Here are some useful sites for studying Japanese and Chinese. I will keep posting more useful links as I find them.
Is there a cool site I should be looking at? Let me know in the comments!
(Updated 2010/6/25) Added Grammar Guide iPhone app
- Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC – This site has an extensive Japanese to English dictionary with example sentences and an equally extensive Kanji dictionary with animated stroke orders for all of the 常用漢字. The multiple radical search method is also the easiest way I’ve found for searching for kanji (outside of copying and pasting). Unfortunately, it’s almost useless as an English to Japanese dictionary.
- 英辞郎 – A great dictionary with a huge number of expressions and example sentences in both English and Japanese. I especially recommend this dictionary for English to Japanese lookups since it has the ability to search a surprisingly large range of English expressions.
- Yahoo!辞書 – I highly recommend this dictionary if you are an advanced learner of Japanese. It’s a dictionary for Japanese speakers so you’ll get Japanese definitions of English words instead of translations (which never works anyway). There’s also lots of example sentences in the definitions and I prefer it now over goo 辞書.
- Denshi Jisho – Despite the misleading name, Denshi Jisho has nothing to do electronic dictionaries. Instead, it’s a great new interface to the WWWJDIC dictionary. It’s not just a pretty, new face, it adds a variety of neat features such as instant partial results in the multi-radical kanji lookup. In addition, you can use * to conduct wild card searches, which is great for cheating on the 四字熟語 game on 「もっと脳を鍛える」. I’m sure there are other great features but the biggest disadvantage, compared to the WWWJDIC, is the lack of stroke order diagrams. (Perhaps due to copyright reasons.) It would also be nice to have a mirror in my area like the WWWJDIC does because it tends to be slow at times.
- Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar – My guide to Japanese grammar. I really hate to blow my own horn since I’m not even finished yet but other grammar resources usually use only romaji, which makes them completely useless for learning real Japanese.
- Grammar Guide iPhone app – The grammar guide on the iPhone. This app was written by Ronald Timoshenko.
- Jgram – A wiki approach to Japanese grammar. It has short English definitions for a wide variety of grammar organized by JLPT level and accompanied with examples sentences.
- MLC Meguro Language Center – An amazing resource for studying the JLPT and all for free! You can download hundreds of pages of study material in PDF format.
- JLPT Study Page – A very helpful site for studying the JLPT for levels 3 and 4. It has a variety of sample problems from past exams so it’ll really give you a good idea of what the JLPT is like. The site has a forum as well. Unfortunately, level 2 is hardly covered and level 1 not at all. Since the JLPT is useless as a credential unless you pass level 1, I look forward to seeing more material for the higher levels.
- Read the Kanji – Fill in the reading for highlighted word in a sentence. Kana and N5 levels are free but higher levels require a monthly subscription fee.
- Nippon VoiceBlog – The name speaks for itself. Each entry in this blog features a narrative about various topics in Japanese. It even offers podcasting so that you can listen on the go. The site now has transcripts so it’s also a great resource for picking up new vocabulary. The narratives themselves are fairly interesting and you’ll probably learn some interesting trivia such as the origin of umeboshi.
- ECIS インターネット放送局 – A large number of videos on various topics in quicktime and real player divided into three levels. Transcript of video and quizzes are provided as well. All speakers are native but I can just barely tell that the male on the other line of the phone conversations is not. You can find more videos here, as well.
- NIHONGO-JUKU – There seems to be all sorts of audio blogs popping up for Japanese lately and NIHONGO-JUKU is one of the better ones geared for intermediate to advanced learners. Each podcast comes with an complete transcript.
- Japanesepod101 – I haven’t used this site myself but I did manage to find a direct link to their podcasts. They have a lot of audio material that should be useful. Unfortunately, transcripts are not available with a free account.
Free Learning Tools
- rikaichan (Firefox extension) – A very popular firefox extension that provide mouse-over definitions for Japanese. The constant mouse popups might get a little annoying but you can set a hotkey to easily turn them on or off.
- 理解.com – For those of you who don’t use firefox or don’t want to install anything, this website will also translate words on Japanese websites by providing popup definitions. Unfortunately, this site is blocked at my work so I’ve never tried it myself.
- WaKan (Windows-only) – I can’t say too much about this program since I couldn’t get the fonts to work but I hear it’s a great tool for learning Japanese. The features page has more detailed descriptions and screenshots so you might want to check it out.
- JWPce – It’s been a while since I last used this program but I mainly used it as an offline dictionary before I bought my electronic dictionary. The word processor function is very clunky and practically useless but the program is still a useful tool as a substitute for WWWJDIC when you can’t get online. But first, I suggest you download the newest version of edict to update the dictionary.
- The Mixxer – A free educational community for language learners and teachers to find a language partner for a language exchange. The language partner is someone who speaks the language you study as their native language and is studying your native language. The partners then meet online to help each other practice and learn a foreign language.
- Lang-8 – You can write journal entries in any language and have native speakers correct your writing. You can of course correct other people’s writing in your native language. So far, I find the community very friendly and helpful and highly recommend this site.
- 教えて！goo – Not really a social network in the traditional sense but I use this site when I have a question for native Japanese people. In particular, the 国語 category is where you can ask questions about Japanese in Japanese.
- Dict.cn 海词 – A great English<->Chinese dictionary with loads of example sentences. The traditional version is here.
- Chinesepod.com – Podcast for learning Chinese. This site was a lot better before they took out the transcript from the free downloads. It’s a great resource if you’re willing to pay the membership fee. Or you can get the free trial and download as much as you can before it runs out!
Free Learning Tools
- Chinese perapera-kun – Firefox plugin that shows mouse-over popups for Chinese both traditional and simplified. In my experience, the dictionary could be better but it still works pretty well. It’s already upgraded for Firefox 3!
- Google Pinyin – A great free Pinyin input program for Windows. I like it a lot better than the built-in IME. You can also easily switch to traditional characters.