Japanese Study Tools

Posted on 01. Sep, 2006 @ 12:33 am by in Language Views: 4,197

Now that I’m in student mode again, time to break out the notebooks, pencils and dictionaries.

One unique study method you have probably seen if you’re in Japan is what Japanese people call the 単語帳 (tangocyou), or Word Cards.

You’ve probably seen flashcards in the West, but what makes these different, is that they are smaller than flashcards, they’re completely blank when you buy them, and they’re attached with a key ring.

You could probably make them yourself if you find some small index cards, punch a hole through them, and jam a big key ring around them. You can also order tangocho word cards from j-list, or if you’re in Japan buy them at stationery shops, or for a bit more money at a convenience store. Once you have your cards, you can carry them around with you and review them on the train, or in traffic, or whatever.

The only disadvantage these have over our western pre-made flashcards, in my opinion anyway, would be that they are not laminated, so if they get wet or something or bent… Well… They’re wet and bent.

I have used this tool to learn Kanji vocab and Japanese grammar back when I was studying for JPLT level 1, and even used them while I was in France to try and learn French. I didn’t learn French… But hey, the cards helped. I also use them now, to study Chinese.

Harvey’s Word Card Usage Tips!

Making them is half the Benkyou:
You’ll notice that even if you don’t review the cards as frequently as you would like, just the fact that you made the card will really make the content stick in your mind.

Definition Plus Alpha:
Don’t simply write the Japanese on front [犬] and the reading and English on back [いぬ = DOG]. For simple words this may be okay, but I find that I remember things better if I also include an example sentence or kanji compound or two along with the vocab reading. Sometimes you’ll be able to recall the word, by imagining the situation or sentence you used for your vocab card.

Keitai Cards:
Carry them with you always, so you can add to them in a second. Also, if you can show them to Japanese people, or even other people studying Japanese, you can get new ideas for example sentences and level up your cards on the spot.

And that’s all really! If you’re looking for a novel way to get back into studying, give this a try. It’s fun for a while if anything!

- Harvey

  • Craig

    That’s cool!

  • http://www.japannewbie.com harvey

    I think I might try to study for the GRE vocab this way as well!

  • J.

    I recently “upgraded” to electronic flashcards. Kokuyo makes an electronic flashcard tool for people studying English. This is perfectly suitable for studying Japanese. Go to Kokuyo’s website and look for the “Memoribo”.

    Although this reply may sound like an advertisement, I am merely indicating my experience with this gadget.

  • http://www.japannewbie.com harvey

    Wow! I checked out the Memoribo!


    At first I was like… who’s gonna pay so much for such a simple device? But it only costs like 7000 yen! Good stuff :-)

    Using this seriously would make it a good tool for studying. Though, I think think physically making the old school dead tree word cards does good things for the memory.

    Call me old fashioned!

  • http://www.ozbboy.com Jeremy

    I agree with you, writing the cards yourself is much better for short + long term memory.

    I’ll definately pick up a set when I touch down.

  • J.

    Harvey, I agree that the Memoribo does not offer the exercise of actually writing your own flashcards with a pen. It does offer you the option of writing your own word lists in e.g. Excel and then copying them onto the portable device. It can store a maximum of 20 lists of 100 words each. And each entry can be a full sentence, it does not have to be a single word. I am using it now as a tool to get me nearer to the goal of passing JLPT2.

    By the way, the price you pay at e.g. Bic Camera is lower than 7000 (forgot the excact price I paid, somewhere between 5 and 6 thousand).

  • http://www.japannewbie.com harvey

    Hey J!

    I am fascinated by that device. I love little gadgets. I bet the fun factor of that would have me studying more as well… Good stuff!

    I’ll take a look at it at Bic next time I get over there! As I’m becoming a student again I could use some extra study gear as well!

  • mdchachi

    Stationery store? You can also get these at Y100 stores. Usually 3 for Y100.

  • http://www.viplanguages.com Learn Languages Online

    Some pretty good word card tips, keep up the good work!

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