[JAPANESE | REVIEW] Nihongo-e-na

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.30.48With my previous entry (which was originally written about a week or two ago, but not posted until earlier today), I mentioned about how I was clueless on what Japanese study materials were available to me during my in-between and down times of learning the language. One of the things I really needed to check out was what websites were available to me and I realized…I didn’t know.

Well, I knew some websites — a lot of them are listed over and over again by Japanese learners — but I felt like there could be more. Perhaps even better ones that suited my personal needs as a learner of the Japanese language.

I was hoping for some sort of resource archive that I could poke through to help me figure out what was available to me and what was going to work for myself. Sure, there are recommended resource lists out there, but a majourity of the suggestions never struck me as satisfying. I mean, it’s wonderful that they’re recommending Tae Kim’s grammar guide and JGram, but I’m looking for something with simple details on grammar and tests I can quiz myself on to see if I even sort of got a hold on Japanese grammar usage (hint: particles kill me).

And that’s when I stumbled across Nihongo-e-na on Pinterest. I was searching for Japanese language learning stuff on there (so not the place you’d think would have anything; it honestly doesn’t have much) and I came across the link. I clicked it and found EXACTLY what I had been looking for! An archive of sites that actually have things like quizzes, while also teaching you things!

About the Site

Nihongo eな (“nihongo e na”) is a Japanese learning resource archive by The Japan Foundation. The site’s title is a play on words, as “e na” sounds like the Japanese “ii na” (“ii” (pronounced like ee) means “good” in Japanese). It primarily focuses on listing the best resources it can find, organizing them by focus (grammar, reading, speaking, etc.). They also have articles to help the Japanese-language learner on their journey.

Presentation

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.31.02The website’s splash page is rather simple and most certainly mobile friendly. It contains a language selection, as well as a phone selection for viewing on the go. You meet their rather adorable speech-bubble/ghost mascot character, who is seen frequently throughout the site.

Once inside the website, you are greeted with a very clean, organized layout. On the left-hand side, you are presented with a list of categories that will bring you to the recommended resources, additional language options (Korean or Chinese), and news. On the right hand side, you have a blog blurb (usually a question from a language learner), a link to extended site information, and the mobile site links.

When you click on a category, you are brought to a list of web pages with a description blurb. You can select your skill level to filter out what sources may be helpful to you. After a few seconds, a blurb usually will come up to recommend websites for that particular category. This is something I particularly like and find it encouraging to check out, just to see why these particular sites are being recommended.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.33.18Each website has an entire page dedicated to them. It usually starts with a screenshot of the website, the URL, and a brief description. The brief description does include bullet points to quickly say the pros and possible cons of the website. When you scroll down a bit further, it shows more screenshots and explains (usually briefly as well) how to use the website to your advantage. All of these things are GREAT when you’re trying to learn about a resource and why they are listing it.

The blog, e-Kore!, is also potentially a good resource itself, recommending specific websites for specific things that language-learners ask. The page (accessible from a tiny link that reads “List of articles” on the e-Kore! blurb box) lists keywords at the top to help you locate an article on a specific top. The page will only list up to 5 entries until you expand the page to view the rest. Each entry is laid out like a mix between a regular blog and a resource page.

Impressions

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.33.33My first impression: WHY HASN’T ANYBODY EVER MENTIONED THIS WEBSITE BEFORE. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THIS ENTIRE TIME?!

My impression now: WHY HASN’T ANYBODY EVER MENTIONED THIS WEBSITE BEFORE. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THIS ENTIRE TIME?!

Seriously though! We have all these “ultimate resource” lists that barely scratch the surface of some of the most amazing Japanese-study websites out there. I never even heard of half these websites until I came across Nihongo-e-na! I probably spend a good hour or so just going through the websites and bookmarking what I thought looked worthwhile.

I love the simplicity of the layout for every page. Nothing has confused me yet and I’ve been able to find everything I’ve been looking for so far.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.33.47I think the resource pages are laid out brilliantly. I love that they give you a brief description of the website and tell you, hey, this is how this website can help YOU. Then they proceed to go ahead and actually SHOW you what parts could be advantageous to you.

The e-Kore! section is also wonderful and useful if it actually relates to something you’re wondering about. For instance, you want to work on Japanese pronunciation, but not really sure where to go? Oh, they have a blog entry with their personal recommendations. Do parts of Japanese grammar make your head spin? They have a blog entry of recommendations too. Curious how Japanese business card etiquette goes? There’s an entry for that too! Each entry acts like a bite-sized version of the actual resource pages. Some of the resources they list in the blog entries aren’t always in their regular resource listings, so the e-Kore! section is definitely something to check out.

Overall, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this website — it’s most certainly a portal of all things a Japanese-language learner would need. I’m completely shocked I hadn’t heard of it until I came across it on Pinterest! I definitely would recommend it for people who already have their hands in Japanese, although I think complete beginners who are interested in learning the language would find it useful too.

So, did I find anything useful on the site?

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.36.55Well, duuuuh. I wouldn’t be recommending it if I hadn’t!

I’ll admit, I haven’t really spent a ton of time actually browsing around most of the website recommendations, BUT the ones I did…I was blown away. I think the one I’m most interested in right now is Marugoto+ and am curious about where it will take me. There were some sites too that look like they were made in the ’90s, but the content was still SO relevant and I really felt that they would be helpful if I spent more time with them.

The site also has recommended places that I’ve only seen people recommend once or twice (such as Fantajikan, which is a Japanese fairytale audio book site place) and found it useful, so there’s also that.

It DOES list some of the stuff people have recommended over and over again, which makes sense (it wouldn’t be recommended over and over again if people didn’t find it useful), but it also lists a TON of stuff that other sites don’t (so far).

So, if you’re a Japanese-language learner or are just curious to understand what I’m talking about, go visit Nihongo-e-na! It’s definitely a place I highly recommend and perhaps is the *ultimate resource list for Japanese so far on the Internet.

*stupidly bold claim that is probably going to come and bite me in the butt soon

Recommendation

Score: Highly Recommend
For Who: Definitely anyone who has a serious interest in learning and practicing Japanese. I think language learners who have been studying the language for quite a bit (not brand-new beginner, but lower-beginner) will find it more useful than those who haven’t touched it at all, but I could be wrong.
Visit: http://nihongo-e-na.com/

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