best

13 Top-Rated Russian Courses for All Levels

Why would you ever learn Russian unless you had to? It’s got a confusing writing system, and it isn’t that useful anyway, right? Not quite.

While the Cyrillic alphabet may be daunting in appearance, it can reliably be learned in just one or two days. The fact that many of the letters resemble those in the Latin alphabet and that the language is much more phonetic than English are two big helps.

There are also plenty of ways knowing Russian could come in handy. It’s the most widely spoken language in Europe, the official language of four countries, and a lingua franca in many more. An understanding of Russian will also open up opportunities to learn other Slavic languages more quickly, like Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Polish.

Still not convinced? How about the chance to read renowned Russian literature in its original form, take a Russian-language architecture tour in Moscow, cruise the Trans-Siberian Railway, or simply deepen your relationship with vodka? 

Whatever your reasons for learning Russian, there are plenty of courses out there that can get you speaking the language. However, no two courses are created equal, and many are simply not very good. 

To help learners find the best courses for them, we’ve gone through the extensive list of resources we’ve tried and have listed the best of the best here. Only courses that we’ve rated 3.5/5 or above (with one exception) have made the cut. There’s a little bit of everything in this list, and we hope you’ll find something that feels just right.

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4.7/5
Price: €29/month
A super-thorough course for learners at most levels

Red Kalinka is known as the “Largest Russian School in the World” and produces several different Russian language products. Their online Russian course, Sistema Kalinka, is high-quality, in-depth, and suitable for everyone from absolute beginners to upper intermediates. There is a tremendous amount of content designed to help students read, write and understand Russian. It’s easily the most comprehensive Russian course we’ve tried.

After completing the course, they claim you’ll know over 3000 words, be able to communicate in most situations, and be able to enjoy watching Russian TV. You’ll also have email access to a personal tutor who can answer any questions you may have about the material. In terms of a course that does it all, Red Kalinka’s Sistema Kalinka is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Lessons build on each other nicely
  • There are chances to practice all major language skills
  • The material is comprehensive

Cons

  • There is potential for lessons to feel monotonous after prolonged study
  • The exercises aren’t particularly exciting or unique
4/5
Price: $19.95/month
Exceptional audio lessons with plenty of chances for active participation

One of the biggest names in language learning, Pimsleur makes use of well-structured courses and conversational lessons to help absolute beginners start speaking Russian right away. Speaking right away can make it feel like you’re making real progress almost immediately. This can be great for motivation.

It’s important to note that, since such an emphasis is placed on listening and speaking skills, there’s little attention paid to grammar and the written language. You’ll likely need to supplement your studies with other resources to get a well-rounded education, but Pimsleur is a good option for aural learners that want to get speaking right away.

The subscription price model is only available to learners in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia, but the platform is accessible to learners around the world.

Pros

  • Lessons are well structured and progress logically
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers
  • The platform is easy to navigate and visually appealing

Cons

  • Visual learners may struggle with the mostly audio content
  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for thorough reading and writing practice
  • The lessons can be somewhat dry
4.2/5
Price: $12.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
Well-structured lessons and a clear curriculum

Babbel has a reputation for comprehensive, well-organized courses — and it’s well deserved. Ideal for learners up to an intermediate level, Babbel delivers reliable, quality lessons at a fair price.

The lessons may leave something to be desired for learners looking for the most exciting way to study, but it’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking to build a solid foundation in Russian. There are plenty of explanations that accompany the lessons, and you’ll get practice in a variety of skills.

This probably isn’t the best choice for advanced learners or those that are primarily interested in conversation practice.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use
  • The course structure is well planned
  • Lessons and explanations are thorough

Cons

  • It isn’t the most exciting resource
  • It isn’t ideal for advanced learners
  • There isn’t much in the way of conversation practice
4.3/5
Price: From $8 – $47/month, less for longer subscriptions
A massive lesson library and thorough explanations

A subscription to RussianPod101 unlocks a vast catalog of content. The lessons are fully capable of providing learners with an in-depth look at Russian vocabulary, grammar, and the cultural context in which words are used. There are lessons covering just about every imaginable situation, each full of important words and phrases.

Learners at all levels will be able to benefit from the lessons, but the bulk of the material is probably most useful for those at the beginner and intermediate stages.

It’s worth mentioning that we did find the website to be confusing to navigate and that lessons don’t always progress in the most logical manner. It’s also true that, while RussianPod101 is fantastic for improving listening comprehension, you’ll probably need to find other resources to improve your conversational skills.

Pros

  • The lesson library is huge
  • There is material for learners at all levels
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers

Cons

  • There’s limited speaking and writing practice
  • The platform can be difficult to navigate
  • The practice opportunities aren’t very engaging
4.2/5
Price: $197
Learn Russian grammar through stories

Grammar Hero is the brainchild of Olly Richards, the creator of “I Will Teach You a Language.” As the name suggests, the focus of this course is on helping students internalize challenging grammar points. This is done with a story-based method that gets learners to make meaningful connections with the material.

Practice happens by reading the story, learning the grammar rules, and then re-reading the story to understand why certain grammar points were used. Finally, Olly encourages students to actively produce the language by incorporating exercises such as writing practice, translation, and error correction.

Although Grammar Hero is on the more expensive end and is only suitable for intermediate students, it’s an exceptionally fun and engaging resource. Students wanting to improve their grammar will definitely get a lot of value out of this.

Pros

  • The story-learning method could appeal to many
  • Great for learners interested in understanding difficult grammar concepts

Cons

  • It’s only suitable for learners at the intermediate level
  • It’s fairly expensive
3.8/5
Price: $69 or $99
BITE-SIZE-LANGUAGES-01-1
A decent course for beginners

Something that might stand out about this course is that, although it’s targeted toward beginners, the accompanying materials are written entirely in Russian. The course also doesn’t attempt to teach the Russian alphabet, instead emphasizing that understanding the dialogues at the heart of the course is what’s most important.

We haven’t had the chance to fully test the Bite Size Languages courses, but they utilize comprehensible input in the form of dialogues with additional supportive materials such as transcripts, translations, and vocabulary and grammar sections. 

If you’re looking for a beginner course and aren’t interested in signing up for a recurring subscription, Bite Size Languages could be worth checking out.

Pros

  • Lessons utilize comprehensible input
  • There’s no recurring subscription
  • The course is designed specifically for beginners

Cons

  • The course doesn’t teach the Russian alphabet
  • The dialogues can become slightly boring
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
A decent course with a useful social feature

Busuu is a major player in the language-learning world. It’s been around since 2008 and has helped millions of people learn languages. The Russian course on this platform contains well-structured lessons that progress in a logical order and could theoretically lead you from absolute beginner to upper intermediate.

Busuu is more affordable than many other resources, but it also doesn’t deliver in some areas like others do. Grammar explanations, for example, don’t go into great detail and can leave out some useful information.

A unique feature of the Busuu platform is the built-in social feature. With it, learners can submit and correct each other’s writing and speech. This is free to use and fills in a gap where plenty of other resources fall short.

We rated this course a 3.3/5, but this score takes into account Busuu’s Mandarin Chinese course, which is of a lower quality. The score would likely be higher if we had only rated its Russian course.

Pros

  • The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
  • Conversation lessons are especially useful
  • The social feature is free

Cons

  • Some exercises don’t include translations
  • Grammar explanations aren’t the best
4.7/5
Price: €29/month
A super-thorough course for learners at most levels

Red Kalinka is known as the “Largest Russian School in the World” and produces several different Russian language products. Their online Russian course, Sistema Kalinka, is high-quality, in-depth, and suitable for everyone from absolute beginners to upper intermediates. There is a tremendous amount of content designed to help students read, write and understand Russian. It’s easily the most comprehensive Russian course we’ve tried.

After completing the course, they claim you’ll know over 3000 words, be able to communicate in most situations, and be able to enjoy watching Russian TV. You’ll also have email access to a personal tutor who can answer any questions you may have about the material. In terms of a course that does it all, Red Kalinka’s Sistema Kalinka is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Lessons build on each other nicely
  • There are chances to practice all major language skills
  • The material is comprehensive

Cons

  • There is potential for lessons to feel monotonous after prolonged study
  • The exercises aren’t particularly exciting or unique
4.3/5
Price: From $8 – $47/month, less for longer subscriptions
A massive lesson library and thorough explanations

A subscription to RussianPod101 unlocks a vast catalog of content. The lessons are fully capable of providing learners with an in-depth look at Russian vocabulary, grammar, and the cultural context in which words are used. There are lessons covering just about every imaginable situation, each full of important words and phrases.

Learners at all levels will be able to benefit from the lessons, but the bulk of the material is probably most useful for those at the beginner and intermediate stages.

It’s worth mentioning that we did find the website to be confusing to navigate and that lessons don’t always progress in the most logical manner. It’s also true that, while RussianPod101 is fantastic for improving listening comprehension, you’ll probably need to find other resources to improve your conversational skills.

Pros

  • The lesson library is huge
  • There is material for learners at all levels
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers

Cons

  • There’s limited speaking and writing practice
  • The platform can be difficult to navigate
  • The practice opportunities aren’t very engaging

FSI and DLI

4.3/5
Price: Free
FSI
Exceptionally thorough and free but dated courses

The courses created by the Foreign Services Institute (FSI) certainly aren’t the most exciting ways to learn a language, but they work — and they’re free. The Russian course comes with a complete Russian language textbook, audio clips of native speakers, and worksheets.

Similarly, the courses created by the Defense Language Institute (DLI) are as thorough as they are dry. They have quite a bit in common with FSI courses but may place more of a focus on military terminology at higher levels.

With either resource, you’ll have to put up with a type-written document that has been converted to PDF. This could be great if you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re an intelligence agent from the ‘70s — otherwise, it’s a mild annoyance.

Pros

  • Courses are very thorough
  • These courses are completely free

Cons

  • The materials are dated and not the most exciting
  • Some of the language may not be entirely relevant for most people
4.3/5
Price: $19.99/month
befluent
A communication-focused course

We’ll say right away that we haven’t actually had a chance to test this course. We’ve checked out the BeFluent YouTube channel and were impressed with the videos, but this is our tentative rating.

The BeFluent course includes weekly group calls with the BeFluent team, a large lesson library, and a thorough curriculum. The premium course includes private coaching, for a more personalized and focused experience.

If you like the videos on the BeFluent YouTube channel and are interested in a course that comes with a community feeling, this one might be worth a closer look.

Pros

  • Weekly groups calls to discuss what you’re learning
  • A large lesson library

Cons

  • There’s no free trial
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month
$29.99/quarter
$55.99/year
Convenient, quality lessons with a touch of gamification

This app gets several things right. For one, its fun-to-use interface and activities make it one of the less intimidating, more engaging ways to get studying. Coupled with the app’s in-depth explanations, variety of exercises, and ample review opportunities, Lingodeer makes an appealing option for beginner learners.

While Lingodeer excels at helping beginners build a foundation in Russian, those that are seeking fluency will need to use other resources. It’s one of the better ones, but Lingodeer is still a gamified app and can only take you so far. Especially for practice speaking and coming up with your own sentences, Lingodeer isn’t your best option.

Pros

  • The variety in exercises keeps practice interesting
  • It’s easy and fun to use
  • Short exercises make for convenient practice

Cons

  • It isn’t useful for taking your skills beyond the intermediate level
  • There isn’t much speaking practice
  • You won’t have opportunities to come up with your own sentences
4.2/5
Price: $12.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
Well-structured lessons and a clear curriculum

Babbel has a reputation for comprehensive, well-organized courses — and it’s well deserved. Ideal for learners up to an intermediate level, Babbel delivers reliable, quality lessons at a fair price.

The lessons may leave something to be desired for learners looking for the most exciting way to study, but it’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking to build a solid foundation in Russian. There are plenty of explanations that accompany the lessons, and you’ll get practice in a variety of skills.

