Well, kinda. When I have enough motivation.

I have been trying to learn Japanese by self study and unfortunately with mixed results. My weakness at the mo is true conversational Japanese, as whilst I could construct very basic sentences, I couldn’t do it fast enough to engage in a conversation that has a natural flow to it. More like me going motto yukkuri kudasai, getting the other person to repeat and me thinking for an extra 30 secs to construct a response. My self study revolves around the Genki and Japanese From Zero books, and a recent dalliance with the free version of JapanesePod101.com, which I have to admit, I haven’t really used it. Apart from enjoying vids by the delectable Risa-sensei.

And then I found this, courtesy of Tofugu.com:

It’s a free app (you have to click on ads or pay a monthly fee to make it ad-free) and for nihon-go lessons it’s only available on iOS or Android (I’m sure it’ll be on desktop some time). I have to say that duolingo works best if you are able to learn intuitively as the learner may feel that one has been thrown into the deep end even when one starts the first ever lesson.

When I started, I opted for the mini test for the app to gauge what level I should be starting at. So, in my first ever lesson, everything was already in hiragana, katakana and some very basic kanji. Unfortunately, the kanji learnt thus far is by recognition only and you don’t get to learn to write with the correct strokes.

The lessons are batched according to categories, and within it you’ll expand your vocab with new words as well as learn new hiragana, katakana and kanji. Those in gold are the ones I have completed. As the lessons go on, some of the gold categories revert to its original colour indicating that I have to return for a refresher lesson.

The ones with one grey band means one refresher lesson, and two means two lessons etc. I think this is a reflection of your performance in the later lessons as the lesson you need to do lists out words that you are weakest at. It’s good to go back, though – it’ll keep you up to scratch. On successfully completing the required number of refresher lessons, the circle goes back to gold.

To start a lesson, you choose one that is lit up, like this one in green covering words and sentences related to ‘transportation’ eg hotel, station.

A lesson comprises different formats of questions. One format is translation, which may be nihon-go to English or vice versa, where you answer by choosing from the selection of words. If you get it wrong, the correct answer is provided in the red box like so:

The question will be repeated a little later to allow you to redeem yourself:

There are fill-in-the-blank types which is pretty easy (at the mo):

Not only you could click on the speaker icon so that you could have the Japanese sentence repeated, you may wish to click on a Japanese word you aren’t sure of in said question and the app will give you the English translation. Yeah, that’s cheating a bit but you’ll learn in the end. Which is the thing with duolingo, you need to keep at it for this to work for you. You can set a goal of how much you wanna do a day. You’ll get an email reminder to complete your daily goal in case you forget. Once you complete your daily goal, you’ll see this:

I’m still enjoying using duolingo to learn at the mo, and hopefully this will make me return to where I left off in Genki/Japanese From Zero.