Learn Japanese

Three Keys to Learning Japanese 

Are you having a tough time learning Japanese? If you are, it’s understandable. For people who think in English, Japanese is a very difficult language to learn.

You Can Learn Japanese

Use these FREE Japanese Audio Flashcard Lessons while you exercise or commute.

JapaneseAudioLessons.com

26 Hours of Audio Lessons
7,000 Phrases to Learn
Free Downloads

Aside from the inconvenient fact that written Japanese employs three different alphabets, the main reason that we have so much trouble  learning this language is that Japanese grammar is fundamentally different  from the grammar used in European languages.

On the positive side, Japanese sounds a lot like Spanish, and it’s relatively easy to pronounce. It contains nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and there are reasonably logical rules that tie these elements together. Japanese is a fascinating language, and naturally you should try to learn it if you will be visiting Japan.

I’ve been studying this difficult language for over thirty years and have tried a number of courses, textbooks and study methods during that time. Based on my experiences, I’ve identified Three Keys that I believe can help you to learn Japanese.

KEY #1. Since your time is limited, use AUDIO LESSONS.

It will take quite awhile for your English-thinking brain to start thinking in Japanese.  You will need to spend hundreds of hours reviewing phrases and sentences in order to acquire a reasonably firm grasp of basic Japanese vocabulary and grammar.  Where will you find the time for this study?

An excellent solution to the problem of insufficient time is to use Audio Lessons. Since audio lessons don’t require you to stare at a book or a screen, you can use them while you do other activities that you need to do anyway, like exercising and commuting. As a bonus, if you exercise more often while using them, audio lessons will probably make you healthier.

KEY #2. To strengthen your memories, develop MNEMONICS.

Ohori Japanese Garden, Fukuoka

Ohori Japanese Garden, Fukuoka

Japanese words can be hard to remember. Kuukoo means airport. Kyuukoo means express train. Kookoo means high school. Kookuu means aviation. What can you do to help your brain remember all of these similar terms?

MNEMONICS are small stories designed to help you remember new words. They can also be used as aides for remembering Japanese kana and kanji characters.

Possible mnemonics for the four Japanese words mentioned above include “my cookies got cold at the airport,” “I wore my cute coat on the express train,” “Koko the gorilla visited my high school,” and “we ship Coke by aviation.”

It shouldn’t take very long for you to think of simple mnemonics for most Japanese terms. If you get stuck, try using a dictionary or a search engine. Since mnemonics are just trivial things that you will typically discard after using a new word about ten times, they don’t have to be perfect.

KEY #3. To speed up memorization, use FLASHCARDS. 

Many people use flashcards, especially electronic flashcards, when they are memorizing difficult terms. If you haven’t tried electronic flashcards, you may not realize how much fun they are, or the extent to which they can reinforce your memory. 

Flashcards are an example of “active recall testing,” a learning technique that has been shown to be more effective for building strong memories, compared to “passive” study methods like reading textbooks or merely listening to audio recordings.

Electronic flashcards are an efficient tool for memorizing Japanese written characters and vocabulary.  Ideally you should try to make your own flashcards, rather than getting them from someone else, since you will remember them more easily if you make your own.  Also, if you make your own cards, you will be able to write your mnemonics on the “answer” sides.

Many people use the “Anki” app to create and use flashcards on their computers and electronic devices. I’ve used Anki, but it seemed to have a rather steep learning curve. By contrast, I’ve found the “Flashcards Deluxe” app easier to use.  Flashcards Deluxe allows me to create decks of flashcards on my computer, store them in Dropbox, and then use them on my electronic devices (such as an iPhone, an iPad or an iPod Touch).

2-2-15  Warning for Apple users:  After I upgraded my iPad to Apple’s latest operating system (8.1.2) in December, several apps, including Flashcards Deluxe, would no longer display Japanese kanji correctly.  After a number of calls to Apple Support personnel who had never seen this issue before, I discovered a solution.

To fix this problem, after installing the latest upgrade to your iPad or iPhone, go to Controls, General, Language and Region.  Then click on Add Language, Japanese.  When asked if you want to “Change to Japanese,” select “Keep English.”   Since my iPhone was also displaying Japanese kanji incorrectly after its upgrade, I had to modify it in the same way, adding “Japanese” as a language.

……………………………………………………………………

JAPANESE AUDIO FLASHCARD LESSONS

japan18After completing my third Japanese audio course about five years ago, I needed to find another course that would allow me to continue my study of the language. Not finding anything suitable, I started working on my own interactive audio lessons with the help of my wife, who is a native of Kyushu in Japan.

These lessons, which I call “Japanese Audio Flashcard Lessons,” rely on audible rather than visual cues, but otherwise they are similar to  flashcards.  They consist of sentences or phrases spoken in English, followed by answers spoken in Japanese. After listening to a question in English, a student pauses playback and thinks about how to translate the question. When the student is ready, he or she says the translation aloud and then resumes playback to hear the correct answer in Japanese.

Japanese Audio Flashcard Lessons come with a complete transcript, which you can print and carry with you. The transcript is completely customizable.  If you think of new mnemonics while you are using these Japanese lessons, you may add them to the transcript for future use.

Next, read Page 2. Advantages of these Japanese Language Lessons

Or look at some of the other pages on this site:

Page 3. A Comparison of Three Japanese Language Courses

Page 4. The History of these Japanese Audio Lessons

Page 5. How to Use this Japanese Course

Page 6. Try Lesson 1 of this Japanese Language Training

Page 7. Learn Japanese Grammar

Page 8. Japanese Lessons Download Page

Page 9. Japanese Grammar Quiz

Page 10.  Contact Form

If you would like to leave a public comment, please use the “Leave a Reply” box at the end of this page. To contact me privately, please use the Contact Form on the Contact page.