This probably isn’t the best choice for advanced learners or those that are primarily interested in conversation practice.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use
  • The course structure is well planned
  • Lessons and explanations are thorough

Cons

  • It isn’t the most exciting resource
  • It isn’t ideal for advanced learners
  • There isn’t much in the way of conversation practice
4.2/5
Price: $197
Learn Russian grammar through stories

Grammar Hero is the brainchild of Olly Richards, the creator of “I Will Teach You a Language.” As the name suggests, the focus of this course is on helping students internalize challenging grammar points. This is done with a story-based method that gets learners to make meaningful connections with the material.

Practice happens by reading the story, learning the grammar rules, and then re-reading the story to understand why certain grammar points were used. Finally, Olly encourages students to actively produce the language by incorporating exercises such as writing practice, translation, and error correction.

Although Grammar Hero is on the more expensive end and is only suitable for intermediate students, it’s an exceptionally fun and engaging resource. Students wanting to improve their grammar will definitely get a lot of value out of this.

Pros

  • The story-learning method could appeal to many
  • Great for learners interested in understanding difficult grammar concepts

Cons

  • It’s only suitable for learners at the intermediate level
  • It’s fairly expensive
4/5
Price: $19.95/month
Exceptional audio lessons with plenty of chances for active participation

One of the biggest names in language learning, Pimsleur makes use of well-structured courses and conversational lessons to help absolute beginners start speaking Russian right away. Speaking right away can make it feel like you’re making real progress almost immediately. This can be great for motivation.

It’s important to note that, since such an emphasis is placed on listening and speaking skills, there’s little attention paid to grammar and the written language. You’ll likely need to supplement your studies with other resources to get a well-rounded education, but Pimsleur is a good option for aural learners that want to get speaking right away.

The subscription price model is only available to learners in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia, but the platform is accessible to learners around the world.

Pros

  • Lessons are well structured and progress logically
  • You’ll get to listen to a variety of native speakers
  • The platform is easy to navigate and visually appealing

Cons

  • Visual learners may struggle with the mostly audio content
  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for thorough reading and writing practice
  • The lessons can be somewhat dry
4/5
Price: Free
duolingo
Fun, convenient practice in a free app

This is one of the most popular language-learning resources out there, and it’s no wonder why. Duolingo is completely free to use and offers courses in an impressive number of languages, including Russian. The activities don’t take more than a couple of minutes to complete, and they’re fun. This makes for practice that’s convenient and enjoyable. Hard to beat!

However, there are some limitations to studying with Duolingo. The audio isn’t the best you’ll find, and the lessons don’t go into great detail with explanations and examples. You also won’t have opportunities to practice creating your own sentences or many opportunities to practice speaking.

All things considered, Duolingo is a pretty great way to get some Russian exposure or casual practice with the language if you’re interested and at a low level. For much more than that, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • It’s easy and fun to use
  • It’s free 
  • Practice is convenient to start or stop at a moment’s notice

Cons

  • There isn’t much in the way of in-depth instruction
  • The audio isn’t very good
  • You won’t get to create your own sentences
4/5
Price: Freemium, $8.99/month
memrise
Official Russian courses make this more than a flashcard platform

There are two ways to study a language with Memrise. One is to use one of the many free, user-created vocabulary or phrase decks. These sometimes come with images or audio, and you’ll be able to practice them efficiently with a spaced repetition system. Beware that quality does vary from course to course.

The other way to use Memrise is to study one of the official Memrise courses. These are of a higher quality than the free courses and even include videos. Partial access to these official courses is available for free, but you’ll need to purchase a subscription to get full access to grammar lessons and extra features. Learners at lower levels will get the most out of these courses.

It’s worth noting that the full, official Memrise courses are only available through the app. The browser versions of these courses are limited.

While it does have decent official courses, Memrise is probably best used as a source of vocabulary review and for learning new words.

Pros

  • There are a lot of free courses available
  • Practice is efficient with spaced repetition
  • The official Russian course includes videos of native speakers

Cons

  • The free courses are of varying quality
  • You may need to supplement your study with other resources
3.8/5
Price: $69 or $99
BITE-SIZE-LANGUAGES-01-1
A decent course for beginners

Something that might stand out about this course is that, although it’s targeted toward beginners, the accompanying materials are written entirely in Russian. The course also doesn’t attempt to teach the Russian alphabet, instead emphasizing that understanding the dialogues at the heart of the course is what’s most important.

We haven’t had the chance to fully test the Bite Size Languages courses, but they utilize comprehensible input in the form of dialogues with additional supportive materials such as transcripts, translations, and vocabulary and grammar sections. 

If you’re looking for a beginner course and aren’t interested in signing up for a recurring subscription, Bite Size Languages could be worth checking out.

Pros

  • Lessons utilize comprehensible input
  • There’s no recurring subscription
  • The course is designed specifically for beginners

Cons

  • The course doesn’t teach the Russian alphabet
  • The dialogues can become slightly boring
3.5/5
Price: $7.99/month for one language, $17.99 for all languages
Mango-languages-Logo
A beginner course with an attractive design

If you’re beyond the beginner level with Russian, Mango Languages won’t be what you’re after. There just aren’t a lot of advanced learning opportunities with this course. That said, beginners will certainly find material that’s appropriate for their level. This is because you’ll start learning usable words and phrases right away.

A slick and easy-to-use platform makes practice enjoyable, and the lessons build on each other in a practical order. Other features of the Mango Languages course are grammar and culture notes, along with drilling — lots of drilling. The frequent drilling of phrases can get you to a comfortable level with them quickly, but it can also become monotonous.

If this is a course you’re interested in, be sure to check whether you can get free access through your local library.

Pros

  • The app has a nice design and is easy to use
  • Beginners will be able to produce useful phrases quickly
  • Cultural notes are presented well

Cons

  • There isn’t much content for learners beyond the beginner level
  • Frequent drilling can become overly repetitive
  • Grammar explanations are sometimes lacking
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
A decent course with a useful social feature

Busuu is a major player in the language-learning world. It’s been around since 2008 and has helped millions of people learn languages. The Russian course on this platform contains well-structured lessons that progress in a logical order and could theoretically lead you from absolute beginner to upper intermediate.

Busuu is more affordable than many other resources, but it also doesn’t deliver in some areas like others do. Grammar explanations, for example, don’t go into great detail and can leave out some useful information.

A unique feature of the Busuu platform is the built-in social feature. With it, learners can submit and correct each other’s writing and speech. This is free to use and fills in a gap where plenty of other resources fall short.

We rated this course a 3.3/5, but this score takes into account Busuu’s Mandarin Chinese course, which is of a lower quality. The score would likely be higher if we had only rated its Russian course.

Pros

  • The design is engaging and the interface is easy to use
  • Conversation lessons are especially useful
  • The social feature is free

Cons

  • Some exercises don’t include translations
  • Grammar explanations aren’t the best

Look No Further: 30 Best Podcasts to Learn Mandarin Chinese

You don’t have to travel to another country to create an immersive Chinese environment, nor do you have to stare at a screen for hours on end. With a digital device and a pair of headphones (or speakers), you can bring immersion to you—for free.

And we’d like to help you with that. With hours of research and testing, we came up with this list of what we believe to be 30 of the best podcasts to learn Mandarin Chinese. Pick an episode, choose a streaming platform, then have a listen while you commute to work, do chores, or relax on the couch.

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23 Fantastic YouTube Channels For Learning Italian

If you’re learning Italian, you’ll find plenty of podcasts and online courses, but some of the best learning strategies are available for free on YouTube. Since Italian is known for having lots of hand gestures, YouTube videos can give you additional insight into the mannerisms of the language that a podcast just can’t cover.

Whether you choose to learn from a native speaker or someone who’s studying Italian just like you, here are a few of the best YouTube channels to put on your playlist.

They’re loosely organized based on the learner’s level, but there can be some overlap, so intermediates shouldn’t necessarily skip right over the beginner section. (more…)

Stay Motivated with 35 Mandarin Chinese YouTube Channels

Your day is coming to an end and you want to squeeze in a bit of Chinese practice, but you can’t muster up the energy to study on your own. Why not try a new YouTube channel to relax and learn at the same time?

Below are 35 YouTube channels for learning Chinese at any level—tested and approved by us. Whether you want to learn for a minute or an hour, we’re sure you’ll find something to enjoy.

All Levels

ChinesePod


If you’re looking for some structured learning on YouTube, ChinesePod has got you covered. Beginner to upper-intermediate learners can enjoy a series of video courses split into 5 levels. The hosts combine cartoons, dialogues, and funny interactions to break down vocabulary and grammar.

But don’t worry—if you don’t feel like following the video course, you can learn about Chinese characters, idioms, and slang in their other videos. They also have a channel with identical videos for those who are learning traditional characters.

If you enjoy these free videos, check out our full review of the ChinesePod subscription.

Mandarin HQ


With Angel’s guidance, you don’t have to worry about sounding like a broken record in Chinese. Gone are the days of saying “谢谢“ to every kind gesture, or “不客气” when the roles are reversed.

Mandarin HQ will help you express yourself like a native Chinese speaker, teaching you hundreds of useful idioms, slang terms, and common expressions. You’ll be able to politely end a conversation in five different ways or choose from seven different ways to respond to good news.

Whether you’ve been studying Chinese for a week or a decade, Mandarin HQ will surely give you some new words to use in conversation.

Mandarin Corner


You’ve been studying Mandarin for a while now. But when you listen to a Chinese Movie or talk show, you hear your brain yelling, “what!?” Well, Mandarin Corner might be the answer. The host, Eileen, bridges the gap between real-world Chinese and the Chinese you learn in school.

She interviews a variety of Chinese speakers to train your ear to different accents. Plus, she will help you understand the nuances of the language, must-know sentence structures, and even spend an hour helping you understand the many different measure words. The best part is, most of her videos are entirely in Mandarin.

Chinese Zero to Hero


We like Chinese Zero to Hero’s online courses, and we also like their YouTube channel. Learners at any level tackling HSK material will find clear grammar explanations and examples of how to use key concepts in multiple contexts. 

The hosts vary their presentation media and include videos, skits, stories, and images. They also have some listening comprehension exercises with poems from the Tang dynasty.

Mandarin With Miss Lin


Miss Lin (from Taiwan) is a Chinese teacher in France. Instead of just talking about real-life situations, she will take you through them in real-time. Prepare for your next adventure abroad by watching her check into a hotel or buy things from a convenience store in Mandarin.

Through these types of situations, interviews, movies, and more, you can enjoy her content wherever you are in your Chinese studies. Each video is well structured and contains simple but thorough explanations. Also, many of her videos have English subtitles, and you can support her on Patreon to get Chinese transcripts and download the audio.

GoEast Mandarin


Check out over 200 videos that teach you useful Chinese slang that you won’t find in your textbook. Each video, which is entirely in Mandarin, engages you with funny skits and explanations (with English subtitles). Learn how to tell someone off for arguing for the sake of arguing or for crossing the line. While you’re at it, you can add that they don’t have a conscience or that they’re speaking nonsense.

Beginner to advanced learners will probably get the most out of the “Beyond Class” and “Chinese Listening Practice” playlists.

Read our full review of GoEast Mandarin’s online classes here.

Hanbridge Mandarin and HSK Test Preparation and Practice


Hanbridge Mandarin offers online and in-person courses. Their beginner videos teach basic writing, pronunciation, and introductory phrases. But, the videos that stand out address “the difference between the words:” These videos, usually for HSK 5 learners, identify words with similar characters or pronunciation, giving you examples of the subtle nuances between them.

Also by Handbridge is the channel, HSK Test Preparation and Practice, which has lectures and exercises for HSK 2-5 learners.

WenYu Chinese


This channel takes a systematic approach to teaching Chinese through movies. If you find yourself unmotivated, you can count on Wenyu to create a fun and practical experience. He will help you improve your Chinese grammar, vocabulary, and listening comprehension with all types of films.

Wenyu highlights different aspects of the language through one or several movies. First, you’ll watch specific scenes with Chinese and English subtitles. Then, you’ll analyze the dialogue. Wenyu breaks down both basic and advanced concepts in many of the videos, making it accessible to learners at any level.

