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A comprehensive Japanese language-learning pack from Innovative Languages, which includes everything a beginner (or intermediate-level learner) needs: audio and video lessons, flashcards, and downloadable PDF lessons. You’ll find tons of helpful content and while the platform isn’t perfect, they offer lots of useful materials at a reasonable price. Review.
It is great to have a native speaker to practice Japanese with you from the first day. If you don’t have someone already, you can find one – a tutor, teacher, or a language exchange partner – on Italki. Chatting with a conversation exchange partner won’t cost you money. Lessons from professional teachers will, but you’ll spend significantly less than you thought you would. Also, if you are a native speaker of a language other than English, you can find someone who speaks your language too. Read our review of italki.
The Pimsleur method is an older course which some people swear by and others feel is outdated and overpriced. You learn to speak the language by listening, imitating (syllable by syllable) and answering questions. The lessons are 30 minutes long, require full concentration, and you speak throughout. The addition of a subscription option makes it so Pimsleur is no longer overpriced but instead, quite good value. Read the full review.
If you’re looking for something like Duolingo but better, try out LingoDeer. The Japanese course teaches grammar and vocabulary from JLPT N5 . Beginners can benefit massively from various exercise types, real human pronunciation recordings, detailed and clear grammar notes, built-in reviews, and offline mode. Read our review of Lingodeer.
Skritter is an app that can help you learn to write Japanese. On your phone’s touchscreen, you can write characters using your finger. It has handwriting recognition so that you can see how well you wrote the character. In addition, there are flashcards to make the time you spend studying more efficient. Review.
Memrise courses are usually fun. Most of them are generated by users, and the quality varies, but when you pick one, learning the lessons is like playing a game. The concept of the app will make you memorize words, phrases, spelling, pronunciation, syntax, just name it. And you can choose from hundreds of courses or create your own. Any 5 minutes of your spare is a good time to learn Japanese, on any device. Best of all, these courses are entirely free. Read the full review of Memrise.
Busuu is one of the most popular language learning apps, but it doesn’t do Japanese very well. It’s reasonably well designed, but there are apps that do the same thing Busuu does (or better) at a similar cost or for free. My favorite feature however is that you can have your writing corrected by other users, and this part is free. I found Busuu to be great for receiving feedback, but unfortunately it’s not worth paying for a subscription. Read the full review of Busuu.
The creators of LingQ promise you’ll never need a boring textbook again. The natural process of learning through context is more pleasant and surprisingly more effective than memorizing grammar rules. You can pick the content you find most interesting – and the choice is large – and read and listen to the subjects that interest you. They may try to do too much, from language exchanges to avatars and coins, but the reading section, which is LingQ’s main feature, can be a really useful tool. Read the full review of LingQ.
Tandem is a language exchange app created to connect learners from around the world. You can teach someone the language you speak and they’ll help you learn the language you’d like to learn. It comes with lots of useful features to make connecting with other users easy and facilitate language practice. Read our full review of Tandem.
LinguaLift is an online course that claims to be able to teach you to speak, write, and read Japanese. And although the lessons are somewhat fun, with jokes scattered throughout, it’s not a resource I would recommend paying for. The focus seems to be on reading Japanese, with very little emphasis on learning to speak. The large amount of English used makes progressing through the course rather slow. Read the full review of LinguaLift.
Satori Reader is a great resource for those looking to focus mostly on their Japanese reading and grammar skills. It consists mainly of weekly articles and dialogues annotated to help teach you vocabulary and grammar. Fortunately, the articles are enjoyable enough to make you want to keep coming back. It also contains a built-in spaced repetition software to help you memorize the vocabulary from the articles as well as audio files so you can listen along. If you’re brand new to Japanese then maybe put this one aside for now, but if you feel that you’re getting too advanced for typical textbook material then give this one a try. Its goal is to get you from Japanese meant for Japanese learners to Japanese meant for native speakers. Read the full review.
FSI language courses were developed by Foreign Service Institute – U. S. Department of State using the FAST methodology (Familiarization & Short-Term Training). The FSI Japanese Fast Course covers the essentials comprehensively, and includes textbooks and audio recordings. Japanese Headstart Course is more concise and includes self-evaluation tests. These materials are considerably old and a bit old-fashioned, without any interactive solutions or flashcards – you might even need a teacher to guide through – but they are very thorough and entirely free.
Rocket Languages has three levels of their course available, starting at the absolute basics. It’s not the best course in any area, but it does fairly well with most things. The lessons rely far too heavily on pure memorization exercises and don’t require enough critical thinking skills. Overall, it’s not a great course but is fairly good. Review.
Glossika is another course that promises to teach you Japanese without memorizing the rules. The keyword here is internalization – you internalize grammar rules and adopt the patterns of speech, by repeating the most commonly used sentences in the Japanese language. However, not everyone would be thrilled with the study material – it consists of isolated sentences, without any context or story – but many say it works for them. We’ve found it to be overpriced for what is offered. Read the review of Glossika.
This app is quite different from the “canon” language learning resources. It is a compilation of videos in Japanese (among other languages), supplemented by the interactive captions, so you can have a pleasant time watching interesting stuff and learning on the way as if you had someone to explain everything to you in real time. While there is a free trial available, you’ll need to subscribe to enjoy the benefits. Unfortunately, I found it to be a bit underwhelming. Read the full FluentU review.
Human Japanese is a quality resource that is put together much like an interactive textbook. It contains very clear and detailed explanations that are great for any serious beginning Japanese learner to get a good base of the language. However, to really commit things to memory you’ll likely have to use your favorite study technique as the course doesn’t do a whole lot for you here. The course naturally builds on itself, which make it easy to stick to, and it’s engaging enough to make you want to. Combining Human Japanese with a resource that allows for a lot of communication practice can be an excellent way to gain proficiency in the Japanese language. Read our review of Human Japanese.
Mondo is an app that makes it easier to read Japanese. You can click on words and see their definition. Additionally, you can see translated articles from sites like BBC and TechCrunch. You can also test yourself on new words you’re learning, use their flashcards, and meet new people. Some features are free but you’ll need to upgrade for others.
Probably the best language exchange platform – a mobile app that allows you to connect with native speakers of the Japanese language, chat with them, and help them acquire a command of your native language in return. It supports text, voice, and video; contains tools for pronunciation, translation, and corrections; is free and easy to use.
If you’re looking for a convenient and simple app to help you learn a language then Word Dive may be a good fit for you. Word Dive provides a rather efficient and effective way to study vocabulary through their spaced-repetition algorithm and entertaining interface. Unfortunately, it lags behind in its grammar explanations which tend to be rather high-level and leave a lot to be desired. It’s likely best used in conjunction with other methods as it doesn’t really provide any support for speaking or listening skills. Read the full review of Word Dive.
Japanese Ammo with Misa
There are several kinds of Japanese lessons on this channel, including elementary Japanese, grammar lessons for beginners, useful phrases, writing Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, and a number of videos in Japanese with English subs. Misa pays special attention to common mistakes, and you’ll find plenty of advice on how to avoid them – and especially how to avoid some extremely rude and embarrassing mistakes.
A popular program that enables you to learn many things using flashcards and spaced repetition, and is especially convenient for language learning. You can use an existing deck, created by some of the users – and there are over hundred shared decks for Japanese – or create your own. Anki is an open-source app that works on most of the operating systems, and enables you to sync your decks across devices.
That Japanese Man Yuta
Yuta Aoki interviews random people in Tokyo, and talks about some interesting stuff, such as dating, tatoos, cars, anime, religion, money, and a lot more. Learn real Japanese, broaden your vocabulary, and have fun doing so.
Clozemaster is a great way to practice vocabulary, sentence structures, and reading by completing tons of fill in the blank exercises. You can fill in the blank by either typing the answer or choose from a multiple choice option. You’ll score points as you go. While there is a pro plan, the free version offers a ton of value.
A fancy language learning software and app that nearly everyone has heard of. It may also be known as one of the most overpriced apps that offers considerably less than many free ones. You can start with a trial version and actually learn several nice phrases in Japanese, but the lessons that follow – which you’d have to pay for – won’t help you move much. However, if you’re struggling with concentration issues and love to learn in tiny steps with lots of (often unnecessary) repetition, you may wish to try it. Read the full review of Rosetta Stone.
This app uses video content to explain the Japanese language. There’s a premium subscription plan that allows you to watch some in-depth video lessons, but the free videos (which you can watch on Youtube) are super useful as well.
This app aims to enable you to learn Japanese from any of the 33 languages that they support. The learning starts with listening to a conversation, memorizing core words, and using them to generate other phrases and sentences. At the end of a lesson, you are supposed to be able to reconstruct the conversation. I wasn’t very impressed when I tried Mondly and think there are other superior products in the same price range. Read the full review of Mondly.
Let’s Study Japanese! (Nihongo 123)
These 380 lessons created by the staff of the University of Tsukuba are meant to help you learn and practice Japanese grammar patterns along with vocabulary. As soon as you register, you get the access to dialogue videos (with scripts), listening and speaking exercises, and vocabulary flash cards. The lessons cover everything from the basics to an intermediate level.
Live Lingua is an online language school. The tutors are native speakers from Japan who are required to speak a second language and hold university degrees. The lessons cost $29/hour (the price depends on the certificate you’re after and the number of lessons you purchase at once), but the first one is free. You can also use what they claim to be the internet’s largest collection of free public domain language learning materials. Read the full review of Live Lingua.
At the moment, there are over a hundred different Udemy courses of the Japanese language available. The quality varies, the price not that much – most of these courses are offered at the discount price of $11.99. It is hard to tell whether all of them are worth paying, but there is something for everyone. All levels are covered, and some of the courses have quizzes included.
