Language Learning Resources – Link Roundup

Japanese garden

Here is a list of useful language resources and websites that I and my friend have found to be helpful for learning Japanese and German. Some are useful for all languages whilst others are limited to Japanese or German. This page is updated often (Last Updated 2018/04/04).


Useful Resources for Learning How to Learn Languages

  • AJATT – All Japanese All The Time – “This site is about how you can learn Japanese without taking classes, by having fun and doing things you enjoy—watching movies, playing video games, reading comic books—you know: fun stuff! Stuff that you feel guilty about doing because you should be doing “serious things”.” – Khatzumoto
  • Antimoon – “Antimoon provides advice and inspiration to learners of English as a second/foreign language (ESL/EFL). Most importantly, we present a philosophy of learning English (called the Antimoon Method) which is based on our successful experiences as English learners.” Tomasz P. Szynalski and Michal Ryszard Wojcik
  • Stephen Krashen’s the Natural Approach – This book is aimed at teaching kids in language classes and thus aimed at teachers, however a lot can be learnt from it. Krashen knows what he’s talking about and has been the main reason for the successes of the people who wrote Antimoon and AJATT. You can get a free copy of the book on Krashen’s website.
  • MATTvsJapan – Matt has successfully learnt Japanese using the methods discussed on AJATT and has some very useful videos for actually implementing both immersion and Anki flashcards. Definitely check his videos out!

Useful Resources for All Languages in General

  • Anki – Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it’s a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.” – Anki
  • Hiragana Megane – ひらがなめがね – “This system adds hiragana on the kanji.” – Hiragana Megane
  • VLC Media Player – VLC Media Player is a great free video player that supports all kinds of subtitle files. Simply drag and drop your video and subtitles and you’ve got yourself instant entertainment!
  • subs2srs –subs2srs allows you to create import files for Anki or other Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS) based on your favorite foreign language movies and TV shows to aid in the language learning process.” subs2srs
  • Viki – A free streaming site run by Rakuten. This site has few TV shows but does contain shows from all over the world, the majority from Asian countries. This site runs a community subtitle program and allows natives to add subtitles and transcripts. Therefore a lot of shows here will have subtitles not only in English but other languages and even the language that the show is actually being aired in. This means you can get reading practice while you listen at the same time!
  • Easy Daily Reading in Foreign Languages – A list of reading resources for various languages. unfortunately not quite complete yet so if you know some resources then add them to the list!
  • Audible – Lots of audio books in loads of languages, including Japanese audio books! You can get a 30 day free trial as well which is great! Give it a try! Note, you might have to get an Amazon account specific to the country of the language you are learning. To get an amazon.jp account you will need a Japanese address which you can get for free at tenso.com
  • Amazon – also has a tonne of eBooks in loads of languages with a lot of them being free for the Kindle.
  • HiNative – Don’t know any natives but desperately need your question answered? HiNative allows you to ask a native and get an answer back straight away.

Useful Resources for Japanese

For Study

Dictionaries

  • Jisho – “Jisho is a powerful Japanese-English dictionary. It lets you find words, kanji, example sentences and more quickly and easily. Our goal is to build a new kind of dictionary that doesn’t just let you look up single words or kanji, but rather helps you understand any Japanese text.” – Jisho
  • Japanese Slang Dictionary – Full of all sorts of obscure words that might not be in normal dictionaries.
  • Online Japanese Accent Dictionary – A great resource for those who are studying pitch accents in Japanese.
  • Yahoo’s Japanese Dictionary – You can use this to search numerous dictionaries at the same time. 
  • Weblio – One of the biggest J-E dictionaries on the internet. Contains almost any word you could think of and usually comes with example sentences too which is useful for people who are sentence mining.
  • Weblio Thesaurus – Great for finding words that are similar to each other.
  • Mihongo – Visual Japanese Dictionary – A dictionary that contains the Japanese word in kana, kanji, romaji, the English translation and a picture of the word.
  • Aruku’s J-E Dictioary – This dictionary is very powerful as it contains not just translations of individual words but entire phrases and sentences. My girlfriend actually uses this when translating from English to Japanese and she finds it incredibly useful.
  • Kotobank – Allows you to look up a load of sources all at once. Great for difficult terminology.
  • goo – Has a variety of dictionaries which you can search all at once. 
  • Word Origin Dictionary – Ever wondered why a word has a certain meaning? Well know you can find out.
  • Japanese Medical Terminology PDF – A list of Japanese medical terms with English translations.  
  • Japanese Dictionary of Proverbs – Allows you to search for sayings and Japanese proverbs.
  • Jigen – Contains a variety of tools and dictionaries including a kanji dictionary and an idiom dictionary.
  • Four-character idiom dictionary – A dictionary of four-character kanji compound words that are used in Japanese.
  • 小学国語辞典 – A dictionary designed for Japanese Elementary/Primary school students. It has furigana on every kanji in the book, making it really easy to read. Great for those who want to learn Japanese, in Japanese. 
  • The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary – An interesting dictionary that has a variety of ways to look up kanji.
  • A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar – This dictionary summarizes all the necessary introductory grammar into a dictionary format. Personally, I think that there’s enough free resources on the internet for grammar but if you want something that’s a bit more substantial and that has obviously been proofread, then I would give this dictionary a shot. You can also find the intermediate and advanced guides here.
  • Koujien – A standard J-J hardback dictionary.
  • Daijirin – A J-J hardback dictionary with entries listed in the modern standard order.
  • Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary – A really good J-E dictionary.
  • Kenkyusha’s New English-Japanese Dictionary – Same as before but the other way around, E-J.

Textbooks

  • Remembering the Kanji – If you don’t know the best way of going about learning kanji then I highly recommend this series. If you combine the method written in the book and use Anki to study each kanji, you can learn the meanings of 3000+ kanji in less than 3 months.
  • Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide – This is more of a free online resource than a textbook but Tae Kim’s recently published it as a book so I decided to put in this section. I would recommend using Tae Kim’s as a reference for grammar explanations. I don’t like conventional textbooks or grammar guides but adding the example sentences contained in this guide, or his book, to an SRS like Anki can help you internalize Japanese grammar.
  • I’ve never really used a traditional textbook besides Minna no Nihongo in classes, so I can’t really recommend any. I know that some people like to use them though so I’ve listed 3 textbooks that my friends hold in high regard. If you want easy example sentences for beginners with English explanations then Genki is probably your best choice. For intermediates: 日本語中級J301 and for advanced: 新完全マスター文法日本語能力試験N1. 

Kana and Kanji

  • Dr. Moku – A great series of apps that let you learn kana really easily. I used it to memorize both hiragana and katakana in less than 2 weeks.
  • How to Learn Kanji Guide​ – NihongoShark doesn’t have the best information on the web for learning Japanese but they do have a brilliant guide on learning kanji. I would check this one out if you are looking into doing Remembering the Kanji.
  • Kanji Koohii – A great sidekick for anyone learning kanji via Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. It holds all the kanji in the RTK series, and more, and has lots of mnemonic stories to help remember them.
  • My RTK Kanji Deck – This is the deck I made to learn kanji with the Remembering the Kanji books. 

Tools

  • Anki – In my opinion, the best free SRS you can get.
  • RhinoSpike – Allows you to request native speakers to record themselves speaking any text you send them. You have to do it in return as well but can be great if you aren’t sure how a sentence or phrase is pronounced.
  • Forvo – “The pronunciation dictionary.” With forvo you can search words and find out how they are pronounced with recordings from real native speakers.
  • Hiragana Megane – ひらがなめがね – “This system adds hiragana on the kanji.” – Hiragana Megane
  • Characterizer – Takes kanji English keywords found on websites you visit and turns them into their kanji equivalent, forcing you to remember their meaning in context.

Other Useful Links

  • ぶ先生.com – “This site is a repository for my Japanese and kanji studies. Basically, anything interesting that makes me think “I wish I had this resource when I was first studying kanji!” will be shared here.”
  • D-Addicts – A community run website based on asian drama. It takes a bit more searching on here and I am pretty sure the forums are pretty much dead now but the site still has a lot of useful subtitle files on it. Give it a search for your favourite drama and enjoy!
  • Sci Lang Japan FAQ – A whole bunch of information about Japanese in English. Can be useful as a grammar reference.