Everyday Chinese


The lessons in Everyday Chinese are filmed with actors of all ages. This way you’ll be able to train your ear to different vocal ranges and accents.

You can explore idioms, cultural nuances, HSK content, and more. Most of the videos contain valuable tidbits or comprehensive grammar explanations. For beginners, they have 40 free intro lessons that seem to lead up to the Everyday Chinese 101 course (a paid product on their website). They use English up until the HSK 3 videos but then switch to Chinese in HSK 4.

Chineseclass101


If you can get past the spammy advertisements, ChineseClass101 has some helpful videos for all levels. There are listening comprehension and reading exercises, plus tons of videos with common phrases and vocabulary words. If you enjoy these videos, you can check out our full review of ChineseClass101 to see if you want to pay for a subscription to their website.

SyS Mandarin


SyS Mandarin started up with short lectures on Chinese sentences and stories, but now it also teases you with short movie and song clips to teach you Chinese. Each clip passes in a matter of seconds and is followed by a thorough vocabulary and grammar explanation. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or advanced student—if you struggle to understand everyday spoken mandarin, you’re in the right place.

Beginner

Chinese For Us


Not only is Chinese For Us our highest-rated course for Chinese learners, but it also has an excellent YouTube channel. You will learn from Lili, who has taught Chinese at several universities in China and the United States.

She has a master’s degree in Chinese Linguistics and is also a certified HSK and YCT examiner. Her experience teaching Chinese is obvious in the design and presentation of these lessons.

If you want a structured and in-depth approach to learning Chinese from day 1, this is an excellent place to start. Check out our full review of the Chinese For Us courses to continue learning with Lili—and for a discount.

YoYo Chinese


YoYo Chinese’s creator, YangYang, is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Chinese teacher. Her presentation skills were fine-tuned by years of experience as a TV host and reporter. On her channel, you will learn Chinese from an English-speaker’s perspective and engage in effective exercises for learning Chinese pronunciation. Plus, YangYang will introduce you to stories and mnemonic devices for 300 of the most common Chinese characters.

You can check out the beginner and intermediate lessons, plus authentic interviews with locals on the street. Many of the YouTube videos are live streams with current students of the YoYo Chinese Courses (check out our review here), and they contain a wealth of helpful tips to help you speak Mandarin.

Yimin Chinese艺敏中文


Yimin provides free HSK 1, 2, and 3 video courses with movie clips, slideshows, and funny GIFs to provide context for each lesson. You’ll be sure to enjoy these videos with Yimin’s sunny personality and notable knack for organization.

If you’d prefer to learn Chinese through songs or movies, Yimin does that, too. She’ll also help you identify common mistakes and nuances in Chinese.

Learn Chinese With Litao


This channel may not stand out at first glance. But, for anyone who wants a solid introduction to Chinese pronunciation and pinyin, look no further.

The host, Zheng Tao, dedicates almost 2 hours to pinyin alone. He provides excellent explanations for key grammar concepts and introduces you to basic Chinese characters. HSK 1 and 2 learners can engage in listening comprehension exercises as well.

If you like these videos, you can buy their online courses for more videos and quizzes.

Grace Mandarin Chinese


Grace doesn’t have a step-by-step approach to teaching Mandarin, but she provides techniques and tips to improve your studies. You can learn important expressions, improve your pronunciation, or explore practical resources for improving your core language skills.

Growing Up With Chinese


In this 100-episode series by CCTV News, you can learn Chinese through a combination of lessons and TV-show-style videos. First you’ll watch a short English introduction, then you’ll observe a short skit with Chinese-speaking actors. The host will then explain the vocabulary and grammar points. Though it may feel a bit dated, these videos provide an excellent introduction to the Chinese language.

ShuoShuo Chinese


Every week, Shuo uploads YouTube videos exploring Chinese vocabulary, grammar, and culture. She understands Chinese learners’ potential missteps and explains how to avoid them. Even the beginner videos contain concepts that advanced learners may not have considered.

Shuo shows you how to use simple concepts to advance your Chinese. She diversifies her videos by adding video clips and images, dressing up as different characters, and reenacting scenes from her life. She makes the lessons fun—and if you pay close attention you’ll notice that she also has an excellent sense of humor.

Hit Chinese


In Hit Chinese, Mia uses comprehensible input to teach Mandarin Chinese. She uses props, images, drawings and acting to effectively deliver her message. The videos cover a range of topics with both basic and specialized vocabulary. Although the channel doesn’t have a lot of videos yet, those that are available seem most appropriate for beginners with a basic understanding of Chinese.

Slow & Clear Chinese


Slow & Clear Chinese is most suitable for learners with a basic foundation of Chinese vocabulary. The site combines text and audio to provide listening comprehension practice. Listen to the audio alone, or read the pinyin, traditional and simplified characters, and English translations with the narration. In many of the videos, the narrator will first read the text slowly and then again at a faster pace.

If you like these videos, you can download the app, Immersive Chinese. It includes eight levels of stories, from absolute beginner to intermediate, for $1.99/mo.

Learn Chinese Now


Ben Hedges is an established talk show host in Taiwan and a Chinese teacher on Learn Chinese Now. Though he is a native English speaker, he provides clear explanations for tricky grammar particles, like 被, 才, 了, and 就. He also introduces idioms, new vocabulary in context, and teaches you about Taiwanese and Chinese culture.

That’s Mandarin


That’s Mandarin is actually a Chinese language school in China, but they also have a fun YouTube channel with quick videos to teach you basic phrases and homonyms, usually in under a minute. It’s a great place to get quick and structured explanations for common topics, such as how to differentiate between 的, 得, and 地, or how to use 把.

HelloChinese


We rated Hello Chinese as one of the best apps to Learn Chinese in this review. The app is free, as are the videos on its YouTube channel. You’ll finally understand the Chinese nicknames for American celebrities and familiarize yourself with popular expressions. If you don’t have much time, take only a minute or two to learn a new word in the Minute Mandarin series.

For anyone looking to learn more about Chinese culture, you will also find a podcast on the channel. This is mostly in English, but the hosts do introduce some useful Chinese phrases.

Intermediate

PeggyTeachesChinese


Peggy is an enthusiastic Chinese teacher from Taiwan, and her videos are great for beginner and intermediate students. She tries to use as much Mandarin as possible, but you’ll hear her use English translations to convey main ideas. Joining her live YouTube classes will feel like you’re hanging out with a Taiwanese friend while practicing your Chinese at the same time.

Peggy also interviews locals on the streets of Taiwan to give you a taste of authentic Taiwanese Mandarin. If you want to see more of Taiwan, she also has travel videos that take you to famous tourist locations and teach you important vocabulary along the way.

Chinese Podcast


Are you struggling to concentrate on your HSK 3 and 4 material? Is it because you’re bored? If that’s the case, then Chinese Podcast is here to make your day a little better. In many of these videos, the host introduces 5-8 new HSK words and a grammar point, then incorporates them into an original story. You can follow along with the text at both a slow and a fast speed. Other times you may be asked to answer comprehension questions.

This channel can support any intermediate learner, but it’s probably most helpful to those following the HSK curriculum.

Happy Chinese


Happy Chinese is a Chinese-immersion sitcom-like series for Chinese learners. It follows the story of an American woman staying with her Chinese friend’s family. Two or three times per episode, an elaborate cartoon will interrupt the story to provide examples and explanations of key concepts—but that won’t stop you from getting immersed in the plot. The series is most suitable for intermediate to advanced learners, but with English subtitles, anyone can enjoy it.

Advanced

杨老师中文小课


In this series, 杨老师 provides insights into teaching Chinese for parents and teachers. But, the structure of many of these videos allows advanced learners to follow along as if they themselves were taking the class. You will learn nuances between words, like 有一点 and 有点儿, and differentiate between different synonyms and homophones. This is a channel for anyone who wants to engage in subtle analyses of the Chinese language.

JOKER STUDIO


Are you an advanced learner interested in learning, or at least understanding, the Beijing dialect? Wordy Klay can make it happen. He produces dozens of videos that help both native speakers and Chinese learners identify Beijing-specific pronunciation and vocabulary. Each video is quite short, but Wordy Klay provides clear explanations and multiple examples of how to use each word in context. You’ll be able to start using your new vocabulary right away.

This Group of People


This hilarious sketch comedy group from Taiwan is the closest thing you’ll find to College Humor in Chinese. They depict relatable situations in everyday life—such as going to the doctor, the dentist, or school—and then let comedy ensue. With both English and Chinese subtitles, learners at any level will forget that they arrived at this channel for studying rather than fun.

优优独播剧场—YoYo Television Series Exclusive


Are you looking for a Chinese TV series but don’t know where to start? Well, you can start with YoYo Television Series Exclusive. It has dozens of Chinese TV shows available for your enjoyment—涩女郎 (Brilliant Girls), 暴风眼 (Storm Eye), or 庆余年 (Joy of Life), just to name a few. Viewers can contribute to community subtitles, which means that sometimes you’ll find subtitles in 15 different languages.

家有儿女


家有儿女 (Home With Kids) was a popular Chinese sitcom in the early 2000s. It’s reminiscent of many North American sitcoms from the same time period. The characters encounter a clash of personalities and misunderstandings when two divorced families join as one. Through hundreds of episodes, you’ll grow attached to these endearing characters as they navigate their new relationships.

轻风乍起


Imagine that you like movies, but not enough to watch them all the way through or listen to any of the dialogue. In fact, you’d rather watch a 10-minute summary of a movie. In Chinese.

Now if this is true, 轻风乍起 is an excellent channel to meet your needs and help you improve your Chinese at the same time. This is a channel for native speakers, but the host, 轻风乍起, articulates clearly enough that advanced speakers won’t have a problem following along.

Thomas阿福


Thomas is a major celebrity in China—and a genuine people person. Originally from Germany, he now lives in China full time and speaks fluent Mandarin.

With him as your guide, you can explore the food, culture, and sites of China (and Europe!). A major focus of the channel is on food, but he also spends a lot of time with locals—whether it be driving with a taxi driver to his hometown seven hours away or interviewing people at 3 in the morning. Sometimes he challenges himself to try different diets or do absolutely nothing for an entire day.

His videos are entirely in Chinese with English and Chinese subtitles.

杰里德Jared


Jared may not be a native Chinese speaker, but his Chinese will inspire you. He grew up in Hainan but had to relearn Chinese as an adult after moving back to Canada. Now he lives in China full time and produces entertaining sketches about the differences between North American and Chinese customs. Sometimes he will take you to interesting sites in China, pull pranks on his friends—or take 5000kg of snow from Northern China to an elementary school in Southern China.

His videos are all in Chinese, but they have both English and Chinese subtitles. Sometimes he collaborates with or prank calls Thomas阿福.

Kevin in Shanghai


Kevin is a Chinese YouTuber who depicts cross-cultural differences within and outside of China. You’ll have lots of opportunity to hear different dialects and accents, and listen in on conversations between groups of people. You might notice that Kevin’s videos have a lot of similarities with 杰里德Jared’s channel. These two friends often collaborate to make cross-cultural comedy sketches.

These videos are mostly in Mandarin, but many of them have English subtitles.

Final Thoughts

These are only a handful of the many YouTube channels for learning Chinese, but we think we captured some of the best. If you’re looking for something to structure your Chinese studies, you can explore our favorite online Chinese courses. Or, if you want to get away from the screen, we recommend you check out our list of Chinese podcasts.

The 23 Best Online Italian Courses Compared: A Showdown

Italian is the language of art, food, music, poetry, fashion – and according to the BBC, even love. (Just don’t tell the French.) It will take you from romantic Venice with its sun-dappled canals to fashionable Milan. You’ll walk the same paths as emperors in Rome and take in the incredible coastlines of Sardinia. And what’s more, you’ll make friends around the world, from Italian nonnas to Erasmus students and language-lovers.

Italian isn’t just a beautiful language, however. It’s also one that’s relatively similar to English, thanks to their shared ancestor Latin. And if you also speak some French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, or Romanian, you’ll have a head start. 

