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Multifaceted approach to learning and improving Japanese language abilities

I’m a teacher by profession, and one thing I try to get across to my students is that it is difficult to learn something merely by reading about it once or twice. Reading a textbook isn’t all that effective; nor is it enjoyable. To really learn something for the long term, one has to do more than read. Tackling your target from many angles, or in other words, doing, and doing in different ways, seems to be most effective for long-term comprehension and retention. So I encourage my students to read, practice using one method (maybe practice quizzes), practice using another method (maybe doing problems and then checking answers), practice using another method (maybe flashcards), practice using another method (maybe tutoring someone else), etc.
ds game for learning japanese kanji
So why should I do any different in my quest to improve my Japanese language abilities? Unfortunately, I don’t have a Japanese tutor or even anyone that I can speak Japanese to and/or hear Japanese from on a daily basis. I’ll have to save that method for when I’m in Japan next year. I do have a wide variety of ways that I’m studying Japanese though. I’ll list them here in no particular order. On a good day I’ll do at least 15 minutes of each.

Nihongo Journal

1. Practice reading and writing kanji with Nazotte Oboeru Otona no Kanji Renshu (なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習) for the Nintendo DS. I look up any unknown phrases or words as I go so I learn new vocabulary in addition to kanji.

2. Read Nihongo Journal (日本語ジャーナル)including taking all practice JLPT tests included. I also listen to the tapes or CDs for the issues in which I own the accompanying audio. I have about 50 issues and that should keep me busy for the next year.

3. Read Mangajin (漫画人). This is easier and more enjoyable than the above two. You can read Mangajin online, but I’ve found the scan quality to be pretty poor so I’ve purchased about 50 issues and prefer to read them in hard copy format.
Mangajin
4. Read other Japanese books in Japanese. I’m currently reading Harry Potter in Japanese–ハリー・ポッターと秘密の部屋 to be more specific. While reading I look up any unknown words in my Canon Wordtank V90 electronic dictionary. The reading is actually pretty easy because furigana are placed next to most kanji.

5. Subscribe to various email lists that send a different kanji, word, or grammar via email each day. These are available through the links in yesterday’s post–specifically the kanji-a-day and yokooso sites.

2 Responses to “Multifaceted approach to learning and improving Japanese language abilities”

  1. 1
    Al:

    I almost forgot. In the car I have had the Instant Immersion Japanese CDs playing continually for the past few months. This is for the kids to pick some things up as it’s too basic for me. However, it is nice to hear some Japanese as my other study methods usually don’t feature any listening.

  2. 2
    Kevin:

    A fantastic ongoing learning resource that I use all the time is JapanesePod101.com… LOTS of listening practice there!

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