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Cafetalk: Private Lessons Using Skype!

15 Oct

Have you heard of Cafetalk? You must check it out. It is one of my favorite Japanese-learning resources! (Special promotional link at the end of this post!)

Cafetalk is a website that connects you to tutors from all over the world. The tutors teach languages (TONS of Japanese teachers!), music (piano, voice, ukulele, etc), arts and crafts, hula, abacus/soroban, and a lot more. There are thousands of lessons offered.

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As you know, I am passionate about exposing my children to as much Japanese language and culture as possible, so I searched the Cafetalk website for tutors who teach Japanese to children. I was a little bit overwhelmed with all the choices, so I asked a Cafetalk representative to recommend teachers to me (you can chat, call, or email them and they are very helpful!).

I registered online (very easy), entered my Skype name (you must have Skype to use Cafe Talk), then signed up for some lessons! It was all very straight-forward, and I thought the lessons were priced very reasonably (cheaper than hiring a tutor to come to my house). Many tutors even offer free or discounted Trial Lessons.

The day of our first lesson came, and my kids sat anxiously in front of our computer, waiting for our Skype tutor to call us. The lesson was for my two older kids, but Baby Sister wanted to join in the fun.

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Our tutors were always right on time. I love that. And I love that we didn’t have to leave the house, and my kids could be in pajamas.

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I sent each tutor specific requests before each lesson. For example, “I want them to practice katakana”, or “Could you help them increase their vocabulary?”. The tutors went above and beyond my expectations, catering their lessons to my children and sending a follow-up message after the lesson was over, which included what was taught during the lesson, and what my kids could work on during the week. One of the tutors sent me a message ahead time asking me to print out a worksheet to use during the lesson.

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One tutor did such a great job keeping my kids engaged during their entire 20-minute lesson. She used a game of guesstures to teach action words. My kids loved it, as evidenced by this video! My kids are always sad when their lesson comes to a close.

 

Sometimes the lessons were face-to-face conversations,  and sometimes the tutor would use a feature on Skype where they can type on the screen during the lesson. I thought that was pretty neat. Here’s an example from when my kids were practicing katakana:

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Overall I was very pleased with our Cafetalk experience. I was impressed with the number and quality of tutors available on the website, the customer service, and price.

The only downside for us was that since we live in the New York Time Zone and most of the tutors live in Japan, many of the lessons I wanted to try were not available during my children’s after-school hours (because that would be the middle of the night in Japan). The tutors we found were Japanese teachers who had moved to Hawaii or the mainland.

Our family was given a few free lessons in exchange for a review. To be honest though, we enjoyed Cafetalk so much that I’ve already paid for a few lessons as well!

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I think this service is a great supplement to my children’s Japanese education. I know that in a few years, Japanese School may become too difficult or sports will get in the way of attending. So Cafetalk may become our alternative to Japanese School at that time.

I highly recommend Cafetalk if you want to learn Japanese (any level– beginner or advanced, and any age!). It is great for people who want to learn from home, or live in an area where getting a private tutor is difficult or expensive.

Cafetalk has generously offered Hiragana Mama readers 500 free points! You can use your points to purchase any lesson. Click HERE for your free points!

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The 500 points will be delivered to your account only if you sign up using this special link.  Also, the points will be usable only for 30 days after you sign up. 

Please let me know what lessons you tried and how you liked it!

Love, Hiragana Mama

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Print Kids (printable Japanese educational worksheets for grades preK-3)

2 Mar

We have had a lot of school cancellations due to the weather lately (our city’s coldest February in 150 years!). On those no-school days, I’ve had to devise a plan to keep my kids busy and learning. We’ve been printing some worksheets from ぷりんと きっず (Japanese study free paper website). It has activities that are PERFECT for my preschooler and first-grader. I plan to use this site to keep my kids learning during their summer break as well!

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This is just a small sampling of what’s available on the website. There are learning activities for grades preK-3rd grade, with plans to add more. There’s practice worksheets for hiragana, katakana, kanji, telling time, reading a calendar,counting money, etc. You can see all the subjects covered here on their sitemap. Here are the top 10 worksheet from the site:

printkidsYou can “like” them on facebook to stay up to date: https://www.facebook.com/print.kids.net

I encourage you to visit Print Kids and browse around. You are sure to find something for your kids or yourself!

NHK for School!

27 Jan

Dear Hiragana Mama Readers, thank you so much for sticking around! We welcomed a new baby girl into our family a few months ago and have been savoring these fleeting newborn days. I have even less free time than before, but I really wanted to share this website with you today: NHK for School.

http://www.nhk.or.jp/school/

I visited this site a few years ago and back then, it was nothing to write home about. But now, it is a fabulous GOLDMINE of educational resources for the school-aged student. The site contains thousands of educational episodes and video clips, along with suggestions for how to use it at school/home. The content can be searched by grade level (first grade through high school) or by subject (Japanese, math, social studies, science, art, physical education, etc). It is pretty awesome.

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Now, I wouldn’t recommend this site for people who are just beginning to learn Japanese, or toddlers. If you don’t know a little bit of Japanese, it might be hard to navigate this site. The website was designed for students in Japan to supplement their learning at school. This site is perfect for those of us living overseas trying to teach our children about the Japanese language and culture. I feel like this is a great mid-week supplement to Japanese School (hoshuuko). If you can’t afford TV Japan, this is a great alternative. You can read more about the purpose of NHK for School in English, here.

