Date: 2017年5月13日
Resource: Genki I

Each chapter of Genki consists of the following sections:

  • Dialogue


  • Voc
  • Grammar
    • Culture note
  • Expression notw
  • Pracice


Date: 2017年五月11日
Resource: Genki I


  • Although おはよう translates to “Good morning”, it can be used casually when seeing a co-worker for the first time that day in the afternoon or at night. Based on my personal experience, I would say this varies between from person to person, because I have a Japanese friend who always says 「おはようじゃねぇよ!!」 when I say this to him in the evening.
  • さようなら sounds quite dramatic, and is mainly used between school children and their teachers. 「じゃあ、また」(between friends) and 「しつれいします」 (leaving e.g. a teacher’s office) are other ways of excusing oneself. My personal favourite is 「じゃあ、ね!」
  • すみません:(1) “Excuse me” to get another person’s attention
    (2) “I’m sorry” to apologise for the trouble you have caused
    (3) “Thank you” to show appreciation for what someone has done for youThe fact that the same expression may be used to express gratitude as for an apology gives a lot of insight into the Japanese culture, I think. This is definitely something worth keeping in mind as learning a language is, as they say, learning the culture.
  • いいえ means “no” in response to a question, but can also mean “Don’t mention it” or “You’re welcome”. Through Genki II I have learned there is more you can add to this expression to make it sound more natural in context, but we’ll get to that later 😉
  • おじぎ:bowing. A longer and deeper bow is more formal and respectful (as one would expect)

Update: Back after 3 Years!







Hey everyone! Wow, it’s been 4 years since my last post! I could say I was busy but, to be honest, I really have no excuse. I mean, there’s always a way to make time for the things you want to do.

Anyway, it’s not like I haven’t studied any Japanese at all during the time I’ve been gone. Just last month, I finished my fourth semester of Japanese at university, in which we finishing working through the second (and final) textbook of the Genki series. I’ve also recently hit Level 11 in WaniKani (in which I was previously at level 22, but reset my account after several years hiatus because most of those kanji had long since left my memory).

The next thing I would like to do is challenge the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Now, I’ve read mixed things about this test, one of the main complaints being there is no speaking portion and as a result many people who score high on the test may lack the ability to navigate their way around even the simplest of situations in the real world. However, I doubt this will have much of a negative impact on me. I am not studying solely for the test as much as I am using it to guide and push myself forward towards a concrete goal (which I feel I really need, now that I’m a self-learner). Sure, I’m going to use some material which may be JLPT-focused, but I will not neglect developing my speaking and writing skills.

First, I’m going to quickly go through Genki I and Genki II again to review all I have learned before moving forward. Stay tuned!


Date: 2013年6月28日
Resource: Wanikani

Recently all of my Japanese-learning efforts have been focused on Wanikani. I am close to the end of level 2 and will be buying a subscription as soon as I’ve got enough money in my hands #lolstudentproblems. I want to buy the Textfugu textbook too, which will give me a further discount on Wanikani, so at the moment I’m just waiting for all that to happen. In the meantime I will be using my Genki textbooks. But first, let me recall what I’ve learned from Wanikani. I’m not going to go over every kanji, as I don’t see that as very productive, but instead review some terminology and some general rules and trends that I’ve picked up.

kun’yomi (訓読み,くんよみ): Native Japanese reading
音読み,おんよみ): Chinese reading
(送り仮名,おくりがな): kana (i.e. hiragana and katakana) suffixes attached to kanji that give it a particular meaning, reading, and grammatical function
(熟語,じゅくご): compound kanji; words made up of different kanji stuck together

What I learnt
Most kanji have at least two possible readings: the kun’yomi and the on’yomi. In fact, most of the time there are several kun’yomi and on’yomi. So how do I know which reading to use? Well, it all depends on the word, which is why it is important to learn your vocabulary! But there are some general trends that can help you in figuring out  how to read an unfamiliar word made up of kanji you’ve come across before.

single kanji (no okurigana): This will generally take the same meaning as the kanji and have the kun’yomi reading. Numbers, however, are an exception and take the on’yomi reading. 4 and 7 are exceptions to that exception and use both the kun’yomi and on’yomi (because their on’yomi readings sound too much like the words for “death” and “place of death”)

single kanji + okurigana: Usually build on the kanji and are words related to the original kanji meaning. Take the kun’yomi reading.

jukugo: Take the on’yomi reading. One exception I’ve come across is that anything including body parts usually change each kanji in the word to their kun’yomi readings, e.g. 川口[かわぐち], 目玉[めだま].

