Our Japanese Curriculum: Loosely Assembled
Alina and I have been been doing a lot of studying these past few months
(まいにち, たくさん べんきょうしています),
and I'd like to share some of the resources we've been using, as well as many that
we've assembled ourselves. Most of this is stuff we've developed ourselves on
our journey, but there are also a bunch of references to existing publications
- Jisho.org: Jisho is a powerful Japanese-English
dictionary. This has come in quite handy for looking up words in English, romaji, and hiragana.
Consult the sample searches before you begin, as this will make it more useful to you.
- Google translate: I'll admit
I have much better luck when searching for hiragana than I do with romaji, but this can
be pretty helpful. I often begin with romaji, find the hiragana, and then re-run my
orginal query in hiragana (to make sure both answers match). "Level of formality" is
non-existent here, so caveat emptor.
- Japanese Verb Conjugator:
An awesome reference for verb conjugations, and from what I can tell, is fairly
exhaustive when they have a verb in their system.
- Puni Puni Japan: I like this
site for it's simple and straightforward presentation of counters. I haven't explored a
lot of it but from what I can tell the lessons are pretty great.
and Writing Japanese Hiragana: A Character Workbook for Beginners.
This book is wonderful, and we used it in conjunction with a handful of
worksheets below (in the next section). It's worth it to go through the
entire book - there are some great exercises for both reading and writing.
and Writing Japanese Katakana: A Character Workbook for Beginners.
Also wonderful, same notes apply to this book as well.
About Particles, by Naoko Chino. This book is wickedly helpful, as it begins with the two most elemental
particles ("wa" and "ga"), and the sample sentences are clear and concise, and you can build your
vocabulary up as you go.
Dictionary of Japanese Particles. This is such a great book. It
lists ~150 Japanese particles and has usage examples for each, grouped
by specific use (most Japanese particles have multiple uses). Go one
particle at a time (start with something simple like "ya", "yo", or "ne").
Handbook of Japanese Verbs. Such a wonderful book. It demystifies Japanese
verbs by walking through the simple and elegant way that Japanese verbs
are conjugated. Your understanding of how verbs are transformed will have
a huge impact on your Japanese.
of Modern Japanese Grammar. This is a great book that you should set aside for the first
few months of your journey. Begin to consult it when you're running into multiple predicates,
or and other similar non-trivial sentence structure.
- A Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese. For
Kanji, we're using this book. I've had a hard time finding a goo Kanji book (some lack stroke order, some seem
fairly random in their presentation. We needed a single book that had an interesting number of Kanji in it
that we could study in order.
Note: All of the following are single-sheet PDFs, except the 1st one, which is 10 pages.
- Hiragana Practice
Sheets: You can start on hiragana right now with this PDF. It will walk you though most
of the characters and has the stroke order included.
- One Column Exercises: Once
you learn some of the initial characters (a..o [あ..お], ka..ko [か..こ], sa..so [さ..そ]),
you can use this sheet to randomize them
and practice multiple characters at the same time.
- Two Column Exercises: As
you learn more characters (a..o [あ..お], ka..ko [か..こ], sa..so [さ..そ], ta..to [た..と]),
move on to this sheet and work right to left (once I did one pass on this, I'd cover
my previous work with a blank sheet of paper and do my 2nd pass, thus the "work right to left").
- Four Column Exercises: This
one is all characters except ma..mo [ま..も], wo [を], n [ん], ya [や], yu [ゆ], and yo [よ].
- Four Column Exercises: All
- Wordlist 1: We
made some fun hiragana/katakana wordlists from the books in the previous section. The left-hand side is
hiragana, the right-hand side is katakana.
- Wordlist 2
These are just for practicing your hiragana and katakana by mixing up the character combinations.
- Wordlist 3
The page numbers of the respective books are written in the margins for reference.
- Wordlist 4
I'll endeavor to make more of these. They're fun to fill out. A relaxing meditation on kana, I think.
- Exceptions List:
We took the exceptions from both hiragana and katakana and turned them into a worksheet. Page
numbers are referenced.
- Katakana Practice Sounds:
Katakana has some "contracted sounds", as well as some "innovative sounds". We put these into
a worksheet. The "gekko is for fun (go ahead, draw a ゲッコ
on the worksheet / we do!).
Once you're all done with these worksheets, I'd proceed to the "Part 2"
sections of the hiragana and katakana workbooks:
- Reading and Writing Japanese Hiragana: Page 44
- Reading and Writing Japanese Katakana: Page 42
Note: All of the following are PDFs.
and Colors: A list of some very common and useful words.
of the Month (and some time-related terms).
common adjectives (big, small, far, near, etc)
useful expressions (hajimemashte, etc)
useful expressions for greeting
("when will you be ready", etc)
more useful/common words (father, mother, head, face, etc)
- All time,
date, weeks, months, years, etc (last year, this year, next year, etc)
- Wordlist 25/26
(misc nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc)
- Wordlist 27/28
- Wordlist 34/35
- Wordlist 37/38
- Wordlist 39/40
- Wordlist 41/42
- Wordlist 43/44
Alina and I made some
snappy verb conjugation flash cards.
We've printed a couple of sets of these and will endeavor to make them available
via the website soon.
Japanese verbs have many, many conjugations, and so we decided to focus
on the most essential nine of them as we began to learn the language.
We've picked up a number of new conjugations along the way, and
they're making it into our "Sentence Practice"
Perhaps one of the best things we made are these sentence worksheets, putting
together some decently interesting sentences to flex subject-verb order,
verb tense, multiple predicates, and of course the vocabulary we've
been working on.
We'll endeavor to post the "answers" as we create them. A handful of the
worksheets already have their associated hiragana, also posted below.
These are limited to hiragana and katakana... we've included some katakana
for words like Seattle (シアトル), Bubble Tea (タピオカティー), and
Note that the romaji is only there in case you need to reference it
because you simply can't remember something. We usually cover that
section of the page with a blank envelope while writing out the
Note: All of the following are PDFs.
We started studying some of the common particles and made some
exercises to start test-driving these. On the short list
is "ne" and "yo", but these are all I have for now.
Note: All of the following are PDFs.
We've learned enough counters that we need some worksheets. Each of these sheets
has ~six counters on it, with slots for 1..10, and at the bottom of each
column is the 1,2,3 for the counter (if you need a memory jog).
- Counters 00 has numbers, generic counters, animals (tanuki, ushi, lisu, and amai inu!) age, minutes, days.
- Counters 01 has weeks, nights, small thin things (pens), thin things (sheets of paper), books/volumes, small objects.
- Counters 02 has seconds, hours, months, years.
We finally started making some decent kanji worksheets based on
A Guide to Reading and
Writing Japanese from the booklist above.
The goal here is to be able to re-visit sets of kanji multiple times (the book itself doesn't
contain worksheets, but it does have an awesome set of very useful kanji, along with
stoke count and order, as well as definitions and references, so it's a wonderful list.
Here's the current set of Kanji worksheets: