JLPT study materials by publisher
Quick note: I’d hate to be the person that says this, but remember, when possible, try to get the most updated versions of these materials, since the tests themselves, too, often change. So if you’re buying on Amazon or eBay or other second-hand sites, you might want to check the publication date, just in case.
- Jリサーチ J risaachi (J Research) – The 完全模試 kanzen moshi (complete mock exam) books are the perfect resource as an all-around test mockup. They have questions covering every portion of the exam (listening, grammar, kanji characters, vocabulary, and reading comprehension), and these are easily the most challenging, yet closest to the test as you can get. HIGHLY recommended if you plan on taking JLPT for the higher levels. Their 日本語単語スピードマスター nihongo tango supiido masutaa (Japanese vocabulary speed master) books are also excellent, containing a colossal amount of vocab found in the N3 – N1 tests.
- Ask – The “500問” gohyaku mon (500 questions) books are great because of the number of practice questions, the light and portable size of the book, and their super easy-to-understand explainations in English, Chinese, and Korean. If you want quick, drill-like practice for grammar, vocabulary, and kanji, these are perfect supplement to getting you started. The パワードリル pawaa doriru (power drill) books are also great for that extra, supplemental practice.
- UNICOM Inc. – Don’t let the website fool you. I know it looks a little shady, but trust me, these books are THOROUGH. For levels N3 – N1, there are three books for each section of the test; one for grammar, one for listening and reading, and one for characters and vocabulary. Unfortunately, they don’t have a book that incorporates all parts of the test, but at the same time, because each book is super dedicated to each section, you get a LOT of quality practice for each. If there’s a section you have trouble with (or need help with all of the above), definitely check these out.
- アルク aruku – Their 耳から覚える mimi kara oboeru (memorization by ear) have excellent explanations and a nice pacing to them. Since N2, I’ve started to struggle a lot with grammar. Their 耳から覚える トレーニング mimi kara oboeru toreeningu (memorization by ear training) grammar book was separated nicely into a Unit of 10-12 different grammar structures, explaining how to use them, their patterns, and all their alternative meanings; all-in-all just being really in-depth and making it a lot easier for me to take my own notes. Also, because they are “learning by ear”, each book also comes with a CD.
Textbooks and materials
- Japanese for Young People – My first Japanese textbook, and the one I recommend for all beginner-beginners. About the first half of this book uses romanji, which is a huge help for beginner-beginners who just want to learn basic grammar and phrases. (Whereas a lot of other basic Japanese textbooks go straight into hiragana and katakana, which can be insanely time-consuming to read for those who haven’t quite grasped the hiragana/katakana Japanese alphabet yet.)
Mobile Apps for studying
- JED for Android – GREAT English/Japanese dictionary
- Weblio – dictionary, phrase dictionary
- Google Translate – kanji to romanji, camera, and handwriting translation
- Kanji Study – for hardcode kanji practice
For the full deets as to why I recommend these apps, see the 7 recommended apps tutorial.
Web browser pop-up dictionary
Rikaichamp – pop-up dictionary for web browser Japanese lookup.
Quick note: If you’re familiar with Rikaichan, Rikaichamp is essentially the same addon, but only Rikaichamp is compatible with Firefox Versions 57+.
Rikaichamp is amazing for a number of reasons, and if you’re a Japanese language learner, yes; you should install this addon ASAP.
First and foremost, it is a pop-up dictionary. Meaning that if you hover over Japanese characters on a website, it will automatically pull up a small pop-up-like window dictionary for that word. This can also be used for kanji characters or sets of kanji characters.