I mentioned many different resources in my last posts and in this I will write about the ones I am using as well as what I am discovering in the ones I am using. I will go in the order posted being paid for, optionally paid for, and free.

     As far as the things that cost money I have gotten 3 resources. Those three being Pimsleur Japanese, Michel Thomas Japanese, and and old Japanese textbook called, "Japanese Step by Step" by Gene Nishi. The book I kinda scored for free because I was playing Super Smash Bros. Melee and drinking at a friend of a friends house and found that he said he was studying Japanese(or so he said). This triggered my interests and began talking about it. This guy however was all talk. He said he read and memorized the textbook in one go! I called his bluff and said, "So you obviously don't need this book any more, right? Mind if I keep it?" So even though it's an 11 year old book, it was free and I really don't think that man was at all serious about learning so it was a pure win. The other two, Pimsleur and Michel Thomas I paid for because I learn much better by listening. I tried Rosetta Stone and I retained little to nothing from it and therefore did not like it. There is a big difference between the two audio book programs that I purchased recently that I must point out. Many reviews loved Michel Thomas more than Pimsleur, but I favour Pimsleur for one reason and that is the memorization techniques. I would not go as far as saying Pimsleur has a great technique mastered to memorize, but it is at least straight forward. It uses native speakers to enunciate words syllable by syllable following a definition while being used in context. So for learning vocabulary this is pretty good, eh? Michel Thomas on the other hand is a bit different. I don't think it's for the better either. When introducing a new word there is an English teacher and 2 other students to give you a classroom feel. The female student is not bad at enunciation at all, but the male and the teacher are not the best influences in this department. But that did not bother me. What I found to be troublesome was the introduction and memorization tactics of new words. For example, the word, 彼(かれ/kare) meaning he is to be remembered by thinking, "He drives a very fast car." As for myself, I am not seeing how that is related to remembering "kare" and more so, I am thinking about a car. That being said, this is my only problem with Michel Thomas. It is extremely good for getting your grammar kicking by starting off small and growing and explaining word order very well. In fact some of the descriptions are so well said that I'd take notes even though it is said that note taking is not required to learn through their methodology. So I'd say both programs are Useful especially when used in harmony.
     As far as the textbook goes, it is my first and only J-textbook so I cannot really compare it to anything however, it seems to be a good source of vocabulary expansion and grammar usage. Because it is rather old, I do not know how reliable it truly is to speaking casual Japanese. If anything it will teach you proper Japanese and people will correct you on how to be more casual. So it's good but I need to crack it open a little more...

     As for the category of optional pay, I mainly stick to Tofugu and Lang-8. Tofugu was actually discovered through YouTube among the J-Vlogging community, as was my emergence into intrigue of Japanese culture in general. Seriously, YouTube is one of the greatest windows to reach across the world that the Internet has to offer. But those cat videos and goofy people are okay too, I guess. Although studies with Tofugu have been a bit slow lately on account of my own laziness, Liking it on Facebook will still give you your dose of Japanese news & culture updates so even if I decide to take a small break to prevent getting burned out on studying, I still get the fix to learn something a bit more relaxing. As for lang-8 I find that I am using it more often when I study hard. Simple really, the harder you work the more you can say and read to ask legit questions while understanding a natives explanation. And again these sites have options to pay and get more out of them, I just can't quite afford to.

     As for freebies, I frequent my YouTube digest, Japanese-lesson.com, Rikaichan, and a variety of Linux tools such as Anthy(J-input method), kana test, and Kiten(J-Dictionary). I have found that being a Linux user, I have advantages to getting some of this open source software and so that is a +1 to all Linux users. Then again, if Windows or Mac were my OS, a way to find freebies would surely have been discovered. What else can be said about these other than that they are fantastic ways to learn for free?

     Thank you for reading and if you have questions/comments, please do not hesitate to ask! :D In my next blog I'll talk about whatever my current status/struggles may be. Also maybe I'll figure out how to make pretty static pages and get the other facades of this blog going. . .
     Here I will go over some of the resources that are useful to learning Japanese that are absolutely free. Of course you get what you pay for so these are not going to be the best but they are definitely good to get started on the basics. It  is nice to know that you can learn how to read for free due to the very many places on the Internet that will over simple tools as basic as a kana chart. Basically reading skills and basic phrases and grammar are what primarily is going to be available for free. Lets take a nice slow scroll and take a look at what is available:

1.  Japanese-Lesson
     Japanese lesson is a good entry level learning site with a lot of potential. Of course it will require some diligence. Here there are printable Kana practice sheets, drills, basic vocabulary lessons, and useful phrases. This is a very good place to be if it were not for its pesky vocal quizes. Synthesised voice drilling is very frustrating when you cannot tell "bzrt" from "phrszt" which is basically what you will run into in those tests. Other than that Japanese-Lesson is a good place to begin to learn how to read and write.