But even though Italian may be generally less challenging for English speakers than, say, Arabic or Korean, that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. You’ve still got a lot to learn, from vocabulary and grammar through to the Italian accent. And the right course will help you by not only teaching you Italian well but also making the process enjoyable.

We’ve gathered our highest-ranking Italian courses – and there were lots to choose from. Here at All Language Resources, we’ve reviewed over 100 Italian resources. Every single course that made it onto this list scores at least 3.5 stars, which puts it above average for our website.

What’s more, these courses have plenty that set them apart. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a five-minutes-a-day gentle introduction, an intense course that throws you into the deep end, or something innovative that doesn’t feel like you’re in the classroom: we’re confident that you’ll find the right course for you on this list.

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4/5
Price: $297
I Will Teach You A Language Logo
Learn Italian through reading and listening to a story

Fed up of textbooks? Dull dialogues about Luca buying pizza and Sofia asking for directions? Or gamified apps with phrases like “Ana is eating a canary” and “the groom is a hedgehog?” You might prefer Italian Uncovered, which takes an entirely different approach to language learning.

In this course, you’ll start off by reading and listening to the first chapter of an original 20-chapter Italian story – even if you’re a complete beginner. Only after doing that will you study the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation relevant to this chapter. You wrap up with a quiz, and then it’s onto the next chapter.

This course is designed to take you from zero Italian knowledge to being an intermediate-level speaker. But it’s not an easy introduction to the language. If you’re looking for something nice and gentle, take a look at one of the other courses on this list, such as  LingoDeer (review) and Babbel (review).

However, if you’re looking for Italian texts you’ll actually get excited about reading, and you don’t mind a challenge, Italian Uncovered might be the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Lots of reading and listening practice
  • A well-written, interesting story
  • It’s fun

Cons

  • Some learners could feel overwhelmed
  • The review/quiz is very basic for the quantity of information you learn per chapter
4.8/5
Price: From $300/course
Italy Made Easy Logo
Extremely thorough and engaging Italian video courses

Most courses benefit from being paired with supplementary resources, perhaps to expand your vocabulary or get more listening practice. Italy Made Easy, however, really could function as a one-stop resource for casual and serious students alike.

Many of the Italy Made Easy courses have over 150 video lessons, plus extensive drills and activities. You’ll study vocabulary, grammar, listening, reading, writing, speaking, pronunciation, and more. What’s more, if you opt for the VIP course, a native and trained speaker will check your assignments and give you personalized feedback.

The flip-side is that impatient learners looking to make quick progress might get frustrated. There are two beginner-level courses, meaning you’re looking at around 300 video lessons before you reach the intermediate level. And the teacher, Manu, while very likeable, is also very talkative. This is not a quick, lean, “learn Italian in 30 days” type of course.

However, if you’re looking for a solid Italian foundation that will cover all the main skills, Italy Made Easy is an excellent choice.

Pros

  • Extremely thorough
  • You’ll practice all language skills
  • Experienced and personable teacher
  • Can get feedback on your assignments

Cons

  • Some of the videos could be edited down
  • No material for advanced learners
4/5
Price: From $28 per course
coffee-break-italian-logo-1
Relaxed podcast-style lessons with a few extra features

If studying Italian feels daunting, give Coffee Break Italian a listen. These relatively short, unintimidating lessons are bound to leave you more confident.

Coffee Break Italian is a freemium course. You can listen along to their free podcast as Katie learns Italian grammar, vocabulary, and culture from Francesca and Mark. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the premium courses: the standard Coffee Break Italian; Travel Diaries; Reading Club, where you get audio lessons alongside weekly texts; and more.

Most of the premium courses follow the same structure. You’ll get the ad-free podcast lessons along with access to lesson notes, a video version of the course, and a bonus audio lesson with additional vocabulary and translation exercises.

Pros

  • Lots of free material
  • Fun, interesting, and unintimidating
  • Cultural insights

Cons

  • Serious learners will need something more in depth
  • No writing practice, and in most courses, no reading practice
4/5
Price: $14.95–$19.95/month
Pimsleur375
Quality audio lessons that never feel overwhelming

If you’re drowning in flashcards and can’t remember the difference between vènti and venti, you might find Pimsleur a welcome change. You’ll learn essential phrases, some basic grammar, cultural insights, and more. But where Pimsleur really shines is vocabulary and pronunciation.

The courses are based on the Pimsleur Method, which is made up of four principles: never learning too much at a time, studying new vocabulary in context, revisiting vocabulary after increasingly longer intervals, and giving you time to formulate the correct answer to questions. 

In the 30-minute audio lessons, you’ll first listen to new vocabulary used in a conversation. Then, you’ll hear some brief explanations before practicing saying the target phrases and creating the sentences yourself. To help you master Italian pronunciation, you’ll also use an effective technique called backchaining

Although Pimsleur is a well-designed and structured course, it won’t teach you everything. There’s not a lot of writing or reading practice, while grammar explanations are minimal. And for some learners, the audio lessons might seem too slow.

Pros

  • Well-structured lessons that build on each other
  • The lessons encourage active rather than passive learning
  • The method is backed up by scientific research
  • You can learn on the go

Cons

  • The 30-minute audio lessons can feel sluggish
  • Limited focus on grammar
  • Very little reading and writing practice
  • Visual learners may find it’s not the best resource for them 
  • The supplementary practice activities feel basic and not overly useful
4.2/5
Price: From $12.95/month
Gamified courses for (nearly) all levels and skills

Fed up of having one app for vocabulary, another for grammar, and another for speaking practice? Few courses do it all, but Babbel makes a decent attempt at it.

It has the standard level-based courses for newcomers through to independent (pre-advanced) speakers. Then there are additional courses for grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening, reading and writing, business Italian, idioms, and Italian culture.

Babbel sits somewhere between the lighthearted Duolingo (review) and intensive courses like Italy Made Easy (review). It’s a gamified app, but the focus is definitely on the language rather than the trophy-winning. In fact, you might end up with flashbacks of school as you fill out conjugation tables and work through slightly repetitive exercises. 

That said, the lessons are well-structured, the explanations are useful, and it mixes vocabulary and grammar drills with comprehension exercises. It’s a good option for casual learners looking for a one-stop course that’s not too challenging. 

Pros

  • Courses for newcomers through to “independent” speakers
  • Courses on specific skills and topics, including grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening, and reading and writing
  • Speech recognition exercises
  • Listening comprehension exercises

Cons

  • Doesn’t have material for advanced learners
  • Less entertaining than other gamified apps
  • The main courses have limited grammar reviews
4.5/5
Price: $19.90/month
news-in-slow-italian-logo
Interesting, quality courses for beginners through to advanced learners

Don’t let the name mislead you: News in Slow Italian is about much more than just the news.

Your subscription to News in Slow Italian gives you access to a slew of materials: a complete beginners course (G.U.T.S.), a grammar course, an expressions course, news-based podcasts and transcripts for intermediate and advanced learners, and stories (fictional and factual) for all levels.

Most of them have the same structure. You’ll begin with an audio recording and transcript, which contains pop-up translations. Most of the courses then have vocabulary flashcards, grammar lessons, pronunciation practice, and quizzes. However, the news-based podcasts have just the pronunciation practice, while the expressions course and the stories don’t have any additional materials. It’s best to treat these as add-ons that offer some extra listening practice and natural phrasing.

All the recordings are interesting, while the lessons are well-organized and easy to understand. New material is constantly being added, so you can learn all the vocabulary and background information you need to understand your neighbour’s rants about today’s politicians.

Pros

  • Fun and interesting
  • Lots of listening and reading comprehension
  • Comprehensive lessons
  • Quality explanations
  • Material from complete beginner to advanced

Cons

  • Limited writing and speaking practice
  • Not all courses have practice activities
4/5
Price: From $19.80/month
Train your pronunciation and intonation

Sounding like an Italian: it’s the ultimate goal, but how are you going to achieve it if your gni still sounds wrong? And let’s not forget the easy mistake of trying to compliment a bald man on his hat (cappelli) but accidentally complimenting his non-existent hair (capelli) instead.

That’s where Ripeti Con Me comes into play. In each 30-minute lesson, you’ll first listen to Italian phrases and then practice shadowing them. This means you’re expected to say them at the same time as the native Italian speaker. You should also pick up some vocabulary and grammar as you move through the material, plus there are free grammar lessons. However, these aren’t the course’s priority.

Unfortunately, Ripeti Con Me doesn’t give you any pronunciation feedback or breakdowns. Nor do you listen to recordings of yourself speaking. As such, you’ll probably still benefit from classes with an Italian teacher who can let you know if you’re making any errors.

Still, few other courses have such a strong focus on helping you perfect your Italian accent as Ripeti Con Me.

Pros

  • Improve your pronunciation and intonation
  • Lots of listening and scripted speaking practice
  • Free grammar lessons

Cons

  • No pronunciation feedback or explanations
  • Can be dull and boring
  • Limited reading and writing practice
  • Not a stand-alone course
4.2/5
Price: $197 per language
A story-based approach to improving intermediate-level grammar

For many people, there’s nothing duller than grammar. Studying sentence structure and conjugation tables just seems dry and dreary – not to mention difficult! – compared to speaking practice, pronunciation drills, role plays, and other more communication-focused study methods.

If you found yourself agreeing with that description, then Grammar Hero might be the course you need. It teaches you intermediate-level grammar through the lens of original short stories, so that you can not only have fun but also immediately see the grammar in context – and hopefully, understand and remember it more intuitively.

First, you read and listen to the story as many times as you need. Then, you’re presented with a grammar breakdown and examples so that you can understand the grammar. However, you’re not encouraged to actively memorize this. That’s supposed to happen gradually through the next two stages. You’ll first get more exposure to the grammar point (re-reading the text), and then you’ll practice it (a series of activities including spotting errors, writing compositions, translation, and fill-in-the-blank exercises).

Grammar Hero is pricier than most grammar courses, but we also think it’s more fun, engaging, and arguably effective than a lot of them. Whether or not it’s worth it depends on you and your preferred learning style. 

Oh, and if you’re looking for something like Grammar Hero, but targeted at beginners or focused on more than just grammar, check out Italian Uncovered (review) from the same brand.

Pros

  • Engaging stories that are different for every language
  • Good-quality audio
  • Focuses on the grammar points that you’re most likely to struggle with

Cons

  • You can study the same grammar topics with other courses for much less – although you might enjoy Grammar Hero more
  • The exercises are pretty standard
  • You won’t get any feedback on your writing composition
3.8/5
Price: From $47
BITE-SIZE-LANGUAGES-01-1
Beginner-appropriate audio courses with lots of listening practice

Imagine going to an hour-long tarantella dance class and only spending a few minutes dancing. Well, some people would argue that this is a bit like taking Italian lessons in English.

There’s a lot of debate over whether languages should be taught in that same language or not. One thing’s for sure: learning Italian in Italian will give you a lot more exposure to the language, even though it will be more challenging.

Bite Size Languages’ courses are based on the idea that the more Italian you listen to, the better. They use comprehensible input, a language-learning technique that’s backed up by plenty of studies. The idea behind it is that listening to or reading interesting material that you can understand but is slightly above your level will help you learn Italian more naturally. 

As such, in this course, you dive straight into short, Italian dialogues that are designed to introduce you to level-appropriate vocabulary and grammar. You can just listen to the dialogues, which Bite Size Languages believes would be sufficient. However, if all-Italian learning seems too much for you, or you would simply like some extra information, you can make use of additional English-language materials: transcripts, word-by-word translations, cultural tips, and concise grammar notes.

Pros

  • Lots of listening practice
  • The audio recordings slowly get faster
  • Good audio quality
  • Very limited use of English

Cons

  • Grammar explanations may be too brief for some users
  • No practice activities
4.2/5
Price: From $38.97 for 3 months
OUINO Language Learning Black Friday Discounts
A huge amount of lessons and practice activities

Ever finished a course and felt like there wasn’t really enough material? That’s unlikely to be the case with Ouino, which contains over 400 lessons, 1,200 exercises, and 60 short stories.