BBC Language Guides
BBC offers excellent resources for most languages of the world. Although Japanese is not as thoroughly covered as European languages and Chinese, the Language Guides section offers a great starting point: 10 Japanese language facts in Japanese (mp3, transcripts, and the English translation), 20 essential phrases, “quick fix,” and learning tips.
The Japan Foundation has created this Japanese language learning platform, where you can chose between 45 self-study and 23 tutor-support courses – and all of them are free. The main course is Marugoto – an integrated 6-month course with interactive e-learning materials, designed to help you acquire solid communication skills in Japanese. Other courses include Hiragana and Katakana A1 self-study courses, Japanese in Anime and Manga, Haiku, and much more.
Akirademy (Akira Education)
Another nice resource for the learners of Japanese with short attention spans. The five courses – Hiragana, Katakana, Basic Japanese, Basic Conversation, and the Advanced Japanese Course – contain 25 hours of lessons, chunked into five-minute bites and gamified, so that it wouldn’t feel like you’re putting any effort at all. They use voice recognition to correct and grade your audio submissions. In addition to the IT assets, you can chat with Japanese teachers and other native speakers of this language. The full access to all courses costs between $13 and $6 a month, depending on the plan, and there is a free trial as well.
One of the most popular free language sources, Duolingo offers fun, bite-sized lessons of Japanese. 5 minutes a day is supposed to be enough to develop solid reading, writing, and speaking skills. It is easy to use and it feels like you’re playing a game. Unlocking new levels and earning virtual coins keeps you motivated and, if we are to believe to the authors, 34 hours of Duolingo are equally valuable as one semester in the university. Unfortunately, Duolingo tends to not do such a good job with Asian languages.
If you aren’t sure how to pronounce a certain word or phrase in Japanese – from greetings, apologies and flirting (Do you have a boyfriend? – 彼氏はいるんですか？) to whichever expression you may find in the book you’re reading – you can type it down in Forvo, and hear it pronounced by a native speaker.
Modern Japanese Grammar: A Practical Guide
A comprehensive, innovative, and practical reference guide for intermediate and advanced learners of Japanese. It covers both traditional grammatical categories and practical language functions including all those situations that are vital for communication. There is an accompanying workbook available too as a separate item on Amazon.
Tango Risto takes Japanese articles from the web and analyzes them for their difficulty level. You can look up and save words as you go, making it easier to review them later. Best of all, it’s free to use.
This large collection of fairy tales in Japanese includes over 3000 stories – from traditional folk tales, both Japanese and international, to contemporary Halloween horror stories – over 1600 audio readings, nearly 1000 English translations, and lots of animated tales on Youtube. Use the keyword search to find the tales that interest you the most. You might want to use Google Translate (or any similar tool) to navigate.
The Mosalingua app is essentially a way to memorize basic vocabulary and phrases. It focuses on the most important, “the 20% that you’ll use 80% of the time,” and relies on advanced learning, association, and memorization techniques. There are additional features on the web version, and while a subscription does cost money, there’s a free 15-day trial available.
Audible is Amazon’s audiobook service and also an excellent resource for learning Japanese. Although there is currently no great selection of audiobooks in Japanese, you’ll find several courses from popular language learning resources such as Pimsleur and Innovative Language (Japanese Pod 101). Best of all, you can get a 30-day free trial which includes two free audiobooks!
A 5-minutes-a-day app that helps you memorize words (mostly nouns) with the help of simple visual illustrations. Includes games and exercises that cover vocabulary (matching word and image), spelling and translation. It feels effortless but it is efficient and you do learn those words, but without any context or grammatical construction.
While most language learning apps focus on flashcards and memorization, this one utilizes a different approach. It lets you learn the language naturally by simultaneously reading and listening to various stories in Japanese and your native language (as long as you speak one of the 13 languages they cover at the moment). This way, you learn words within a context and internalize grammar rules at the same time.
17 Minute Languages
More than half of the reviews on Trustpilot rate 17 Minute Languages as ‘Bad’ and unfortunately we don’t disagree. The courses are full of bad translations which makes it difficult to trust other aspects of the courses. There are also no explanations to anything and the exercises themselves aren’t at all engaging. One good thing about the courses however are that they use audio from native-speakers which isn’t that impressive for a language like Japanese, but can be for less-common languages. As far as learning Japanese is concerned we definitely recommend taking a look at other resources as there isn’t really any reason to use this one. Review.
Readlang Web Reader is an extension for Google Chrome that enables you to read online content in over 40 languages. Japanese is still in a beta phase, but it is perfectly usable. Just click any word or phrase and you’ll have it translated and saved in the flashcard library. The free version is limited to 10 phrases a day, while the number of individual words you can translate remains unrestricted.
