentence examples for vocabulary, all Japanese verbs group together, hard to navigate from section to section, examples weak with lack of explanation, rote memorizing with lack of images or explanation.


jed_1jasensei2

[Android App] JED – Japanese Dictionary 8.5/10

Personal Review: JED Japanese dictionary is essential for any English learning with an android smart phone.  Unlike Google translate that requires internet connection, this app is offline and is fast with great examples and conjugation listing and tags.  Would highly recommend this with addition to another learning app.

Pros: Free app, fast, very large dictionary database, good deal of English translated sentence examples, verb conjugation listing, Kanji radical/grade level/code/JLPT for memorizing and find words, allows copying sentences and Kanji easily, and tagging/history make finding past words easy.

Cons:   No Kanji stroke animation, more a dictionary than useful guide for learning Japanese, no images/audio


kotobachan1 kotobachan2

[Android App] Kotoba-Chan 8/10

Personal Review:  The best app I’ve found for looking at great sentence examples for studying words, it has stoplight color-coded words for level mastery.  I would recommend this app for anyone who wanting to become proficient in Japanese and read Japanese newspaper or take JLPT exam.

Pros: Free app, fast, sorted by JLPT/common words, good for testing and memorizing words, tests words not mastered, fantastic quality of sentences and translation.

Cons:  No Kanji study guide, no explanation of grammar, lack of audio/visual.


studyjapanesenet

[Website] http://studyjapanesenet.blogspot.com/ 9.5/10

Personal Review:  Need an ebook? This site is the best for downloading audio and ebooks of textbook material for free.

Pros: Lots of ebooks and audio books to download including famous ones like Minna no Nihongo.

Cons:  Vietnamese links? Nothing else to complain about.


taekim

[Website] http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/ 8/10

Personal Review:  Very detailed website for English learners of Japanese.  Full of great content and is an ebook as well so this would be a great introduction to learning Japanese with the app it provides, as well as youtube channel and introduction material.   Material lacking for advanced students and those studying Kanji or more in depth vocabulary of sentences.

Pros: Free ebook, app, youtube channel, lots of material that is comprehensive, great beginner guide

Cons:  No audio, few visuals, lack of forum or discussion board, hard to navigate


erin

[Website] http://www.erin.ne.jp/ 10/10

Personal Review:  By far the most entertaining site I’ve come across.  It is not only completely useful for beginners from watching beginner video skits and advanced skits to following and reading the manga, culture quizzes, interactive vocabulary with photos/audio, and tests for understanding grammar.  This is a site I highly recommend for any Japanese learner.

Pros: Free site, high school video skits featuring popular Japanese cast, tests, interactive vocabulary with picture and audio, very detailed culture quizzes, manga with audio, 25 lessons with beginner and advanced, and key phrases.

Cons:  Java based


maggiesensei

[Website] http://maggiesensei.com/ 9.5/10

Personal Review:  One of the most helpful Japanese teachers online.  Unlike other sites that just provide content, maggiesensei responds to her comments and discussions while providing a personal Japanese touch to everything she is teaching.  This is a site I highly recommend to learn more in depth Japanese that isn’t just in textbooks.

Pros: Free site, funny and cute photos, great comment section and responses, audio for sentences, easy to navigate and find content, very detailed and helpful explanations.

Cons:  Video content would be a bonus.


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[Grammar – Compound] Learning English and Japanese together 両方 and,and,and

This is a multi-part weekly section on learning grammar because I think a lot of times my grammar needs to be improved and Japanese find it harder to master English grammar as well.

Tae-Kim’s Learning Japanese is a great guide for grammar to follow and I will take time to go through parts that I want to learn and go over.

http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar

これは文法上の新しいレッソンです。出来る限り毎週新たな英語文法と日本語の文法を説明する事です。たぶん、一番方法のは普通の会話のぶんぶんを分けて正しく意味を教えます。

自身が100%を完全に通訳出来られないから何がもっと良い答なら私は覚えたいです。

キームさんのサイトは全てを教えたくない、自分が選んだのは何をもっと知らいの事だけで。自分にもサイトで一人でどんどん全部を読んでもいいですよ。

http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/polite

First go over the beginning guide for Japanese verb conjugation(食べる、食べます、食べない、食べません、食べませんでした) and the special cases (いく、する、くる)

Today’s grammar will be on Compound, connection words together in both Japanese and English.

http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/compound

“It is very easy to combine a chain of nouns and adjectives to describe a person or object. For example, in English if we wanted to say, “He is X. He is Y. He is Z.” since all three sentences have the same noun, we would usually say, “He is X, Y, and Z.” In Japanese, we can do the same thing by conjugating the noun or adjective. The last noun or adjective remains the same as before.

______________________________________________________________

How to chain nouns and adjectives together

  • For nouns and na-adjectives: Attach 「で」 to the noun or na-adjective.

  • Examples

    1. 一般的 → 一般的で

    2. 静か → 静かで

  • For i-adjectives and negative noun/adjectives: Replace the 「い」 with 「くて」.

  • ※For 「いい」 and 「かっこいい」, the 「い→よ」 exception applies here as well.