These lessons are entirely free.  However, if you would like to give something back, please recommend this page on Google by clicking on the button below.  Scientific studies show that a higher number of Google +1’s leads to higher search rankings (at least on Google).  Therefore, if you click on this button, it’s more likely that potential students like you will be able to find this site in the future.  If you don’t already have a Google account, you will need to sign up for one, but I hope that you will find that a minor inconvenience.  Thank you!

Here is an introductory video from 2012 titled “Japanese Audio Flashcard Lessons.”  If you would like to see subtitles while you watch the video, click the Play button, click on the CC button at the bottom of the screen, and then click “English.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Next, Read about the advantages of these Japanese language lessons

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

78 thoughts on “Learn Japanese

  1. Hi Roger,

    Wow! What a wonderful site! I’ve been looking for something to further my studies after using iStart Japanese and Human Japanese. In many sites I’ve found, the dialogue is too fast and my brain can’t keep up! However, with your wonderful audio and transcripts I am much more confident in speaking Japanese which is the main reason for learning a language rather than just learning vocab and grammar from a textbook without the aid of a speaker to help!

    Your audio files are clear and I love your commentary on what form of speech to use. It brings Japanese to life and gets you speaking naturally very quickly. I put them on when I go to bed and let the language seep into my brain as I drop off. When I wake and listen to them again, I have remembered so much more!

    With the aid of the internet, language learning is so much more efficient and fun.

    I am a musician and composer and learning the kana was a lot like learning the musical notes in the different clefs. This I found very easy and I mastered Hiragana, Katakana and about 80 Kanji quite quickly. I would strongly recommend anyone coming to these lessons to learn the syllabaries well before you continue and maybe learn the absolute basics from something like iStart Japanese for iPhone before beginning these audio flashcards. Your transition into building a workable Japanese skill-set will be enhanced if you understand the absolute basics before you start here. Having said that, just immersing yourself in these lessons, at least the first few will help.

    It is very easy to get discouraged when starting Japanese. Even beginning to understand a native Japanese speaker takes a long time. You pick out odd words or phrases but remain ignorant to the overall meaning. However, with a language like French or Spanish, it is easy to pick up meaning from speakers quickly, at least if you speak a European language! Japanese is SO different to anything that is natural to western ears and needs commitment and a deep understanding of Japanese culture. Anyone coming to Japanese must have a love for Japanese culture and manners. You need to cast off everything you knew about language and re-wire a part of your brain to become Japanese. But I think this is part of the fun. To love another culture is to love life and life is all we have. Studying a language is life-affirming and anything that does that can only be good.

    Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for such a wonderful resource!

  2. Hi Roger, I want to thank you for these lessons. I really do not know how could I have been able to continue my Japanese studies after Pimsleur without your lessons.

    You should have “Donate” button on your site 😀

    Ari-Pekka, Finland

  3. Thank you Roger for making such an amazing project available and free to the public. I have been studying Japanese for half a year now on my own and since I am a high school kid with lots of extra time I have studied a lot. Although, I have not had many opportunities to speak with actual Japanese speakers and get a better concept of their grammar. In fact I have spent most of my time learning Kanji, so much time that I can read 2/3 of the jouyou kanji but I have an extremely limited vocabulary. I still struggle to have Japanese audio spark a reaction in my brain in order to come up with meanings to words . I am a visual learner so it is hard for me. This is just what I need. Thank you very much.

    1. Thank you for your message, Ryley. It’s great that you know so many kanji.

      Although I think that it may be easier to learn kanji a little later on, after you have already acquired some basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary, it can’t hurt to study kanji first, or to study all of the components of the language at the same time. As you get deeper into Japanese study, you will find the kanji that you know showing up everywhere, and that will greatly reinforce the interest and pleasure that you feel as you learn the language.

      With that sort of foundation in kanji, I think that you should be able to make excellent progress in Japanese.

  4. If you are deaf and struggling would the text version of this help in any way? I am only looking to read and write Japanese fluently as I unable to speak properly. I have grown up in a English house hold but all my friends speak Japanese due to my school, I am unable to currently lip read them but I am able to lip read English.
    I hope that you and your wife are well and safe
    Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thank you for your message.

      That is a very interesting question. I would say that the transcript could help you with lip reading, since the romaji (the Westernized text) does approximate what Japanese people say when they talk pretty well. If you then tried to write things to your friends using romaji, they should be able to read the romaji, with some difficulty, as they are not used to it. However, your friends could hardly expect you to master written Japanese as they use it, with its 3 alphabets. I suppose that, if you learned to write just one alphabet, such as hiragana, it would be easier for your Japanese friends to read what you write to them.

      If you use a computer to write, then you can type things in romaji and have the computer convert everything you write to hiragana. On my Windows computer, you need to install a Japanese language pack in order to do this. After installing the language pack, the Language Bar will show up at the bottom of the screen, and you can click on it in order to change your input language from English to Japanese, and back again.

      I hope that this makes sense.

  5. Hi Roger,

    Thank you very much for offering these lessons free of charge. I’ve been studying Japanese on and off for about seven years (and have logged around 5,500 hours) , and while I know a few thousand words, still have the frustrating experience of not being able to construct grammatically correct sentences. I trip over even basic phrases it seems. It doesn’t help that I only contact Japanese people a few hours a week and live in Austin, Texas.

    As you said in your video, Japanese grammar is just so different that our English-wired brains just won’t absorb it easily; it has to be intentionally put to memory. I discovered jalup.com and Anki for kanji and vocab about a year ago and have noticed real gains in my reading and writing, but sorely lacked in my speaking ability. Then today I discovered your site. I really agree with your three keys to learning Japanese, but I’m not exactly sure how to make mnemonics beyond those I know for Kanji. I want to try though, if you feel they help.

    I’ve tried your first two lessons so far and probably answered 95% correctly of lesson one and around 85% of lesson two. I’m really looking forward to diving into Japanese Audio lessons and I want to thank you for your work and pray that it will benefit many in their struggles to learn this hard, yet rewarding language.

