If you are just starting out with Japanese (approximately JLPT N5 level), here are a few suggestions.
First, if you do not know hiragana or katakana yet, we recommend starting there. Click here to use our online lesson page (this is part of the free TheJapanesePage.com, but all the content below is for subscribers only).
If you know hiragana, get started with one of the options below.
Do you need to practice your basic reading skills?
Each of these short (and entertaining) essays or stories have three versions of the text: hiragana with spaces, full Japanese with furigana (small hiragana over the kanji), and full Japanese without furigana (to practice reading without help).
While you read, check the full glossary for any words you may not know. Listen to the story read slowly or normal speed too.
Makoto is a digital magazine with all the good stuff not usually found in textbooks. It has articles on Japanese grammar, kanji, culture, and art. Each issue will also include a complete short story with a running gloss, grammar explanations, and two MP3s of the story (normal speed and slower).
You have access to ALL Makoto back issues online!
Listen, in English, to a story or essay on some aspect of Japanese folklore, history, or culture. We will start off by going through (once or twice a month) the 17 stories in Lafcadio Hearn's famous collection of scary stories and folktales, Kwaidan.
A sentence is chosen from the Japanese news each week on a current events topic. The audio (both slow and normal speed) is set to loop over and over again. Please read through the vocabulary list to make sure you understand what you are hearing and then try to shadow or mimic what you are hearing.
While these sentences are intermediate to advanced level, we recommend it for even beginners. This is to improve pronunciation as well as learning vocabulary words that are in vogue this week.
We are here to help. If you have any questions or need advice what to do next, just let us know.