New Year’s Challenge: Progress Report #001

Hi guys! So if you don’t already know what this is about, then the outline for my New Year’s Challenge is something you can find on this post: Can You Really Learn a Language For Free? The basic gist of the challenge is (if you don’t have time to read that whole post):

  • I’m going to learn Japanese for a while this year (for at least the first 100 days).
  • I can only use free (legally free) online materials to learn the language.

With that recap, let’s see what I’ve been up to, shall we?

New Year's Challenge Progress #001

Okay, so what have I done so far? (01.01.2016-10.01.2016)

Well, I spent some of my first day reading about Japanese in general, learning a little (some of which I already knew) about the three different scripts – Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji – as well as about the language in general.

I read some of this on (the general overview) and decided that my first port of call would be to learn Hiragana. I started working on The Ultimate Guide to Learning Hiragana at, which is a great guide, though I haven’t finished it yet. I like that it takes you through the kana step-by-step, giving you time to focus on each one, though it takes a lot longer than I was expecting. I stopped working on this at the ya, yu, yo (や、ゆ、よ) kana and I haven’t picked it up since, though I think I’ll go back and finish it off within the next ten days.

I then used a Memrise course to solidify the meanings of the Hiragana I’d already learnt (and finish the basic Hiragana I hadn’t): Basic Hiragana 1. This was great, because using the tofugu guide meant that I’d learnt the kana I’d studied pretty well already and so I could more or less breeze through them. There are a couple I still get confused sometimes (いandりwere difficult because I didn’t see the differences side-by-side at first), but I’ve mostly got the basic ones down.

By this point, I was getting pretty bored, so I started using the free (iOS and android) app Mondly, which seems to have a similar premise to duolingo. I do think I started using this early: I didn’t and still don’t recognise all the kana, so I have to check the words/sentences and write them out – and I’ve noticed that after the first set of lessons (‘Hello’), you have to pay for further topics. However, they do offer a free daily lesson, which are more advanced, but I’ve copied out the sentences in the lessons and I can use them to review later.

After I realised the app wasn’t really getting me anywhere, I started googling for basic Japanese courses and found these lessons offered through NHK World, which seems to be a Japanese radio station: Easy Japanese. They have 37 lessons up so far, each consisting of a ten minute podcast and pdf that takes you through a dialogue, one or two grammar points and some extra information.

I really think this series is pretty cool, although the lessons are short and if you’re really working at it, you’d be done with them fairly quickly. Still, I’ve made it through three lessons and learnt these grammatical points:

  • AはBです。
  • これは何ですか。
  • AのB
  • Aはどこですか。
  • ここ、そこ、あそこ、どこ

(And what I’ve just learnt from that is though writing in Hiragana is fine, writing Kanji seems to be difficult on the computer… so I have to figure that out.)

None of these grammar points are too difficult (especially since some of them are so similar to Mandarin – の seems to act like 的 (de) in the example above, for instance), but it’s difficult remembering exactly how to write them and since they’re touched on so briefly in the lessons, I need to practise my own sentences too.

One other thing I’ve been doing is taking part in the Instagram Language Challenge again, which is nice because it’s all beginner-style words and phrases this month, though I’m not sure how to tackle those verbs. Still, I’m only four days behind 😉 and I’m picking up and practising the phrases I’ll probably need a lot.

My aim for the next ten days is to:

  • Finish the Tofugu Hiragana guide.
  • Do at least five more Easy Japanese lessons.
  • Write at least ten sentences using grammatical structures I have learnt and put them on lang-8 for correction. (Probably a self-introduction.)
  • Find out how to write Kanji and Hiragana on the computer.

And here are the links for everything I mentioned above (and anything else I’ve used so far): The Ultimate Guide to Learning Hiragana
Memrise: Basic Hiragana 1
Memrise: Basic Hiragana 2
NHK World: Easy Japanese
Lindsay Does Languages: Instagram Language Challenge Prompts January 2016

So, that’s my first ten days of learning Japanese. Do you have any other resources you’d recommend? And if you decided to learn a new language this year, how’s it going? Let me know!


    • Ah yes, I haven’t used this much (I think I used it to ask about something in German once), but the app is still sitting on my phone, waiting to be used – so thanks for the tip and the reminder! 🙂 It’ll definitely come in handy, I think.

  1. I had been studying Japanese for 3 years but gave up after my university exchange program. To write kanji on your laptop you need to install the Japanese keyboard. To read Japanese easily, I recommend using the add ons rikaisama or rikaichan. When you hover your mouse over a word, you get the pronunciation and a translation and meaning. Also I used to go on for motivation and tips, it’s a great resource. I read daily to get used to kanji and grammar. I hope it will help you.
    I am studying English, thankfully there are lots of great resources online. It’s been a few years so I’d say I’m at the intermediate level now. Watching TV shows without subtitles is amazing :p

    • Thanks so much for all of this! I’ve got the Japanese keyboard, I just need to work out how to change some of the hiragana to kanji… but I think a quick google should fix that. But yay, more resources! 😀 This is so helpful. I hope one day I can watch Japanese shows without subtitles like you’re doing with English. 😉

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