Why Take Japanese Lessons?
People learn Japanese for all kinds of reasons. Some learn it for the rich Japanese culture, such as songs, anime, and manga. Others learn Japanese purely due to the appreciation of the language itself.
I think that the Japanese language is simply fascinating. There are words which often used by native Japanese that have no direct translations in English but have powerful meanings. People use these words to perfectly convey their emotions or feelings without the need for further explanations. Check out the video below and you will be impressed by how amazing the Japanese language is.
Self-study Tips for Learning Japanese before taking Japanese lessons
Japanese is comprised of kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana and katakana, which may be confusing at first for English learners. However, nowadays, it’s easier to learn Japanese on your own from scratch thanks to the abundant learning resources and native speakers you can access via the internet.
In this article, you will find over 30 online resources for you to self-learn Japanese with confidence and motivation. Before we get into the list, let’s look at some practical tips for learning Japanese:
Japanese Lessons – Online Japanese Language Lessons
- JapanesePod101: One of the most well-known free online Japanese lessons that offer up to date, interesting and insightful Japanese learning resources, such as audios, podcasts, videos, and apps. There are lessons for either beginners or advanced learners. You can also discuss anything about the Japanese language with other learners through its life lessons! Learning tools for JLPT are available as well.
- Bunpro: This website focuses on learning Japanese grammar. Bunpro encourages learners to internalize Japanese grammar by producing their outputs with instant feedback. They adopt a system called an intuitive spaced repetition system (SRS) that increases the learner’s learning efficiency. There is also a community where you can get help, advice and learning resources from other users.
- Wanikani: a website created by Tofugu, a team that operates a Japanese language and culture blog for English speakers, for learning Japanese vocabulary and kanji. By using Wanikani, you can learn the meaning and read joyo kanji as well as up to 5000 vocabularies. It’s perfect for self-learners since they use radicals and mnemonics as learning methods.
- Imbai: provides more than 400 free Japanese lessons on various levels, including beginner, intermediate and advanced. Contents of the lessons consist of basic pronunciation, kanji, phrases, grammar and so on. Plenty of examples are included in each lesson. If you encounter any problems, you can always ask for help or find similar questions in the Imbai forum.
- Tae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide: if you want to learn Japanese grammar more rationally and intuitively, this website is made out for you. The lessons are designed to help learners build a solid foundation in Japanese grammar by learning and thinking from the Japanese point of view. Thus, learners can construct natural phrases and sentences in Japanese. For those who want to strengthen their Japanese language fundamentals, this website is highly recommended.
- Udemy: A wide range of lessons can be found on this website. You can find lessons on different topics, including backpackers Japanese, beginner Japanese, business Japanese, Japanese conversation and so on. Although you have to pay for those lessons, there are often discounts and promotions offered. Reviews from previous students are also available.
- Japanese-Lessons.com: an online platform where people can learn Japanese for free. The contents of this website are quite organized and are provided by a professional native Japanese teacher who passed the Japanese Language Teaching Competency Test.
- Duolingo: a free language learning website/app. Set a daily goal in the very beginning and stick to it. There are options of 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes per day. You get to start from the beginner level or take a quick placement test to know which level to start from.
Japanese Lessons – YouTube channels for Japanese Learning
- Tofugu: Yep, Tofugu also has its own YouTube channel! In this channel, you can watch videos about Japanese culture and interesting stuff from different categories, such as food, travel and so on. Videos are well classified into various playlists, including Japanese learning tips, TofugoTV series, learn Hiragana and other fun topics.
- Ask Japanese: The videos are mainly street interviews of local Japanese on interesting subjects relating to Japanese culture, anime, tourism, and phenomena. English subtitles are available in each video, so you can practice your Japanese listening while enjoying some fun facts about their unique culture.
- JapanesePod101: a very popular Japanese language learning channel on YouTube with over 1 million subscribers. Abundant video and audio resources can also be found on this channel. Playlists consist of Hiragana, Katakana, kanji, learning tips, grammar, and even Japanese songs!
- Japanese Ammo with Misa: Misa is a native Japanese, a multilingual ninja who owns this channel that offers free good quality learning resources to Japanese learners. In Misa’s channel, you get to learn Japanese vocab, common mistakes in Japanese and other fun things linking to the Japanese culture.
- Learn Japanese From Zero!: Operated by the author of the “Japanese From Zero” book series, one of the most popular choices of Japanese learning books. The owner is also the creator of YesJapan.com, a long-running Japanese education website offering Japanese lessons, videos, games, and community to learners all around the world. You can find useful Japanese educational videos on these channels.
- nihongonomori: The channel has a diverse choice of Japanese lessons ranging from the basic level N5 up to the advanced level N1. You can gain solid knowledge o Japan from this channel for lessons provided by native Japanese speakers.
- Learn Japanese with Manga: A brand new channel that was just started in April 2019. Naoto, the Japanese host of the channel, introduces Japanese manga while teaching phrases used in them by making videos. His videos are made for intermediate and advanced Japanese learners since he speaks Japanese in his video the whole time. He puts Japanese subtitles on each of his videos. Some key vocabularies and phrases he used are shown on the screen as well.