You can either follow their recommended learning path or pick the topics you want to study. This means it’s ideal for false beginners and pre-exam revision. There’s material up to the upper-intermediate level, although higher levels have less content.

You’ll study pronunciation, vocabulary, sentence structure, verb conjugation, natural dialogues, and more. The lessons can seem academic, with lots of explanation, repetitive exercises, and only a smattering of gamification. However, they’ve put plenty of thought into how to help you understand the material, with color-coding drawing your attention to gender, key vocabulary, and more. You can also choose between listening to the lessons or reading them.

Ouino might not be the most exciting of language courses. It’s more Ford Fiesta than Jaguar. Yet like the faithful Fiesta, it’s got plenty of mileage in it. You’ll be hard-pushed to run out of material with Ouino, and all the lessons are high quality.

Pros

  • Huge amount of material
  • Practical conversation practice
  • Detailed pronunciation guide
  • Can study the recommended pathway or pick and choose the lessons that interest you
  • Good for visual and aural learners

Cons

  • You have to download the software
  • The exercises can be repetitive
  • Absolute beginners may find the amount of content overwhelming
  • No pronunciation feedback or voice recognition
3.8/5
Price: From $99.95
Well-structured Italian courses

Ever wished a course would drop the gimmicks and just give you a decent grammatical explanation? You might get on better with Rocket Italian.

This course is unexciting. It lacks the bells and whistles of other courses: Italian Uncovered (review)’s stories, LingoDeer (review)’s gamification, or Coffee Break Italian (review)’s charismatic hosts. 

However, it is effective, well-structured, and full of good insights and practice opportunities. The exercises might at times get repetitive, but you’ll end up memorizing the relevant material.

Modules are based on potential situations you might experience, like asking for directions. There are audio lessons, flashcards, listening and writing exercises, translation tasks, and multiple-choice quizzes. There are also lots of cultural insights.

Rocket Italian isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, it’s a decent choice.

Pros

  • Good explanations
  • Well structured 
  • Cultural insights
  • Plenty of practice activities

Cons

  • Repetitive exercises
  • Not the most engaging course
3.5/5
Price: From $8/month
italianpod101
Heaps of audio courses by different teachers

ItalianPod101 is the Netflix of Italian podcast lessons. It’s similar to other courses on this list, such as Language Transfer and Coffee Break Italian. But what sets it apart is just how many courses (called pathways) and lessons your subscription gives you access to.

Most lessons are focused on a dialogue that the hosts will break it down for you. You’ll get some listening practice (although a lot of the instruction is in English), as well as the new vocabulary and grammar breakdowns. Subscribers get access to expansion materials, lesson notes, and a wide range of other features – some more useful than others.

That said, absolute beginners will likely find the pathways too unstructured. They don’t always seem to build on each other, even when the lessons themselves are well structured.

There’s also a limited focus on reading and writing, while the cheaper plans don’t include any speaking practice. Although ItalianPod101 is a good choice for false beginners onwards, you’ll benefit from some extra resources or self-guided practice.

Pros

  • Huge number of lessons with various hosts
  • Premium subscribers get access to extra features, including topic-specific flashcard decks
  • Voice recorder function
  • Fairly decent for grammar

Cons

  • Can feel unstructured
  • Not ideal for absolute beginners
  • Insufficient practice tasks
  • Limited reading and writing practice
  • Too much English, especially at higher levels
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month or $55.99/year
Fun, gamified app with solid explanations

This cute, entertaining course is designed to take you from complete beginner up to B1 (lower intermediate) Italian. It’s one of our top picks for gamified apps, although serious learners will probably find it’s not enough on its own.

Each tea-break-sized lesson introduces you to a grammar point and some vocabulary. You’ll drill it by matching the phrase to the right picture, writing sentences, answering multiple-choice quizzes, identifying the extraneous word, and more. Units finish with listening comprehension and speaking exercises, although there’s no feedback on the latter. There’s also a good explanation of the target grammar or language at the start of the unit (just swipe to the left). 

The course is generally well-structured and fun, but it’s hard to learn a language thoroughly in just a few minutes a day. If you’re using LingoDeer as your main course, you’ll probably benefit from some extra studies, whether that’s making your own sentences with the material or reviewing additional vocabulary apps or lists. 

Alternatively, you could use LingoDeer alongside a textbook, online Italian lessons, or a different course. It’s enjoyable enough to make studying feel like downtime. 

LingoDeer also has a companion app, DeerPlus. It contains extra vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension exercises to round out your studies. Bear in mind that it isn’t included in your premium subscription, however.

Pros

  • Engaging
  • Clear explanations
  • Well-structured course
  • Listening comprehension activities

Cons

  • Subscribing to two different apps, while optional, is annoying
  • Less thorough than some courses
  • No speaking feedback
4.3/5
Price: Free
5-minute podcast lessons will teach you how to build your own sentences

Some courses start you off with memorizing important phrases, like “How are you?” and the ironic “I speak Italian.” Language Transfer couldn’t be more different.

The short-and-sweet lessons are set up so that you listen in on conversations between Mihalis and his students. As you do so, you’ll learn how Italian works so you can quickly make your own sentences, expand your vocabulary, and more. It’s relaxed and entertaining, and yet you learn a surprising amount of useful content.

On its own, Language Transfer won’t be enough. You’ll want to combine it with additional practice activities, particularly for writing, reading, and listening, as well as courses that will teach you essential phrases.

However, Language Transfer gives you a solid foundation that you can then build on. It will help you feel capable of expanding beyond the material in other courses, textbooks, and apps – and it will only take a few minutes of your day.

Pros

  • Helps you understand how Italian works so you can expand beyond learned material
  • Relaxed yet effective
  • Interesting

Cons

  • No survival phrases
  • No expansion activities and drills to help you practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking
4.3/5
Price: Free
FSI
Comprehensive but dated textbooks and audio files

In the 1960s, when US diplomats were assigned a role in Italy, they would first attend intensive language classes provided by the US Foreign Service Institute’s School of Language Classes. Fast-forward to the 2020s, and most of the textbooks files are in the public domain. They’ve been scanned and converted into PDF and audio files, and hosted on numerous websites.

These textbooks are generally comprehensive and well-structured, with a heavy focus on polite, effective communication. (In fact, the first 200 pages of the Italian Programmed textbook is devoted solely to pronunciation and intonation.) If you’re not in a position to pay for a course, they are some of the most in-depth options available to you.

However, they do have their downsides. The files are hard to read and use, with old-fashioned fonts and tables of content that don’t correspond to the page number assigned by your PDF reader.

They are also dated, with the most recent published in the early ‘90s and the rest being even older. You won’t learn words like sito di social networking or spoilerare. Social attitudes and cultural examples at times seem antiquated – right down to the assumption that students are male.

If you opt for these courses, make sure to use them alongside other resources so you can get speaking practice and learn up-to-date vocabulary. The ‘60s may have been iconic, but you don’t want to sound like you’ve walked straight off the set of Mad Men.

Pros

  • Free
  • Comprehensive
  • Strong focus on intonation and pronunciation
  • Well-suited to more academic learners

Cons

  • Dated
  • The scanned materials can be hard to read
  • Only in PDF format
4/5
Price: €49.90
Translation-based learning with authentic dialogues

There’s a school of language learners that believes you should study languages like children do, with a focus on learning through exposure instead of memorizing conjugation tables. And that’s the theory behind the Assimil method.

With this e-course, you’ll learn just like a child does: by hearing native Italian speakers talk and then copying them. In fact, you won’t begin speaking and actively learning about grammar and sentence structure until lesson 50. Until that point, you’ll just be listening and doing comprehension exercises.

Assimil is a language-learning powerhouse that’s been publishing textbooks and now e-courses for almost a century. It has some passionate advocates who believe the Assimil method, while slow to get started, helps them achieve conversational fluency.

However, it’s not for everyone. If you prefer to take a more active role in your learning or like the idea of speaking Italian straight away, then you’re probably best off using a different course.

Pros

  • Realistic dialogues
  • Extremely thorough grammar indexes and appendixes
  • Some cultural information
  • High-quality audio

Cons

  • Heavily focused on translation instead of output
  • The pronunciation explanations and feedback could be improved
  • Less engaging than other courses and apps
4/5
Price: Freemium; subscriptions from $8.99/month
Gamified flashcards plus a host of community-made courses

Memrise is often considered a Duolingo alternative, but you’ll quickly spot the differences between them. And no, we’re not just talking about Memrise’s flower pots versus Duolingo’s lime-green owl.

Both apps use gamification to teach you a smattering of Italian in just five minutes a day. Memrise, however, is primarily a flashcard app. You’ll add mnemonics to help you remember words, and there are several handy review activities. Some courses also have videos featuring native speakers. Grammar exercises, however, are often minimal.

In addition to the official Italian courses, there are also free, community-made ones. These touch on idioms, pronunciation, TV shows, grammar, and much more. They’re a great way to learn more specialized vocabulary. In fact, if there’s a topic you’d like to study, you can easily create your own course out of a vocabulary list.

Memrise isn’t the perfect course. However, it’s an engaging way to drill essential Italian phrases and vocabulary in just a few minutes a day. You could pair it with just about any of the courses on this list, and you would see the benefits.

Pros

  • Good for memorizing essential phrases and vocabulary
  • Lots of community-made courses
  • Variety of review activities
  • Videos featuring a variety of native speakers

Cons

  • Not all features are available on the web app
  • Not as thorough as some courses
  • Best used as a supplementary resource
4/5
Price: Freemium; subscriptions from $10.99/month
wlingua
Beginner-level lessons with good grammatical explanations

Wishing your language apps had more thorough grammatical explanations? You might like Wlingua.

The short-and-sweet lessons might remind you of Duolingo and other gamified apps, but there’s an above-average focus on grammar. Nearly all the lessons are focused around a single grammatical point, whether it’s irregular verbs or the articulated preposition.

What’s more, the grammatical explanations are far better than in most language apps (with the potential exception of LingoDeer) and color-coding is used to help you recognize patterns. You’ll also drill grammar with questions that ask you, for example, to identify the correct noun gender.

Wlingua also introduces you to plenty of vocabulary, but you might find yourself overwhelmed with it. There are limited vocabulary-related drilling activities, and you’ll often be introduced to a dozen words in a row. Although later lessons use the same vocabulary, it’s a challenging start to the course.

Pros

  • Well-structured course that builds on previous lessons
  • Good grammar explanations

Cons

  • Lots to remember
  • Mostly drills recognition rather than recall
  • Reading tasks don’t test your comprehension
4/5
Price: From $187
Comprehensive courses with a variety of practice activities

There’s something about Fluenz that feels old-fashioned, but that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t have Duolingo-style gamification. You can choose to download the Fluenz software onto your computer. And the detailed video tutorials combined with a wide range of practice activities almost make you feel like you’re back at school.

Fluenz is also more well-rounded than the average course. It will train you on vocabulary, grammar, speaking, writing (including spelling!), reading, and listening. What’s more, the lessons are well-structured and build on each other. You’ll role play dialogues, work on dictation, and more. For dedicated students, there’s little to dislike.

Some learners, however, might find Fluenz is too thorough for their liking. Or they might simply want more gamification and faster-paced tutorials.

Pros

  • Comprehensive: teaches grammar, vocabulary, spelling and writing, speaking, reading, and listening
  • Well-structured course 
  • Plenty of practice activities
  • Thorough explanations

Cons

  • Can feel slow and repetitive
  • Flashcards don’t use spaced repetition
  • The learner community isn’t very active
4/5
Price: Freemium; subscriptions from $12.99/month
Gamification galore in this 5-minutes-a-day course

Few language courses have achieved as much fame or notoriety as Duolingo. Some love it. Others hate it. But one thing’s for sure: it has transformed our attitudes toward language acquisition.

While there are plenty of Duolingo-esque apps on the market today, when it first launched, it was groundbreaking because of its short, gamified lessons with almost zero grammar explanations.

