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Japanese Resources

LangCorrect
Price: Free
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LangCorrect is a free community-driven writing site where users can both contribute to editing others’ work and receive feedback on their own writing.

After writing your piece, you may submit it to receive feedback from other site users. In order to ensure accurate feedback, multiple users can cross-check the corrections that were made and add comments.

Volunteers and Patrons have access to writing in up to 10 languages, but typical users can write in a maximum of two languages at a time. Everyone is encouraged to both write and correct others’ work on the site.

If you are looking to improve your writing skills in one of the over 100 languages available, trying out this resource is a must! However, if you’re studying a less common language and not finding many users to give you corrections, consider trying the exercise section in italki’s community features.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Forvo
4.8 
Price: Free
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Forvo’s mission is to improve spoken communication across cultures. Anyone can explore pronunciations of millions of words in over 390 languages with maps displaying where each speaker is from. The site also organizes popular categories and essential phrases for when you don’t have a specific word in mind.

As a registered user, you can contribute to the site by pronouncing words or phrases in your native language or by requesting pronunciations in a specific language. You are also encouraged to vote on audio files in your native language to help others identify the best pronunciation. For those of you who enjoy using Anki, Forvo allows you to download mp3 files to use in your learning endeavours.

Forvo also has an e-learning course for French, Spanish, and English; you will find three levels and a group of topics with sets of the most common words in your target language. Using an SRS flashcard system, you will be able to learn the pronunciation of these words and view an example of how to use them in a sentence.

If you are looking for a pronunciation reference guide, look no further than Forvo’s extensive database!

Tandem
4.7 
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Tandem is a popular language exchange app with over one million active users. It’s available for iOS and Android and aims to bring language learners from all over the world together. It’s largely centered around its chat capabilities and language tools that facilitate communication, but there is also a tutoring service offered in the app.

Minna no Nihongo
4.7 
Price: From $35 per volume
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Minna no Nihongo, along with Genki, is one of the most recommended Japanese textbooks you can find – and it lives up to expectations.

There are two beginner-level (shokyu) volumes that roughly correlate to A1–A2 or N5–N4 and two intermediate-level (chokyu) volumes that should take up to N2. Each textbook contains 25 chapters and will teach you grammar, vocabulary, and more. They also come with a CD.

Minna no Nihongo’s main selling point, especially at the beginner level, is that it’s generally more in-depth than other popular textbooks. Compared to Genki, it has more vocabulary and grammar, more exercises, and more accompanying workbooks, including ones specifically for kanji, reading, and writing.

That said, many students are put off by the lack of English in the main textbook. They are entirely in Japanese. You can buy the official Translation and Grammar Notes for each level in a variety of languages, including English, Mandarin, and Spanish. While purchasing two separate texts can be annoying, it also has its positives: you’re pushed to try to understand the Japanese first, plus it makes it more accessible for people who don’t have English as a first language.

You should also learn the kana before getting started with Minna no Nihongo. If you’ve yet to study this, apps like Skritter (review), Scripts (review), and LingoDeer (review) will help you pick it up.

If you’re planning to move to Japan, or want to learn the language as thoroughly as possible, then Minna no Nihongo is a great starting point. You’ll get a strong understanding of the grammar and learn a lot of vocabulary. However, if you’re looking for an easier entry point or don’t want to buy the official translation, check out our review of Genki.

Verbling
4.6 
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Verbling is an online language-class marketplace where you can take lessons with teachers of your choice. It has some student-friendly extra features, including a built-in online classroom, flashcards, homework calendar, and a filing system for lesson materials. There are also useful but disorganized forums where you can discuss languages, share writing for critique, and do free language drills and exercises.

The lessons are generally high quality and well structured, plus the filters make it easy to find teachers who specialize in everything from accent reduction to interview preparation. 

However, it can be slightly pricier than alternatives, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere. It also has fewer languages than some of the bigger competitors, so it might not be a good choice if you want to study Azerbaijani, Khmer, or Yoruba.