Japanese Lessons – Free Online Japanese Audio/Podcasts
- Learn Japanese Pod: A podcast that teaches daily Japanese through fun audio conversations. It provides new episodes regularly covering topics like Japanese verbs, dialogs, booking at a restaurant and other fun every-day contents.
- Easy Japanese: a free Japanese audio lessons provided by NHK World Radio. You can learn basic Japanese grammar and useful expressions from the audio lessons.
- Learn to speak Japanese: English-Japanese phrase and word audiobook.: A Japanese language learning program on Spotify. Each episode lasts for up to 30 minutes. Parts of the episodes run for less than 10 minutes.
- Rhythmic Japanese Vol.1-3: Another Japanese audio album on Spotify. The learning method used in this album is based on a rhythm with which you will be able to memorize things more easily. You will hear English first, followed by Japanese words and phrases.
- Learn Japanese Language in your Car: More than 50 free audio lessons available on Spotify provided by global language experts. In each lesson, you can learn new Japanese words with English explanations anywhere and anytime.
- Japan and Japanese Language: A podcast produced by Tofugu. Perfect for people who want to visit Japan, live in Japan, and learn Japanese. Tofugu provides high-quality audio lessons with each episode running for about an hour. There are a lot of things about Japanese culture and language that you can explore in this podcast.
- Learn Japanese w/ Manga Sensei: Manga Sensei (teacher) teaches complicated Japanese phrases in a comprehensible way. People who are interested in learning Japanese grammar and semantics or are preparing for JLPT can listen to this podcast for 5 minutes a day without stress.
- Let’s learn Japanese from small talks!: Real Japanese conversations about diverse topics for intermediate and advanced Japanese learners. Vocabulary lists are available for each episode if you come across new words or phrases during the conversations. A new episode is released every Saturday, with up to 4 episodes each month. No need to worry if you’ll run out of materials to listen on!
- News in Slow Japanese: Here native Japanese speakers read fun and entertaining news at a slower pace so that the audience can train their listening skills while getting some Japanese news. The Japanese used is quite advanced and is suitable for N1 – N3 learners. Transcripts and translations with furigana are provided.
6 Excellent Online Japanese Courses
Free Online Japanese-English Dictionary
- Imiwa: One of the best free offline Japanese-English dictionary filled with high-value entries. It applies a lot of examples for each word and also offers guides for kanji stroke orders.
- Jisho: A free Japanese English dictionary that can be used on its website or in the app, packed with Japanese words, kanji and example sentences.
- Japanese learner’s dictionary: Free online dictionary provided by a Japanese university.
Learn Japanese with Apps
- LingoDeer: A language learning app available for PCs and mobile devices in Google Play and Apple store. It works well for people who want to learn Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean…). Lessons include listening, word matching, typing, and quizzes.
- Duolingo: A popular language learning app. You can either take a placement test, to begin with, your current level or start from scratch. In each lesson you have only a few chances to make the wrong choice, so be careful not to “lose the game”.
- HelloTalk: Learn different languages by talking with people from all around the world who speak the language you want to learn. You need to put in your native language and the one you want to learn when you first sign up for a new account.
- Drops: This app features in its minimalist illustration and 5-minute session limit per day. It’s a vocabulary-based learning app that focuses only on curated words that are in practical use.
- Learning Japanese(by Tae Kim’s Guide): The app version of Tae Kim’s Guide online Japanese lessons. You will learn the Japanese writing system, basic and essential grammar, special expression and advanced contents from this app.
- Easy Japanese – News JLPT Dict: Provides news in simple Japanese from famous news channels, such as NHK, CNN, MBC and so on. Learners can access free audios, videos, and articles in this app. It suits Japanese learners of any level who want to practice reading, speaking and listening skills!
- Japan Radio-Learn Japanese: An app for you to practice Japanese listening and speaking by listening to Japanese local radios and chatting with friends.
- Japanese by Nemo: Learn essential Japanese words and phrases and practice your accent with Speech Studio from this app. Downloadable audio recorded by native Japanese speaker let you learn natural Japanese offline.
- Kanji Study: A well-organized app for learning kanji. The creator break kanji into subsets to let users rate each one based on how well users recognize them. Readings, definitions, stroke order animations, and examples are presented for each kanji.
- Manabi Reader: This free app provides short, native Japanese texts every day that helps you improve your Japanese reading skill and expend your Japanese vocabulary. It also features a one-tap word lookup function, quite handy and time-saving. Besides, people on the app store mostly find it helpful and impressive.
Learn Japanese with Other Resources
- Quizlet: A useful flashcard tool for you to create your own or find others’ flashcards to memorize Japanese vocabularies.
- Memrise: A language learning tool that includes lots of listening and speaking opportunities for you to sharpen those skills. You can learn Japanese with locals who can help you become more familiar with using Japanese.
- Anki: This flashcard app lets you save time studying Japanese so that you learn more efficiently. It supports multiple forms of flashcards, including images, audio, videos and markup by which you can memorize things through creative ways.
- r/LearnJapanese: A subreddit group where you can find Japanese learners and discussion threads for anything relating to Japanese language learning, including study advice and learning resources.
- HiNative: Created by Lang-8 for language learners to ask questions to native speakers from around the world. Their ultimate goal is to make HiNative an international community for language learners to help each other.
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Let’s make learning Japanese fun and easy!