2. Learn Japanese Free
     This site is a bit more like a big memorization site from what I can tell. Of course I believe that the basics like Hiragana and Katakana are meant to be memorized, I feel that sentences should be understood as opposed to knowing how to say something but not knowing why. In its later stages it seems to do better and knowing some basic lines is always good. Which is why having multiple sources of reference is a necessity when it comes to learning languages. For a price tag of $0.00 it is still definitely worth using.

3.  Rikaichan
     If you are  a firefox user then this is an absolute must! Learning Kanji is probably one of the most intimidating aspects of learning Japanese. It is indeed much more difficult than actual spoken Japanese. A commonality in learning kanji is that most often recognition comes before the ability to write the said kanji. Rikaichan is a very nifty add on that defines and shows how to pronounce kanji via hiragana. This will enable learners to catch on to kanji much faster than waiting to learn it or searching for a definitive meaning. If Firefox is not preferred, then I still would highly recommend it just for this one add on.


4. Youtube J-Vlogging Community
     Subjectionally speaking, you tube is one of the best places to be inspired and learn about Japanese culture and language while being entertained. There are all sorts of people living in Japan and recording their experiences and showing what it is like through their eyes as well as many people who want to teach about Japan because it is simply their passion. There is truly too many to name off but a few that I actively go to are:
For Japanese culture, news, and teachings:

Good friend of Victor(Gimmeaflakeman) and shares Japan through his eyes:

This man, Sonny, easily has one of the best senses of humor of youtube in the J-vlogging community:

A very charming(and cute) bookworm type of woman who guides viewers through the very many aspects of Japanese language and culture:

A Danish artistic chain-smoker(at least in his videos) who provides a very unique view into Japanese culture debunking many common misconceptions:

Tofugu's youtube channel. Very entertaining and highly educational:

All about Japanese food and cooking for all the culinary geeks out there:

Namasensei is the tough love teacher who will push you into learning by insulting you to do better:

     That is all for now everyone. Thank you for reading. Next blog will be what methods I am using myself.
     Okay maybe paying full price for products that you can only review and get small samples of does not exactly float your boat. I mean lets face it, free trials are usually such a small window to see what the program truly has to offer. That is where this next section comes in handy. The greatest part about what I am about to share is it is not free trials but rather a free versions so you can continue using these services for years rather than a week or so. Nifty, eh? Lets take a look at a few.

 1. Tofugu/Textfugu:
     This site is pure gold for beginners like myself. The author, Koichi, is very personable and very entertaining in their postings. Not only is this a good place to develop your foundation in learning Japanese, but they also cover a great deal of Japanese culture. You'll get a few chapters of their online program, Textfugu, absolutely free and for $120.00 USD a full version will be available to which they are still adding new material on it.

2. Lang-8:
        Fortunately there are still good ways to get good lessons and even ways to actually write to Japanese people who would love to help you learn. There is the option of paying for a premium service, or using their free versions which are actually very good given the proper use of them, for free! Wait... Free? Nothing is free as you already know and the price to be paid is only they want you to help them learn English. Lang-8 is another personal favourite of mine that I try to frequent. Not only do you get to communicate directly with Japanese people, but you can very easily make friends as well. The only issue that may occur, is that it is fairly advanced. There may be instances where you are not entirely sure what or why you did something incorrectly. Usually though with all the many users on it there are plenty of people to help out. For a premium service at Lang-8($45.00 USD/year) you will have priority on journal entries, no ads, and printable PDF files of entries and corrections.

3. Mango Languages:
     Like the other two languages learning sites, you'll have options to get free or paid for services. Mango Languages has both Downloadable content(Though not compatible with Linux OS, don't worry though Macs & PCs are all good!) as  well as on site learning tools. I recommend downloading the freebies. This program is great for your everyday Japanese. So if you're on your way to Japan this is really good for asking the simple everyday things necessary to make your way around. Very good indeed as it includes narration to go along with the lessons. the paid version is $79.00 USD which includes: 
  • Interactive Mango Passport® course
  • Download lessons to a computer or laptop
  • Downloadable MP3 audio lessons
  • Audio and pronunciation guidance from native speakers
  • Voice comparison tool
  • Critical thinking exercises
  • Strategic memory building exercises
  • Vocabulary and phrase book reviews

4. Skype:     
     Many people take advantage of Skype and its free services. Typically you'll never have to pay for it unless you intend on making outbound calls to landlines or have multiple people group video calls. One may wonder what Skype has to do with learning Japanese. Remember Lang-8 and that whole, "making friends" opportunity? Well here is how you can speak live to your new Japanese friends who are looking to train their ears to English juxtaposed to you doing the same for their native tongue. A truly beautiful correlation, am I right?
Thank for reading!