There is also a phenomenon known as rendaku (連濁,れんだく), or “sequential voicing”, in which the beginning of the reading of a kanji which is not the first kanji in the word it makes up changes to its dakuten reading (dakuten/tenten being the symbol that looks kind of like quotation marks in English that change the reading of kana, e.g. く→ぐ). There are some patterns (as well as multiple exceptions) dictating when rendaku occurs, and I have read about it a little bit, but that’s something I am not going to write on in detail, for the moment, anyway, because it is not very important to me right now and I’d rather pick it up as I  go along than try to follow rules that don’t even always apply. For anybody who would like to read more on this, however, one of the sources I found helpful was an article on Tofugu. I also glanced over the Wikipedia article, and a quick google search should bring up even more webpages for those of you thirsting for more resources.

While it is important to be able to pronounce words correctly, it’s just as important to be able to recognize words as a certain part of speech. For example, verbs always end in a sound from the う-column (食べる: to eat) in their dictionary form, adjectives often end with (かっこいい: cool), and nouns that come from the adjective form and describe what it is doing often end with さ (大きさ: size from 大きい: big).

I have also learned a little bit about transitive and intransitive verbs. A transitive verb is one that requires a direct object (e.g. “I bought” is not complete if nothing follows the word “bought”, making it a transitive verb), and an intransitive verb is one that can stand alone (e.g. “I slept” makes perfect sense on its own). These have various implications in different languages – I’ve been taught to differentiate between them for various reasons while studying Korean and Spanish – and what I’ve come across so far in Japanese (other than recognizing that transitive verbs go with direct objects which are important to identify for placing the particle を) is transitive/intransitive verb-pairs that use the same kanji. This would be best illustrated through some examples. 上げる/上がる (to rise/to raise) and 下げる/下がる (to hang (something)/to hang (yourself)). Apparently verbs with an え-sound are usually transitive while those with an あ-sound tend to be intransitive. This does not always apply. Another pattern I’ve noticed with the words I’ve come across so far is that usually the transitive version tends to be longer, and this can be seen in examples such as 入れる/入る (to insert/to enter) and 立てる/立つ (to stand something up/to stand). This particular pattern is just something I’ve noticed myself based on the limited vocabulary I’ve encountered, so it might actually be completely wrong; time will come to tell. 😛

One other thing I would like to comment on is the fact that the word “kudasai” contains the kanji for down: 下さい. I found that surprising and interesting, but couldn’t find much information on it other than that it is the polite imperative form of the verb 下さる (くださる), which means to give . If anybody could offer some insight as to how it relates to the 下 kanji, that would be greatly appreciated. Or just leave a comment with your thoughts and we can have a discussion.

So I’ve only been using WaniKani for about a month and I’ve already learnt a lot about the Japanese language other than just Kanji and vocabulary. It goes to show that learning can cover as much as you want it to, and everything is linked to a greater context that you can uncover if you wish to. Blogging like this helps because it encourages me to look up things I touch on in my lessons and learn about them in greater detail. I really love WaniKani and plan to continue using it as a resource to support my Japanese learning.


Two weeks since my last entry. It’s only my third entry and I’m slacking with my language log already. No. Bad. This is unacceptable. ごめんなさいみなさん。I will try my hardest to prevent something like this happening again. Yes, once I’m back at university my posts are likely to be less frequent, but no pointless, unproductive lack of posts. Okay, Neha? Okay. Okay good. Now on to Entry Number 3.

Date: 2013年6月8日
Genki I textbookWanikani

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been using two main resources, the textbook Genki I and the kanji-learning website Wanikani. The Genki textbook is what I bought for my university class last September. During that time I didn’t really use it much except to glance over the vocab lists from time to time, but used to its full extent it is actually pretty helpful. I bought it with the workbook and both the workbook and the textbook come with CDs so you can listen to all of the dialogues and vocabulary, and there are some listening exercises, too! The thing I like about textbooks is they give you an outline of what you can learn and allow you to follow a kind of syllabus. It’s great if you’re not sure where to begin or where to go, which basically describes me right now (and a lot of beginners, I’d say). And this book is a good one because it goes at a relatively easy-to-follow pace (just a couple of grammar points in each chapter), repeats previously-covered vocabulary in later chapters, and has notes on different expressions and aspects of culture. There is also extra support material on their website online, so make sure to check it out if you’re looking for a good resource.

