Archive | January, 2013

Dec 2012 JLPT Results Out Soon!

31 Jan

Well today is the day that the results from the Japanese Language Proficiency Test held in back in December last year are released! While those of you who were lucky enough to sit the exam in Japan can already access your results, Japanese students in the rest of the world are eagerly (or should that be anxiously?) waiting to see whether they passed.

If you sat the exam in December we would love to hear from you! Which level did you sit? Are you confident or nervous? If you pass what will you do to celebrate? Share with us some of your study secrets or resources that you couldn’t have done without while preparing for the exam.

Good luck everyone, there isn’t long to go now!

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Review: Konna Eigo ga Wakaranai!?

31 Jan

Japanese: こんな英語がわからない!?
Level: Intermediate
Format: Reference book
Publisher: Kodansha International
Site: http://www.kodansha-intl.co.jp

Konna Eigo ga Wakaranai!? is a reference book from the Kodansha Power English series designed for native Japanese speakers. Strictly speaking it hasn’t been written with Japanese learners in mind since its purpose is to explain the meaning and use of obscure (and sometimes quite strange) English phrases.

The book contains 386 phrases which the writers say can be heard in everyday English. While some of them do pop up fairly frequently, others are pretty rare and would raise a few eyebrows if you said them at the dinner table. That being said, you could still use the equivalent Japanese phrase in conversation to sound more native-like or to help improve your listening comprehension. We recommend either asking a Japanese friend or waiting to hear the phrase used in conversation first before trying it out yourself just to be on the safe side. (There is also a graphic showing the frequency and nuance of the phrase – general, humorous or angry – though it’s not really relevant from a Japanese language learning point-of-view).

Phrases are arranged in English alphabetical order with the English phrase in large bold type followed by the Japanese equivalent underneath. A small paragraph written in Japanese clarifies how and when to use the saying, explains subtle similarities between phrases and defines any English words that may pose a problem for non-native speakers.

The entry is completed with an example dialogue in English demonstrating the context the phrase is used in. The dialogue is translated in Japanese as well, though strangely the translation does not always use the Japanese phrase. The phrase ‘Hit the books!’ is a great example of this where the writers say the Japanese phrase 一生懸命勉強なさい can be used, yet in their example they use a similar, but different phrase in Japanese.

A: Hit the books! You want to graduate don’t you?
しっかり勉強しなさいよ!卒業したいんでしょ?

B: Yeah, but I sure am tired after that party last night.
そうだけど、ゆうべのパーティでクタクタなんだよ。

To gain the most from this book learners should already have a sound understanding of Japanese, particularly conversational Japanese, and a knowledge of Japanese customs and communication styles. Without this, we feel that readers might miss the subtleties of how the phrase should be used.

Keeping in mind that this book isn’t a Japanese textbook but rather a book about English written for Japanese people, not everyone is going to find it useful. So while it isn’t a ‘must have’ for learning Japanese, those who would like to improve their conversational skills may find it worth the read.

SCORE: 6/10

Review: Shougakusei Tegaki Kanji Drill 1006

30 Jan

Japanese: 小学生手書き漢字ドリル1006
Level: All
Format: App
Available on: Android, iPhone
Price: Free
Publisher: Gakko Net
Site: http://www.gakko-net.co.jp/Shougakkou Tegaki Kanji Drill 1006 (1)

This is a fantastic app for anyone who is learning kanji. Shougakusei Tegaki Kanji Drill 1006 covers all 1006 kanji learnt by students in Japanese elementary school and tests your ability to be able to recall and write kanji from memory. The app is available for both Android and Apple devices and best of all it’s free!

All kanji in this app are categorized based on the grade in which they are taught at Japanese elementary school, so 上 belongs to level 1, while 密 belongs to level 6. There are only 80 first grade kanji while there are in excess of 150 kanji for each of the remaining grades, again reflecting the curriculum taught at school in Japan. Within each grade, kanji are broken down into groups of five and when completed gives a score based on how well you did.

The app is easy to navigate with bright colourful menus and cute anime-style characters. However as the app is designed for students in Japan, there is no English to be seen. But as we are all students of Japanese, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem! After selecting the level and group of kanji you would like to practice, a blank canvas appears with a word written in kanji or hiragana at the top.