Anyway, if you haven’t already checked it , click this link and enjoy!! http://www.nhk.or.jp/school/

“Kids Step” Website (キッズステップ)

7 Jun

Oh how I love the internet! I am always discovering wonderful new resources for teaching my children Japanese.

The website I want to share with you today is called “キッズステップ” (Kids Step). This website is full of free printable worksheets for ages 2-6. The activities are grouped by age or skill level and include things such as mazes, dot-to-dots, numbers, hiragana, katakana, and simple arithmetic to prepare your kids for school. The illustrations are simple and beautiful. The website is very well-designed. I encourage you to visit, print, and start one of these worksheets with your children today!

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Screenshot from kids-step.com

PuniPuniJapan Website

8 Feb

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I just happened upon this website, Puni Puni Japan, awhile ago. It is not super-useful to me (because I’m pretty fluent) but I thought some of you beginners might enjoy it! There are short videos that teach Japanese phrases, vocabulary, and grammar. There is also a free printable kana workbook you can download.  Here is an example video:

Printable Japanese Worksheets and Books from Brother.co.jp

12 Aug

There seems to be no lack of wonderful websites for learning Japanese geared toward children these days. I love it!! It was just a few years ago when I would scour the internet for resources and could never find anything good. We are blessed in this digital age to have all these resources at our fingertips.

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The website I want to highlight today is brother.co.jp. Their “free downloads” section has wonderful printables, including hiragana and katana worksheets, papercrafts, BOOKS, etc. I want to print off their free books onto cardstock and have them bound for my kids. Their hiragana/katakana worksheets are beautifully done too.  Thank you, brother!

P.S. I have updated my “hiragana practice sheets” and “katakana resources” pages lately. Check them out and share with your friends! :).

Website: Okochama.jp

10 Aug

Today I have another website to share with you: okochama.jp. This website is made for preschoolers and up and has age-appropriate games for learning hiragana, katakana, numbers, etc. Check it out and see if you like it!

image from okochama.jp

image from okochama.jp

image from okochama.jp

Is anyone else totally sleep-deprived because of the Olympics? The athletes are so incredible and inspire me to be the best that I can be!

 

おべんきょう.com

23 Jul

Today I have another great website for you to check out: おべんきょう.com! It has great printable worksheets to practice writing hiragana and katakana, numbers, telling time, etc! It also has printable flashcards and hiragana/katakana charts. I thought it was really clever of them to use hiragana as their web address 🙂

image from おべんきょう.com

Japanese Children’s Songs Karaoke

11 Jul

I just discovered two fun YouTube channels (users takanonGB and takanonDC) full of Japanese children’s songs (どうよう)… perfect for karaoke! Each song has the lyrics in hiragana/katakana. These videos are perfect for my preschooler who is just starting to be able to read words in hiragana. My children and I have been singing along all morning. Here are some of our favorites:

Jungle Pocket ジャングルポッケット:

Bun Bun Bun Hachi Ga Tobu ブンブンブンはちがとぶ:

Do Re Mi no Uta ドレミのうた:

Lots more Japanese videos scheduled to be posted soon, so check back every day this week for something fun and educational to watch with your kids. I also have a lot of other fun things to post about… answering questions from readers, more from our trip to Japan, summer holidays, etc! I just hope I will have time to write about it all 🙂

Buying Japanese Children’s Books, DVD’s, etc.

17 May

“Dog Loves Books”, by Louise Yates

Over a year ago, I wrote up a post about “How to Get Japanese Children’s Books.” It has been one of my most popular posts, so there must be many of you out there searching for books for your children! A year ago, it was very difficult to find Japanese books online. I am here to tell you that it is now easier!

I have been browsing eBay recently and have been pleasantly surprised to find that there are now many more people selling Japanese children’s books, DVDs, other educational materials, and toys… and at pretty decent prices.

To search on your own, just go to eBay.com and search for “Japanese Children’s Books”, “Japanese Children’s DVD’s”, “Kodomo Challenge”, “Anpanman”, “Hiragana Charts”, or whatever it is you are looking for, and you’ll probably find stuff. I should probably go through the stuff I don’t need anymore and sell them on eBay too!

Amazon.com (the American version) still lacks a great selection, but you can see the ones that I have found HERE. One of my readers, Louise, emailed me to let me know that a book she has written called “Dog Loves Books” is now available in Japanese. It looks adorable! Good job Louise!

Amazon.co.jp (Amazon Japan) is the best place to buy Japanese children’s books and DVDs. They will now ship to most countries outside the U.S., and shipping costs are more affordable than they used to be.

Joechip.net has written a good post about other online retailers that sell Japanese Children’s Books.

If you and your children enjoy Japanese children’s magazines like ベビーブック and たのしい幼稚園, you can order an issue or subscribe for 6months~year at shop.mitsuwa.com. They also have subscriptions to “Kodomo no Tomo“, a company that sends you children’s books each month. I have a local friend who does this for her daughter and they really enjoy receiving new books each month.

Don’t forget about Benesse’s Kodomo Challenge program too (with Shimajiro). Read my post about it HERE.

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Whew! Did that help anyone out there? Have you made any cool discoveries lately? Where do you buy your Japanese books?

P.S. I am not getting paid by anyone to advertise their stores or products!

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