Japanese With Noriko
4.6 
Price: Free
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Noriko is a qualified Japanese teacher with an education degree who provides podcasts, YouTube videos, and Italki classes for Japanese learners. On her website, you can find transcripts of her podcasts and videos with translations of difficult vocabulary words. Her resources seem most appropriate for upper beginner to intermediate learners.

Noriko speaks at a relatively natural speed but articulates clearly in her bite-sized episodes. She speaks almost entirely in Japanese, except to occasionally translate one word here and there (although some YouTube videos have full-sentence translations). She also repeats new vocabulary words multiple times throughout the episodes to help with retention. Although she only started her episodes in February 2020, there are already hundreds of podcasts for your listening enjoyment.

Her YouTube videos have various focuses: sometimes she will publish a short story with subtitles, other times you may listen to her talk about vocabulary words specific to everyday contexts. For example, you may learn what to say when you are sick, how to talk about your work, or how to describe the textures of food or drink.

Listening to one of Noriko’s episodes can fit into anyone’s schedule; you will surely feel accomplished even after a 5-minute lesson.

Shirabe Jisho
4.5 
Price: Free
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Shirabe Jisho is a Japanese Dictionary app for Apple users. You can search over 170,000 dictionary entries in both Japanese and English using handwriting, radicals, and romaji.

Each entry is comprehensive, with stroke order diagrams for several thousand Kanji and example sentences from the Tatoeba project. It also provides positive, negative, and masu conjugations when relevant. You can customize your own word list or choose from the pre-made lists that include common words, expressions, slang terms, colloquialisms, JLPT levels, and parts of speech. Unfortunately, the app uses text-to-speech pronunciation, but you can use Forvo on your desktop browser to listen to native speaker pronunciations for free.

The lists of similar kanji under each kanji entry are especially helpful to identify potential mix-ups. Although Shirabe Jisho’s breakdown of kanji components is not as comprehensive as in Kanji Study for Android, it still provides a helpful list of the basic components.

If you have both an Android and an Apple product, Kanji Study for Android is still your best bet. However, for Apple users, Shirabe Jisho is a 100% free and ad-free dictionary option that is well worth your time.

Linguee
4.5 
Price: Free
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Linguee was developed by over 400 lexicographers. It is unique in that it does not use machine-translation to provide examples of words in context — instead, it sources words from articles and research papers in the original language. As a result, it is an excellent dictionary app to find translations for specialized terminology.

You will learn the subtleties of various translations by reading paired paragraphs of text that have each been professionally translated, not translated by a machine. In some languages, you can listen to pronunciations by native speakers and read multiple translations of your chosen word or phrase.

Although translations are highlighted in each paragraph so you can compare how to use them in each language, they can be difficult to navigate quickly. If you are looking for a website with simple and professional translations, you can check out WordReference for several different languages. SpanishDict is also an excellent option for Spanish, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese.

Wordreference
4.5 
Price: Free
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WordReference is one of the best websites for single-word translations. It uses a combination of its own dictionaries and Collins’, depending on the language, and relies on professional translations rather than machine-translations. With each word you look up, you will receive multiple examples of how to use it, nuances of each meaning, and a list of how to incorporate it into multiple phrases. Whereas sites like Bab.la seem to have machine-translated examples that sound quite random at times, WordReference’s examples can be applied directly to your everyday conversation.

You can also find conjugation tables and the Collins COBUILD English Usage dictionary, which shows you how to use individual English words correctly — through its explanations, English learners will be able to differentiate between words that are easily confused (such as ‘current’ and ‘currant’). If the explanations don’t make sense, you can ask questions in the WordReference Language Forum — there you will find an active community of language learners discussing language learning topics.

Unfortunately, not all words have audio pronunciation, but those that do can be played back at different speeds and with different accents (depending on the language).

Although WordReference is a thorough resource, SpanishDict is probably a better option for Spanish learners, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese. Linguee is also similar to WordReference but specializes in formal language, and Forvo has millions of words pronounced by native speakers in hundreds of languages.

italki
4.5 
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italki is the most flexible and affordable place to find a tutor for the language you’re learning. They have a huge number of teachers offering classes to students of over 100 different languages. As a learner, you’ll be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style, schedule, and personality. Teachers are able to set their own prices and make their own schedule.