    1. Thank you for your message, Merrill.

      You’re welcome for the lessons. It seems like a lot of people are having a hard time with Japanese grammar, but at least we aren’t giving up! It does get easier with practice.

      Speaking of mnemonics, I included them sparingly in the first 27 lessons, but if you look at Lessons 28-33 you can see that recently I’ve been inventing mnemonics for almost every unfamiliar Japanese word. It sometimes takes awhile to think of a half-decent mnemonic, but I think the extra effort really pays off. I use a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate dictionary for most of my mnemonics. This dictionary includes lists of biographical and geographical names at the back, and I search in those lists when I can’t find mnemonics in the dictionary itself.

      1. Thanks for the hard work you’ve put into the mnemonics!They have definitely helped me learn several new words that I would have previously just let go. Currently at lesson 22 and looking forward to 27 and beyond.

        1. Hi Merrill,

          It’s nice to hear from you again. I’m really impressed that you’ve made so much progress in such a short time, but I believe you said that you’ve been working on Japanese study for over 7 years, so no doubt a lot of the material is like a review for you. Keep up the good work!

          Regarding the mnemonics, I’m happy to hear that some of them are working for you.

  6. Hi, I just came across this website by chance and I found your work amazing.
    I’m currently still on the Pimsleur (almost 15 lessons left to finish it) , but as soon as it’s over I’ll start studying the material that’s downloadable from this site.
    Thanks a lot for the opportunity you give us. I’m studying japanese as a hobby in my free time, but the more I go on the more I want to find new good material, so this came as a gift really.

  7. Hello, I don’t usually leave comments on webpages like this or anywhere really but I felt the need to sincerely thank you for all of your work here.

    Recently I started a relationship with a girl visiting my country on a working visa and instantly gained interest in learning Japanese as she is doing with English, before I found your files I was always reading PDFs on my commutes and felt like I was learning everyday.

    Now I listen to your lessons in addition and can honestly say I am far more adept in such a short time than I ever imagined, in passing on the streets I can roughly pick up topics I hear others speaking of and such. As others have posted I am commited to immersing myself into the language because it is most effective. I repeat lessons over and over until I pull out something that I didn’t notice before in terms of sentence structure and only then I move on, but it’s working.

    These lessons are truly gems and I believe what you have here is quite generous, thank you.

  8. Hello!
    I’ve just wanted to ask a quick question:
    I’ve bought Japanese for Everyone and found your website (very good by the way :) ) and I would like to ask which lesson to listen to while learning Lesson X in JfE. JfE has 27 Chapters should I learn Lesson 1 while listening to your Lesson 1 and so on?
    And second question: what is better: listening first and then JfE or JfE Chapter and then listening?

    Thanks in Advance and thanks for these lessons!

    Julian

    1. Hi Julian,
      I’m glad you bought the book. That should be very helpful to you. Yes, Lesson 1 in the audio lessons corresponds to Lesson 1 in the book and so on.
      I think you may find that it’s best to work on the book and the audio lessons more or less in parallel. That is, you can read and try to understand the book during sedentary time at your desk, and you can use the audio lessons while walking or commuting, keeping a few pages of the printed transcript at hand so that you can easily refer to them.
      Good luck!

  9. Hi Roger.

    I want to thank you so much. These lessons are very helpful to me. Before I started with yours, I was stressed. It’s because I can’t find any impressive lesson sources. They were so boring and monoton, also they need high cost to be able to access.
    Please keep developing this site, Ok? ^^

    Ananda,
    Indonesia.

  10. As I understand it, Japanese pitch accent is not especially important. However I would be curious to know where the speaker (okusan desu ka) is from. Could the lessons be described as having a ‘Tokyo downstep’, which I’ve read is the most common?

    I love the lessons! The syllables are really clear, whatever the case.

  11. Self learning in a country other than Japan is very difficult. Whilst I can understand what is being said (to a certain extent) when hearing Japanese spoken, actually speaking it myself has proved to be next to impossible. Your lessons force me to stop and think and to actually have a go at trying to come up with something in response. I’m loving it. I like the way there are several similar examples of the same type of grammar that gets me used to how a sentence is constructed for that particular grammar point. I have been reading the .pdfs first and then listening to the lesson over and over until I fully understand the grammar being studied. Then I try to make up my own sentences using similar constructions. Thank you so much for this resource.

  12. Hi Roger,

    My husband and I are planning a multi-week trip to Japan in 2016. Neither of us have been there before, nor do we speak any Japanese. I am in search of the best way to learn enough Japanese to interact appropriately with people during our trip.

    That said, would you recommend your audio course as a good way to accomplish this? If not, any other recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and regards,
    ~Gayle

    1. Hi Gayle,

      Yes, I think our lessons would be a good place for you to begin. I myself began by using other standard Japanese textbooks, the Berlitz lessons, the Pimsleur lessons and the Learn in Your Car lessons, as I describe on this site. When I got to Japan, I was disappointed with the results that I got from those other lessons, and perhaps that is inevitable regardless of what method you use. However, I think our lessons have certain advantages over those others, which I describe on Advantages page on this site.

      If you have more than a year to study, I believe you should be able to get about half way through our lessons, assuming that you repeat each one about 5 times, and then repeat all of the ones that you have previously covered, starting from Lesson 1, before moving on to the next one. Possibly you can cover even more ground than that. That will give you a good foundation in the language. You will probably want to buy the ‘Japanese for Everyone’ textbook, if you want to try to learn how to read and write in Japanese.

      I know that each new lesson will seem very difficult when you first start to use it. However, you will be surprised to see how much easier they become as you continue to review them, and the sense of mastery that you should begin to feel by about the 5th repetition is something wonderful.

      Good luck! I hope that you enjoy Japan as much as I do.

  13. Hi Roger,

    First of all thank you. Yours is indeed an excellent resource, and to offer it freely bespeaks your love of the Japanese language and commitment to academia. I needed to pick up some basic phrases before I go to Japan this December to visit my daughter who is teaching English there, and your program should be an immense help. I already speak, read, and write the Korean language with some fluency, so I am at least familiar with the grammar structure of Japanese, which is essentially the same as Korean.