  • Examples

    1. 狭い → 狭くて

    2. 彼女じゃない → 彼女じゃなくて

    3. いい → よくて

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[Language Exchange]Free English and Japanese Lessons 無料の言葉交換

Recently, I’ve been wondering how to improve my language abilities without just reading simplified textbooks(which I think should be used for reference, not as the sole source of language learning).  I’ve been using this language exchange site called Lang-8.com which I think is really great for writing stuff and getting it corrected quickly.  You help someone, someone else helps you out and get points, its a great exchange program.  My account on it is “Miburi” so if you want me to take a look or add me, feel free to friend me and I will take a look at your posts when I have the chance.

もし、誰かがウエブで無料のチューターの感じを探したいならLang-8.comの言語交換社会的ネットワークウエブサイトをおすすめます。今使うので付けた名前はMiburiって英語の書く部分を直してくれるのは出来ます。

For traditional methods, I feel like a lot of textbooks have outdated material, which you end up not understanding the context but more of just rote memorization of key terminologies.

Like for instance, every book starts off with

おはようございます お早うございます good morning

私の名前はジョンです。My name is John

こんにちは 今日は good evening

こんばは 今晩は good day

さようなら good bye

which is great and all, but I don’t think people in Japan colloquially say that all the time like in American English and every other language.

We shorten terms, especially if its with someone we know.  Basically, the level of comfort we have with each other in terms of relationship will affect the words we say and I think textbooks just avoid that, teach us all one language.

So this post, I’ll dedicate it to some more often used American words and American English slang and my attempts to translate.
これが普通の会話でよく聞こえると思います。

下は英語の普通の言葉とスラングの言葉と文書の使い方です。

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[Japanese Language Material] Japanese Onomatopoeia Guide #1

Hi everyone, this will be a short introduction to Onomatopoeia.  In Japan, you’ll often hear a lot of Onomatopoeia not only in writing and illustrations but used in speech as well.  Unlike in English where it is rarely used but more sound effects, the Japanese have differentiated OMTP(shortened it) into varying groups with each having their own meanings.
Let’s quickly get into the different types of OMTP

  • Giseigo (擬声語)

    Sounds that people and animals make. Simple words like a dog’s “woof!” or a baby’s cry or a cat purring.

  • Giongo (擬音語)

    More for sound effects that aren’t animal related, more object sounds like the wind blowing, an explosion, or rainfall. Out of the three types of onomatopoeia, giongo is the most inconsistent, and the one type of word you’re least likely to find in a dictionary. Think of giongo like the action words that comic books artists make up.

  • Gitaigo (擬態語)

    Words that describe actions and emotions that don’t necessarily make noises. Gitaigo is not technically OMTP because there is no sound but more of abstract things like a facial expression or a feeling.

[Japanese Language Material] NicoNico Net Talk And Slang #1

Hi everyone, I was reading up on one of my favorite Japanese blog teachers, Maggie-sensei http://www.maggiesensei.com and I came across an article she did on Japanese slang スラングand net talkネットの会話.  Since most of the time, your studying proper Japanese and vocabulary, I thought it was be interesting to see what real Japanese are using across the net.  It’s probably not going to be stuff you use in talking, it’s kind of like saying lol, rofl, gtg, cya, wtf, wth but normally Japanese.

Maggie sensei has lots of great Japanese examples like for instance

“So today’s main slang verb is ググる = ぐぐる = guguru.  It means “to google” or “to search for something on Google”

Ex. そんなこと自分でググったら?
= Sonna koto jibun de guguttara?
= Why don’t you google it yourself?

Ex. この言葉の意味がわからなかったからググってみた。
= Kono kotoba no imi ga wakaranakatta node gugutte mita.
= I didn’t know the meaning of the word so I googled it and checked the meaning.”

http://maggiesensei.com/2010/10/14/%E3%82%B0%E3%82%B0%E3%82%8Bguguru-net-slang/

Please check her out!! You will learn a lot.  みんなさんにマッギ先生の歩ロゴをぜひ見てください。たくさん面白いことがあってただの教科書が書いたの物じゃなくて色々が学べると思います。

Below is the reference sheet for NicoNico and popular net slang.  NicoNico is like Japanese Youtube but with interactive scrolling comments on the screen and live videos.

I’d go into detail on each one, but I’m not too familiar with them, so when I go on NicoNico I will go check for them and use this as a reference.

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[Japanese Comic #1] Learn Japanese/English with Sushi-Sensei’s Comics #1

Hi everyone, hope your Japanese studies is going well!

Recently, I’ve been watching this Japanese TV show called [Youは何しに日本へ?」which is about these Japanese reporters in Tokyo going around the airport looking for foreigners coming into Japan and seeing what they’re here for.  Some obviously are tourist, but you get to see a variety of different people coming in from like bringing their Japanese wife/husband to Japan to working or even for “Ninja training”.  It’s a pretty funny show and I would definitely recommend it.  I couldn’t find any English sub so I watched it in Japanese but if you do find any English translations, I can post it.

http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/youhananishini/

Anyway, today’s lesson is going to be a multi-page series using comic books from Sushi-sensei in NYC.  Apparently he came from Tokyo as an editor in a Japanese company and start a Japanese language school here in NYC.  http://ny-japanese.com/

I’m just referencing his own comics he’s written since I find it informative, cute and funny so I will be translating and posting it in both Japanese and English.

