Language is hard.

It’s always been a goal of mine to be bilingual. I took Spanish in middle school and high school and didn’t do so caliente. I tried my hand at Korean in college and hoped my genetics might help me out. Maybe I’m not actually Korean. I’ve stopped and started Duolingo more times than a car in city traffic. Either I’m stupidly persistent or persistently stupid but I’m trying again. This time with Japanese. It’s probably not the easiest language to choose to learn but I watch the occasional anime so at least it could prove useful.

I’ve been at it for about two weeks now and I’ve managed to learn how to read and write hiragana, one of the three writing systems used in Japan. Another writing system used for words foreign to Japanese is katakana and I’m about halfway through that.

Reflecting upon my progress so far is cool. I didn’t have any real expectations coming in for how fast I would progress and given the amount of time I’m able to study, I’m pretty excited so far. I think a lot of it has to do with the learning tools I’ve chosen and I wanted to share the ones I’m using.

The main educational resource is an app called Human Japanese. The author/teacher makes learning Japanese approachable by allaying many of the fears that beginning students might have. He successfully convinced me that Japanese is a much simpler language than English and removed a lot of doubt which can sometimes be an insurmountable mental obstacle. This app isn’t free. It’s $10. I tried the lite version before buying. When I finally did purchase, I bought the beginner and intermediate apps together for $14, separately they’d cost $20. Figured it was worth it since I envisioned myself sticking with it. As far as mobile apps go, it’s on the pricier end, but I assure you it’s worth the money as it has audio of native speakers, great explanations, and interactive exercises. The small cost incurred is motivating in my opinion. By paying for it, you’ll have to use it to get any kind of return.

The beginning is dedicated to learning the writing system and while I could’ve written in a notebook, instead I opted for another app: Practice Writing Hiragana. It’s a simple app which costs 99 cents and shows you how to write each syllable in hiragana or you can turn off the guides and test your memory. I also use it for practicing my katakana though there are no guides for it in the app. Human Japanese shows how each character is written in detail so the guides for katakana in the app are unnecessary. I believe there’s a katakana app for 99 cents from the same developer but I really don’t think it’s necessary to buy both. You may be fretting about another expense but honestly it’s a quality app with no frustrating ads.

My last resource is actually an app created by the same company responsible for Duolingo called Tiny Cards. I’m creating a deck for each chapter of Human Japanese to help me memorize vocabulary, grammar, and phrases. I’ll be tweeting out the links to each deck I create and if I remember I’ll make a master list somewhere of all the decks I make.

This is the path I’ve chosen but there are many more. My path isn’t free but it’s a guided learning path from one teacher and so far I like the pace, progression, and organization.

My next step will be to get a language partner. In person preferably. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet but when I am, I’ll detail how I went about it.

Until next time!