Adventures in Japanese #1: How to Learn a Language

I call this “Adventures in Japanese” because, obviously, that’s the language I want to learn. I am looking for a free or inexpensive resource (under $50) that teaches you kana, kanji, pronunciation, grammar, etc.—everything you would need to communicate if you were dropped in Japan—the essentials for understanding a language.

But people have different ideas about what and how to teach.

This is not how to learn a language:

  • Learning “survival” expressions (“thanks,” “where’s the bathroom,” etc.) that will only help you in select situations.
  • Learning how to ask if someone speaks English. This is similar to the “survival” expression category, only the purpose is to escape knowing the language.
  • Learning random words. It’s great if you can count to 100, sing color songs, and point to a Big Mac and say baagaa (バーガー), but if you can’t form a sentence, you’re still stuck.

Right now, I’m using dictionaries and piecemeal sites (one about verbs, one about kanji, etc.) to teach myself Japanese. But I want to find something that incorporates everything. I bought My Japanese Coach a month or so ago and was very pleased with it—until I figured out that some of the information is wrong! (Actually, I knew it kept showing incorrect kanji and kana stroke orders because I had prior knowledge—but I ignored my discomfort.)

I tried the site Human Japanese, but judging by the audio files, I do not think the people who made this resource are native speakers, so I’m hesitant. seems cool, but they offer so little for free.

If anyone knows a good site, game, program, etc., I’d love to hear your suggestion. Thanks!