    My biggest frustrations with the Japanese language programs that I have researched, ordered, and practiced thus far, is that they lack coherent categorical structure, assume that students are interested in learning Japanese script, and place too much emphasis on grammar. It is of little use, for example, to know how to ask where something IS, if one cannot understand the answer. Such a lesson should include answers that give the basics of direction, “it’s to the right/left, over there against the far wall, on the second floor just down the hall from the elevator, there’s one in the building across the street” etc., because in the case of ‘toidewa doko desuka?’ it might prove difficult for one to hold it until lesson “umpteen” gives the clue necessary to understanding directions. Furthermore, categorizing information also helps us retain it – oh how the brain loves to group related information, including opposites.

    After several decades of learning Korean to the point of fluency, I am no stranger to the various methods of language learning and their deficiencies, so I fully understood your introduction and explanation. You mentioned the frustration of an English brain listening to lessons entirely in Japanese and concluded that that is not an effective method. I agree, though I think constant input of the target language from numerous sources is of key importance. And I’m sure you would agree that if the goal of learning a foreign language is to become fluent, that language must no longer be foreign to us. I propose that this we accomplish by creating a native speaker inside us – as I’m sure you have already done, word by word, phrase by phrase, concept by concept.

    In my study of Korean I became frustrated early on by what I viewed as an overemphasis on grammar, and I lament the hours I tortured myself memorizing and rehearsing grammar. I hadn’t learned my native tongue that way. It occurred to me that there is an order to learning and growing, a kind of sit-crawl-walk-run, as it were, and this natural progression, I thought, must apply to language as well. We learn to talk first, naturally grasping the basic grammatical constructs without a second thought. We then learn to read, and at about the same time we begin to learn to write, conforming to grammatical rules. Then ultimately we use the twisted mathematics of grammar to dissect the living language and frustrate students.

    Anyway, I am always somewhat puzzled at the insistence on essentially reversing the learning order when it comes to most foreign language learning programs. The ESL program at our local community college is a good example of this folly. I often meet with Korean students in the program who express their frustration at a lack of progress when it comes to learning English. I feel pity for them as I look over their lessons memorizing parts of speech and dissecting sentence structure – who thinks about those things in a conversation? And does inspirational writing flow from this framework? I think not. It seems to me it is the ones who talk the most who are the best at reading, writing, and communication. Oh well, thanks for letting me vent.

    Once again, I say thanks for your hard work. Put all the files in a single .zip and charge for download – I will gladly pay for them.

    Yours truly,
    George Posten

    1. Hi George,

      Thank you for your fascinating comments about the best way to learn a foreign language. I didn’t realize that Korean grammar and Japanese grammar are so similar.

      I’m sorry to be so late in responding. Somehow your message seems to have gotten lost in all of the spam that this site continually receives.

      What you say about the relative importance of studying grammar vs. just trying to speak and immerse oneself in a language is certainly thought-provoking. We naturally rely on our own personal language-studying experiences when we try to decide the relative importance of different approaches. We also notice that some people seem to be able to learn languages more easily and wonder if this is a function of their native ability or of their technique. It may be impossible to know the relative importance of those different factors.

      Although the idea of trying to learn a language in the way that children learn their native tongues is attractive, I believe that our adult brains learn differently and need to be provided with rules, reasons and explanations. I also think that it is the totality of what we study, including grammar and practice in speaking, that creates the “native speaker inside us,” as you say. Perhaps all the time that you spent studying Korean grammar wasn’t wasted after all!

      I think that Chris Lonsdale’s TED Talk, “How to Learn Any Language in Six Months,” is worth watching. In particular, I like his Action #5: Get a Language Parent. This means that you should try to find a native speaker of Japanese who is willing to spend time interacting with you in the way that a parent interacts with a toddler who is learning to talk.

      This Language Parent should be willing to work hard to try to understand what you are saying in Japanese. Rather than correcting your mistakes directly, the Parent should try to rephrase what you are saying, to demonstrate more correct usage and, in the process, use words that you know. This may be difficult for the Parent, since he or she may not know what you know, and phrases that seem elementary to the Parent may be completely mystifying to you. Therefore I suggest that, at least initially, you limit the length of these language teaching sessions to about 15 minutes, by which time both you and the Parent may be exhausted. I also suggest that you acquire a decent fund of vocabulary and grammar before asking your Language Parent to spend this sort of time with you.

  14. こんにちはロジャー先生
    Thanks for this great resource! I’ve been learning for just over 2 years and recently went through Pinsleur II & III which I have found to be really helpful. Because I have no easy exposure to Japanese speakers I have found this type of course to be the most effective for me in ‘exercising’ and really internalising Japanese grammar.
    After fearing that I would not be able to continue my daily audio lessons while commuting I then found your mp3s. I am actually surprised everything is free as you must have invested a great deal of time.
    もう一度、どうもありがとうございました!

      1. Hi Roger,
        Friend, I was trying very hard to get some knowledge/to learn this language, have visited so many web sites till now, and yesterday some of my friends told me about this one.
        Seriously can’t thank you enough for such a great help. It is so well-crafted, and now for the first time learning Japanese seems easy. All credit goes to you Roger. You are a rock star.
        This is so nice of you, you sure have invested a lot of time here imparting the knowledge just for free.
        Thanks a lot!!
        May god bless you, is all I have to give and say !!

        Highly appreciated!

        Best Regards
        Saurabh S

        1. Hi Saurabh,

          It’s good to hear from you. Of course, as you know, learning Japanese will never be easy, even with these lessons, but I hope that they meet your expectations as you use them. My wife and I appreciate your encouragement.

  15. Hi,

    I can say without a doubt that your work is amazing, I have a folder full of japanese resources and this website has been one of the best. That is the impression I had from the first 4 lessons.

