Learning Japanese

Hello everyone.

I’ve got a friend who I’ve been talking to about LingQ and she is going to join shortly. She wants to learn Japanese (I think pretty much from scratch). Do you have any tips on how to get started in Japanese without getting too overwhelmed by such a ‘foreign’ writing system? Are there certain content items that you would recommend for complete beginners in Japanese? I’m going to hopefully sit down with her for a few hours and show her how to use LingQ (and hopefully pass on some of input-based language learning ideas) but I wouldn’t know where to start with Japanese.

Thanks in advance.

Have you read the message thread “How to start Japanese” in this forum?

I posted some advice there, and you can find more advice from other members.

Thanks nobuo. I hadn’t noticed that thread yet.

Hi Peter

Below is a reproduction of my comment from the thread ‘Can’t seem to get started’ in the forum.

‘Human Japanese’ is what helped me most when I got started in Japanese, because it includes a background on the Japanese language, a bit of history, and then a thourough and engaging intro to the writing system and basic grammar and vocab, and it’s free to download (at least the trial version is).

Nonetheless, your friend should definitely check out the other resources for learning Hiragana, Katakana and the Kanji (especially the first 2).

Ok, here’s what you do:

  1. Sign up for a free membership at

where you can learn the Kanji online using James Heisig’s system and have access to other learner’s mnemonic devices for the characters.

***2) Download Nihonaid from


which is a program you downlaod that utilizes mnemonics combines with Spaced Repetition Learning to maximize the rate at which you learn first Hiragana, then Katakana, then the Kanji.

  1. Go to


and try out Human Japanese, which is the best introduction to the writing system, grammar and vocabulary of Japanese I’ve seen.

  1. Invest in

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters
(http://www.amazon.com/Tuttle-Learning-Chinese-Cha racters-Revolutionary/dp/080483816X)

which, in my opinion, is even a step up from Heisig’s method.


Moreover, she can always rely on great Japanese tutors when she gets stack :wink: