These aren’t products to buy or websites that promote a specific way of learning, but are just some tools on the Internet you can use to make learning Japanese much easier. Use these tools to become proficient – they are organized according to method.
All or Mix
Lang-8 is easily the best tool out there! It’s like a social networking site geared towards language learners. I’m currently working a full review for this site (I have so many to do!), but basically, you create your account and post journal entries in the language you’re learning. Native speakers will correct your entries, or just make them sound more natural. If you’re really nice, you’ll correct their journal entries, too, since they’ll probably be learning English. Japanese has a real advantage on this site, so make good use of it! It’s also a great way to find Japanese pen pals.
Denshi Jisho is my personal favorite bilingual, online Japanese dictionary. It’s basically Jim Breen’s dictionary, but easier on the eyes and with a great kanji finding tool. Again, I’ll get a review up eventually.
Rikaichan is a built-in dictionary for FireFox that makes reading Japanese an easier task. If you don’t know a word, simply hover your mouse over it to get both the hiragana reading and an English translation. This tool is so great, JapanesePod101 even dedicated a podcast to it!
JGram is an online grammar reference site that makes it easy to do things like study for the JLPT. It can be a pain to navigate, and sometimes the sentences they use for examples aren’t the best, but I like it well enough to put it on this page so check it out.
ニコニコ動画 (Nico Nico Douga) is a Japanese video sharing website, kind of like Youtube. The big difference is that you can post really long videos and the comments, which are anonymous, scroll across the screen at the exact moment they were typed. You can turn that feature off if it gets annoying, so no worries. You do have to be able to understand some Japanese in order to create an account, so I don’t recommend it for complete beginners, although you might be able to get by if you have Rikaichan installed. Full review on its way.
Anki, easily one of the best and most popular flashcard programs out there, is an input person’s dream come true, although more academic types are using it, just in a different sort of way. Full review here.