Japanese-English. Your starter stage to create the foundations for your ultimate and awesome Japanese success. The Japanese-English (J-E) phase is critical. Do it wrong, create a weak groundwork, and either never make it beyond, or stumble and crash, and get stuck in the unfortunate J-E learner mode like many before you.
I’ve gotten frequent requests over the years to provide a J-E deck on Jalup for all the rookie adventurers out there.
And I’ve refused up until now. My continuing thought was that all someone needs to do is put the easy work in themselves. Take the sentences, add the relevant Japanese and English and you’ll have a full deck of 1000 cards that will cover everything you will need to kick Japanese ass. No problem.
Of course plenty of people have done this up until now. But as anyone who has done this knows, the above is no easy journey. I’ve been removed from the beginner phase for many many years. And the result was a bit of an experience of “forgetting how hard it was” syndrome. A typical beginner is in a whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty. And I was finally reminded this recently.
To create a successful J-E sentence deck, you need to:
1. Create 1000 cards.
This is a mighty task for a beginner who is usually looking for a guiding hand. The process of inputting cards can be boring and sometimes feels a bit like data entry.
2. Be extremely careful on inputting cards with the exact Japanese.
No one wants mistakes, which can have lasting consequences, in what is supposed to be their Japanese framework. And it’s easy for a beginner, who isn’t expected to know much Japanese, to make these types of typing mistakes. Especially when you have 1000 sentences ahead of you
3. Figure out how to set everything properly.
This is a minor annoyance, but to those completely new to a flash card platform, it can be a pain to set up new fields, Japanese auto readings, and audio. The more advanced a platform, the harder it is to use.
4. Decide what sentences actually should go into your deck.
There are vocabulary lists, conversations, exercises, and activities in every textbook. What belongs? What doesn’t? What should be read? And what can be skipped? No one likes wasting time trying to figure out what’s best, especially when you have no way of really knowing.
5. Decide how to create an efficiently trimmed deck that covers all the basics.
In going through a beginner textbook or two, you could easily add way over 1000 sentences (especially if you try to add all the vocabulary). This means either you may go either too far or not far enough.
Judging the proper input pace is a skill that takes some time to get used to. Even I had to revise this deck multiple times because I was adding too much or too little.
6. Add in your own kanji
Most textbooks very slowly and painfully introduce kanji. So if you want kanji in your sentences, which you need, you often have to add them yourself.
This requires reliance on an IME, where you type in hiragana, and kanji options are shown. For a beginner, this creates a huge issue. Is the use of this kanji common? Which kanji option is correct. Or is this just completely wrong?
My general dislike of textbooks
I recommend textbooks for the beginning phases of learning. You need them. Unfortunately textbooks are a necessarily evil.
And what don’t I like?
– They have too many unnecessarily long explanations.
– They introduce too much at once.
– They have too few sentences and too much vocabulary (often that you don’t need to know yet)
– They try to act like they are fun but they are not.
So I’ve decided to step in and finally do what I’ve been considering for a long time
Japanese Level Up has completely created the 1000 J-E sentences you need. You will find the same beginner progression you are used to of grammar and vocabulary found in most major textbooks. But I’m doing things a bit differently. Here’s where I’m trying to make this stand apart from everything else out there:
1. All full sentences.
No dealing with learning vocabulary out of context or having to form sentences yourself.
2. Full normal kanji in every sentence from the start.
Kanji is included if it is common to that word.
3. Sentences are fairly short and easy to remember.
4. Only one new unknown item introduced every sentence.
5. Every sentence builds on the previous sentences.
6. Conjugations are introduced (not explained) one sentence at a time.
This means you don’t sit with a verb chart learning every type of verb and its conjugation for past tense.
One sentence, one conjugation.
りんごを食べました: ate (polite)
日本に行きます: will go (polite)
水を飲まなかった: didn’t drink (casual)
This includes all conjugations, whether of numbers, verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc. Spaced repetition flash cards thrive on teaching one small new item on every sentence. It’s the best way for memory to work.
So you know the polite past tense for “eat.” You don’t know the polite past tense for “go” until you see it in another card.
But then how do you learn the conjugation rules? What about the different types of verbs and adjectives and ways of conjugating based on a hundred different factors?
You don’t learn a language by memorizing charts. Ate is ate. It doesn’t matter what magical rule it follows. You heard it as ate 100 times. That’s what it is.
But what about patterns? Don’t they make things easier?
Yes. But you don’t need to obsess over learning patterns. They come naturally. After seeing ました attached to 50 verbs, in different situations, you pick things up without being told directly. Ahh look, every time there is a verb that ends in 〜く it becomes 〜きました。
7. Grammar/complicated words are explained one use at a time.
You don’t need to know the many uses of grammar or words all at once. Once sentence, one type of で or に use that only hits on that specific use.
8. Massive cut down to the most important words and sentences.
1000 sentences may sound like a lot. But to anyone who has gone through the process, this number is reached faster than you think. The one thing you don’t need much of?
This includes a wide range of nouns, verbs and adjectives. For the earlier stages, most of the same nouns and verbs are used over and over again. I know this may sound a little boring (no more boring than any other textbook), but this is intentional. The pen is here. The pen is there. He bought a pen. He has a pen. He saw a pen. Where’s the pen?
Because you don’t need a big vocabulary to set up your beginner Japanese framework.
Concrete vocabulary is very easy to pick up once you get to J-J. Especially because one of the allowed methods in J-J sentences is using Google Images to help understand the meaning of the word (since this doesn’t require English). Not knowing the “if conditional” form of と is going to be a J-J challenge. Not knowing the word ねこ (cat) is going to be a piece of cake.
This means extremely common words are often left out.
This also means that if a set of something is introduced (numbers, months, weekdays, time, family, etc), only one item is introduced just to show you how the set works.
Example: only the number 1 is introduced. You don’t need to waste your valuable J-E sentences explaining numbers. You don’t need English for that.
9. You can ask questions to the creator of this textbook (me – Adam)
How often if you have a problem or question with a textbook can you ask its creator?
I want it to be as clear and easy to use as possible. So if you have a question on a word or sentence, ask me by email. I will answer.
10. The deck will continually strive to be better
I want this deck to be awesome. I’ve edited it multiple times and tried to make everything incredibly easy to understand. But I’m only human. Humans (and giant textbook brands) make mistakes and sometimes what is clear to them isn’t clear to everyone. So by leaving the contact line open, if you find something unclear or a typo, I will fix it.
11. Yes, there is audio! Every single sentence is read by a real Japanese native speaker.
This is a highly sought after feature for beginners since getting extra listening practice is a big plus at the early stages. And who is reading the sentences? Our very own Japanese native writer here on Jalup: Yuki!
1,000 Japanese Level Up original cards, split up into stages. After finishing all 1,000, it is like finishing 2 full textbooks.
Want to give it a try first before buying?
Start leveling now!
We all have to start somewhere. This is where your own personal legend begins.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.