Lingbe is a language exchange platform that’s a bit different than the others. With Lingbe, you don’t need to find someone to talk with, you simply click the call button and they will connect you with a native speaker of the language you’re learning. That can help get rid of some people’s anxieties and time wasted finding someone to talk with. After the conversation, if both people click the like button, you’ll be added to each other’s friend list and you can chat with them anytime.
Currently the most popular Japanese pop-up translator for Chrome. Although the developer says the extension has not been done as he wanted, many thousands of users seem to love it.
Speaky is a social language-learning app for those looking to engage with others while learning their target language. The app contains a large database of users with which you can chat, share photos, leave voice messages and even have voice calls. There is a paid version that allows you more than five automatic translations when chatting with someone, but for the most part the app is free. There definitely are other resources out there that do more or less the same thing, so if you’ve used other social language apps then you probably have a good idea as to what to expect with Speaky. If you aren’t a total beginner and want some practice with real-life individuals then Speaky may be something to look into. Read the full review.
Preply is a global platform that allows you to find a Japanese tutor from the country of your liking. You can find a number of qualified teachers and pick one according to your needs (business/conversational/intensive Japanese, lessons for beginners or children) and budget. They use Skype, which allows you do speak, write and share materials with your tutor, just like you would do in a classroom.
Verbling is a good platform for finding tutors online and you can book lessons directly from the teacher. You can see how many lessons each teacher has given, their rating on the site, and a short video introduction of their experience. However, prices are higher and the number of teachers lower compared to italki. Read our review of Verbling.
If you love Assimil, you’ll get disappointed to hear that their standard course of Japanese is only in French. The edition in English is available as a two-volume series called “Japanese With Ease,” and there is a Japanese script writing guide “Writing Japanese With Ease: Kanji Stroke-by-Stroke” available as a separate item.
Dictionarist – Popup Dictionary
This browser extension for Chrome makes it much easier to look up the meaning of words in Japanese (and other languages) while reading online. A tool like this can make reading challenging content much more manageable.
Flowlingo helps you to immerse yourself in a language via tv shows, music, books, blogs, and more. You can highlight sections of text and get translations. It is still quite new and has a lot of potential for improvement. Japanese is only available in the free mobile app.
Japanese from Zero
A popular comprehensive guide through the Japanese language for beginners. Includes detailed, easily comprehensible explanation of the grammar rules and forms, and over 800 essential words and phrases. Glossary items are given in Kana and Romaji. You’ll learn to use the Hiragana writing system (Katakana is explained in the volume 2, which is sold separately). There are also volumes 3 and 4, and a couple of other books named Kanji/Kana/Hiragana/Katakana from Zero by the same author.
Another free app from the Duolingo team, for those who love bite-sized lessons, spaced repetition and gamification. You can pick from the endless list of Japanese flashcard decks, or create your own. The app is fun, easy to use, and available on all platforms.
Learn Japanese 365
Learn useful expressions in Japanese, the 1000 basic sentences, vocabulary, grammar, and conversation patterns. Watch the lessons on Youtube and download the PDFs on their website.
AJALT (Association for Japanese-Language Teaching)
This reputable institution specializing in Japanese language teaching offers plenty of free materials for language learners.You can learn vocabulary, grammar, conversation, and reading at all levels. There are also crossword puzzles and other language games, as well as some informative articles about the history of kanji. In addition to the free online content, you can purchase a number of textbooks or get private or group tuition.
The Japanese Language Center for International Students and the Information Collaboration Center of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies have jointly developed some great materials for beginners and intermediate level learners of Japanese. The lessons cover various aspects of the language. The beginner level lessons are available in several languages, while intermediate ones have navigation in Japanese only. Registration is required, but it is free.
A Q&A app created by the Lang-8 team. You can ask questions to native speakers of Japanese, and answer those made by the learners of your language. Available on iOS and Android. Read our full review of HiNative.
The Living Language Japanese comes as the Complete Edition and contains three Books (beginners, intermediate, and advanced level), nine CDs, and free online learning resources: games, flashcards, and interactive quizzes. The Platinum Edition also includes live e-tutoring. There is also the Essential Edition coursebook available for beginners.
OptiLingo uses a process called Guided Immersion to teach the most common words and phrases in the language you’re learning and place them in the context of everyday activities. It also incorporates Spaced Repetition Systems so that you can retain information more efficiently. They focus a lot on listening and speaking to help you develop an ear for the language.
These lessons are only available for the learners in the USA, Canada, UK & Ireland, Australia & NZ, Brazil, Germany, and Spain. The approach is highly personalized. After you’ve taken their free language proficiency test and completed a trial skype lesson, you’d get a qualified native teacher develop a curriculum based on your needs and work with you in one-on-one sessions. There are also some specialized courses available, such as Japanese for business, healthcare, family relationships, real estate, relocation, and more.
Tatoeba is a different kind of dictionary – an impressive database of translated sentences, created and maintained by the user community (which you can join). Enter the word, and you’ll get in translated in numerous contexts and sentences.
