Other Resources for Japanese
Hi there, I'm very new to Japanese, but I know that it is the sort of language that you should probably take in from more than one source. What I would like to hear is your reccomendations for learning Japanese other than Duolingo and the strengths and weaknesses of each - I am sure it will be useful to everyone else here learning the language.
Despite many people suggesting Memrise, I have to admit I really dislike it. Something with focus on grammar is the sort of thing that I am looking for - along with a lot of examples.
What are your suggestions?
If you really want to learn Japanese I would suggest getting Genki I and Genki II ( get the workbooks as well if you self study! You can buy Genki, but it's probably quite expensive. Now, since this is the internet, I'm pretty sure you can get the books in other ways, but that's on you to figure out ;) ). It's generally considered to be the best text book. Even though some people think books are rather boring, Genki gives a great foundation of the basic grammar which is really important if you want to progress to more intermediate and advanced stuff. There are many different books, so a quick google search can give you alternatives to Genki and probably the pro's and cons!
If you really don't want to use Genki, I think Tae Kim's guide to Japanese (or something like that) is alright to cover the basic grammar. In general it is not considered to be as good as Genki, but hey different people have different opinions, so just look what works for you!
Other options are to look at some youtube videos (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBSyd8tXJoEJKIXfrwkPdbA). You could look at videos from like Japanesepod101 etc. There are many, many youtube videos out there! I don't think it's the best way to just use youtube videos, but they are definitely useful to accompany your studies :)
As for vocabulary, you could try Anki (or memrise, but you said you disliked it). You can use anki to learn for example Genki's vocabulary and you can also use it for other decks (such as core 4k/6k/10k).
If you are a bit further in your studies, I'd recommend starting to learn kanji more seriously. Genki does teach you kanji, but definitely not enough. You could get a book like "The Kodansha learner course", but you could also use something like wanikani.com ( you do need to pay a subscription, but there is a coupon you can google that will give you 50% off). I think the most important thing with kanji is to remember vocab with the kanji! Don't just learn the readings because 1) it is difficult and not fun 2) you don't know which reading to use when anyway. Kanji is definitely not the most important thing when you just started, so do not stress yourself too much, but just take it slowly until you are more advanced in Japanese.
Finally, if you are done with Genki or Tae Kim's guide (or equivalent) you probably want to either do "An integrated approach to intermediate Japanese" or "Tobira". Again, a quick google search will give you tons of comparisons between these two books, so you can decide which one you prefer the most :) After either of these two I guess Shinkanzen master (N2) books would be the best, but that is probably still way off when you just started, so you can worry about that later!
You could also try to start read some easy articles ( after for example Genki I) on for example "http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/" which has a lot of easy to read articles. You could try to read some manga (if you like that) as well, but it is actually quite difficult. Furthermore you could try children stories, since they don't use many kanji. Don't get fooled by manga and children stories however, since especially children learn languages very differently and thus have a much greater vocabulary already and they "know" all grammar already. So even though the stories tend to be easy, the language used is not per say.
Anyway if you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
I have an app for my ipad called Midori. (I think it is also available for iphone. But, I've never tried that version, so I can't speak to it.) I tried a ton of apps when I was takign Japanese in uni, and continued while I was tutoring first year students. Midori was by far the very best I'd found. I think it used to cost around $10. But, looks like it is $5 now. (It is not subscription based. So, that fee is a one time only fee). I don't think there is a free version, unfortunately. But, I never regretted buying it.
- You can input words in English, romaji, katakana, hiragana, and kanji. For kanji, you can type it or draw it.
- Verb conjugation charts
- Kanji stroke order charts and videos for every kanji in its database (that I know of. I don't know how many kanji are in its database. But, seems like a TON.)
- Dictionary comes with many example sentences.
- You can click on words in the example sentences to see their definitions too!
- Probably more that I've forgotten. The ones I've listed are just from the top of my head.
Cons (Since I last used it. Could have updated since then):
- It does not offer declensions for nouns and adjectives.
- It doesn't offer in depth explanations for particles.
Next to the amazing resources already mentioned by KiritsuguZFC and Usagiboy (I really like Tae Kim's grammar explanations, as clearly Duo is lacking on this front) I also use jisho.org a lot. It's an online dictionary with tons of features (it actually sounds a lot like Usagiboy's Midori, although I don't know that one myself). And if you have any questions I think https://japanese.stackexchange.com offers a more structured/qualitative "forum" than Duo's...
I suggest you Japanese for everyone. It is like Genki 1 and Genki 2 in one textbook and less expensive but be careful to buy it, not "everyone" like it, it is an old textbook (2008 the revised book), so read some reviews and decided what textbook is for you. After this book, I suggest intermediate Japanese by Tuttle and, after this textbook, you can decide between an integrated approach to intermediate Japanese or tobira. I hope I helped you.