One of my focuses with this blog is to point out various interesting media that is suitable for beginner and intermediate level learners. The most important thing for being able to learn from any type of media is ensuring that the media is at or just slightly above your level. If you can barely understand anything, then you are not going to learn much.
One of the most basic video sources is part of a course titled Erin’s Challenge! I can speak Japanese, produced by the Japan Foundation. Essentially a free multimedia textbook, it teaches Japanese through videos and manga.
Through a series of 25 lessons, you can watch a short video detailing the life of Erin, a new international student at a Japanese high school. Each lesson has both a beginner video and an advanced video, with four different subtitle options available on all of them: Kanji, Hiragana, Romaji, and English. All four subtitle tracks can be toggled on and off independently.
In addition to the videos, there are a number of additional features. A script is available which lets you play each line of audio individually, with a pop-up dictionary explaining the words. A short manga with audio lets you practice reading. And then there are review questions and exercises to practice what you have learned. Grammar explanations and example sentences help ensure that you understand everything that occurred in the dialogue. There are also additional videos explaining different aspects of Japanese culture, and a picture-dictionary in each lesson helps to teach additional vocabulary.
A while back, I generated an Anki deck from the scripts and audio. You can download the deck here. It is set up to test listening, but you can of course modify how Anki displays the deck to you. It also contains every line, so you will probably want to delete a lot of them. I did not find the deck itself particularly useful, and these days I don’t really advocate reviewing full sentences like those contained in this deck. Simply working through the lessons on the website and then moving on to something else will probably suffice. But, there it is if you want it.
Overall, this is a fantastic resource for the self-directed learner. While aimed at beginners, intermediate-level learners might benefit from listening practice in the advanced lessons, particularly if you still have trouble watching much of anything else yet. This is one resource that I would gladly pay for, but the fact that it is free is just icing on the cake. If you feel like you aren’t anywhere close to being ready to watch and understand real anime or dramas, this is an excellent starting point to help get you up and running.