This may not be a surprise, but Tae Kim’s online lessons are well-written and cover more than just the basics of the language. Lessons also cover casual conversation, grammar and expressions.
Maggie Sensei’s website also has a lot of useful content based on more conversational patterns.
Making Sense of Japanese by Jay Rubin
Jay is a legit, expert translator, having worked with Murakami, among others. The book is a series of essay on different aspects of Japanese. He is a good writer and this book helped me to demystify Japanese in a way nothing else has. It’s probably the book I pull out more often than any other, for both reference, as well as enjoyment. Beware of the Romaji, however. Get past that, and you will definitely learn something about understanding intermediate and advanced Japanese. It was written a while ago and probably out of print, but easy to get used.
The best way to move forward is to let go of the past. This is true for Japanese. If you are involving Romaji in your study practice, let that go as soon as you can. Watching Japanese TV with English subtitles? Let that go. Using an English dictionary? Well, that’s a tall order. But stop depending on it 100% of the time. Download this paid app and make it your first pass at looking up a word.
Apple Dictionary (.5 since this is Mac only, AFAIK)
If you have a Mac, you should have the Dictionary application installed by default. Go to the application’s Preferences and select Japanese and download:
- スーパー大辞林 / Super Daijirin Japanese Dictionary
- ウィズダム英和辞典 / The Wisdom English-Japanese Dictionary
They are awesome dictionaries with tons of example sentences.