Duolingo’s heavy gamification makes it addictive. Many learners find themselves using it every single day for months or even years on end, just so that they can maintain their learning streaks. Then there are the levels, points, bonus topics, certificates, golden skills… Self-studying normally relies on internal motivation, i.e. your discipline. But with Duolingo, there’s plenty of external motivation to keep you studying – even if you’re not really in the mood to study “sports” or “business”.

However, there’s a limit to how much you can learn in these miniscule study sessions, while the explanations can be insufficient for a thorough understanding of the grammar. The course is based on translation, with limited speaking, reading, and listening practice. There are also complaints that the Italian course is error-prone and in need of an update.

Duolingo won’t get you fluent in Italian. However, you will likely have fun, alongside learning Duolingo-isms like “I would like some new software for my brain” and “Children, why are you bleeding?” Alternatively, for a well-structured gamified app with good explanations, take a look at LingoDeer (review). Or, for something more in depth, try Italian Uncovered (review) or Coffee Break Italian (review).

Pros

  • Fun and motivating
  • Good for beginner-level vocabulary
  • Unintimidating
  • Community forums and events

Cons

  • Grammar explanations are minimal and often insufficient
  • Focused on translation rather than thinking in Italian
  • Limited reading, writing, and speaking practice
3.8/5
Price: Freemium; paid-for courses from €19
Italian-only courses for beginners through to advanced learners

Put your conjugation tables aside: One World Italiano places conversational Italian and listening comprehension at the forefront of their courses.

That’s not to say you won’t study tenses and the subjective mood. It’s just not the main attraction of One World Italiano’s courses. The lessons contain dialogues, vocabulary lists, grammar explanations, quizzes, dictation exercises, and more. There are also plenty of practice activities focused on vocabulary, listening comprehension, and more.

One World Italiano’s courses can feel disorganized, and you’ll want to supplement them with additional speaking, reading, and writing practice. However, they’re a decent option for extra practice activities.

Pros

  • Fair amount of practice activities
  • Teaches new language in context
  • Listening practice

Cons

  • Not suited to complete beginners as the courses are entirely in Italian
  • Vocabulary lists are poorly presented
  • Limited speaking, reading, and writing practice
3.8/5
Price: Freemium; prices vary
A variety of university courses

Studying with edX is a bit like ordering from a menu you don’t fully understand. You might get something delicious, or you might find you can’t stomach what’s on your plate.

You’ll find language courses for beginner through to advanced students from various universities on edX. And if you’ve mastered all those, you can even study courses in Italian about other topics, such as Italy’s numerous dialects, Italian history, and marketing.

The content, quality, teaching style, and price will vary, so it can be hard to know whether a course is a good use of your time beforehand. However, they tend to be freemium, so it’s easy to sample them before committing.

Pros

  • University courses
  • Huge range of courses

Cons

  • Quality can vary
  • Often no feedback or corrections
3.5/5
Price: From $7.99/month
Mango-languages-Logo
Compare your pronunciation (and intonation!) to a native speaker’s

There’s just something about Italian pronunciation, or more precisely, intonation. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak a word of the language – you can immediately recognize it. 

Learning how to reproduce that typical Italian way of speaking is easier said than done. But that’s where Mango Languages’ Italian course comes in. 

At first glance, it seems very similar to Pimsleur, despite not being an audio course. The lessons begin with a dialogue, after which you’ll get grammar or cultural explanations and practice building your own sentences and questions. Bear in mind repetition is a key feature of this method.

A stand-out feature of Mango Languages, however, is the ability to record yourself speaking an Italian phrase and then lay it over a native speaker’s recording. Many courses allow you to record yourself, listen back, and even switch between your recording and a native speaker’s. Few, however, allow you to listen to both of them at the same time. And this immediately shows you where your cadence, stress, and pronunciation aren’t quite right. 

Although there’s a lot to like about Mango Languages, it’s mainly focused on speaking and listening. For reading and writing practice, you’ll need to pair it with a different resource.

Pros

  • It’s great for spotting unnatural pronunciation and intonation
  • You’ll practice constructing your own sentences from the first lesson
  • Lessons build on each other well
  • Some North American libraries and universities offer free access

Cons

  • Limited focus on writing and reading
  • Some users find the heavy drilling monotonous
  • Only caters for beginner and lower-intermediate learners
4.8/5
Price: From $300/course
Italy Made Easy Logo
Extremely thorough and engaging Italian video courses

Most courses benefit from being paired with supplementary resources, perhaps to expand your vocabulary or get more listening practice. Italy Made Easy, however, really could function as a one-stop resource for casual and serious students alike.

Many of the Italy Made Easy courses have over 150 video lessons, plus extensive drills and activities. You’ll study vocabulary, grammar, listening, reading, writing, speaking, pronunciation, and more. What’s more, if you opt for the VIP course, a native and trained speaker will check your assignments and give you personalized feedback.

The flip-side is that impatient learners looking to make quick progress might get frustrated. There are two beginner-level courses, meaning you’re looking at around 300 video lessons before you reach the intermediate level. And the teacher, Manu, while very likeable, is also very talkative. This is not a quick, lean, “learn Italian in 30 days” type of course.

However, if you’re looking for a solid Italian foundation that will cover all the main skills, Italy Made Easy is an excellent choice.

Pros

  • Extremely thorough
  • You’ll practice all language skills
  • Experienced and personable teacher
  • Can get feedback on your assignments

Cons

  • Some of the videos could be edited down
  • No material for advanced learners
4.5/5
Price: $19.90/month
news-in-slow-italian-logo
Interesting, quality courses for beginners through to advanced learners

Don’t let the name mislead you: News in Slow Italian is about much more than just the news.

Your subscription to News in Slow Italian gives you access to a slew of materials: a complete beginners course (G.U.T.S.), a grammar course, an expressions course, news-based podcasts and transcripts for intermediate and advanced learners, and stories (fictional and factual) for all levels.

Most of them have the same structure. You’ll begin with an audio recording and transcript, which contains pop-up translations. Most of the courses then have vocabulary flashcards, grammar lessons, pronunciation practice, and quizzes. However, the news-based podcasts have just the pronunciation practice, while the expressions course and the stories don’t have any additional materials. It’s best to treat these as add-ons that offer some extra listening practice and natural phrasing.

All the recordings are interesting, while the lessons are well-organized and easy to understand. New material is constantly being added, so you can learn all the vocabulary and background information you need to understand your neighbour’s rants about today’s politicians.

Pros

  • Fun and interesting
  • Lots of listening and reading comprehension
  • Comprehensive lessons
  • Quality explanations
  • Material from complete beginner to advanced

Cons

  • Limited writing and speaking practice
  • Not all courses have practice activities
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month or $55.99/year
Fun, gamified app with solid explanations

This cute, entertaining course is designed to take you from complete beginner up to B1 (lower intermediate) Italian. It’s one of our top picks for gamified apps, although serious learners will probably find it’s not enough on its own.

Each tea-break-sized lesson introduces you to a grammar point and some vocabulary. You’ll drill it by matching the phrase to the right picture, writing sentences, answering multiple-choice quizzes, identifying the extraneous word, and more. Units finish with listening comprehension and speaking exercises, although there’s no feedback on the latter. There’s also a good explanation of the target grammar or language at the start of the unit (just swipe to the left). 

The course is generally well-structured and fun, but it’s hard to learn a language thoroughly in just a few minutes a day. If you’re using LingoDeer as your main course, you’ll probably benefit from some extra studies, whether that’s making your own sentences with the material or reviewing additional vocabulary apps or lists. 

Alternatively, you could use LingoDeer alongside a textbook, online Italian lessons, or a different course. It’s enjoyable enough to make studying feel like downtime. 

LingoDeer also has a companion app, DeerPlus. It contains extra vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension exercises to round out your studies. Bear in mind that it isn’t included in your premium subscription, however.

Pros

  • Engaging
  • Clear explanations
  • Well-structured course
  • Listening comprehension activities

Cons

  • Subscribing to two different apps, while optional, is annoying
  • Less thorough than some courses
  • No speaking feedback
4.3/5
Price: Free
5-minute podcast lessons will teach you how to build your own sentences

Some courses start you off with memorizing important phrases, like “How are you?” and the ironic “I speak Italian.” Language Transfer couldn’t be more different.

The short-and-sweet lessons are set up so that you listen in on conversations between Mihalis and his students. As you do so, you’ll learn how Italian works so you can quickly make your own sentences, expand your vocabulary, and more. It’s relaxed and entertaining, and yet you learn a surprising amount of useful content.

On its own, Language Transfer won’t be enough. You’ll want to combine it with additional practice activities, particularly for writing, reading, and listening, as well as courses that will teach you essential phrases.

However, Language Transfer gives you a solid foundation that you can then build on. It will help you feel capable of expanding beyond the material in other courses, textbooks, and apps – and it will only take a few minutes of your day.

Pros

  • Helps you understand how Italian works so you can expand beyond learned material
  • Relaxed yet effective
  • Interesting

Cons

  • No survival phrases
  • No expansion activities and drills to help you practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking
4.3/5
Price: Free
FSI
Comprehensive but dated textbooks and audio files

In the 1960s, when US diplomats were assigned a role in Italy, they would first attend intensive language classes provided by the US Foreign Service Institute’s School of Language Classes. Fast-forward to the 2020s, and most of the textbooks files are in the public domain. They’ve been scanned and converted into PDF and audio files, and hosted on numerous websites.

These textbooks are generally comprehensive and well-structured, with a heavy focus on polite, effective communication. (In fact, the first 200 pages of the Italian Programmed textbook is devoted solely to pronunciation and intonation.) If you’re not in a position to pay for a course, they are some of the most in-depth options available to you.

However, they do have their downsides. The files are hard to read and use, with old-fashioned fonts and tables of content that don’t correspond to the page number assigned by your PDF reader.

They are also dated, with the most recent published in the early ‘90s and the rest being even older. You won’t learn words like sito di social networking or spoilerare. Social attitudes and cultural examples at times seem antiquated – right down to the assumption that students are male.

If you opt for these courses, make sure to use them alongside other resources so you can get speaking practice and learn up-to-date vocabulary. The ‘60s may have been iconic, but you don’t want to sound like you’ve walked straight off the set of Mad Men.

Pros

  • Free
  • Comprehensive
  • Strong focus on intonation and pronunciation
  • Well-suited to more academic learners

Cons

  • Dated
  • The scanned materials can be hard to read
  • Only in PDF format
4.2/5
Price: From $12.95/month
Gamified courses for (nearly) all levels and skills

Fed up of having one app for vocabulary, another for grammar, and another for speaking practice? Few courses do it all, but Babbel makes a decent attempt at it.

It has the standard level-based courses for newcomers through to independent (pre-advanced) speakers. Then there are additional courses for grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening, reading and writing, business Italian, idioms, and Italian culture.

Babbel sits somewhere between the lighthearted Duolingo (review) and intensive courses like Italy Made Easy (review). It’s a gamified app, but the focus is definitely on the language rather than the trophy-winning. In fact, you might end up with flashbacks of school as you fill out conjugation tables and work through slightly repetitive exercises. 

That said, the lessons are well-structured, the explanations are useful, and it mixes vocabulary and grammar drills with comprehension exercises. It’s a good option for casual learners looking for a one-stop course that’s not too challenging. 

Pros

  • Courses for newcomers through to “independent” speakers
  • Courses on specific skills and topics, including grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening, and reading and writing
  • Speech recognition exercises
  • Listening comprehension exercises

Cons

  • Doesn’t have material for advanced learners
  • Less entertaining than other gamified apps
  • The main courses have limited grammar reviews
4.2/5
Price: $197 per language
A story-based approach to improving intermediate-level grammar

For many people, there’s nothing duller than grammar. Studying sentence structure and conjugation tables just seems dry and dreary – not to mention difficult! – compared to speaking practice, pronunciation drills, role plays, and other more communication-focused study methods.

