Getting My J-Study On

This year I’ve done it: I’ve publicized my intention to improve my Japanese, and even gotten heaps of advice and teacher recommendations. Failure is not an option; I cannot comfortably bury my head in the sand and abandon my books after several days. Not this year.

I received so much great advice and so many websites to check out, I thought I’d make a list for everyone and anyone to use. I’m not including the full names of those who provided the information because I know not everyone likes to be named outside of the original platform, but I will include a link to the Twitter thread in case more recommendations are added.

Japanese Teachers and Schools with an Online Presence

Momoko To Nihongo (from B)

Ako Nihongo Lessons (from M)

Ayano I (from multiple folks)

Wahaha Japanese Language School (from S and A)

This school is based in Fukuoka and was mentioned by a few folks. Skype lessons are available.

Yu-Yu-Jin (from N)

Language Learning Portals Connecting Teachers and Students

italki (from multiple folks)

italki got multiple recommendations. There are lots of teachers to choose from, including Ayano, mentioned above. Merorin also got a shout-out.

Cafetalk (from R)

Cafetalk didn’t get as many mentions as italki, but it looks good, too. There are lots of options for narrowing down your search, letting you be pretty specific.

Zoom Language Exchange

Free West Tokyo Language Exchange (R and S)

This looks very cool. Zoom calls are done in small groups, and the language switches between Japanese and English every 15 minutes.

Websites to Support Language Learning

AJATT—All Japanese All The Time (from D)

The recommendation is to pay special attention to posts made between 2008 and 2010.

Refold (from M)

Refold calls its method “a map to fluency” and will have you learning Japanese through TV, movies, manga, etc.

General Advice

Quite a few wonderful Twitter folks took the time to share their best advice for learning Japanese. There was much encouragement to get out and be social by joining classes or groups connected to hobbies. You learn the language by using it, after all, and why not use it while doing something you love? (Obviously, this will need to wait until after the pandemic ends!)

For vocab and kanji practice, several people encouraged me to find a book and get reading. Short and light was the recommendation to start, with a special tip for finding a book to match your level: Read the blurb on the back. Understand it or mostly understand it? This book’s for you!

Make it stick by busting out your highlighters to mark up words and phrases you’re not familiar with. After a few pages, grab your reference books, open a notebook, and make some notes.

Essays and short stories were also mentioned as excellent options to help you improve without feeling overwhelmed by length. When it comes to essays, practice reading them until you can read them through with confidence. I think I’ll try switching between essays and short stories to add extra variety to my studying.

A really important point that was made was that even five minutes is better than nothing. I tend to be all or nothing—for example, one hour of studying or one chapter done, or I feel I’ve failed/wasted my time. My brain knows that that’s not so, but… I still end up throwing in the towel. That anything beats nothing is a concept I need to take to heart.

Thanks to everyone who offered recommendations and advice. I wasn’t expecting so many replies, and I was so pleasantly surprised by everyone’s encouragement.

Best of luck to everyone out there hoping to up their Japanese game this year.


Find the original Twitter thread here:

Published by helenkamakura

Helen is a Canadian writer and innkeeper based in Kamakura, Japan, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. If money became obsolete, she would happily accept peaches, fresh peas, and sun-warmed cherry tomatoes in exchange for her labour.

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