Learning Japanese | Vocab & Phrases

Learning Japanese | Phrases & Grammar

MindSnacks Japanese

Hands down, my absolute favorite app thus far. It’s only on iphone/ipad, but it’s totally worth it if you own one. It’s free for the first lesson but I paid the $4.99 to access the rest. It’s amazing. If you’ve ever used the MindSnacks app before, you know that you learn key phrases through fun games, where it doesn’t feel like learning. This has given me very useful grammar phrases, like greetings, food, and numbers (so important!) and also teaches you in either romaji, kana, or kanji, so you can learn based on what you want. Personally, I already knew I wouldn’t be learning kanji so I focused on learning in kana.

Japanese from Zero

I admit, I got this book because it was one of the cheapest on Amazon, and had good reviews. I’m not disappointed. I’m making my way veryyyyy slowly through this and making flashcards with each lesson. So far it’s been very helpful – easy to follow, with manageable lessons. I think it’s been a great resource for the price, especially if you’re looking to learn at a leisurely pace.


I’ve only just downloaded Anki, but every article I’ve read says Anki is one of the best tools out there. It’s like a really powerful, pre-made flashcard software you download on your computer. I’ve downloaded a few decks so far and what I’ve found really helpful is the audio, and the way you can mark up or bookmark specific cards. We’ll see if I keep using this in the next few weeks.


Speaking of flashcards, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Chegg (an app on my phone) has a lot of decks in Japanese that you can download and study with. Or, like Anki, you can create your own (though I prefer to use ones people have already made). Unlike Anki, however, there’s no audio but I like the simple interface of being able to “turn over” cards. Because these are student-made, you’ll find everything from full kanji, words in hiragana, and words in romaji.


I mentioned this in my previous post, but that was for learning Basic Japanese, and I have moved on to learning the JLPT N5 vocab (though there isn’t a focus on learning kanji; it quizzes you based on hiragana and katakana, so if you learned that, you’ll be fine taking these courses). I wouldn’t call the terms I’m learning particularly useful for a vacation to Japan, but they’re basic words you’d learn in any language so it’s still interesting and of value to me.


As always, I’d love for you to share your favorite language-learning apps and tricks!

Posted by Kyla in japanese, 0 comments

Learning Japanese | Hiragana

Learning Japanese | Hiragana

The first lesson to learn in Japanese is the alphabet hiragana. I want to preface this, in that I’ve been using workbooks and other apps in tandem with learning hiragana, but I’ll get to those in a separate post. For now, we’ll focus on hiragana.

I decided to dedicate at least 15 – 30 minutes each day practicing, because let’s face it – I’m not a student, I have a full-time job and life obligations. But I’ve learned that this set amount of time if perfect for me – everyone works at their own pace and it’s important to set yours.

I have already memorized this alphabet, so I wanted to share the best resources I found. I tried over 30 different apps and sites, and these are my favorites (in no particular order!):

Tofugu’s Ultimate Guide to Learning Hiragana

This site uses mnemonics to memorize the characters in a cute, friendly, easy-to-use interface. Honestly I found a lot of the mnemonics far-fetched, but they offered amazing worksheets after each lesson to practice. I highly recommend using this website as a resource when learning hiragana. Seriously. Print out the practice sheets and bring them with you… I have a stack sitting at work that I’ll practice on daily.

Kana Invaders

OK, so this is probably my favorite tool since it’s a game. I recommend learning most of the hiragana characters before playing since it’s a fast-paced shooting type game, but you can practice with the basics if you need to. Use this as a ‘test’ after you feel confident recognizing the characters. It’s addicting!

Hiragana & Katakana – free app

This was one of the first apps I downloaded to my phone. While the interface is clunky and looks like it hasn’t been updated in 6 years, it works. It’s the best “digital flashcard” resource I’ve found, and has a nice endless quiz option at the end of each lesson to help memorize the characters.


Kitty from Kitty and Buck actually recommended this to me on my last post! Memrise itself has great reviews, but I only downloaded it last week. So far it seems pretty good for basic vocab, but I haven’t actually gotten to learning any hiragana characters. Maybe if I use it more, those lessons will come.


Yes, when all else fails, make some good old fashioned flash cards. Highly effective.

Once you learn hiragana, you can start picking out characters in restaurants and shows and sound them out. Even if I don’t know what the word means, it’s pretty satisfying to be able to read ^^

Posted by Kyla in japanese, 3 comments

Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese

Hi everyone! So normally I don’t post very personal things here, but as you could guess from the post title, I’m attempting to learn Japanese, on my own. Not to master the language, obviously, but enough to hold a basic conversation and read common phrases.

I wanted to share my journey in trying to learn as much as I can over the next year, since in 2016 I’ll be taking a trip to Tokyo – my ultimate dream destination. I’m beyond thrilled. There’s no set date yet, either spring or fall, but I want to learn as much of the language in that time as I can. I’ve already started learning a few months ago, but since my blog was on hiatus I’m just posting this now.

I also can’t stress this enough – I’m doing this for fun, because learning new things is exciting.. I’m fully aware I’m embarking on this on my own, and know it’s no small undertaking, but I like learning new things and want to be as prepared for my trip as possible. Plus…have I mentioned it’s fun?

The proper way to lean any language is to learn from a native speaker or take classes, but since I don’t have either option available to me, I’m doing it alone. And I’m determined to do it right, and use the best resources available.

I’m planning on doing a series of posts, highlighting the best tools I’ve found, the best apps, best books, etc. as I go on this journey. If you’re interested in following along, great! I’d love to have you. And if any of my readers speak Japanese, PLEASE tell me if I’m doing something wrong! Seriously. (Like…is my banner correct? I used a translate service so if it’s wrong let me know!) I’m excited to share in this journey with you! Look for the first “real” post next week ^^

Posted by Kyla in japanese, 3 comments