For Immersion

Reading

  • Nikkei – A news website that covers a vast range of topics.
  • NHK News – NHK’s news website. NHK is Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, a bit like the BBC.
  • Read Your Level – A really cool website that allows you to work out the easiness of a book that’s written in Japanese. There are a list of books on the site as well as a section that let’s you grade any text you want to copy over.
  • kitsunekko – A great website that provides subtitles for lots of popular anime, including Japanese subtitles. Use CTRL+F to search for an anime with its english or romaji name and simply download and place them in your favourite video player. I recommend VLC Media Player.
  • BookLive – is a brilliant resource for books, manga and magazines. There is a lot of free stuff and you can pay for stuff outside of Japan, which is rare and makes this site a really great source for reading material. If you want points, which will save you some money off when buying items, then you can use my invitation code 23575895 when signing up. *This gives me points aswell, so please use it :p
  • 青空文庫 – A library of free Japanese books. 
  • Japanese Book Reviews #1 – Easy to Read Manga
  • Japanese Book Reviews #2 – Beginner to Advanced Books
  • Japanese Book Reviews #3 – Books with Furigana
  • Amazon – If you are looking to buy a lot of books then grabbing a Kindle from Amazon is probably a good idea as it will save you a tonne of money in the long run. To be able to get access to the Japanese Amazon you will first need a Japanese address. You can get one from tenso.com for free. Once you have your shipping info, register an account with amazon.jp and you should be good to go. 🙂 You can also order physical books straight from amazon.jp once you have an account. All you have to do is add your real address, which doesn’t have to be in Japan, and if you select this address when purchasing an item then amazon will ship your products to you overseas. Here’s a load of eBooks for the Kindle for Japanese to get you started.
  • Books on Play-Asia.com – You can get a wide range of Japanese books, and other goods, from Play-Asia. 
  • Books on SolarisJapan.com – This is another great site for getting Japanese goods, including books as well.

Listening

  • Best Japanese YouTubers – This is a post I wrote about ten of my favourite Japanese YouTubers.
  • 40 of Japan’s Biggest Let’s Play YouTubers – Another post I wrote about Japan’s top 40 gaming YouTubers.
  • LibriVox – A library of free audiobooks.
  • Fables – 366 famous tales which you can download for free.
  • NHK Radio News – A great resource for those that like to listen to the news. You can even choose the speed of which to listen at which can be great for improving your listening comprehension.
  • Animelon – Watch anime with Japanese subtitles. Just remember to turn off the English ones too!
  • anjsub – Another website where you can watch anime with Japanese subtitles.
  • Daiweeb – A new website that also allows you to watch anime with Japanese subtitles with furigana! This is a brilliant resource for beginners but again, make sure you turn off the English subs! The site has an integrated J-E dictionary that can be used to look up unfamiliar words (highlight an unfamiliar word and its definition will popup). Additionally the subtitles can be edited by anyone to improve either the English translations, the furigana readings of a word or in rare cases the Japanese text.
  • YouTube – There is so much stuff on YouTube that you can use for listening material. Search the topic you are looking for in Jisho.org, get the Japanese word and then search for it on YouTube. You can find some really awesome stuff this way.
  • Netflix – You can actually search for TV shows and films by langauge in Netflix and if you select Japanese then you will find a lot of awesome content.
  • Audible – Lots of audio books in loads of languages, including Japanese audio books! You can get a 30 day free trial as well which is great! Give it a try! Note, you might have to get an Amazon account specific to the country of the language you are learning. To get an amazon.jp account you will need a Japanese address which you can get for free at tenso.com
  • Viki – A streaming site run by Rakuten. There’s a lot of Japanese dramas on here that you can watch for free.
  • My Japanese Music Playlist – Literally the playlist I listen to everyday. Give it a look and see if there’s anything you like then research that artist or look for other similar artists, it has a range of genres so have dig through!

Hardware

There are few devices that I highly recommend getting to help keep you immersed.

  • Dedicated MP3 player – It’s highly recommended that you get a separate MP3 player for all your immersion. While putting audio on your phone is fine, you will often be using your phone for other things and you won’t be able to fit much listening material on it. You will also find that the battery on it won’t hold out for very long if you are spending all day listening to Japanese, and the worst thing you want is a dead battery stopping you from getting hours of listening in. I’ve used a variety of devices and would recommend something simple that has a lot of memory and a long battery life. I would actually not go for an apple device as I have had plenty of issues syncing material, and Android devices can also be a bit of pain. For this reason I would go for a device that you can plug into your PC via USB and where you can simply drag and drop your audio files straight onto the device.
  • Extra Storage – It’s inevitable that you are going to need to listen to, and read, a lot of Japanese to get fluent. While reading material doesn’t usually take up a lot of memory, listening material does. For this reason I bought an external 2 TB Western Digital hard drive and I will soon have to get a new one as I’ve almost filled it up. I also use extra internal hard drives which you can get cheaply online. They are easy to install but if you aren’t happy with opening up the insides of your computer then just grab an external HDD that has 2 Terabytes or more of storage from Amazon.
  • Bluetooth Shower Speaker – A Bluetooth shower speaker is a great way of continuing your immersion while spending time in the bathroom. That time adds up so this is definitely something to consider.
  • Earphones – There are a variety of different earphones to suite different needs, and while I have yet to find a sturdy pair that will last more than a few months, there are some other things to consider when grabbing a pair. Depending on your situation it may not be easy to have earphones in all day, whether that be due to classes or work. If you spend a lot of your time in an environment that considers having earphones in as rude, but where you could have them in without it having an affect on your work, then I would look into Bluetooth earphones and/or earphones where you can hear your surroundings at the same time like these earHeros. You should also consider sleep “earphones” if you are looking to continuing your listening while you sleep. You can get all sorts of different types but I would recommend the ones that go all away around your head like a band instead of actually going into your ears like normal ear buds do. This is so you don’t feel like you are getting stabbed in the ear when you roll over in the middle of t he night.
  • Separate dedicated media player/computer – A lot of people also recommend having a separate device from your main workstation for constantly streaming TV shows, anime or dramas. One of the main reasons TV is so popular is because it’s easy to turn on and immediately have interesting content right in front of you, so reproducing this is a great way of keeping yourself immersed. A tablet or a cheap PC will do just fine for this.