Wanikani is a website for learning Kanji. It teaches you radicals first, then simple kanji, then vocabulary using those kanji. It tests you on these at various time intervals over the period of a few days. Then you learn more radicals, more complicated kanji, and vocabulary using those new kanji, and are tested again, and so on. It’s like a game in that it goes up in levels and you get to unlock new things at each level. It’s still in the beta stage, but I really enjoy using it and would recommend it to everyone who has trouble remembering Kanji. The first two levels are free, so just try it out. Keep in mind that it’s in beta stage at the moment so instead of just feeling negative with any complaints you have, send in some feedback to improve Wanikani for everyone, including yourself! Seriously, try it out here. I got my invitation only a day after signing up for it.

What I learnt
The Genki textbook begins by going over some basic greetings. I was already familiar with all of them, but there were a couple of bits of information in the ‘Expression Notes’ that are worth making note of. Apparently, although おはよう(ohayou) means “good morning” and is generally used before noon, some people also use it casually in the afternoon or even at night if they are seeing their co-workers or classmates for the first time that day. Also, while すみません (sumimasen) is usually translated as “excuse me” or “I’m sorry”, it can also mean “thank you” while having the nuance of being sorry. While this may seem a little confusing at first, it makes sense if you think of it as apologizing to someone for going through the trouble of doing you a favour, and in doing so thanking them.

Chapter 1 then has some sample dialogues, vocabulary, grammar, and then practice. Each following chapter is laid out in this way. One thing I noticed while listening to the CD that escaped me before is the slight nasal sound present in some words. ありがとう is pronounced almost ari(n)gatou, だいがくas dai(n)gaku, and りゅうがくせい as ryuu(n)gakusei. It’s not too difficult for me to pronounce, because in Urdu we have a similar sound called “noon ghunna”. Some words are harder than others though. ありがとう and りゅうがくせい I find pretty easy, but だいがく is a bit of a struggle. The main thing to work on though, I think, is learning to recognize when a word has such a sound, because there is no ん present in the word itself. I think it is something that will come naturally, like pitches in Japanese and knowing when to place accents in Spanish did. I don’t always hear it though, so it seems to be an accent thing. Right now I’m too much of a beginner, but after a while I would like to do a little more research into this.

So far, my studying has been going good. I slacked with the language log a bit, but with this post I’m hoping to get myself back on track. I’m trying to avoid my tendency of zooming through things and working through each chapter slowly and thoroughly. I’m thinking of spending about a week on each chapter. Although I got an A in my JPST 100 course, it was not because I worked hard and I think I could have known my material a lot better. I need to make that effort now. What I’m doing to accomplish that is going through everything in the textbook and workbook, listening to everything on the CDs, and actually making notes this time around instead of just passively absorbing information. This language log thing actually helps a lot, too. It’s forcing me to organize my thoughts rather than have them floating around disjointedly in my head, and that’s really good for my learning. I’m pretty much done with Chapter 1, so it’s on to Chapter 2 next time. The main things I want to work on are pronunciation and vocabulary. Making my own sentences will be something I should do a lot in future chapters as the things I learn start to get more complicated.


Date: 2013年5月24日
TextFugu Season 1

Today I completed Season 1 of TextFugu. It taught Hiragana and the usage of です(desu) as “it is”, and went over the approach that will be used to teach Kanji.

Things I learnt:
を is used only as a particle.

I can already recognize and write out all the Hiragana since I taught myself those a few years ago. However, I still read through all the lessons to take a look at the teaching style. And the verdict? I love it. It seems like a very fun and effective way to study and it makes you pace yourself and stay involved as well. I also like how it gives you resources that are helpful so you don’t have to spend hours sifting through websites yourself while you are an absolute beginner with no clue where to start. Plus, any textbook that throws in random Youtube videos of nonsensical Japanese stories and cute kids playing the ukelele has gotta be awesome, right?

Desu was something I knew how to use wayyy before I ever even thought of studying Japanese, just because of my exposure to anime. Knew how to use in the simple context that was introduced in this section, that is. Basically it means “it is”. So “ペンです” (pen desu) means “it is a pen”. I am aware that there are also many other uses of です, some of which we touched on in JPST 100 at university, and others that I have a vague grasp of (again because of my exposure to anime) but need proper instruction to build solid concepts on.

