The first thing I ever used in my quest to learn Japanese was the website YesJapan.com. YesJapan offers visitors an online, interactive way to learn Japanese backed up by a vibrant community eager to welcome new students and help those in need along the way. The website owner is George Trombley; and along with his wife Yukari Takenaka, he created the website and wrote the book series, Japanese from Zero!, based on their experiences as Japanese language teachers in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What does YesJapan.com offer? First they offer 6 online course teaching students Japanese at a very reasonable pace. The lessons are given in a progressive way. This means that in course 1 during the span of 12 lessons the Hiragana alphabet gradually is taught, 5 to 10; in course 2 the same is done for Katakana and from course 3 onwards Kanji is taught. During course 1 and 2, sounds which are represented by hiragana/katakana that was not yet taught will be written using romaji until the hiragana/katakana is learned. The lessons teach grammar, writing and the various language skills to the student, accompanied by enough examples, all accompanied by audio examples.
However, that is not everything YesJapan has to offer. YesJapan also streams various shows of which YesJapan Daily, EigoEgg and Ask-A-Teacher are the most actively promoted shows. George Trombley, himself is the host in these shows. He actively tries to teach students Japanese in a funny, yet highly educational manner. Both shows are highly interactive, for they are always held in cooperation with the YesJapan.com chatrooms where students constantly stream there thoughts and George actively picks up topics from these suggestions. Unfortunately due to time differences, I have only been able to attend once these shows live. Though for those who wish to watch a show, do not despair for YesJapan also has a Youtube channel on which all shows are uploaded. I certainly recommend checking these out since some of them ccontain wonderful information about the language country and its people. (YesJapan.com YouTube channel)
However, what really is the main selling point for this website is its community, a feature of YesJapan George actively encourages. The three main communty tools are: Ask-A-Student; the forums and its chatroom. Its Ask-A-Student tool allows students to ask their fellow students. Believe me when I tell you that this is actively used and there enough students more than willing to share a word of wisdom with you. Of course, not everything can be put on Ask-A-Student, but do not fear for forums are there. On these forums, students, enthusiasts and George actively discuss not only the language, but also the Japanese current events, culture, the books, shows and website. In all this madness I can honestly say I have yet to read unpleasant or spiteful posts. Truly, something I recommend. But, my main love is its chatroom where all enthusiast gather to share a few words. Here often students type Japanese to practice the skills they have honed, but also to get feedback to correct mistakes if they are made. Even some Japanese frequent these forums and help correct our mistakes in return we aid their English. (Wanted: YesJapan chatroom needs more Japanese; go here).
Now do I use all features that YesJapan.com offer? No, I do not. The teaching style of YesJapan.com is not a style I personally like. However, some students do enjoy this. It is purely a matter of personal preferences and I suggest that you try it out and decide for yourself. However, I do actively frequent the forums and its chatroom, which I not only find helpful, but a wonderful place to spend some time.
I give YesJapan.com 4 stars out of 5!
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