Useful Resources for German

Me and a friend have gathered resources and posted them in this spreadsheet. If you can ignore the terrible memes my friend keeps putting on there then I think you will find the content very useful. It’s all organised into sections and should give you enough material for now.


Useful Anki Decks and Plugins

I created a post on the Top 20 Anki Plugins recently which you can also check out here.

Here you can download user made decks for a variety of topics. This isn’t necessarily recommended but I have it here to give you a start. If you are doing the 10,000 sentences method then make sure you Sentence Mine! Don’t use other people’s decks!

This deck has been one I’ve used for over 2 years and may have a few extra kanji in it. I also moved a load of RTK 1 kanji which I deemed to be useless at the time to the RTK 3 deck to learn them later on. This should make it easier for you though.

This provides a variety of features that makes learning Japanese via Anki a lot easier, the main feature being adding readings to kanji in sentences. There are also over support plugins for other languages as well.

This plugin makes Anki’s reschedule algorithms a bit more manageable. Very useful, especially in the beginning stage as some days you get loads of cards and others you get barely any. This spreads the load, making it less intensive on certain days.

This pretty much does what it says on the tin. All you have to do is highlight a word, right-click and you can search it straight into google images. Combine this with a fast screenshot program such as Gyazo and add images to flashcards super efficiently to produce high quality flashcards.

These plugins add more graphs to the desktop versions of Anki, allowing you to get a bit more data on your progress. Very nice to have but not essential.

This plugin forces a default font which you can change in the settings file. Again, nice to have but not essential.


Mobile Apps

There are also a variety of mobile apps out there that are very useful as they allow you to study while out and about. I highly recommended anything that is an SRS, however it really does depend on the individual and what study methods they enjoy. I know people who struggle to get into Anki due to its steep learning curve, but love the simplicity that something like duolingo gives you. As long as you are surrounded by native content on a daily basis, I don’t think it matters too much as to which app you use but I do feel that Anki and the 10,000 sentences method does have a huge advantage and efficiency boost over other apps. Anyway, here is a list of language apps. I haven’t used them all myself but give them a try, and see what works for you.

  • Anki – Probably the best free SRS flashcard app out there. I have over 725 hours of study time with Anki and highly recommend it.
  • Memrise – Probably the next best thing to Anki. Also uses a spaced repetition approach and has a lot of pre-made lessons. Do be careful though as anyone can make these lessons, meaning not all of it is going to be correct! I used it to help me learn kana for a bit but didn’t get on too well with it and switched in favour of Anki.
  • LingQ – I have used LingQ for about a month and found that it was a great source of reading and listening material. It’s not the best for studying though. It simply allows you to look up words within the app via a bunch of dictionaries or suggested words. I would suggest using a free account to get access to the reading and listening material.
  • Readlang – Similar to LingQ. Allows you to read texts and provides translations for words you don’t know.
  • Duolingo – I’m sure you all know of duolingo. It’s a good app for motivation but besides that its not great for getting you any further than the beginning stage.
  • Busuu – Offers ways to learn reading, writing, speaking and listening via a variety of different ways such as flashcards and writing/answering questions which native speakers can then correct. Bare in mind that natives can be lazy, and won’t always correct you properly.
  • HelloTalk – An app that allows you to find natives to talk to. I don’t recommend using this until you are comfortable with outputting, nor do I recommend having the interface in any language besides English as it’s Japanese translation is terrible.
  • Polyglot Club – A free language exchange community website. Basically a social network for people learning languages. Can be helpful to find people that speak the language you are learning.

I hope you found this page helpful. If you know of any other resources that you have found useful that you think I should add to this page then please comment below or send me an email. I will be sure to add them to this page.
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By Matthew Hawkins