As for the approach TextFugu uses to teach Kanji: I have mixed feelings about this. Something bothers me about learning to recognize Kanji but not write them, and also about not learning all the readings a particular Kanji could have. That said, I realize this is just because of the meticulous part of my personality, and this approach does make a lot of sense. Plus, I can always pick up on those other things later. In fact, this approach helps to facilitate those other things later because already recognizing and understanding the Kanji will make it so much easier to write them. On the other hand, I do really love the idea of learning radicals and simple Kanji before more complicated ones (as long as they’re all useful, of course).

In fact, one thing that kind of bothered me when I was learning in the classroom was that I could see radicals sometimes when they were obvious and started using them to remember Kanji, but other times I couldn’t (what with my eye being untrained and some of the Kanji so complicated) and had to remember them stroke-by-stroke. Most of my friends who I would study with spoke Mandarin, so they only had to worry about pronunciation and minor differences in some of the characters, while I had the additional issue of remembering this complicated figure which could only kind of be broken down into a million tiny bits. I must say though, my friends were very nice and helpful and always willing to test me and criticize my handwriting (even though when I asked the one guilty of this particular act to show me how to write it out neatly she did and looking at it admitted she wasn’t always much better than I, ha!). Yeah, it’s fun to have people to study with. That’s one thing that’s hard to get with self-learning, I guess. But my point is, I love the radical approach.

Moving on, I reached the end of the free part of TextFugu today, and no question; I’m buying it! I’m just going for the lifetime membership rather than the monthly rate. Here is why I think the price is worth it:
1. You can get a lifetime membership, so you can just pay once rather than having to pay over and over again. (I despise monthly payments).
2. It is going to be constantly updated, so you can continue using it no matter what level of Japanese you reach.
If you consider the cost of a regular textbook, this is not much more. Take into account the two points I mentioned above, and you have something that is definitely worth the cost. Although there may be some things in the teaching style that don’t fit me perfectly, no resource is perfect and I’d like to try using a range of resources and different teaching styles to learn the same thing in order to help reinforce those points in my mind. Also, while some people do better in a classroom environment, I’ve been self-studying Korean for over 2 years and know that I can do well as a self-learner. I feel like I should be okay. The fact that I actually enjoy studying languages gives me plenty of motivation, which seems to be the main problem many self-learners face.

The only thing I have to work on at the moment I’d say is practicing reading Hiragana until my speed increases. I plan to do this using Twitter, my textbook, and any writing that comes up in the anime I watch. Twitter is how I came to read Korean so fast, so I’m definitely not going to undermine it as a resource.


Date: 2013年5月23日
Resource: TextFugu Season 1

Today is my first day of language logging. I’ve decided to self-study Japanese this summer because my university timetable just refuses to agree with me. Since I like to read a lot of Koichi-san’s posts at tofugu.com, I decided to try out his online textbook TextFugu (link above). It starts off with a lot of tips on studying effectively for self-learners. Creating this language log was one of them. Outlining specific goals you want to achieve and identifying excuses you may use later to avoid studying was another. I’ve got that covered over here. Then there was advice on creating habits and to-do lists. The entire 1st season is completely free so please feel free to check it out using the link here or at the top of this post.

Anyway, the first bit of actual Japanese TextFugu gets into is an introduction into the Japanese writing systems and differentiating between them. Most of this stuff was simply review for me, but there were also a few things I didn’t know before. I’m going to briefly summarize it all.

What I already knew
Japanese uses four alphabets: Romaji, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Romaji is just roman letters (so what I am using right now). Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic and represent the same set of sounds. The differences are that Hiragana looks more curvy and is used generally for Japanese words, while Katakana appears sharper and box-like and is used for words that Japanese has borrowed from different languages (i.e. “loanwords”). Kanji consists of those complicated-looking Chinese characters used for most nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

What I learnt
Katakana can be used for onomatopoeia, food items on a menu, and emphasis (similar to italicizing).

This lesson was super easy, which is understandable since I began differentiating between Japanese writing systems years ago and can already write with varying degrees of proficiency in each of them (Hiragana=mastered; Katakana=shaky; Kanji=only know a handful). Plus, come on, it’s the first season! However, I did still pick up on some new things, which just proves that reviewing this stuff and using multiple resources is worth it.