Do you often wonder how it is humanly possible to review over 300 kanji every day?
Do you sometimes lie awake in bed wishing someone would break down the second episode of “Terrace House” for you?
We have some great news: learning a new language does not have to be a solo journey.
Log onto a Japanese language forum to converse with people just like you!
Find like-minded learners to obsess over proper particle use, make sure your dining etiquette is up to par before you head out on your first trip abroad or finally understand what “FLCL” means. (Just kidding—no one actually knows that.)
Language forums are a treasure trove of trivia, information and explanations of complicated topics presented in a friendly, personal way.
That is what makes them so excellent for learning!
There are many online language forums out there. We have rounded up the five best ones for Japanese learners!
But first, let’s see how to make the most of your forum visit.
How Japanese Language Forums Can Help You Learn
Whether you are teaching yourself Japanese using textbooks and online resources or looking to supplement classroom learning, online forums are always a good idea. Here are just a few reasons why:
- They provide a way to connect with other language learners. Maybe your family cannot fully comprehend your manga habit, or your friends look at you quizzically when you exclaim “いただきます！” — an expression used prior to eating, before slurping your Ramen. The internet will understand.
The Japanese language forum is an ideal place to connect and share experiences with Japanese learners and helpful native speakers from all over the world.
- They will help you find answers to that one weirdly specific question you have. Sometimes, you need a special kind of person to help you figure why Princess Mononoke used “だろう — should be” and not “だ — is” in one particular sentence.
And if you feel the urge to dissect every single episode of the new Japanese podcast you have started listening to, there is really only one place to go.
- Eventually, you will find that you are the one with all the answers! Language forums are also a great way to measure your own progress.
You may start off scouring through various threads and posing questions to the community every day. Six months down the line you will be that much wiser—and you will likely be the one guiding the newcomers.
How to Use Japanese Language Forums
Forums are accessible to learners at all levels. For beginners, they are a way to connect with other learners, remain motivated and stay on top of the latest trends in language learning.
But forums are also ideally suited to intermediate and advanced learners who want to go above and beyond what is readily available to them in textbooks, videos and in the classroom.
Here are four ways you can use forums on your language-learning journey:
To discuss and share the best techniques and learning resources.
Even if you are just getting started learning Japanese, language forums are the perfect place to find out firsthand how more advanced learners have tackled things like practicing hiragana and katakana, learning long vocab lists and making sure they are not forgetting their kanji from one week to the next.
Forums are also ideal places to discuss resources: the best online 辞書 (じしょ) — dictionary, gamified learning apps addictive anime series to learn with and so much more.
To obsess over the minute details of shows, movies and other Japanese media.
No matter your level, if you feel like you are never completely done dissecting your favorite TV drama, manga, anime or your latest Japanese-language obsession, a forum is the place to go!
You will find that you have opened a Pandora’s Box of theories, criticism, gossip and just pure fan-love. Learn about the culture, get language answers and understand why certain characters speak the way they do thanks to other fans.
It is also where you will get quality recommendations from people who have seen them all!
To get into the nitty-gritty of grammar, courtesy and other nuanced issues.
If you are a little more advanced, there is no better place than an online forum to get into the finer points of the language.
Is it okay to respond “まだまだです！” — “not yet!” when someone compliments your Japanese? Can you really say “ごめんなさい” — “sorry” to your boss? Why did the shopkeeper in Kyoto use the informal “る” form with you?
There is a thread for almost everything—and when there is not, the floor is yours!
To supplement other learning methods.
You might be taking a Japanese course and a question comes up that you need an answer to, now. Or you might want more information on a particular topic that your favorite Japanese textbook does not explain quite clearly enough. That is what forums are for.
You cannot learn solely from language forums, but they make a perfect place to go for some extra learning and a better understanding of specific topics. Learning from other learners and even native speakers on these forums is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the language as it is actually used.
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Just take a look at the wide variety of authentic video content available in the program. Here’s a small sample:
You’ll discover tons of new Japanese vocabulary through these great clips.
Don’t worry about your skill level being an issue when it comes to understanding the language. FluentU makes native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts.
Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
You’ll see definitions, in-context usage examples and helpful illustrations. Simply tap “Add to” to send interesting vocabulary words to your personal vocab list for later review.
FluentU even uses a learning program which adapts to your specific needs to turn every video into a language learning lesson and get you to actively practice your newly-learned language skills.
Access FluentU on the website to use it with your computer or tablet or, better yet, start learning Japanese on the go with the FluentU app for iOS or Android!
And when you need some extra help, just head to one of the forums below!
5 Japanese Language Forums for Curious Learners
The platforms we have put together in this list are all suited to one or more of the above uses. We have tried to round up the best out there—active, well-moderated and easy-to-use forums that contain high-quality contributions.
There are definitely a lot of advantages to using established networks: The forum design and interface are on point and they are well-maintained and frequently-visited, so they tend to have more users than the “niche” forums.
However, we have also listed active and quality forums that are a little less mainstream, in case you were looking for something off the beaten track. Try them all and find the best fit for you!
Japanese Language Stack Exchange
The Japanese Stack Exchange is part of the Stack Exchange network, which hosts Q&A forums on various topics.
Most of the questions on the Japanese forum are grammar and vocabulary-related. Stack Exchange prides itself on thorough and helpful answers, so you will find interesting and informative discussions on any question posed, from experts using their own knowledge or citing research or resources.
The site has a smooth, simple interface and questions are categorized by tags. You can also browse through the current most popular questions (Hot) and the top questions of the week (Week) or of the month (Month).
There are some fun threads on really specific questions to be found, like whether Japanese has a word for “banana” besides バナナ (ばなな) — banana. (The answer is actually surprisingly complex and rooted in culture and history!)
Word Reference Forum
Word Reference is also a well-established website for translations and language learning in general.
Their Japanese forum is not really presented in categories, but the handy search function will get you what you are looking for! Or simply browse around for some interesting insights.
Many of the questions are posed entirely in Japanese but you can also find more beginner-friendly queries, too.
There are a lot of translation-related questions on this forum but also some grammatical clarifications and cultural issues related to language. For an example, take a look at an interesting conversation on sending a friendly yet professional email reminder.
Reddit: r/Learn Japanese
Would any round-up of online forums be complete without Reddit? Reddit’s Learn Japanese Subreddit is one of the most organized forums in this round-up, remaining super active and even hosting regular language-learning events on the site.
For example, “ShitsuMonday” is a special thread for those small nagging questions that you would like answered but that do not necessarily need their own separate conversations. The name, in case you are wondering, is a contraction of “shitsu” from 質問 (しつもん) — question, and “Monday”!
This Subreddit is also one of the most diverse forums out there in terms of content—you can come here for anything from Japanese tongue twisters to tips for learning complex kanji.
The Japanese Page Forum
The Japanese Page is a Japanese-learning website run by a couple called Yumi and Clay.
The Forum is broadly categorized into these categories: “Study Center,” “Japanese Culture,” “Translations” and “Off-topic” for everything else. It also has an easily accessible space for feedback and suggestions.
While many forum participants use the website’s learning method, you can also find some interesting discussions of the language in general, other learning methods and Japanese culture, including a great thread on the best romantic films from Japan!
Japan Reference is more broadly a travel and language site and photo gallery. You will find all kinds of conversations here: from news and politics to practical information about traveling in Japan.
There is a pretty large language section where you can get information about grammar, translation and learning methods. However, topics are not particularly organized so you will have to rely on the search bar if you are looking for something specific.
Most discussions revolve around common Japanese-learning hurdles but you can find plenty of more advanced threads on topics like the causative and passive voice in Japanese.
With these five pages in your bookmarks, you should have the perfect Japanese language forum starter pack!
Depending on your personal objectives, pick one that you think is the best fit for you. Stick with it, and you will find that you are learning and growing as part of a very special language community.
So, 頑張って (がんばって) — work hard/all the best, and happy chatting!
Sara Chatterjee is a French-Indian writer and lover of languages based in Paris, France. You can follow her on Twitter @sarachatterjee.
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