Recommended Tools: Rikaichan, KanjiBox, Quizlet
Stage 1 is intended for those just beginning to study to early-intermediates of the language. Those who have never studied Japanese before as well as those who may want to just get a quick grasp of simple phrases before going to Japan will find the Basic/Survival Japanese sections most helpful. Hiragana and katakana (the two phonetic writing systems of Japanese) should preferably be learned right away, so it is advised that beginners use the Hiragana/Katakana section to their advantage. Absolute beginners will probably find the Reading Practice section too difficult, but the Grammar and Vocabulary-Building sections are suitable for their level. The Kanji section should be used after fully grasping hiragana and katakana. The JLPT-Specific section contains websites that will be most useful to those intending to take or study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, as the websites in that section have materials meant for the test (although all students should find the websites to be excellent resources).
This website is for those who want to supplement their basic knowledge of Japanese with situational conversations that they can listen to and read along with. Also contains core vocabulary lists and background grammar.
The BBC's basic guide to Japanese, with essential phrases and facts that any beginner to the language will find useful. Even those who are not serious about their Japanese language study will find these survival phrases helpful.
Learn about Japanese even without any previous experience in the language. This website gives a brief history and overview of the language with the information written in English, allowing those interested in studying Japanese to have background knowledge of the language before any formal language instruction.
Free online lessons pertaining to basic Japanese. Beginners to the language can use this website to study on their own. Lessons are broken up by subject, from hiragana and katakana to how to introduce yourself in Japanese to even how to ask for directions.
Both of these websites can be used to learn hiragana. Animated stroke orders are also available to assist with learning how to write the characters.
Both of these websites can be used to learn katakana. Animated stroke orders are also available to assist with learning how to write the characters.
A customizable game designed to help those who are beginning to learn hiragana and katakana. From the hiragana/katakana character that you are given, you enter the romaji equivalent to practice your reading ability (click the tabs to customize the characters that you would like to study).
This website has many basic Japanese grammar lessons, which you can use to study on your own. Lessons are arranged in a textbook-like format for easy reference.
Concise and informative guide to Japanese grammar, with vocabulary lists and practice exercises to use with the lessons. PDF and ipod touch/iphone versions are also available for portable studying.
Visualizing Japanese Grammar is a website that uses animated flash videos to explain basic to intermediate Japanese grammar. This website is helpful to those who are studying without an instructor, but it may even be useful to those studying with an instructor, especially students who need more visual aids in their studies.
Basic lists of Japanese words that include many commonly used nouns and phrases, a good way for beginners to start building their vocabulary.
This website is meant for Japanese elementary and middle school children, so it contains a lot of vocabulary you may not find in textbooks written in English! The lists have pictures near their readings, so even without a dictionary you will probably be able to understand what the words in the lists mean.
Learn Japanese through fairytales! With this website, you can practice your reading skills by looking at these traditional Japanese stories and folktales. English translations of each story are available, as well, so you can check your comprehension of the Japanese tales. Use with Rikaichan is recommended.→ Students' Comments
♥ One good way to check your understanding is to write your own translation of a story, then see how it compares to the website's creator's translation (although keep in mind that the website's creator isn't a native English speaker so not everything will match, of course).
Kanji drilling applet, based off JLPT levels or Jouyou kanji. You can click the various parts within the applet to show/hide them, so that you can use the program like you would use flashcards.
Kanji radical identification game! Good for improving recognition of the various parts of kanji. To play, just select that kanji that has the radical at the top of the screen before time runs out.
Practice drills for the Kyōiku Kanji! Select a grade, then you can choose whether to practice reading (よみかた) or writing (かきかた).
Yamasa Online Japanese Dictionary. Includes great kanji stroke-order animations!
Japanese study materials website. Includes many different flash quizzes to help improve your vocabulary, reading, and more!
Japanese Language Proficiency Test resource site. Includes kanji, grammar, and vocabulary resources!
Mock JLPT practice tests, in multiple-choice format for easy scoring and evaluation.
Meguro Language Center’s free online Japanese resources. This website also has a level checking page where you can get an estimate of your JLPT level!