    I’ve decided many times what resources I would use, but in the end I really never started using them because of the price or the number of books was absurd for a beginner level or I couldn’t find the pdf files. I’ve considered Genki, Minna no Nihongo, japanese from zero,etc but I’m happy I took more time and actually got to a decision I’m happy with.

    People say that Japanese for everyone is hard to go through, but I’m going to try it (actually I was very surprised when I started to listen to your audio lessons and recognized JFE scripts xD). Also I would be very thankful if someone who has already gone through this book along with your audio lessons gave their opinion.

    If you and your wife ever plan on doing more japanese learning materials or just keep the existing ones updated I would be happy to help.

    ほんとうにありがとうございます。

      1. One thing I forgot to ask, what do you recommend: going through the lesson in JFE after listening to the respective audio lesson, or vice-versa?

        ありがとうございました

        1. Good question. In my opinion, even though probably no one would describe these Japanese audio flashcard lessons as easy, they are much easier than the book. Therefore, I recommend that you start with the audio lessons. They will give you plenty of material to learn, and they will gradually teach you a lot of grammar and vocabulary.

          In addition, you will want to practice reading, spending as much time on this activity as you can. After you’ve studied an audio lesson, the corresponding chapter in the book will be perfect for reading practice, since you will already be somewhat familiar with the sentences, and reading a chapter will reinforce the grammar and vocabulary taught in the audio lessons.

  16. This course is very well crafted and I give my appreciation.

    Can you help me with one thing?

    I’m still having trouble using ‘wa’ and ‘ga’ correctly. What is the difference between them and in what situations do you use them? Thank you for your time.

  17. Hi Roger

    After several hours, googling, on the lookout for Japanese study material, I found your site. I am based in the UK.
    Very much like yourself, my wife is Japanese and I have been trying for 15 years to speak this language.

    I tried Pimsleur, Japanese for Busy people. I have had a premium membership with JapanesePod 101 for 4 years and my membership just expired which is why I have been looking for new study material.

    I agree with your comments about JapanesePod 101 in that there is almost no grammar and vocabulary. The progress is not very well structured and the classification in groups of elementary, advanced appears to be very arbitrary. I just about managed to complete the lengthy Beginner and did some lower intermediate lessons and the outcome is not spectacular although I admit that more study time would have certainly helped as well. I used Rikichan for translation pop ups and their line by line audio which is probably the best feature of Japanese101.

    A Japanese company where I used to work got me some weekly private lessons (1to1) and I attended weekly group classes as well. I just about managed to pass JLPT level 4. At the time level 4 was the lowest, now there is a level 5.

    I have just about managed to grasp elementary Japanese which I am learning as my wife is talking in Japanese to my 8 year old daughter.

    You can imagine how frustrating it must be for someone like me who used to be a linguist. I can speak fluently Italian, German and French (English is not my mother tongue). I expected to be fully bilingual within 5 to 10 years and I have only grasped the basics by now. Of course the fact, that I work full time means that I have much less free time to spend learning a foreign language now and this is why I am so impressed by your level of dedication.

    Not only did you find the time to study but in addition you managed to compile all of this material and distribute it for free.

    All I can say is thanks for sharing all of your work at no cost, and credit to your wife as well. She must be very kind and patient.

    I have only started to sample the audio file and my first impression is very positive. I will copy the files to my ipod and play them back in my car. This certainly feels like Pimsleur but this is more structured.

    My next objective is to spend more time learning vocabulary with flash cards, something I have been reluctant to do in the belief that vocal would naturally sink in as I read texts.

    I have started to experiment with a new company named http://www.memrise.com/home/courses/. This is a typical flash card system used for just about any subject, you can take a look.

    I am looking forward to your forthcoming contribution.

    I will try to make some updates later on and let you know how I am progressing with your material.

    Thanks
    Rod

    ps: Thanks to the other contributors in this blog who also provided very useful comments and links.

    1. Hi Rod,

      It’s so good of you to send me your detailed and informative message. I really appreciate your taking the time to tell us about your experiences. I certainly share your frustration with the Japanese language, and, like you, I don’t want to give up on it.

      I hope that you find these lessons useful. Please keep in touch.

        1. 愛しています (ai shite imasu) is written in polite speech. 愛してる (ai shiteru) is a contracted form of 愛している (ai shite iru), and they are both written in plain speech. All of these clauses mean “I love you,” with both “I” and “you” being understood. You could translate them literally as “am doing love.”

  18. Hello Roger,

    You mentioned you are considering your options for further Japanese study. I would like to indicate three books I have had for a while and found very useful. They are a true challenge to me but I, like you I’m sure, am spurred on by each little gain I make in recovering/acquiring new Japanese capability. Two are aimed towards developing ability to read/understand newspapers, which may limit your interest in them, but Authentic Japanese is general and IMO the best of the lot. All are very well done and come with quite useful CDs. They are available on Amazon.

    *Authentic Japanese: Progressing from Intermediate to Advanced [New Edition]
    中級から上級への日本語 ($25.50)
    By Osamu Kamada, Fusako Beukmann, Yoshiko Tomiyama and Machiko Yamamoto

    *Nyūsu De Fuyasu Jōkyū Eno Goi, Hyōgen
    ニユースで増やす上級への語彙・表現 ($29.99)
    by Mika Kiyama

    *Nihongo through Newspaper articles, Revised Edition
    新聞で学ぶ日本語、改訂新阪 ($39.59)
    Osamu Mizutani and Nobuko Mizutani

    * indicates how item is listed on Amazon.

    I hope some of the above is useful to you.

    Roger Shorack

    1. Hi Roger,
      This is an old message that you had sent me last February. I did not include it on the web site at that time because you had said that you didn’t intend it for that purpose. However, looking at it again, I think it’s really valuable and should be shared with other people who are trying to learn Japanese. I hope you don’t mind that I’m now publishing it for everyone to see. Thank you!

  19. Hello Roger,

    I noted with interest your remarks about Japanese Pod 101. I am thinking about joining for a year and downloading those dialogs as you did. I gather enough time has passed that you have had a chance to focus some effort there. Are you happy with the material?

    I have come across a few other interesting things recently.

    1. Aozora Intermediate-Advanced Japanese Communication, Second Addition, by Fujii and Sugawara.
    This book has downloadable conversation/dialog files located at http://nflrc.Hawaii.edu/AozoraSound consisting of 135 dialogs of 1 – 4 min each. They follow the book closely, which contains scripts for them. The book is available on Amazon for $31.10, but you can download the files without buying it. The book is very good IMO – it focuses on the spoken language. It is designed for use in a classroom environment but it can be used to good effect by an individual as well. It is entirely in Japanese so about a 2nd year level background or above is useful. But a determined student can make do with less, I think.

    For such determined students, being able to make flashcards conveniently is a critical consideration, I think. For this I use Firefox (with the Perapera add on installed) as my default browser and I use online dictionaries like NihongoDict (http://www.nihongodict.com) and Denshi Jisho (http://jisho.org). When I start one of the dictionaries it will come up inside Firefox and I can pin it to a Firefox tab, for convenience. This lets me easily enter an unknown word from the text I am studying into, say, NihongoDict, hover over it with the cursor and use the Perapera pop-up to save it to the built in vocabulary list. Saved lists are formatted as UTF-8 and can be read directly by many flashcard programs.

    2. Making Sense of Japanese, by Jay Rubin.
    I won’t write much about this because B. M. Chapman has a thorough and exceptionally useful five star review of it on Amazon, where the book is available for $9.26. It is a true gem. The following short excerpt is from his review.

    Wa and Ga – Never before has there been a more thorough and easy to remember explanation of the delicate differences between these two particles. They are a great bane to learners of Japanese, and Rubin dedicates 20 pages to truly making sense of them.

    3. I have also purchased several very nice apps for my iPhone 5/iPad 2.
    The ones I like best are:
    a. Japanese (dictionary – $7.99)
    b. i-Sokki (vocab study – $4.99, $1.99 ea for additional JLPT libraries)
    c. Japanese Flip (Flashcards – $5.99)
    d. Kanji Flip (Flashcards – $5.99)

    I wish you good progress and great enjoyment in your Japanese studies.

    Roger Shorack

    1. Hello Roger,

      It’s great to hear from you again. Thank you for sharing your valuable ideas. I look forward to trying all of them, in addition to those you mentioned in your previous message.

      Regarding Japanese Pod 101, I subscribed to this site for a one-year period, and during that time I downloaded a total of 621 lessons with transcripts, starting with Lesson 60 in the group they call the Beginner Lessons. (I thought that the first 59 lessons were a little too easy for me, but after that they became quite challenging.) I’ve been able to listen to about 100 of these lessons so far and have used electronic flashcards to learn the new vocabulary they contain. Although they take a lot of time to master, I find them valuable.

      I think that the Japanese Pod 101 lessons could be useful to a more advanced student like yourself. They were clearly created by talented and enthusiastic Japanese young people, the language used in them seems very authentic, and they come with good transcripts. I don’t think that one can find comparable lessons elsewhere. However, they are not systematic, and they employ a lot of difficult vocabulary and grammar early on, much of which the authors don’t bother to define or explain. A number of the Japanese words they use in their so-called Beginner lessons cannot be found even in the 2,000-page Kenkyusha Japanese-English dictionary. It seems cruel to label these lessons as “Beginner” or “Intermediate” level, as their authors do.

      I think that the authors of the Japanese Pod 101 lessons don’t really understand the needs of English-speaking students. Although they pay lip service to the idea of teaching the basics of the language, they practice a rather scattershot, sink-or-swim approach in their instruction, something that I think can actually be harmful, if it discourages students and makes them want to give up on Japanese.

      I would not have subscribed to Japanese Pod 101 myself at this stage in my studies, if I had known about the excellent free resource that you mentioned in your previous message, “News in Slow Japanese,” available at http://newsinslowjapanese.com/. It seems to me that these audio files, which come with transcripts and introduce new vocabulary at a sensible rate, are much more appropriate for intermediate-level Japanese students who want to improve their listening skills and expand their vocabularies.

      Regarding Jay Rubin’s discussion of the differences between wa and ga, I agree with you that it’s excellent. I’ve tried to incorporate some of Professor Rubin’s thinking on this topic into my own discussion at http://www.japaneseaudiolessons.com/download-japanese-lessons/.

  20. Good day Roger,

    I seem to be having a very hard time downloading your lessons because most of them stop downloading halfway through, I’m referring to the japanese audio lessons(think there are 27 of them). I did manage to download like lessons 3 after a couple of attempts, but it seems that I can’t download more than about 35 mg before it stops. I tried using chrome and mozilla, but same result. Is there something I can do to get it working?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hello James,

      Thank you for telling me about this problem, and for helping me to fix it. I now realize that the audio files on this site are too large for people who have slower internet connections. Therefore I’m also making them available as FTP files that can be downloaded with Filezilla (on Windows computers) or with Cyberduck (on Mac computers). As a result, students now have two options for downloading the files.

      You were kind enough to test the FTP concept for me, and you reported that you were able to download the files without difficulty by using Filezilla. Please see the Downloads page for more information about how to use Filezilla and Cyberduck.

  21. Hello Roger,

    I really like your site. I can see you put a tremendous amount of work into it. Thank you.

    I have a few references for learners of Japanese I’d like to pass on. These reflect my personal preference for news and are therefore rather narrow in scope. In what I consider order of increasing difficulty, they are:

    1. NewsInSlowJapanese.com
    This site has an almost inexhaustible collection of narrated short current news articles for which you can control the speed and volume. One can read the text while listening to the narration. Each one also contains a vocabulary list of the possibly difficult words and phrases.

    2. Both the Essays and Fiction volumes of “Read Real Japanese” have interesting short and medium length articles with extensive helpful notes. They also come with a CD of audio narrations. Available on Amazon.

