Posted in Japanese Langauge

Studying for the JLPT: 5 Tips and Tricks

The JLPT is nearly a month away, and if you’re smart you’re already hitting those books and studying up a storm. Panic mode generally sets in about now for all of us, but there are some simple ways to study at least a little every day in order to facilitate a better learning experience, as in helping you remember all of the things you’ve read and tried to memorize.

Here are 5 ways to help you!

5: Watch Japanese TV/Dramas/Movies

Shitsuren Chocolatier.png
Shitsuren Chocolatier

Keeping yourself immersed in Japanese even at home is a great way to improve quickly.  Don’t let yourself rely on the crutch of your native language. The more Japanese you hear and see in action the better. Right now I’m watching Tokyo Ghoul with the subtitles in Japanese, and I’ll watch an NHK special or two on YouTube, the variety shows will generally put up some Japanese subtitles on there without any prompting.

4: Use Games to Help You Study


Before I talked about websites and study books to help you prepare for the JLPT. However, there are quiz games out there that can help you increase your vocabulary fluency. Memrise is a great tool to help you get all of your vocab input, and you can also make your own games. It uses pictures and word association in order to connect the words in your mind to things you already know. You can also get the app for your phone!

Then, there are also standard Japanese games such as Final Fantasy or Ace Attorney. These games are fun to play and have some really interesting kanji to learn. Basically, you can play video games and learn something at the same time!

3: Watch YouTube Videos for Your Level

There are so many videos online available for Japanese learners. I’m a fan of Nihongomori, a YouTube channel specifically designed to help learners of Japanese. They have playlists that correspond to each level of the JLPT, and they’re tailor made to help you study in time for the test.

2: Reverse Testing

JLPT Tests.jpg

While taking all those practice tests can be useful, I recommend an old study tip I learned in high school, which at the time was called “reverse testing.” It’s when you take something you learned and design it into your own test style.

For example, the test on the JLPT is multiple choice. I know according to the practice tests that the kanji part of the exam will have four different options based on the hiragana writing, and only one of the options available is the right kanji. So I write out the question for myself and put an A, B, C, or D option. I make a whole test for myself. I go back and do the test just like I would for an exam, timer and all.

By making your own test, you’re getting your brain practice for the real things but also deconstructing how the test itself is designed for you to pass or fail. It helps, trust me.

1: Study Groups

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These people look way too happy to be studying.

Studying with people is always a great way to help remember what you’ve learned. Teaching and pushing each other to remember things helps form memories of people instead of just words and definitions. True, some people prefer to learn alone, but active learning generally helps the most people overall.

One of the things I used to do in university is get with a friend or two and we’d put snacks or candy in the middle. If you got 5 answers right, you could eat something. If you got the answers wrong, you starved! It was effective for me, and we also made songs to go with certain grammar points or shared different tricks we’d stumbled upon. With other people you can gain different ways of looking at the material, and that’s important in order to make the information go into long term memory instead of just short term.




Posted in Japanese Langauge

5 Japanese Study Websites I Love!

I’m trying to be good about studying Japanese because the JLPT is just around the riverbend, and I thought I’d share some websites that have helped me along the road with self-studying. I’ve tried to pick websites that can help anyone from beginner to advanced, but sometimes the advanced portions are limited, sorry for that in advance.



Tofugu is a great resource to learn about both Japanese language and Japanese culture. I’ve been using their kanji section in order to aid in what seems like my futile endeavor to remember any and all N2 kanji phrases. The articles are, usually, easy to read and digest while at the same time providing quality content.

Wani Kani 

Wani Kani

Wani Kani is a learning app specifically designed to help people learn kanji. Instead of focusing on reading, the whole point is to get the idea of the radicals and the meaning behind them in order to understand their context. The user types in the meaning that corresponds to the kanji radical. The only issue I take with it is that if you already know most of the basic kanji, it can take forever to level up, as each game session takes a forced break for an hour or two.

Maggie Sensei

Maggie Sensei

Every once and awhile, books can be difficult to flip through when you need help understanding a grammar point. That’s where Maggie Sensei comes in! The website is devoted to articles about Japanese grammar, and it breaks down not only how to use the grammar in a sentence but even goes into detail about if it’s better written or spoken, and even the best context to use it. I’ve been using Maggie Sensei since I touched down in Japan and couldn’t imagine where I’d be without this site.



JapanesePod101 is one of those websites that’s got it all. If you want to learn vocabulary, grammar, speaking, listening, or kanji they’ve got it all right there. I used to use it daily until I kind of felt like I’d outgrown the lesson structure, but it’s still a great resource for intermediate and advanced users.

The Japan Times-Language Section

The Japan Times

Although it’s a news site, The Japan Times has some informative articles on how to use certain bits of grammar and even sometimes Japanese slang. They’ve got tips and tricks to make yourself sound more native when you speak, as well as some cultural issues and new Japanese that pops up from time to time (adopted language and the like). I read this website anyway nearly every other day, usually I read an article or two in the language section to help me improve my Japanese skills.

And those are five websites that I personally adored when it comes to studying Japanese. How about you, where do you go to study Japanese? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear them!