These 300+ video lessons are meant to enable you to watch anime without subtitles. Lots of anime catchphrases are explained, essential vocabulary introduced, as well as the most common grammar patterns. There’s no textbooks or traditional lessons, just anime.
This provider offers several apps for learning Japanese. With average score of 4,7 stars from over 10000 users who reviewed it, the free app “Tengugo Kana (Hiragana & Katakana)” is a great option for any beginner. This and other apps are available on Android, iOS, Amazon Apps, and online on the TenguGo website.
University of Tsukuba – e-Learning for Japanese
A set of self-teaching materials for international learners of Japanese, developed by the University of Tsukuba. There are three types of materials they provide. “Learn” consists of multimedia content that helps you learn kana, grammar, sentence structure, and common expressions. “Talk” enables you to speak with other learners of Japanese as well as some native speakers in a virtual chat room. “Write” is all about written communication – you can write short pieces, like essays and diaries, and then share them with other students and teachers. Registration is required, and the developers recommend using Chrome.
Learn Japanese Offline (ufostudio)
This is a free phrasebook app that works completely offline. It contains over 1000 most frequently used phrases, organized in 18 categories, which include general conversation, time and date, directions & places, eating out, family, and more. All entries are followed by native pronunciation.
Aozora Bunko is a large internet library comprising nearly 15000 copyright-free books, including famous Japanese literary masterpieces. Just chose a book, download it, and read it. This site does not provide a dictionary or any similar tool (you can use any dictionary while you’re reading), but you won’t find such huge base of reading material in Japanese anywhere else.
Easy Japanese (Easy Languages)
This YouTube channel takes you to the streets of several cities in Japan, enabling you to listen to a variety of native Japanese voices. The episodes have a form of street interviews with random passers-by, yet the questions are not random. Each episode has a topic, which makes it easier for you to find what you’re interested in on their channel. There are no grammar lessons in these videos, and the speech you’ll hear is not always grammatically perfect, but you’ll get a feel of the language as it is spoken in everyday life. The videos contain subtitles in both Japanese and English.
The free Learn Japanese – Grammar app contains over 200 grammar lessons, which you learn in context. At the same time, it covers over 5000 phrases organized in 60 categories. Meanings of words and grammar concepts are explained by numerous example sentences.
Learn Japanese Phrasebook (Codegent)
A convenient phrasebook app that helps you learn essential Japanese words and phrases and includes audio recordings made by native speakers. The free version contains over 400 frequently used words, phrases, and sentences, while the pro version offers more than 900 entries. Available on iOS and Android.
Japanese-English Translator (Klays-Development)
Another free translator app that enables instant translations of words and entire sentences. It includes a list of favorite words and phrases, and supports voice input. Available on Android.
Colloquial Japanese (Routledge Colloquial Languages)
Routledge’s Colloquial Japanese is a complete course for beginners and it contains the up-to-date textbook, accompanied by audio files which you can download for free. Colloquial Japanese helps you learn Japanese as it is written and spoken today. The explanations are both meticulous and easy to understand. The goal is to grow your skills and speak Japanese confidently in various situations.
This resource offers free lessons for beginners (integrative Japanese lessons, vocabulary, phrases, and grammar) that consist of text and audio recordings, and a chance to contact the course creator and book some one-on-one lessons.
Japanese Language Proficiency Test
The Official Worldwide Japanese Proficiency Test (JLPT) website contains all the info you need about taking the test from any part of the world – from the registration and preparation, to results. You’ll also find sample questions, free practice workbook (downloadable PDF and MP3) and other useful materials.
The language learning software and online course used by many public institutions in the US. The creators have developed the so-called “Declarative Method” (focus on long-term memory) and “Declarative Acceleration” technique to make the newly acquired knowledge stick. Unfortunately, we weren’t impressed. Review.
Learn with Oliver
Online dictionary accompanied by vocabulary-building flashcards in five levels (from total beginner to very advanced) and sentence practice. It also has some dialogues and jokes written in Japanese (Kana, Kanji, and romanized script), English, and recorded in Japanese.
NHK World – Easy Japanese
NHK World Radio Japan has a weekly podcast in the form of audio-drama developed by highly qualified teachers and narrated by native Japanese with flawless pronunciation. You can download MP3 and the corresponding PDF files, and you’ll find a range of free grammar and vocabulary lessons for beginners, including some ready-made expressions for travelers.
Nihongo o Narau – Learn Japanese
An older website comprising a free online course of Japanese. The lessons cover pronunciation, vocabulary, reading and writing practice – including both Hiragana and Katakana, grammar lessons and reviews, Japanese songs, and more.
An app designed to help you learn, drill, and remember Japanese kanji, radicals (bushu) and primitive elements. Contains flashcards, multiple choice drills, writing practice drills with stroke order animation, keyboard and handwriting recognition. Experimental features include optical character recognition. This tool is meant to help you pass the 5 levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N5 to N1).