    3. The site http://news.tv-asahi.co.jp/ has many short news videos in which the reporter’s dialog is written almost verbatim below the video frame. One can study the short article to learn the necessary vocabulary and then watch and listen to the video as many times as desired.

    4. The site http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/japanese/radio/program/index.html has a section titled 海外向けラジオ番組 (kaigai muke rajio bangumi) on which you can listen to a wide variety of Japanese news/human-interest reports. Audio only.

    IMO, #1 is excellent for students of early intermediate or above level. #2 requires a bit more of the student, but is still quite accessible. #3 and #4 are serious real Japanese items and require significantly more from the student but a good 2nd or 3rd year student should be able to handle them if their interest is in that area.

    There is also a wealth of material available (use Google) online aimed at preparation for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Even if you have no interest in the JLPT per se, the available study aids are very useful for the general student. The level of material runs from beginner to very advanced.

    I hope some of these items are of interest to your readers.

    Roger Shorack

  22. Hello Roger,

    I just discovered your website this afternoon. I have been studying and speaking Japanese (off and on) since I was about twenty and stationed in Japan for 5 years from 1953. I plan to take the time to look more carefully at your website because in just my brief perusal I found many useful things and ideas. I look forward to spending more time on it. I noted your two stacks of books with interest – I have most of the same items. I am also going to check out the Flashcard program you use. It sounds good. I am currently using one called Stackz, which I also like.

    My reason for sending this email is primarily to let you know of a wonderful Japanese popup dictionary called Perapera Kun – you can find it easily with Google. I suspect you may know of it already but since you didn’t mention it I thought I’d send this note. It doesn’t work with MS IE browser but works well with Firefox. I switched to Firefox to have easy access to Perapera. For one who is determined to use IE it is possible to do so by making use of bookmarks, but it is much more convenient with Firefox. I am running Windows 8.1 but Perapera also works with earlier MS OSs.

    I like to read Japanese (newspapers, etc) online and Perapera is ideal for this. There is another popup called Rikaichan. It’s nice but, IMO Perapera is much nicer.

    Thank you for putting your material in the public domain. I think I will find it useful and I would have been so overjoyed to have access to something like it when I was young and starting out.

    Roger Shorack

  23. Hi, it is great, I just started learning and I proceed quite smoothly. I have but one problem – lessons 18 and 19 cannot be opened no matter how many times I download them again. I wonder if it is just corrupted archive file uploaded or is it something with my computer. Other lessons are however totally fine to open. Thank you for fixing it. Be well.

    1. Hi Filip,

      Thank you so much for telling me about those 2 audio files. Apparently they got corrupted 2 days ago when I uploaded them after making some corrections to them. I’ve deleted the bad files and uploaded new ones. Now they seem to be OK. Please let me know if you have any more difficulties.

  24. Dearest Roger,
    Forgive me for gushing but I am SO excited to have stumbled upon your audio flashcard lessons!!!! I just arrived in Japan two days ago, and will be here until mid-March. I will start my brisk morning walks around Osaka with these lessons! I am very familiar with Pimsleur, and you nailed it with the transcripts on top of the audio. That’s what I’ve been missing. I will also try to get a tutor while I’m here, but I’m a big fan of self-paced learning. I hope to be able to report back in two months and share my progress. :)
    Thank you and your wife for making this website and these lessons. You are both amazingly generous and wonderful people to have shared such a resource with the rest of the world.

    1. Dear Rosa,

      It’s good to hear from you. Thank you so much for your encouragement.

      Osaka is a great town. I hope you have a wonderful time there and that the lessons meet your expectations.

      Please keep in touch.

  25. Dear Roger – I very much appreciate that care and time that you have taken to create this valuable Japanese course. The combination of the sound flash cards and the written transcript is invaluable, but I wonder if I could ask you one thing? Once you begin to get the hang of the Japanese, the English explanation begins to become redundant, and I wonder if you have a version of these lessons which contain only the Japanese voice. The English voice material is invaluable at the start, but it would be helpful to by pass it as experience of listening the Japanese is gained.

    Thanks and best wishes.

    1. Hi Barrie,

      I’m happy to hear that the course is helpful. Unfortunately, no, I don’t have a Japanese-only version. I’m very surprised that you would even suggest such a thing. I continue to listen to the lessons every day and sometimes still struggle with the translations from English to Japanese, even after many repetitions. I continue to learn from them.

      Perhaps what you are suggesting is that you need help with kikitori, or listen/taking. At one point several years ago, I became concerned that these lessons were emphasizing translation skills at the expense of listening skills. I briefly experimented with the idea of reversing the English and Japanese phrases, so that the Japanese phrases appeared first, followed by English translations. It was very time-consuming to make these changes to one of the audio files, and I didn’t feel in the end that it was worth the trouble.

      I decided that a good way for me to work on kikitori is to watch Japanese films with subtitles, as I mention on the “How to Use” page on this site.

      Of course, having nearly exhausted these lessons myself, I’m looking ahead and asking myself how to proceed further in my Japanese studies. You may be familiar with the Japanese Pod 101 site. 2 years ago, I signed up for one of their top-level memberships (it cost about $200, but they have special discount offers from time to time, and sometimes you can get one for about $100) and was careful to cancel the subscription before the one-year deadline, since otherwise they renew it automatically. During that year, I downloaded virtually all of their dialogues and transcripts. Now I’m in the process of going through the transcripts, identifying all of the vocabulary words that I don’t know, placing those words plus my own mnemonics on electronic flashcards, and learning them. After doing this, I find that I’m able to listen to the dialogues and benefit from them. However, since the Japanese Pod 101 dialogues are often very difficult, I would not recommend them to anyone who hasn’t already mastered the material on this site.

      Good luck with your studies!

  26. Hi! Thanks so much for your generosity, I really appreciate it. I feel lucky to have found this website, I’ve been studying Japanese since I was 12 (I’m now 18) and I am in 7-8 Honors Japanese.
    Thanks again! This has helped me a lot and I’ll continue to use it, I love Japanese.

