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For the most part, I like Babbel’s courses. They teach languages in a straightforward manner that’s a bit more comprehensive than popular free alternatives, such as Duolingo or Memrise.

However, Babbel doesn’t have a Japanese course.

This is probably for the best as a lot of popular language learning courses really struggle with teaching languages that have a unique writing system. I found this to be especially true with the aforementioned Duolingo.

Since starting this website, I’ve tested out tons of language learning courses, trying to find which course or app is the best way to learn Japanese.

So, although Babbel doesn’t have a Japanese course, there are actually some alternatives that are quite good. Additionally, there are a number of Japanese apps that are well worth checking out.


Lingodeer comes as close to resembling Babbel as you could hope for. They’ve grown in size to cover many different languages, but in the beginning, their focus was exclusively on Asian languages.

Probably because of this, they teach Japanese much better than any of the somewhat similar apps.

I think Lingodeer is an excellent way to get started with Japanese. You primarily study by completing lots of exercises, and the large variety of exercise types helps to keep things interesting. Additionally, each unit also includes a ‘Learning Tips’ section where they break down some important grammar concepts.

You can access quite a few lessons for free but to get full access you’d need to purchase a subscription. At $11.99 per month, the cost is similar to what you’ll find elsewhere.

See our Super-Detailed Lingodeer Review


Pimsleur actually teaches languages in a manner that’s quite a bit different than Babbel. Babbel is much more balanced in teaching different aspects of the language, while Pimsleur focuses on the oral language.

So, with Pimsleur, you’ll almost certainly develop speaking and listening skills much faster than elsewhere, but you’d need other resources to help you learn the written language. Pimsleur also doesn’t have much focus on teaching grammar. Instead of explaining grammar points explicitly, you’re meant to pick them up naturally.

The courses are really well structured and useful, just with a more limited focus on communication skills.

They have a subscription option that costs from $15-$20 per month, depending on the chosen plan but you won’t see it advertised on their site. Alternatively, they sell their courses as a one time expense, but those are ridiculously expensive.

See our Super-Detailed Pimsleur Review

Rocket Japanese

Rocket Japanese is similar to Babbel in that they both offer balanced ways of teaching languages. Their course covers pretty much every aspect of Japanese, including speaking, listening, writing, grammar, and learning about Japanese culture.

But, while they do a reasonably good job in every area, they aren’t great at any particular point. The lessons can definitely be a bit boring with too much emphasis on rote memorization. But, overall, Rocket Japanese is pretty solid.

See our Super-Detailed Rocket Japanese Review


JapanesePod101 is another popular option for Japanese learners, though their courses are best for improving listening, grammar, and vocabulary instead of reading and writing.

They have a huge number of podcast style lessons, though they’re best for beginner level students. It’s worth noting that most of their lessons aren’t structured in a linear manner where one lesson naturally leads to the next. Users would need to jump around quite a bit while studying.

Still, it’s a solid option for those looking to get started with Japanese. A subscription is quite cheap as well, starting at only $8 per month.

Use code: BREAKTHROUGH2024 and get up to 45% OFF Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS! Choose from 1, 3, 6, 12 or 24-month subscriptions and unlock all of ILL’s best audio lessons, video lessons, PDF lesson notes, Premium study tools and more! With Premium PLUS, you also get access to your own teacher! See details on the website. Offer ends on 2/23/24.

See our Super-Detailed JapanesePod101 Review

Other Options

There are many other platforms that teach languages in a manner that’s fairly similar to Babbel. Many of which, such as Mondly, Busuu, Duolingo, or Rosetta Stone simply aren’t that great compared to the competitors.


Finally, Lingualift looked promising, but I wasn’t very impressed when I tested it out.

See our Super-Detailed LinguaLift Review


There are also some resources that are very useful, though far different than Babbel. For example, italki is great for finding affordable Japanese tutors.

See our Super-Detailed italki Review


LingQ is a good way to get lots of practice reading and listening to interesting content in Japanese, regardless of your level.

See our Super-Detailed LingQ Review


Speechling is super useful for improving your spoken Japanese and you can even get feedback on your pronunciation.

See our Super-Detailed Speechling Review

Basically, there are tons of good resources for studying Japanese. So, although Babbel doesn’t offer a course, that’s really not a big deal.

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