Cudoo is not a course that we recommend. The quality is very low and the price is quite high. The material is not very engaging, contains no language explanations other than translations, and doesn’t give you a lot of opportunities to practice. One of the only good things about Cudoo, other than the fact it contains native speaker audio, is that it offers a wide variety of languages including rare languages that can be difficult to find other resources for. Fortunately, a language like Japanese has many options available so there’s no reason for you to need to use Cudoo. We wouldn’t even recommend it if it were free. Read the full review of Cudoo.
The Japan Foundation has created this Japanese language learning platform, where you can chose between 45 self-study and 23 tutor-support courses – and all of them are free. The main course is Marugoto – an integrated 6-month course with interactive e-learning materials, designed to help you acquire solid communication skills in Japanese. Other courses include Hiragana and Katakana A1 self-study courses, Japanese in Anime and Manga, Haiku, and much more.
Erin’s Challenge – I Can Speak Japanese
A Japanese language learning video series with fun, easy to watch episodes featuring the language and helping you develop a cultural understanding. The 25 episodes are sorted by subject – from greetings, indicating things, and making requests, to making assumptions, expressing desires, explaining, giving reasons, and conveying how you feel. It is all free but you can buy a DVD and textbook if you wish.
Ready, Steady, NihonGO!
Developed jointly by the Japan Society and the Japan Foundation, this complete resource follows the KS2 Modern Foreign Languages (upper elementary) curriculum. The ten 45-minutes lessons — accompanied by thorough notes on language and culture, worksheets, flash cards, presentations, and more — are designed to be used as the primary resource in a classroom, but are great as a self-learning material as well. The content is free online in a form of a flash presentation. Alternatively, you can buy a CD from the Japan Society.
Japanese in Anime and Manga
Great resource for the all-level learners of Japanese – as long as they enjoy Manga and Anime. Learn the Japanese vocabulary (and a bit of grammar) through familiar character and genre (romance, school, ninja, samurai) based expressions that often appear in your favorite animes. The language is casual, the explanations are given in the form of manga, and the practice consists in taking quizzes and playing games.
Tokyo Metropolitan University – mic J
Tokyo Metropolitan University provides a number of quality free mini resources for learning Japanese, including elementary Japanese course (PDF textbook, audio dialogue, grammar explanation, and video quiz), listening practice and interactive listening quizzes for all levels, reading materials for intermediate and advanced learners, interviews with Japanese and international students, and more.
Several tools designed to help you learn Japanese, including a dictionary (Japanese to Japanese, English, Dutch, German, Spanish, and Slovene), a toolbox, a number of reading resources, and grammar quizes. In addition to Japanese and English, the site is available in German and Dutch. Other site functionalities include checking the difficulty degree of words and kanji, locating and explaining various grammar structures displayed in the reading material, and more.
Conversation Countdown (Fluent in 3 months)
For those who are not very self-disciplined and are only efficient under pressure, “Fluent in 3 months” offers a crash-course that aims to help you develop a ‘mission-mentality’ and strategize your learning. The 7 lessons consist of bare essentials and shortcuts, but the fact that you have a scheduled conversation with a native Japanese speaker in a week creates a sense of emergency and keeps you super-motivated.
Get Started in Japanese (Teach Yourself)
The Teach Yourself Language edition contains two courses of Japanese. This Absolute Beginner Course of Japanese consists of the book and MP3 CDs, which cover the basic grammar and vocabulary and help develop listening, reading, writing, speaking and pronunciation skills. Teach Yourself also offers Complete Japanese course (beginner to intermediate), which can help you learn Japanese script, develop a cultural awareness, and take the four core language skills to a solid intermediate level.
GreenLife Apps – Japanese English Translator
This translator app offers sentence correction and voice recognition. You can use it to translate emails and sms messages as you receive them (the free version lets you do this 50 times). Your translation history is saved for your reference.
This tool is designed to make learning Japanese through reading simple and more enjoyable. Once you’ve created a free account, you can use the Japanese IO Chrome app, which allows you to read any content in Japanese, on any website, and have word lookups and example sentences just a click away.
Bravolol / Learn Japanese Phrases
A phrasebook app for iOS and Android that helps you to pronounce and memorize the most common words and phrases in Japanese. Includes clear audio and you don’t need internet connection to practice the language.
Another platform that enables you to speak Japanese with native speakers on Skype. There are teachers from all over the world available. They use a standardized framework of references to describe your progress – the European one. As for the learning process, you choose a tutor according to their profile, feedback from other learners, price, location, and availability; book a lesson (a part of the fee should be paid in advance) and there you go.