A circle (or maru in Japanese) indicates which kanji you need to draw onto the canvas. Continuing with the above example, for 上 the phrase つくえの○ is given, and for 密 it’s 綿○な計画. The higher levels can be quite challenging, particularly if the word given is unfamiliar. You might find yourself having to rely on your knowledge of onyomi and kunyomi to make an educated guess! If you are completely stumped then the answer button is always there to save you…

Most of the time the app can accurately read the kanji you have written, or at least it will match it to the kanji it thinks is the closest. Sometimes it will ignore stroke order mistakes, while other times it will refuse to accept what you have drawn. On occasions we became so frustrated with the app not accepting our drawing, despite it being correct, that we hit the answer button and traced the kanji just so we could move on.

One thing we love about this app is the flexibility it adds to your study schedule. If you find yourself with five minutes or even an hour to spare, you can just whip out your phone and do a few reviews. Another great thing is the portability. It is great to be able to do kanji practice while on public transport, waiting for an appointment or laying in bed without having to lug around a huge kanji textbook!

As the app is free it is unsurprising that a small advertisement banner appears across the bottom of the app. This is no way detracts from the app’s usability and do not intrude on the user experience as a pop-ad may do. We didn’t experience any stability issues or crashes on our Android device while using this app either.

For those studying Japanese who are keen to practice kanji on-the-go and already have some knowledge of kanji, we highly recommend this app. Intermediate students will probably benefit the most from Tegaki Kanji Drill, as beginning students may find that they are unfamiliar with some of the words or the readings of kanji. Likewise, advanced users will find the earlier levels simple but will get a nice challenge out of the higher levels. Best of all it’s free, so really you have nothing to lose!

Score: 9/10

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Review: Nihongo Kanzen Master Level 2 Grammar

30 Jan

Japanese: 完全マスター2級日本語能力試験文法問題対策
Level: Upper intermediate, JLPT N2
Format: Textbook/Exercise book
Publisher: 3anetwork
Site: http://www.3anet.co.jp

Please note this publication has since been updated to reflect the new JLPT exam levels.

Nihongo Kanzen Master Level 2 Grammar has been written to familiarize learners with grammar that is likely to appear on Level 2 of the JLPT. This volume covers a total of 173 grammar points, though a number of these have two entries, so the total number of individual points is closer to 180. It should be noted that the whole book is published in Japanese, so learners without a sound grasp of Japanese vocabulary and grammar (read: intermediate or N3 level) are likely to struggle with understanding.

Each grammar entry is complete with its meaning in a simplified form, or paired with grammar from an earlier level that shares the same or similar meaning. Construction of the grammar is explained clearly showing whether, for example, the dictionary, past, or -te form of the verb is used, or whether extra particles, such as の, must be used between a noun and the grammar. There are also three to four example sentences per grammar structure that demonstrate various contexts the grammar is used in.

The overall layout of Nihongo Kanzen Master Level 2 grammar has been well planned, with related grammar generally presented in the same unit, although the units themselves are not labelled with the theme they relate to, such as time, comparisons or opinions. At the end of each unit is a review with approximately 30 questions to test your understanding of the grammar presented in that unit.

As would be expected from a book aimed at learners with N3-N2 understanding, there is a significant amount of kanji, however most have furigana unless they are rudimentary (雨,学生,来週 etc.). In that sense it will also help with kanji and vocabulary revision.

Studying this book alone is unlikely to be sufficient to pass the grammar section of the JLPT N2 exam comfortably. Ideally it should be used in conjunction with a textbook devoted to grammar questions as the review questions at the end of each unit are varied, but limited. And as with all language learning, seeing the grammar in a real-world context will help with acquisition and understanding.

Nihongo Kanzen Master Level 2 Grammar presents its content in a logical, thorough manner, which most learners at this level will find easy to follow and comprehend. It is definitely one of the more ‘vital’ resources to be used when studying for N2 and one that all learners will gain from.

SCORE: 8/10

Nihongo Hubへようこそ!

30 Jan

ようこそ and welcome to Nihongo Hub! This website has been developed to be your ultimate site for resources for both students and teachers of the Japanese language. We here at Nihongo Hub will be gathering, reviewing and posting about a wide range of learning resources that we hope you will find useful in your quest to master Japanese. We will cover a huge range of resources, ranging from the traditional, but always well-loved, textbook to more modern learning resources such as podcasts and apps. All learners of Japanese from the beginner right up to the seasoned veteran will find something useful here as we look at resources aimed at casual learners, high school and university students, Japanese Language Proficiency Test examinees, and of course senseis themselves. We love hearing from our readers, whether it be their thoughts on a great (or not so great) resource they use, tips and techniques they have for learning Japanese, or in fact just anything Japan or Japanese related! みんなさん、頑張りましょう! (Minna san, ganbarimashou! Let’s do our best!)

 

We’d love to welcome you while wearing a Toripi character suit from Tottori Prefecture, but unfortunately we don’t have one.