  27. Hi Roger, your work, as I scanned the transcripts before reading and learning it, I find it really good. Thank you for providing the lessons, I will hope to learn and understand a lot, although this will be my first time to learn Japanese by using the lessons. all the information I am gathering to learn Japanese are all from the net and no book is used as a resource coz can’t afford to buy one right now, I’m out of school youth and had been wondering for months of what to do and then decided to learn Japanese on my own will. I will keep in touch with your lessons here and in your facebook page. more power to you and your wife as you continue to do works like this, this is a great opportunity and chance for me to learn Japanese though I know its tough to learn.

    – Philippines

    1. Hi James,
      Thank you very much for your message. My wife and I want the lessons to be free so that people who don’t have a lot of money will be able to use them too. As you say, Japanese is difficult, but I don’t think you will regret trying to learn it. I wish I had been able to find lessons like these many years ago, when I first started visiting Japan. Since you’re still young and are getting off to an early start, I think you will eventually be able to progress much further than I have.

  28. Hi Roger, I just listened to your first lesson and I can see your passion for japanese culture. I admit that this first lesson was a bit easy ’cause I’ve already studied something on my own but I think your lessons will help me a lot. From now on you and your wife are my 先生. You really did a good work. ありがとうございます.

    Sergio, Italy

  29. Thank you so much for these lessons. I really, really appreciate the help! Jim

    PS I think Lesson 22 is damaged as it cannot be opened.

    1. Hi Jim,
      Thank you for telling me about Lesson 22. It must have gotten corrupted when I converted it from a .wav file to an .mp3 file. I just re-converted the .wav file and uploaded it again as an .mp3 zip file. It seems to be working fine now.
      I’m happy to hear that the lessons are useful.
      Please stay in touch.

  30. Roger,

    Thank you for this wonderful resource. I am using Japanese for Everyone and I am really really grateful to you for having taken the time to create these audiofiles. This will help me so much with my studies.

    Greetings from Spain.

  31. Hi, thank you very much for these audio lessons, I’m up to number 4, and even though the first 2 lessons where easy to work with I am getting lost more and more.

    I guess I will just need to dust off the grammar and grind up some vocabulary memorization… speaking of which, how do you recommend learning vocabulary? Even though I’ve got the hang of the basic grammar right now, I usually am at a loss for words.

    Thanks again for your great material and I wish you luck with your projects.

    1. Hi Stu,
      Thank you for the feedback and for your kind words. It’s good to hear from other people who are struggling to learn Japanese.

      I remember how difficult this material (i.e., the “Japanese for Everyone” textbook) was for me when I first started processing it about six years ago. The lessons do get significantly easier with each repetition. I suggest that you repeat each lesson at least five times before going on to the next one, and that you repeat all of the lessons from time to time.

      For example, if you’ve completed Lesson 6 five times, start over with Lesson 1 and repeat all of the lessons that you’ve learned. Then start studying Lesson 7. If you follow this routine, both the vocabulary and the grammar will begin to stick in your mind pretty well.

      Another idea is to use electronic flashcards to learn the vocabulary in the lessons. However, I’ve only used electronic flashcards to learn additional vocabulary beyond the words used in the lessons, and to learn kanji. I use the Flashcards Deluxe app (http://orangeorapple.com/Flashcards/), and this has made it much easier for me to memorize new kanji and vocabulary.

      There’s something magical about the process of creating a deck of 100 cards or so, using a dictionary to think up some bizarre mnemonics to place on the “answer” sides, and just plunging in. At first you’ll find yourself getting almost all of the answers wrong, but you can set the app to repeat the cards you miss, and in a short time you’ll be getting nearly all of the answers right, as the app helps you to focus on the questions you still don’t know. Reviewing your decks from time to time is advisable and enjoyable.

      There is a small problem that comes up with Flashcards Deluxe on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. It sometimes loses the ability to tell whether or not you’ve swiped the screen from right to left (indicating that you got the right answer) or in a downwards direction (meaning that your answer was wrong). If this happens, check the left lower corner of the screen where you’re having the problem. You should see a small cursive “B” there, which tells you (oddly enough) that Browse mode is off. If you see a triangle instead of a “B,” go to the settings screen and turn Browse mode off.

  32. Sounds great (although I don’t understand your pricing strategy). After looking at your first lesson, I think that your material is too advanced for me right now – I’m working with the Book2 series to get a feel for the pronunciation and some basic vocabulary and sentence patterns. (The individual sentences – 20 per lesson for 100 lessons – can be put in Mnemosyne and used as “audio flashcards, with a little manipulation. It’s a non-overwhelming entrance to the language for people who haven’t already done Berlitz or another course.

    The photographs of Japanese gardens at your web site are beautiful, BTW. (I’ve added some to my Mnemosyne cards to help keep my courage up.)

    1. Hi Jude,
      Thank you for your comments and encouragement.
      I can understand that the material in these lessons might seem too advanced for someone who is starting to learn Japanese. On the other hand, you have to start somewhere, and if you focus on one sentence or phrase at a time, you will soon find yourself making tangible progress.
      I agree that it’s very important to find an approach that is non-overwhelming. I also agree that you should try to find a learning method that provides enough positive reinforcement to keep your spirits up.
      The Pimsleur Japanese course was very helpful to me at the time I used it, even though my remarks about it on this site might seem somewhat negative. It’s expensive, but I was able to download it from our public library. Although it lacks a transcript and can start to seem very repetitive after awhile, I think it succeeds in spoon-feeding the language to people who are just starting out.
      Good luck with your studies!

    1. Hi David. Probably the sentence should read 今日は蒸しますね (kyou wa mushimasu ne) = “as for today, it gets hot and humid, huh.” The verb is 蒸す = “to be hot and humid” or “to steam.” The implication is that it’s hot and humid right now, not that it will become that way later on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>