The goal of Rype App is to be the go-to app for busy individuals who don’t have a lot of time to learn a language. It supposed to do this through one-on-one Skype lessons available 24 hours a day. For Japanese however, the number of available teachers is extremely low compared to other resources like Italki. Probably the biggest issue surrounding Rype App is that it just doesn’t offer anything unique that you couldn’t find better elsewhere and for less. One good thing about it is that it offers 30-minute long lessons which does help with the flexibility aspect, but isn’t by any means exclusive to Rype App. Read the full review of Rype App.
Bab.la is a dictionary – and a lot more than a dictionary. It translates words within the context rather than isolated. Bab.la is a powerful tool which you can use to, for example, write an impressive cover letter in the language of your liking (in this case, Japanese) and prepare for the interview by finding the right sentences in your native language and defining the language pair (e.g., English-Japanese). It is free to use, and you can download thematic mini-phrasebooks from any page.
A vulgar phrasebook of Japanese, more fun than useful, that will present you the common slang of the Japanese, from casual street-talk, funny ways to ask someone to go to bed with you, to serious insults. Use it with caution, especially because it seems that this book contains phrases and idioms that are not in use anymore. There is a workbook available as a separate item.
RhinoSpike helps you get Japanese language audio on demand. It is a language-learning exchange network and great tool for listening/speaking practice. If there is any piece of text that you’d like to have read aloud and recorded, just submit a request, and a native Japanese speaker will provide an MP3 file. In return, you’d be expected to help those who are learning your native language. You can also listen to some of the 6770 existing recordings in Japanese to get a feel of how it works.
Listening comprehension practice for beginners. The content is based on the textbook called “Genki – An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese Volume 1,” but you don’t have to own this book in order to take advantage of this site. Just listen to some of the 12 audio clips as many times you want, and then take the comprehension quiz.
The basic vocabulary of the Japanese language in images and sound. When you touch an object, word, or phrase, it is pronounced aloud. It contains the entries on numbers, body parts, clothing, food, animals, and family.
Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flash Cards Kit
200 two-sided flash cards featuring 1128 most commonly used Japanese words and phrases in Hiragana and Katakana, and two large wall charts. Great for consolidating your knowledge and memorizing the words, but might be too overwhelming for absolute beginners (without any previous knowledge of any of the Japanese scripts). Audio recordings and booklet included. Other resources from the same publisher include the Japanese Kanji Flash Cards in two volumes, Japanese for Kids Flash Cards, and more.
Japanese For Dummies
If you’ve read some of the books from “For Dummies” series, you already know what to expect – an easy-to-follow guide through the basics and some interesting phrases and idioms that will help you have a small talk and won’t leave you helpless on the street. There is also the popular top-tens section, which includes ten quick ways to pick up Japanese swiftly, ten popular slang expressions, and ten expressions that can make you sound fluent. The complimentary audio CD features some real-life conversations between native speakers of the language.
Another free app for beginners that can help you build an essential vocabulary base. All entries are followed by audio recordings and work in offline mode. Lots of adds though.
Resources and information for Japanese language teachers and students. Includes a number of textbooks and a lot of exercises and tests. On separate sections of this website, you can find some free local classes or practice your accent. Intermediate level learners can learn Japanese dialects in addition to the standard Japanese.
One of the most popular translation apps, available for iOS and Android. The free version allows you to translate text from and into more than 100 languages, including Japanese. Other features include transliteration, sharing, and audio in male and female voices. Pro features include offline mode, verb conjugations, voice-to-voice conversations, website translation, and lens – you can use your camera to translate signs, menus, and more. The last two functionalilies are available only on iOS.
One Word One World
Japanese language quizzes for students, created by Yuko Nakaishi of the Hiroshima University. Learn intransitive and transitive verbs, as well as onomatopoeia, using texts and video, and practice by answering multiple choice questions.
Polly Lingual offers online courses for beginners and intermediate learners, and one aimed especially at travelers. The lessons cover all aspects of the language, include cultural references, and contain audio recordings. You can also hire a teacher (a “Polly Ambassador”) to help you with the lessons, or ask a relevant question and get a video answer for free.
A Frequency Dictionary of Japanese (Routledge)
The 5000 most frequently used Japanese words; core vocabulary, with detailed explanations, translations, and sample sentences. There are two main listings – the frequency list and the alphabetical one – but you can also find the word you need using thematically organized lists.
A free resource for beginners in Japanese, which allows you to practice basic vocabulary, spelling, and grammar through online (flash) games.
A community-driven Q&A site for teachers and learners of many languages, including Japanese. Anybody can join and discuss the delicacies of the language and individual expressions. You can ask questions, offer the solutions for someone else’s dilemmas, and vote for the responses that you find the best. The most helpful entries are voted up and appear close to the top of the thread. It is free, but it is not for beginners; you’ll need some command of Japanese to participate in the conversation.
TUFS Language Modules
The Tokyo University of Foreign Studies has developed the Language modules to help Japanese students learn other languages and international students (English, French, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, Thai, or Mongolian) to learn Japanese. You can practice the standard pronunciation in three modules – 1. for survival, 2. for fluent communication, and 3. for pronunciation as good as native speakers – or you can listen to (and read) dialogues and practice your reading and listening skills. The dialogues cover 40 common situations and each is presented through four different patterns.
