Don't know where to start? I've got you covered.
This is a response to 5 Things You Have To Do In Tokyo.
If hundreds of Kit Kat flavors (among them is purple sweet potato), restaurants where you don't have to talk to anyone and rabbit islands aren't enough of a reason to learn Japanese, I don't know what is!
Jokes aside, if your goal is to pass JLPT N5 (the first level of the Japanese Proficiency Test), you're surely asking around and trying not to swamp your notes with thousands of links. Been there, done that. It's safe to say that hoarding is my weak spot, and many of us share that habit. Bearing all this in mind, where should you start? Out of all the existing resources, which ones are beginner-friendly?
Hiragana & Katakana Practice Workbook, Coto Academy
Your starting point should be as painless as possible. Hiragana, katakana, and kanji are the three writing systems used in Japanese. I advise you to pick up on Hiragana first. Katakana is next in line.
Ideally, you can dedicate around 30 minutes up to an hour of your day to mastering these writing systems - with this workbook, that would be one page per day (around 5-10 new letters, plus six words listed below the character table).
All of us (hi, Gen Z) want to find fast and easy solutions, but acing a language test is all but a piece of cake. That's why we'll stick with all things simple, yet useful.
How Many Words Do Natives Know?
The estimated number of words known by native speakers can vary depending on factors such as educational background, reading habits, and personal experiences. While there is no definitive answer, here's a general guideline:
- Elementary School Level: 5,000 to 20,000 words
- Middle School Level: 20,000 to 40,000 words
- High School Level: 40,000 to 45,000 words
- University Level: 45,000 to 50,000 words
How Many Words Should a Beginner Know?
If you're a beginner aiming to pass the JLPT N5, learn around 800 widely used words and 100 kanji characters. JLPT Sensei's site involves a comprehensive list of all the necessary words you may stumble upon when studying for JLPT N5!
If you're interested in reading more, check out Tatsuhiko Matsushita's thesis, "In What Order Should Learners Learn Japanese Vocabulary?"
What About Tumblr?
Another secret tool you can use to your advantage is - Tumblr. Believe it or not, countless threads are expounding on this topic. Here is an all-encompassing list of everything that helped me make sense of my messy folder. Never underestimate the power of Tumblr.
- Tokidoki Tokyo (helpful vocab lists);
- Buchi & Pichi (their Tumblr account provides practical tips, fun quizzes, and cute illustrations - I highly recommend using resources from this site if you're a beginner! Buchi and Pichi even have an illustrated book for Hiragana practice);
- Seitokai Discord server (you're at the perfect spot if you're seeking an accountability buddy, want to join a Japanese book club, or need speaking practice. Additionally, grammar and kanji are divided based on the proficiency level you're looking for);
- Online Japanese Accent Dictionary (the site is a bit out-of-date and difficult to use at first, but still extremely valuable. This particular dictionary encompasses over 9000 nouns and 3500 declinable words);
- Burgeoning Ambition (worth checking out on Tumblr);
- Jp Hurts (in his first Tumblr post, Dylan shares his learning process. Take his advice, Dylan shared a tool he's currently using);
- Beginner Japanese Resources thread.
Buy yourself a Kit Kat!
Go to the store and buy yourself a Kit Kat. Why? This probably sounds random, but everything is symbolic when we're talking about Japan. Kit Kats are more than just a sweet treat.
"Kit Kat sounds a lot like the Japanese word for kittokatsu ('you're bound to win'). It started when students were taking exams, and people would say, 'Let's cheer them on with Kit Kats!' Today, students receive a Kit Kat as a gesture of luck and good wishes," says Yuji Takeuchi. Yuji is a Marketing Manager at Nestlé, in Japan.
Why wait any longer? Take those workbooks and treat yourself to a Kit Kat! Sweet purple potato flavor would make a great choice.