Beginners Guide to Learning Japanese

Hello, this is my first time blogging so I don't really know how to go about this but I thought it might be nice to have something up for those of you who are wanting to learn Japanese but don't really know where to begin! I hope this helps you and if you have any questions feel free to ask me, answers are always free!

The first thing you need to do when learning Japanese is to start learning your Kana systems. There are two Japanese Kana systems: Hiragana and Katakana. Hiragana is used to write everyday Japanese (without Kanji) and Katakana is used for sounding out foreign words such as non-Japanese names, places, foods, etc. Once you have learned the Kana system you can then also learn Kanji. Kanji dictionaries and most books use a THIRD Kana system called Furigana BUT don't worry...its simply tiny little Hira/Katakana symbols above the Kanji that tell you how its pronounced, this also makes it easier for you to look up the meaning of the word without already knowing the Kanji. You can find Hira/Katakana charts all over the internet. For Kanji I would suggest using books such as Basic Kanji 500 I and II. This covers the first 500 need-to-know Kanji. The Genki series of books also has a Kanji look-and-learn book but its hard to find and a little expensive. You can also use websites such as: jlpt-kanji for learning levels of Kanji. Also has an all inclusive learning package full of listening practice, Kanji practice sheets, exercises etc. Its requires montly payment but it is by far one of the best programs I have used. Their Kanji order is a little advanced though so I suggest using other books/sites for Kanji study. Another awesome site is Erin's Challenge! its run by the Japan Foundation for JLPT and is completely free! It gives videos, audio, grammar lessons, etc. The only disadvantage is that is expects you to already know Hiragana and some very very basic Kanji. The Japanese from Zero books are very good and they don't cost a lot. They also run the website called Yes!Japan and work a lot like JapanesePod101 only they are a little cheaper BUT they are targeted to young adults, so if you are a kid or teen, or you have a kid or teen, who wants to learn Japanese then I highly suggest these books and the website combined.

So anyway, I hope this helps you get started on your journey into Japanese. If you need any help along the way please remember that I am a certified tutor for Japanese. I can help you the most with grammar and Kanji. Hope to meet you soon!


Hey Bri, If you are local you could always try to find someone to speak with in Japanese. The Japanese program at UT Knoxville has a Japanese Table (its free) that meets weekly where you can go and meet Japanese students and Professors to practice listening/speaking with. Most large colleges do so even if your not from around my area you should be able to find a program like that. There are also a lot of online programs where you can sign up to get a Skype partner to speak with, just search around on the net and your sure to find one. The good ones (legitimate)usually cost a small fee but sometimes the free ones are good too. You could also find a tutor who is willing to just "chat" with you, again a college campus is a good place to look.
Hey David! If your in Knoxville, the UTK Japanese Table is held on Mondays from 4-5pm at the I-House. You can find the address on the website but with winter here they probably wont be meeting again until the Spring semester starts.


Andrea G.

English/ESL Tutor

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