A free dictionary and, more importantly, a community forum where you can find and interact with people like you, doing the same as you do – studying Japanese and pondering over the ways to express themselves using that language.
501 Japanese Verbs
This combined book and software package contains the 501 most commonly used verbs (and 1000 additional ones, which are conjugated similarly as the 501 in the title) presented in tables. One page contains a single verb in all its forms in Japanese, which helps you notice the patterns behind grammatical structures, and the English translation.
Japanese Phrases for Travelers
This simple website contains a number of essential words, phrases, and sentences, listed by theme. Each entry consists of the word/sentence in English, Japanese translation in the Roman script, audio recording, Kanji script, and Kanji translation of isolated words found within the phrase or sentence.
Book2 (50 Languages / Goethe Verlag)
100 free lessons for beginners and intermediate learners of Japanese. The course includes text (free on the website, but if you’d prefer a physical book, you can buy it on Amazon), and audio files spoken by native speakers. The free mobile app contains 30 lessons, tests and games. The paid version contains the same volume of content, but it is add-free. The goal of the course is to learn the basics quickly, and use them in typical situations. You don’t need to know English (as long as you speak one of the 50 world’s most popular languages); it is possible to learn Japanese using your native language.
If you’re just about to begin learning Japanese, this is a good place to start. The basics of Japanese are thoroughly explained here. The in-depth articles (with audio content) cover grammar, useful phrases, pronunciation, the writing systems of the Japanese language, and much more. There are also articles about the Japanese educational system, history, culture, and lifestyle.
Free multilingual text to speech solution that works on PC, Android, iOS, and online as the Chrome extension. Talkify instantly recognizes supported languages (including Japanese), and reads any webpage or PDF (beta). You can even save audio as MP3.
Spotify is more than just a music-streaming service. It offers a large number of free language lessons, including quite a few Japanese lessons. Although there are no official Japanese audio lessons by Spotify available yet, there is other content available, such as language-learning playlists created by users, podcasts, audiobooks, Disney movies, and more.
A free collection of videos and transcripts covering everyday situations and conversations in Japanese. The material is developed by the staff of the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages (FCCSWL) with the help of student native speakers from the Five College Consortium.
A comprehensive collection of online dictionaries, including Japanese-English dictionaries, thesaurus, slang dictionaries, and more. A multilingual keyboard is incorporated. The English version of the site does not contain all the pages of the original one.
A free online community-created grammar book and course (beginners to advanced). The Japanese wikibook contains a guide through both Japanese scripts, Kana and Kanji, some reading practice material, a thorough explanation (with audio) of the Japanese pronunciation and accent, and the usual vocabulary and grammar lessons for beginners and beyond.
Imperfect as it is, Google Translate is a powerful and immensely useful tool – as long as we use it properly and don’t expect to get 100% correct and complete translations from it. The outcome is always a work in progress. A considerable portion of actual work is finished instantly, but you still need to do your part. You can use it to translate words, documents, and entire websites. The translation is editable with a lot of ready-made alternatives for any word or phrase. The extension for Google Chrome enables you to translate and navigate through the interface of sites that are entirely in Japanese. You can use the Japanese characters – or even draw them – thanks to the virtual keyboard.
600 Basic Japanese Verbs
A fairly comprehensive Japanese verb usage guide. Contains 600 most frequently used verbs, their pronunciation, the meaning in English, 30 Japanese tenses, speech levels, and moods. The Japanese text is written in Kanji, Kana, and romanized script.
The Freelang dictionary is a free online dictionary and a platform which enables you to have some (short, non-commercial) content translated for free by a volunteer, or to find a professional to translate whatever material you may have. The dictionary supports only romanized Japanese, and not Japanese script.
Another convenient compilation of essentials in Japanese. Helpful if you’re visiting Japan, but insufficient for those who wish to gain comprehensive knowledge of the Japanese language and grammar. Popular phrases are accompanied with variations, as there is always more than one way to say something. This site can help you practice pronunciation, but it is not interactive and requires you to go back and forth until you lose your patience and go to another site.
If you’re a language student struggling with the Japanese verb conjugation, this little tool can save your precious time. You just need to enter a verb in the infinitive, and you’ll get the complete inflection of that verb. The conjugated verb forms are written in romaji (the Latin script), hiragana, and Kanji. Verbix works on Windows and online, and is entirely free.
My Language Exchange
A platform that hosts language exchange practice. You can find exchange partners and practice online in voice chat rooms, using tools such as an online dictionary, pre-made lesson plans, and a notepad. Voice chat rooms are designed and work best for intermediate and advanced level learners, while the beginners can engage in text chat (using a tool called Chat Companion) or find a penpal.