If you found yourself agreeing with that description, then Grammar Hero might be the course you need. It teaches you intermediate-level grammar through the lens of original short stories, so that you can not only have fun but also immediately see the grammar in context – and hopefully, understand and remember it more intuitively.

First, you read and listen to the story as many times as you need. Then, you’re presented with a grammar breakdown and examples so that you can understand the grammar. However, you’re not encouraged to actively memorize this. That’s supposed to happen gradually through the next two stages. You’ll first get more exposure to the grammar point (re-reading the text), and then you’ll practice it (a series of activities including spotting errors, writing compositions, translation, and fill-in-the-blank exercises).

Grammar Hero is pricier than most grammar courses, but we also think it’s more fun, engaging, and arguably effective than a lot of them. Whether or not it’s worth it depends on you and your preferred learning style. 

Oh, and if you’re looking for something like Grammar Hero, but targeted at beginners or focused on more than just grammar, check out Italian Uncovered (review) from the same brand.

Pros

  • Engaging stories that are different for every language
  • Good-quality audio
  • Focuses on the grammar points that you’re most likely to struggle with

Cons

  • You can study the same grammar topics with other courses for much less – although you might enjoy Grammar Hero more
  • The exercises are pretty standard
  • You won’t get any feedback on your writing composition
4.2/5
Price: From $38.97 for 3 months
OUINO Language Learning Black Friday Discounts
A huge amount of lessons and practice activities

Ever finished a course and felt like there wasn’t really enough material? That’s unlikely to be the case with Ouino, which contains over 400 lessons, 1,200 exercises, and 60 short stories.

You can either follow their recommended learning path or pick the topics you want to study. This means it’s ideal for false beginners and pre-exam revision. There’s material up to the upper-intermediate level, although higher levels have less content.

You’ll study pronunciation, vocabulary, sentence structure, verb conjugation, natural dialogues, and more. The lessons can seem academic, with lots of explanation, repetitive exercises, and only a smattering of gamification. However, they’ve put plenty of thought into how to help you understand the material, with color-coding drawing your attention to gender, key vocabulary, and more. You can also choose between listening to the lessons or reading them.

Ouino might not be the most exciting of language courses. It’s more Ford Fiesta than Jaguar. Yet like the faithful Fiesta, it’s got plenty of mileage in it. You’ll be hard-pushed to run out of material with Ouino, and all the lessons are high quality.

Pros

  • Huge amount of material
  • Practical conversation practice
  • Detailed pronunciation guide
  • Can study the recommended pathway or pick and choose the lessons that interest you
  • Good for visual and aural learners

Cons

  • You have to download the software
  • The exercises can be repetitive
  • Absolute beginners may find the amount of content overwhelming
  • No pronunciation feedback or voice recognition
4/5
Price: €49.90
Translation-based learning with authentic dialogues

There’s a school of language learners that believes you should study languages like children do, with a focus on learning through exposure instead of memorizing conjugation tables. And that’s the theory behind the Assimil method.

With this e-course, you’ll learn just like a child does: by hearing native Italian speakers talk and then copying them. In fact, you won’t begin speaking and actively learning about grammar and sentence structure until lesson 50. Until that point, you’ll just be listening and doing comprehension exercises.

Assimil is a language-learning powerhouse that’s been publishing textbooks and now e-courses for almost a century. It has some passionate advocates who believe the Assimil method, while slow to get started, helps them achieve conversational fluency.

However, it’s not for everyone. If you prefer to take a more active role in your learning or like the idea of speaking Italian straight away, then you’re probably best off using a different course.

Pros

  • Realistic dialogues
  • Extremely thorough grammar indexes and appendixes
  • Some cultural information
  • High-quality audio

Cons

  • Heavily focused on translation instead of output
  • The pronunciation explanations and feedback could be improved
  • Less engaging than other courses and apps
4/5
Price: From $28 per course
coffee-break-italian-logo-1
Relaxed podcast-style lessons with a few extra features

If studying Italian feels daunting, give Coffee Break Italian a listen. These relatively short, unintimidating lessons are bound to leave you more confident.

Coffee Break Italian is a freemium course. You can listen along to their free podcast as Katie learns Italian grammar, vocabulary, and culture from Francesca and Mark. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the premium courses: the standard Coffee Break Italian; Travel Diaries; Reading Club, where you get audio lessons alongside weekly texts; and more.

Most of the premium courses follow the same structure. You’ll get the ad-free podcast lessons along with access to lesson notes, a video version of the course, and a bonus audio lesson with additional vocabulary and translation exercises.

Pros

  • Lots of free material
  • Fun, interesting, and unintimidating
  • Cultural insights

Cons

  • Serious learners will need something more in depth
  • No writing practice, and in most courses, no reading practice
4/5
Price: $14.95–$19.95/month
Pimsleur375
Quality audio lessons that never feel overwhelming

If you’re drowning in flashcards and can’t remember the difference between vènti and venti, you might find Pimsleur a welcome change. You’ll learn essential phrases, some basic grammar, cultural insights, and more. But where Pimsleur really shines is vocabulary and pronunciation.

The courses are based on the Pimsleur Method, which is made up of four principles: never learning too much at a time, studying new vocabulary in context, revisiting vocabulary after increasingly longer intervals, and giving you time to formulate the correct answer to questions. 

In the 30-minute audio lessons, you’ll first listen to new vocabulary used in a conversation. Then, you’ll hear some brief explanations before practicing saying the target phrases and creating the sentences yourself. To help you master Italian pronunciation, you’ll also use an effective technique called backchaining

Although Pimsleur is a well-designed and structured course, it won’t teach you everything. There’s not a lot of writing or reading practice, while grammar explanations are minimal. And for some learners, the audio lessons might seem too slow.

Pros

  • Well-structured lessons that build on each other
  • The lessons encourage active rather than passive learning
  • The method is backed up by scientific research
  • You can learn on the go

Cons

  • The 30-minute audio lessons can feel sluggish
  • Limited focus on grammar
  • Very little reading and writing practice
  • Visual learners may find it’s not the best resource for them 
  • The supplementary practice activities feel basic and not overly useful
4/5
Price: From $19.80/month
Train your pronunciation and intonation

Sounding like an Italian: it’s the ultimate goal, but how are you going to achieve it if your gni still sounds wrong? And let’s not forget the easy mistake of trying to compliment a bald man on his hat (cappelli) but accidentally complimenting his non-existent hair (capelli) instead.

That’s where Ripeti Con Me comes into play. In each 30-minute lesson, you’ll first listen to Italian phrases and then practice shadowing them. This means you’re expected to say them at the same time as the native Italian speaker. You should also pick up some vocabulary and grammar as you move through the material, plus there are free grammar lessons. However, these aren’t the course’s priority.

Unfortunately, Ripeti Con Me doesn’t give you any pronunciation feedback or breakdowns. Nor do you listen to recordings of yourself speaking. As such, you’ll probably still benefit from classes with an Italian teacher who can let you know if you’re making any errors.

Still, few other courses have such a strong focus on helping you perfect your Italian accent as Ripeti Con Me.

Pros

  • Improve your pronunciation and intonation
  • Lots of listening and scripted speaking practice
  • Free grammar lessons

Cons

  • No pronunciation feedback or explanations
  • Can be dull and boring
  • Limited reading and writing practice
  • Not a stand-alone course
4/5
Price: Freemium; subscriptions from $8.99/month
Gamified flashcards plus a host of community-made courses

Memrise is often considered a Duolingo alternative, but you’ll quickly spot the differences between them. And no, we’re not just talking about Memrise’s flower pots versus Duolingo’s lime-green owl.

Both apps use gamification to teach you a smattering of Italian in just five minutes a day. Memrise, however, is primarily a flashcard app. You’ll add mnemonics to help you remember words, and there are several handy review activities. Some courses also have videos featuring native speakers. Grammar exercises, however, are often minimal.

In addition to the official Italian courses, there are also free, community-made ones. These touch on idioms, pronunciation, TV shows, grammar, and much more. They’re a great way to learn more specialized vocabulary. In fact, if there’s a topic you’d like to study, you can easily create your own course out of a vocabulary list.

Memrise isn’t the perfect course. However, it’s an engaging way to drill essential Italian phrases and vocabulary in just a few minutes a day. You could pair it with just about any of the courses on this list, and you would see the benefits.

Pros

  • Good for memorizing essential phrases and vocabulary
  • Lots of community-made courses
  • Variety of review activities
  • Videos featuring a variety of native speakers

Cons

  • Not all features are available on the web app
  • Not as thorough as some courses
  • Best used as a supplementary resource
4/5
Price: Freemium; subscriptions from $10.99/month
wlingua
Beginner-level lessons with good grammatical explanations

Wishing your language apps had more thorough grammatical explanations? You might like Wlingua.

The short-and-sweet lessons might remind you of Duolingo and other gamified apps, but there’s an above-average focus on grammar. Nearly all the lessons are focused around a single grammatical point, whether it’s irregular verbs or the articulated preposition.

What’s more, the grammatical explanations are far better than in most language apps (with the potential exception of LingoDeer) and color-coding is used to help you recognize patterns. You’ll also drill grammar with questions that ask you, for example, to identify the correct noun gender.

Wlingua also introduces you to plenty of vocabulary, but you might find yourself overwhelmed with it. There are limited vocabulary-related drilling activities, and you’ll often be introduced to a dozen words in a row. Although later lessons use the same vocabulary, it’s a challenging start to the course.

Pros

  • Well-structured course that builds on previous lessons
  • Good grammar explanations

Cons

  • Lots to remember
  • Mostly drills recognition rather than recall
  • Reading tasks don’t test your comprehension
4/5
Price: $297
I Will Teach You A Language Logo
Learn Italian through reading and listening to a story

Fed up of textbooks? Dull dialogues about Luca buying pizza and Sofia asking for directions? Or gamified apps with phrases like “Ana is eating a canary” and “the groom is a hedgehog?” You might prefer Italian Uncovered, which takes an entirely different approach to language learning.

In this course, you’ll start off by reading and listening to the first chapter of an original 20-chapter Italian story – even if you’re a complete beginner. Only after doing that will you study the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation relevant to this chapter. You wrap up with a quiz, and then it’s onto the next chapter.

This course is designed to take you from zero Italian knowledge to being an intermediate-level speaker. But it’s not an easy introduction to the language. If you’re looking for something nice and gentle, take a look at one of the other courses on this list, such as  LingoDeer (review) and Babbel (review).

However, if you’re looking for Italian texts you’ll actually get excited about reading, and you don’t mind a challenge, Italian Uncovered might be the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Lots of reading and listening practice
  • A well-written, interesting story
  • It’s fun

Cons

  • Some learners could feel overwhelmed
  • The review/quiz is very basic for the quantity of information you learn per chapter
4/5
Price: Freemium; subscriptions from $12.99/month
Gamification galore in this 5-minutes-a-day course

Few language courses have achieved as much fame or notoriety as Duolingo. Some love it. Others hate it. But one thing’s for sure: it has transformed our attitudes toward language acquisition.

While there are plenty of Duolingo-esque apps on the market today, when it first launched, it was groundbreaking because of its short, gamified lessons with almost zero grammar explanations.

Duolingo’s heavy gamification makes it addictive. Many learners find themselves using it every single day for months or even years on end, just so that they can maintain their learning streaks. Then there are the levels, points, bonus topics, certificates, golden skills… Self-studying normally relies on internal motivation, i.e. your discipline. But with Duolingo, there’s plenty of external motivation to keep you studying – even if you’re not really in the mood to study “sports” or “business”.

However, there’s a limit to how much you can learn in these miniscule study sessions, while the explanations can be insufficient for a thorough understanding of the grammar. The course is based on translation, with limited speaking, reading, and listening practice. There are also complaints that the Italian course is error-prone and in need of an update.

Duolingo won’t get you fluent in Italian. However, you will likely have fun, alongside learning Duolingo-isms like “I would like some new software for my brain” and “Children, why are you bleeding?” Alternatively, for a well-structured gamified app with good explanations, take a look at LingoDeer (review). Or, for something more in depth, try Italian Uncovered (review) or Coffee Break Italian (review).

