Resources for learning languages and culture

I recently updated the look of my blog, and I am creating a page specifically for language resources, which you can find in the drop down menu and to the right side of the page.

I have been mostly self-studying languages for over eight years, so I have a ton of websites and apps that are ninja-approved! 

Japanese

Rikaikun – Roll over kanji reader for Google Chrome. I’m pretty sure they have Rikaikun for other browsers, but really, why aren’t you using Chrome? It’s the best.

Jisho.org – This is the best online Japanese dictionary ever. I’ve also used it for looking up traditional Chinese characters. You can look up words, phrases, sentences, etc. If you need a dictionary for Japanese, look no further.

Tofugu – The link will bring to you a page on how to determine kanji stroke order. Tofugu is one of the biggest resources I used when I first started learning Japanese. He has a YouTube channel as well. He not only teaches and speaks in Japanese to help you with listening and reading, but he goes to Japan and vlogs about his adventures.

Books I used – This is one of my old YouTube videos I made before I went to study abroad at Ritsumeikan, so I have a lot more I use now. However, if you are just starting out, this video might help you a lot.

日本人の知らない日本語 – This book was intended for Japanese people (who don’t always use their own language correctly) and it covers cultural aspects, keigo, kanji, etc. I think it’s a funny series, and some of the books have quizzes and short essays. Good for reading practice.

日本語総まとめ for JLPT – I bought two of these for kanji and reading comprehension in order to study for the N1 in December. I haven’t used them much yet, but I am certainly reminded of my college textbook when I flip through these. Many of my friends swear by these books.

For learning Japanese culture, Japanese dramas, TV programs, and NHK World are all good, but obviously you will never know the culture until you come here and enjoy it for yourself!

Korean

Talk To Me in Korean is my favorite resource for learning the Korean language because they have EVERYTHING from learning phrases that come up in Kpop music, dramas, etc., but they also have grammar, vocabulary, YouTube videos, and best of all – it’s all free! You can listen to a lesson, download the PDF, buy their textbooks, and be speaking Korean in minutes. They recently opened a cafe in Seoul and I plan on going this Saturday when I’m in Korea!

Eat Your Kimchi – Simon and Martina do a fantastic job of giving you the lowdown on Korean culture and occasionally teach you Korean words that are popular/useful. They talk about Kpop, fashion, culture shock, and FOOD. They collaborated with TTMIK to open the You Are Here cafe in Hongdae, so you could say they are pretty big in Korea. They’ve also met many Kpop stars and have been on Korean TV.

Seoulistic – This site is mostly for people traveling to South Korea, but they give a ton of advice on where to shop, where to eat, and cultural mistakes to avoid. Definitely check them out if you are planning on visiting in the future or even if you already live in Korea and are strapped for something to do.

Korean Comics – This is a short webtoon done in Korean (though you can read it with English translations at the bottom) that is cute and fairly easy to understand. There were only a few things I had to look up, but I learned a lot reading this, and it was fun to understand most of it. Little stories like this are great to boost your confidence and show you how far you have come in your language ability!

Naver Comics – Naver has lots of free Korean comics, and the artwork is stunning most of the time. I love to try to decipher what is going on, and since I’m not yet in Korea and I can’t buy actual manhwa or things to read all in Korean, this is a great free resource the let me challenge my grammar and vocab ability.

Dramafever – You know I had to do this. I started learning Korean because I wanted to watch Korean dramas without subtitles (and usually did anyway if a new episode wasn’t subbed yet). You do have to pay to get rid of ads, but they have pretty much every drama you’ve ever dreamed of. I recommend starting with Coffee Prince, My Love from Another Star, or something historical like Faith. Pretty much anything with Lee Minho (The Heirs) or Jang Geun Seok (You’re Beautiful) is excellent. 

Mandarin

MindSnacks – I love this app and it’s great to go back, even after almost a year without studying Mandarin, and see the progress I made and how much Chinese I can still remember. There are many different languages you can get this app for, such as German and Portuguese, so go look if they have what you want to learn! It teaches you through games and tracks what skills you are best at. 

Chinese Reading Practice – I love this site because it teaches you through conversation and stories. When I was studying Chinese, I learned through Traditional characters, so I would put these stories (simplified) into Google Translate and translate them to traditional. 

Again, watching Taiwanese dramas was the biggest reason I started learning Mandarin, and it really helped with my listening and speaking skills. Don’t just listen. Repeat. Try to copy what the actors are saying and you will learn a lot faster that way.

Other

Memrise – I stumbled upon this app recently and I LOVE it. There is an app version and a website version and I have it on all of my devices. It really is the best way to learn vocab. They have ways to create your own or use other user’s pneumonics, and there are vocab lists from everything. I’ve been using the Talk To Me in Korean Intermediate level vocab lists, as well as lists for JLPT N1 kanji. They don’t just have languages; they offer any subject you need to memorize things for, so definitely check them out. 

Fluentin3Months – Benny is such an inspiration. He doesn’t let himself get frustrated and give up. He knows the secrets to language learning and is willing to share his progress every step of the way. He is constantly learning new languages, so go check him out for any advice/resources he provides.

TED talk on Language Learning – I love this talk. I agree with him completely. If you want to learn a language, you have to first get your mind into gear and believe that it’s possible. A few months ago, I was struggling to remember basic phrases I learned in college Korean 101, and today I can have full conversations with my boyfriend and his friends in Korean. All from telling myself that it’s possible and finding the best way for me to buckle down and study. Don’t get discouraged and work at your own pace, but challenge yourself to go beyond what you thought was possible.

 

I might add to this list as time goes on, and I will put them on the Language Resources page as well! Let me know if you use anything different and why it works for you! I learn by ear, but many people are visual learners and need different tools than I do. Expand your horizons, learn about the culture, and have fun! 

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