(2016 note: this was a terrible idea because I’m neither a native speaker nor a good speaker in general.. but I’m leaving this up for posterity…)

I have been learning bits and pieces of Japanese throughout the years, and picking up more and more on each of my trips to Japan. But now it’s time to buckle down and get disciplined about learning, and make some real progress.

As with learning any language, having a decent vocabulary is critical in order to form coherent sentences, so I’ve decided to focus on this for the time being, in addition to learning hiragana and katakana and getting it down pat, with no errors.

You may already be familiar with the JLPT, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which has difficulty ranges between 1-5, with 1 being the most difficult. So let’s start together at JLPT 5.

Thanks to this site, I’ve use the following first 50 vocabulary words and recorded myself going through them so I can commit these to memory (many I already know, which is a good thing I suppose!). Of course I will be speaking only to the best of my ability, so the pronunciation of many words will likely be off in some way or another. In any case, it should be useful to listen to on repeat to get these drilled into my head! I’ve uploaded my recording for your convenience, but note again that the pronunciation isn’t perfect, and this is a free service, so don’t complain.

Audio (MP3): JLPT 5 vocabulary words 1 to 50

  1. ああ - Ah!
  2. あいます (会います, aimasu) - see (a person), meet
  3. あおい (aoi) - blue
  4. あかい (赤い, akai), - red
  5. あかるい (akarui) - light, bright
  6. あき (aki) - autumn, fall
  7. あきます (akimasu) - open [ex. doa ga akimasu]
  8. あけます (akemasu) - open [ex. watashi wa doa wo akemasu]
  9. あげます (agemasu) - give
  10. あさ (朝, asa) - morning
  11. あさごはん (朝ごはん,asa-gohan) - breakfast
  12. あさって (asatte) - the day after tomorrow
  13. あし (足, ashi) - leg, foot
  14. あした (ashita) - tomorrow
  15. あそこ (asoko) - over there
  16. あそびます (asobimasu) - play
  17. あたたかい (atatakai) - warm
  18. あたま (atama) - head
  19. あたらしい (atarashii) - new, fresh
  20. あちら (achira) - over there
  21. あつい (atsui) - hot, thick
  22. あと (後,ato) - after, later
  23. あなた (anata) - you
  24. あに (ani) - [my] brother
  25. あね (ane) - [my] sister
  26. あの (ano) - that, well, let me see
  27. アパート (apa-to) - apartment
  28. あびます (abimasu) - take [a shower]
  29. あぶない (abunai) - dangerous
  30. あまい (amai) - sweet
  31. あまり (amari) - not so..
  32. あめ (雨,ame) - rain
  33. あらいます (araimasu) - wash
  34. あります (arimasu) - be [existence]
  35. あるきます (歩きます,arukimasu) - walk
  36. あれ (are) - that
  37. いい/よい (ii/ yoi) - good
  38. いいえ (iie) - no
  39. いいます (言います,iimasu) - say, tell
  40. いえ (家,ie) - house, home
  41. いきます (行きます, ikimasu) - go
  42. いくつ (ikutsu) - how many, how old
  43. いくら (ikura) - how much
  44. いけ (ike) - pond
  45. いしゃ (isha) - doctor
  46. いす (isu) - chair
  47. いそがしい (isogashii) - busy
  48. いたい (itai) - be painful
  49. いち (一, ichi) - one
  50. いちにち (一日,ichi nichi) - one day

If you’re feeling especially motivated, go ahead and study words 50 to 100 and words 101 to 150. I’ll record those soon of course, so stay tuned.