A few weeks ago, I went over some great resources for learning the Japanese writing system. Now, I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite resources for studying vocabulary.
So far my favorite resource for studying vocabulary is through Memrise. It is available on the web and as a mobile app (iOS and Android) and uses a spaced repetition learning system (SRS), which is a set of algorithms that scientifically calculate how often a word should be placed in front of an individual in order for them to remember it and retain it long term. Each word is also accompanied by an image, catchy phrases and sound (called mems) to help with the memorization. You can use the mems that are included with the lessons or you can create your own.
Clayton MacKnight from JLPTBootcamp has created a series of Japanese vocabulary decks for Memrise based on JLPT test levels. I’ll go over these tests in another post, but basically they rank from N5 (easiest) up to N1 (hardest).
Another resource that I can’t live without is Imiwa, which is a Japanese dictionary for iOS (sorry Android users). This is an amazingly useful app that I leave open at all times, since I’m constantly referring to it.
You can look up words in English, Japanese romanized, kanji or kana. It also has a very handy feature that lets you look up kanji by component (I’ll cover how to do that in another article). Any word you look up can be added to a list to study later.
And, you can also copy a word or phrase from another app and it will automatically look it up from the clipboard when you switch to Imiwa. If it’s a single word, it will automatically open the results in the dictionary – or if it’s a phrase, it will automatically open it up in the analyzer and break it down for you.
There is also a QR Magic feature that lets you transfer text from your computer to the Imiwa app through a QR code-generating bookmarklet that you can add to your favorites in your computer browser.
It’s not just Japanese – English, either. It supports translations into French, German and Russian as well if you’re not a native English speaker.
It would be worth every penny if it were a paid app, but it’s not – it’s free. If you like what you see, consider donating to them on their website.
Lets Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary
And last but not least, I also found the Lets Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary (ISBN# 0071408274) to be very useful since you’re going back to the basics and learning Japanese just the way you learned English when you were a kid – through words and picture association.
I also took it a little further with my vocabulary and placed little cards on various objects around my house so that I could see the word as I look at the object.
Next time, I will go over resources for studying grammar.