Studying Japanese is fun and free!

A couple months ago, I decided to take a break from my years of studying Japanese, and it's been nice to have more free time lately. But I knew I wouldn't be able to completely stay away from Japanese very long, and I was concerned about forgetting vocabulary and things that I've worked so hard to learn. Recently I decided to try out a new study method, thanks to an amazing website called iKnow that I read about on Tofugu! I can easily say that iKnow is one of the best, most interesting, and fun ways to brush up on Japanese that I've ever seen, and I'm already addicted to it! The website is run by a language learning company in Japan, and it uses fantastic Flash-based applications with a brilliant interface that makes studying feel like playing a video game (at least to me). The vocabulary section runs through various words and simultaneously teaches usage (through excellent sample sentences and photos), pronunciation (through native speaker sound clips), and even kanji, since everything is presented in kana right from the start. The quizes are multiple choice, but sometimes there are 10 responses to choose from (often including a "none of the above" choice), and each question has a time limit! There's also a dictation section that really exercises listening (was that a wa or a ga?) and typing skills. There is literally a mountain of classes available at all levels - I'm working on the lowest level, which is way below my skill, but it's really fun to remember words I already know, plus I'm learning lots of kanji that I haven't studied before. And best of all, iKnow is free - I just can't believe it! I would even recommend iKnow's method over Rosetta Stone, since it has much more variety so it doesn't get boring. I've been having a blast completing a few 5-10 minute lessons each day, and it's fun to watch my stats go up (you can see my live badge below). It feels great to keep my Japanese going in a stress-free, fun way!

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