No matter what level of Japanese you come with, improving your language skills will make living in Chiba easier and more fulfilling. There are a variety of different methods to learning Japanese. There may be classes available in your area, and of course there are Japanese people all around that you can talk to. Here are some helpful self-learning websites and resources to check out.

You may also want to check out the CIR Resources page.

Red text indicates highly recommended resources.

Dictionaries

General study methods
  • Genki I & II Textbooks by the Japan Times
    Beginner textbooks that cover reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • Japanese Level Up (http://japaneselevelup.com/)
    This website has articles on life in Japan and Japanese study. Great for trivia and buffing up your intermediate/advanced vocabulary.
  • All Japanese All The Time (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/)
    A website based on the immersion theory that you should surround yourself with as much Japanese as possible. Good motivational essays but can get a little preachy and long-winded.
  • Lang-8 (http://lang-8.com/)
    Write in Japanese and have native speakers correct it for you.

Grammar
  • Japanese Grammar Guide (http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar)
    All the grammar you'll ever need for all levels with vocab for each section. A great reference and starting point.
  • Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese (http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/)
    Detailed, easy-to-understand grammar explanations and study guides. Good supplement for intermediate textbooks that don't cover grammar thoroughly.
  • A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui
    Thorough and easy-to-understand explanations of various grammar points. Also available in intermediate and advanced versions. A must-have for serious students.
  • Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You by Jay Rubin
    A book that explains common stumbling-blocks for Japanese learners in an interesting, easy-to-understand way. A must-have for intermediate and advanced learners.

Vocabulary
  • Anki (http://ankisrs.net/)
    A must-have program for your computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. that helps you review flashcards digitally. The flashcards are spaced out so you review them when necessary. You can download packs of flashcards or make your own. App is free for android, 2500 yen for iPhone but worth it if you plan on taking the JLPT.
  • Memrise (http://www.memrise.com/)
    Similar to Anki but the vocabulary is prepared for you and organized so that you learn similar words at once.
  • Maggie Sensei (http://maggiesensei.com/)
    Realistic, everyday expressions and words for all situations.
  • Erin’s Challenge (https://www.erin.ne.jp/en/)
    A series of video lessons that teach new vocabulary and expressions.
  • Nihongo o Narau Learn Japanese (http://www.learn-japanese.info/index.html)
    Grammar explanations are short, but good basic vocabulary lists.

Kana and Kanji characters
  • Remembering the Kana: A Guide to Reading and Writing the Japanese Syllabaries in 3 Hours Each by James W. Heisig
    This book uses images and sounds to help you remember the shapes of hiragana and katakana.
  • Remembering the Kanji: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters by James W. Heisig
    The sequel to Remembering the Kana. It teaches you the shape of common characters and the basic meaning, but not how to pronounce them.
  • Kanji Damage (http://kanjidamage.com/)
    A website that teaches you to write all the kanji using radicals, the basic parts of the kanji. The kanji is ordered from easy-to-write to hard, so difficult words appear sooner.
  • Kanji Box (https://kanjibox.net/)
    Practice kanji through writing and flashcard exercises. For PC or smartphone. Great for intermediate or advanced learners, especially those aiming for the JLPT.

Listening