What You Need to Know Before Learning Japanese Language

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Learning a new language will take time, resources and patience. The best outcome of learning a new language is having the right tools and guides for a seamless learning experience. Whether you are looking to teach yourself Japanese or not, read on. In this article, you will find all the essentials you need for learning Japanese.

Getting Started 

There are 2 methods that you can choose to learn the Japanese language, whether you want to rely on online resources or to go with a more traditional form of study. Both options have their pros and cons. While there are several online resources provided for free, some of them may not be the best quality. Traditional textbooks provide a high standard of information and allow for an easier transition into higher-level courses, but it will cost you money. With proper learning materials, you are also assured to be covering all the essential topics that you will need to know.


It is important to memorize Kana, the system of syllabic writing used for Japanese, having two forms, hiragana and katakana. It can easily be done within days or weeks depending on the person and will be utilized in almost every Japanese sentence onwards. A simple way to learn and practice hiragana and katakana is to download and install Anki, a free SRS-based flashcard program. Another great resource is the RealKana, a flashcard based website which you can key in the corresponding romaji(English characters) for Japanese characters. You can choose which columns of kana to study and in different fonts so you can familiarize it in no time at all. To learn and write the Kana, the best approach is to purchase or print grid paper and practice in that, following the correct stroke order. You can consider adding your kana study with this list of resource:

Hiragana Practice Sheets

Hiragana Chart

Katakana Practice Sheets

Katakana Chart

Online Resources

There are plenty of free resources that you can find online, for a quality guide check out Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese, if you are looking for a physical book that covers all the important lessons, head over to this link to get started in learning Japanese.


If you are searching for a traditional form of study, check out Genki which consists of two textbooks. The following books are Genki 1: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese and Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 2. These books are designed to help people learn how to speak, listen, read and write with additional segments for cultural information. These books are highly recommended and are commonly adopted by higher education institutions. You can find the purchase links for the following Genki 1, Genki 1 Workbook, Genki 2, Genki 2 Workbook

Supplementary Resources

The following list of study resources are not mandatory but will be incredibly helpful in improving your understanding of the language and can make all the difference.

Grammar: Inabi, A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

Kanji: Memrise(Free), Wanikani(Premium), Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course

Speaking:  Pimsleur

Other Resources: Japanese in Mangaland, Making Sense of Japanese – What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You

Further Studies

Once you have completed the basics and are looking to advance further to become an intermediate learner, there are multiple routes that you can choose to follow. You can choose a more defined study plan or focusing your time on expanding your vocabulary and knowledge through non-traditional routes, for example working on translation works from Japanese contents. If you are looking for a traditional study approach, check out Tobira: Gateway to Advanced Japanese Learning Through Content and Multimedia. It’s a great learning resource for anyone who has completed any of the many introductory series.

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