How to Succeed in your Japanese Studies

Vol. 4 - Frederic Gagnepain

success4.jpg1- Use all the technology available to help you whenever you have spare time, while commuting in the TTC, at home...
• on your computer, you can download flash card softwares to make you practice your vocabulary or Kanji, for free. One good software is Anki (http://ichi2.net/anki/index.html). With it, you can access pre-existing decks, like minna no nihongo, or create your own decks using Kyoko sensei's material from the workbooks. I found this particularly useful during the first levels where you learn a lot of verbs and adjectives.
• on a Nintendo DS, you can find a lot of ROMs to practice your kanji writing and test your memory
• on iPhone/ iPod (and other smart phones), you can also find dictionaries, flash card applications, kanji practice and vocabulary applications...
I found that combining all the available free resources that you can get on the Internet was of great help.

2- Watch anime/drama in Japanese, even if with English subs. There are plenty of web sites out there that provide free streaming of literally hundreds of anime/drama. several good reasons to do that:
• English dubbing are usually totally lame
• Even if you read the subtitles more than you listen, you'll be surprised at how much you can still grasp with a bit of practice
• That's also the only way you'll learn proper swearings in Japanese! (please Kyoko sensei, don't censor this one, they have the right to know! )

3- Listen to some japanese songs. I know it's hard, specially when you begin, but as your ears get used to it, you pick-up more and more words, until you eventually start to make sense out of them. It feels really great when you discover that you're able to recognize new forms you just learned during a class!

4- Find yourself a nice online dictionary and bookmark it in your favorites. Couple of good ones include Jisho (http://jisho.org/) and the OCN Japanese dictionary (http://www.ocn.ne.jp/translation/).
Once you're armed with a good dictionary, use it constantly! When working on your exercises, while reading a text, anytime you need to check a word.
Jisho has an interesting feature that lets you search for sentences. It's a really good way to learn how to use words inside complete sentences, learn new vocabulary or just verify a grammar point.

5- Learn how to use your computer to type in Japanese. MS Word has a lot of functionalities to handle Japanese characters. Once you get used to it, you have another tool at your disposal to help with your kanjis study.

(Level 5 Completed in August, 2010)

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