Next blog will include absolutely Free alternatives followed by what methodologies I am partaking in. 
ja ne~
Options and Alternatives

     Now that we have established that there are ways beyond the conventionally advertised ways to learn Japanese, one may ask, "How do I know where to go and what to find?" This will be a guide to give a good idea of where to look for what along with finding what could be the best for you.

     Lets go over some of the basic things that are going to to be either required or desired as well as the many options that will be staples to be able to learn from many different facets:

  1. Monetary Options:
  • School/Classroom Environment:
         Studying in a classroom with an instructor will ease the need to have as many resources as many are naturally provided in the classroom environment such as having a set curriculum, many people to share studies with, and deadlines ergo pressure to learn. To some however, the pressure to learn something that they are completely new to under such pressure can turn them into a passive learner. Should this be the case the classroom can be set at a later stage of learning.
  • Rosetta Stone:
         As said before, Rosetta Stone can be really great for the visual learner. When I sampled it I found it very frustrating however, because it was using a method designed for someone who has no language. In other words they take that approach saying that it is taught the same way you learned your native language. The problem I had with that is I already know English, so why not take advantage of that and describe why things are the way they are in other languages like how particles work. Rosetta Stone did not help in this department for myself. Even still it is a good program catered for the people that learn through visual aid.
  • Pimsleur & Michel Thomas:
         These two are for the auditory learners(such as myself). They are really good as far as getting you right into conversation from the very first lesson and will explain why sentences work the way they do as well as tell you of alternative meaning of the same phrases & words. These instead of giving writing courses and drills up the yin yang, only ask you to relax and think about what you are hearing so you basically start with a couple words and build on around them as the courses go on until at some point you can make sentences on your own(Typically it is not long before you can express yourself).

  • Textbooks:
         It never hurts to own a textbook on learning a language on top of your studies. If fact that is one thing that I heavily endorse, not so much that you MUST have a textbook, but you should have multiple resources as to helping you see more aspects of the language at hand. This will help make connections faster and they will seem obvious. When something becomes obvious it is at that time concrete in your mind and expansion of the language follows nicely. :)  The following books are wuite popular as well as good textbooks to use: Youkoso- An Invitation to contemporary Japanese by Yasu-Hiko Tohsaku, Genki 2nd edition by Eri Banno, and Japanese the Spoken Language by Jordan & Noda.

    Next blog will include options that will have both free services as well as premium services.


    Greetings and welcome to Nipponosis!  There are many people that are seeking to learn a language on their own and they will hear about programs to help them learn, such as Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur. Out of these two you've most likely heard about Rosetta Stone much more often. But is Rosetta Stone really the best way to learn as it is so often advertised? Maybe it is a good option, but to truly be able to speak a language it will require at least some level of immersion. Granted that is what they say their program offers it may not provide everything a person needs to learn(Lets face it, true immersion would require a plane trip to Japan). On top of that not everybody learns in the same fashion. There are some people that are great learners by physically doing something; who would love to learn by moving to another country. There are some that need visuals; whom which Rosetta Stone would be a good alternative. Then there are auditory learners; whom would prefer a program more like Pimsleur or Michel Thomas which explains everything and is basically an auditory lesson through and through. For Rosetta stone to boast so highly that it is simply the best is seems to be no more than the actuality being that Rosetta Stone put out the most funds in advertising to me. I say this because I honestly do not believe that there is a single one perfect program when it comes to understanding another language and culture. Both language and culture are to be known if one is to travel to the the country of the language being studied because there will be mannerisms and body language trends that will be mixed into communication as well. So blatantly speaking may not be enough to really construe a thought that you feel as well as understanding what natives are saying to you beyond their words. Now it may seem like I really dislike Rosetta Stone, but it's not so much that as there may be other alternatives to it which could be more cost effective with a little help from the good folks around the world that would be more than happy to teach a little something for free or a much lower price considering that RS can be priced beyond $700.00 USD. Here I would like to share what I know, who I know of, and what you can do to better the experience of learning Japanese by not getting bored. Lets face it doing one thing can be boring, no matter how good it is, variation is a necessity for human beings. For example, if you had a nice juicy steak(assuming this is something you enjoy) all day everyday, chances are that by the end of a months time you would heavily desire something else to eat. Same goes with learning. Stagnation will cause a distress; and boredom will lead to giving up on what you once craved so badly.