The first one I’m adding is 話かけられる2。 Japanese people could also use it to learn English since its both translated.

Part 1

「日本語通訳」ナレーション: 道に迷ってもいないのに、前を歩いていた白人のおばあさんが突然振り返って

「英語通訳」Narration: I wasn’t lost on the streets, yet  an old white lady who was walking in front of me suddenly turned to me and said…

道「みち」に迷って「まよって」 means to be lost(on the street) and いないのに means not non the less so combined its saying in English correctly “I wasn’t lost yet somehow….”

前「まえ」を歩「ある」いていた means “front” and “was walking”, we would probably say “Walking in front of me”.  Japanese like to use the idea of position + verb if it is a present sense vs the other way around in English. So its not “I see a cat in front of me” but more “In front of me, cat I see”.  Remember to think of position before noun and vice versa in English.

白人「はくじん」Caucasian person  のおばあさんold lady が突然「とつぜん」suddenly 振り返って「ふりかえって」turned around Continue reading

3 Videos of Foreign Youtubers on Learning Japanese and Experiences

So before I went into just vocabulary and learning videos, I thought it’d be a good time to backtrack a few steps for beginners and people who have been studying Japanese for a while to understand what it takes to learn REAL Japanese.  For me, learning Japanese from tv shows, music, books were very useful but to really speak “real” Japanese and not textbook Japanese or just “weird” Japanese, going to Japan and living with a family that didn’t speak any English really helped.  You kind of were forced to learn Japanese real fast or else you wouldn’t be able to get around.  I think the same could be said with learning English if your a Japanese, being thrown into a situation where you NEED to learn the language forces you to pick it up very fast.

Now these 3 Youtubers all bring a different side of Japan and learning Japanese that I thought would be great to watch if you’re learning Japanese like me.

Video #1 Youtuber Luke – an Australian guy who went to Japan and started a MMA, security training company and married a Japanese woman.  Learned Kansai dialect first.  His videos are in English, but he’s very good in Japanese, especially with the culture and living of Japan since he’s not really a “Gaijin” but more of  a Japanese “Gaijin” who works with the Japanese police department and military on training.  This video goes into explaining how a lot of beginners end up learning and using wrong Japanese and to speak “proper Japanese” you must understand your social content, what type of Japanese to use and how to use it.  For instance, he mentions even some Japanese people have difficulty understanding and using Business Japanese and Japanese in the 70s,80s,90s has changed a lot from just textbook learning.

Ryuzaki – Youtube English girl who studied Japanese by herself in England since she was 12, learned mostly from watching videos so more of the formal Tokyo dialect.  She is probably incredibly fluent for someone who’s never taken formal Japanese classes or even gone to Japan, very diligently studies hours and hours a day and has gone to the point of being able to fluently read Japanese blogs.  Great Youtuber to follow if your looking for someone outside of Japan to teach you Japanese.

Mira – She’s a Canadian girl who moved to Japan (Tokyo) and explains things very simple.  Mostly in English and Japanese isn’t that great but she has very very insightful real day-to-day Japanese.  Great vlogger to check out if you want to check out Tokyo and real Japan living and culture.  There’s lots of things that they won’t teach you in the textbooks that are only real day to day things you can learn and see from her.

Good luck with your studies and don’t give up!  みんながんばれえ~!!

[Vocabulary Lesson 1] Human Being – Movement Part 1

Learning Japanese has been fun and yet excruciating at the same time.  The fun part has been watching tv shows, music, anime, speaking and things of that nature but the not so fun parts have been doing Kanji drills, learning verb after verb, but mostly getting confused with the readings.

I found the easiest way to memorize the words is to understand the Kanji 漢字and its meaning, each and every Kanji is like a photo and has its own little history.  Back from when the Chinese created the characters, each traditional word had a meaning behind it from each and every stroke.   In Japanese, they call it Shodo for calligraphy.

What makes Japanese more complicated to learn than Chinese in terms of the reading is the fact that there is both a Chinese reading and Japanese reading so the same word matched with a different character could have a completely different meaning, plus multiple OnYomi and KunYomi so you could in theory have dozens or more combinations of different words.

音読み (On’Yomi) – Chinese Reading

訓読み (Kun’Yomi) – Japanese Reading

Introductory Japanese textbooks are usually pretty bad at going into detail about various readings and you could be 200 Kanji words in before you realize that whatever you mastered has probably another 500 words connected to it!

A great read on kunyomi and onyomi is from this site

http://www.tofugu.com/2010/03/23/the-types-of-kanji-in-japanese-onyomi-vs-kunyomi/

Not to say English does not have its own complexity since words like study can suddenly become studying, studious, studies, studied and unlike Japanese, there is no sense of pluralism so that’s why lots of Japanese often get confused with the act of multiple.  A simple example of this would be lets say

“I have a busy schedule, I have 5 classes today” which in Japanese would be 「今日授業忙しくて5つのクラスがあります。」

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