Pros

  • Fun and motivating
  • Good for beginner-level vocabulary
  • Unintimidating
  • Community forums and events

Cons

  • Grammar explanations are minimal and often insufficient
  • Focused on translation rather than thinking in Italian
  • Limited reading, writing, and speaking practice
4/5
Price: From $187
Comprehensive courses with a variety of practice activities

There’s something about Fluenz that feels old-fashioned, but that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t have Duolingo-style gamification. You can choose to download the Fluenz software onto your computer. And the detailed video tutorials combined with a wide range of practice activities almost make you feel like you’re back at school.

Fluenz is also more well-rounded than the average course. It will train you on vocabulary, grammar, speaking, writing (including spelling!), reading, and listening. What’s more, the lessons are well-structured and build on each other. You’ll role play dialogues, work on dictation, and more. For dedicated students, there’s little to dislike.

Some learners, however, might find Fluenz is too thorough for their liking. Or they might simply want more gamification and faster-paced tutorials.

Pros

  • Comprehensive: teaches grammar, vocabulary, spelling and writing, speaking, reading, and listening
  • Well-structured course 
  • Plenty of practice activities
  • Thorough explanations

Cons

  • Can feel slow and repetitive
  • Flashcards don’t use spaced repetition
  • The learner community isn’t very active
3.8/5
Price: From $99.95
Well-structured Italian courses

Ever wished a course would drop the gimmicks and just give you a decent grammatical explanation? You might get on better with Rocket Italian.

This course is unexciting. It lacks the bells and whistles of other courses: Italian Uncovered (review)’s stories, LingoDeer (review)’s gamification, or Coffee Break Italian (review)’s charismatic hosts. 

However, it is effective, well-structured, and full of good insights and practice opportunities. The exercises might at times get repetitive, but you’ll end up memorizing the relevant material.

Modules are based on potential situations you might experience, like asking for directions. There are audio lessons, flashcards, listening and writing exercises, translation tasks, and multiple-choice quizzes. There are also lots of cultural insights.

Rocket Italian isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, it’s a decent choice.

Pros

  • Good explanations
  • Well structured 
  • Cultural insights
  • Plenty of practice activities

Cons

  • Repetitive exercises
  • Not the most engaging course
3.8/5
Price: Freemium; prices vary
A variety of university courses

Studying with edX is a bit like ordering from a menu you don’t fully understand. You might get something delicious, or you might find you can’t stomach what’s on your plate.

You’ll find language courses for beginner through to advanced students from various universities on edX. And if you’ve mastered all those, you can even study courses in Italian about other topics, such as Italy’s numerous dialects, Italian history, and marketing.

The content, quality, teaching style, and price will vary, so it can be hard to know whether a course is a good use of your time beforehand. However, they tend to be freemium, so it’s easy to sample them before committing.

Pros

  • University courses
  • Huge range of courses

Cons

  • Quality can vary
  • Often no feedback or corrections
3.8/5
Price: From $47
BITE-SIZE-LANGUAGES-01-1
Beginner-appropriate audio courses with lots of listening practice

Imagine going to an hour-long tarantella dance class and only spending a few minutes dancing. Well, some people would argue that this is a bit like taking Italian lessons in English.

There’s a lot of debate over whether languages should be taught in that same language or not. One thing’s for sure: learning Italian in Italian will give you a lot more exposure to the language, even though it will be more challenging.

Bite Size Languages’ courses are based on the idea that the more Italian you listen to, the better. They use comprehensible input, a language-learning technique that’s backed up by plenty of studies. The idea behind it is that listening to or reading interesting material that you can understand but is slightly above your level will help you learn Italian more naturally. 

As such, in this course, you dive straight into short, Italian dialogues that are designed to introduce you to level-appropriate vocabulary and grammar. You can just listen to the dialogues, which Bite Size Languages believes would be sufficient. However, if all-Italian learning seems too much for you, or you would simply like some extra information, you can make use of additional English-language materials: transcripts, word-by-word translations, cultural tips, and concise grammar notes.

Pros

  • Lots of listening practice
  • The audio recordings slowly get faster
  • Good audio quality
  • Very limited use of English

Cons

  • Grammar explanations may be too brief for some users
  • No practice activities
3.8/5
Price: Freemium; paid-for courses from €19
Italian-only courses for beginners through to advanced learners

Put your conjugation tables aside: One World Italiano places conversational Italian and listening comprehension at the forefront of their courses.

That’s not to say you won’t study tenses and the subjective mood. It’s just not the main attraction of One World Italiano’s courses. The lessons contain dialogues, vocabulary lists, grammar explanations, quizzes, dictation exercises, and more. There are also plenty of practice activities focused on vocabulary, listening comprehension, and more.

One World Italiano’s courses can feel disorganized, and you’ll want to supplement them with additional speaking, reading, and writing practice. However, they’re a decent option for extra practice activities.

Pros

  • Fair amount of practice activities
  • Teaches new language in context
  • Listening practice

Cons

  • Not suited to complete beginners as the courses are entirely in Italian
  • Vocabulary lists are poorly presented
  • Limited speaking, reading, and writing practice
3.5/5
Price: From $7.99/month
Mango-languages-Logo
Compare your pronunciation (and intonation!) to a native speaker’s

There’s just something about Italian pronunciation, or more precisely, intonation. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak a word of the language – you can immediately recognize it. 

Learning how to reproduce that typical Italian way of speaking is easier said than done. But that’s where Mango Languages’ Italian course comes in. 

At first glance, it seems very similar to Pimsleur, despite not being an audio course. The lessons begin with a dialogue, after which you’ll get grammar or cultural explanations and practice building your own sentences and questions. Bear in mind repetition is a key feature of this method.

A stand-out feature of Mango Languages, however, is the ability to record yourself speaking an Italian phrase and then lay it over a native speaker’s recording. Many courses allow you to record yourself, listen back, and even switch between your recording and a native speaker’s. Few, however, allow you to listen to both of them at the same time. And this immediately shows you where your cadence, stress, and pronunciation aren’t quite right. 

Although there’s a lot to like about Mango Languages, it’s mainly focused on speaking and listening. For reading and writing practice, you’ll need to pair it with a different resource.

Pros

  • It’s great for spotting unnatural pronunciation and intonation
  • You’ll practice constructing your own sentences from the first lesson
  • Lessons build on each other well
  • Some North American libraries and universities offer free access

Cons

  • Limited focus on writing and reading
  • Some users find the heavy drilling monotonous
  • Only caters for beginner and lower-intermediate learners
3.5/5
Price: From $8/month
italianpod101
Heaps of audio courses by different teachers

ItalianPod101 is the Netflix of Italian podcast lessons. It’s similar to other courses on this list, such as Language Transfer and Coffee Break Italian. But what sets it apart is just how many courses (called pathways) and lessons your subscription gives you access to.

Most lessons are focused on a dialogue that the hosts will break it down for you. You’ll get some listening practice (although a lot of the instruction is in English), as well as the new vocabulary and grammar breakdowns. Subscribers get access to expansion materials, lesson notes, and a wide range of other features – some more useful than others.

That said, absolute beginners will likely find the pathways too unstructured. They don’t always seem to build on each other, even when the lessons themselves are well structured.

There’s also a limited focus on reading and writing, while the cheaper plans don’t include any speaking practice. Although ItalianPod101 is a good choice for false beginners onwards, you’ll benefit from some extra resources or self-guided practice.

Pros

  • Huge number of lessons with various hosts
  • Premium subscribers get access to extra features, including topic-specific flashcard decks
  • Voice recorder function
  • Fairly decent for grammar

Cons

  • Can feel unstructured
  • Not ideal for absolute beginners
  • Insufficient practice tasks
  • Limited reading and writing practice
  • Too much English, especially at higher levels

The 16 Best Online Japanese Courses: Kanji, Grammar, & More

Japanese is poetic, musical, fascinating – and undeniably tough. But learning it is worth all the effort. It will let you visit temples in Kyoto and otaku towns in Tokyo, watch un-dubbed Studio Ghibli movies, and make Japanese friends all over the world.

What’s more, the right Japanese course will help you make better progress in your studies. You’ll find yourself speaking with confidence, understanding kanji, and perhaps most importantly of all, having fun while learning.

Not all Japanese courses are the same, however. Some are more focused on listening, others on grammar, and others on kanji. Some include manga and others have workplace dialogues. And some… just aren’t that great.

A bad Japanese course will potentially leave you confused by grammar, speaking with the wrong register, and perhaps worse of all, demotivated and frustrated. It’s easy to believe that you’ll never master Japanese, when really, you just need to change your study materials.

So we’ve rounded up our top online courses for learning Japanese. Each one gets a rating of at least 3.5 out of 5 stars, which puts them above average here on All Language Resources. Whether you’re looking for comprehensive self-study materials or a 5-minutes-a-day app to use alongside Genki or Minna no Nihongo, we think you’ll find the right course for you on this list.

Sort By:

I Will Teach You A Language Logo
Learn Japanese through reading and listening to a story

Reading and listening in Japanese as a beginner is tough. It has an extremely fast speech tempo, i.e. people really do speak Japanese faster than Spanish, Mandarin, and English. And when you’re reading, there are no spaces between the words. Unless you recognize them, it’s really hard to isolate them and look them up in the dictionary. 

Enter Japanese Uncovered from I Will Teach You a Language. This 20-module course focuses on learning Japanese through a multi-chapter story. In doing so, it will give you lots of reading and listening practice.

First, you’ll read and listen to a chapter. Then you’ll learn the vocabulary from that chapter, followed by the grammar, the pronunciation, and part of the script. Finally, you’ll get some cultural and politeness insights and a quiz. Then, it’s onto the next chapter.

Not everyone likes being pushed into the deep end of the swimming pool – even with armbands. For some learners, Japanese Uncovered will likely be too intense. But for others, it will be a fun way to engage with the language and get more listening and reading practice. 

Pros

  • Lots of reading and listening practice
  • A native speaker gives the pronunciation classes
  • It’s fun and interesting

Cons

  • Uses a lot of romaji, especially at the beginning
  • The review/quiz is very basic for the quantity of information you learn per chapter
  • Currently only for beginners
4/5
Price: From $8/month
japanesepod101
Heaps of audio and video classes

Podcast-lovers will likely enjoy JapanesePod101, which teaches the language through relaxed audio and video lessons with charismatic hosts and often-humorous dialogues.

There are plenty of lessons to choose from, but if you’re not sure where to get started, just pick a “pathway” or specific series. 

The lessons are mostly dialogue-centric. You’ll listen to a target dialogue, and then the hosts will break it down for you line by line. Often (but not always), the lessons build on each other, using material from past lessons while also introducing a new grammar point and some vocabulary.

That said, there is a very limited focus on reading and writing Japanese, so you’ll want to pair JapanesePod101 with some extra resources or a textbook like Minna no Nihongo or Genki.

Pros

  • Huge number of lessons with various hosts
  • Premium subscribers get access to extra features, including topic-specific flashcard decks
  • Voice recorder function
  • Fairly decent for grammar

Cons

  • Limited reading and writing practice
  • Too much English, especially at higher levels
  • Can feel unstructured
4/5
Price: $14.95–$19.95/month
Slow but good-quality audio courses

Struggling to remember vocabulary lists? Tripping over long Japanese words? You might find Pimsleur helps you improve your vocabulary recall and pronunciation.

These audio courses are based on the Pimsleur Method, an approach to language learning that’s based on scientific research. It’s made up of four principles: never learning too much at a time, studying new vocabulary in context, revisiting it after increasingly longer intervals, and giving you time to formulate the correct answer.

The courses contain 30-minute audio lessons in which you’ll listen to new vocabulary being used in conversation, hear brief explanations, and then practice saying and creating the sentences yourself. 

It also uses a technique called backchaining to help you learn Japanese pronunciation. If you’re struggling with phrases like ittehaikemasenka/行ってはいけませんか or the infamous sokuon/double consonant, this could be helpful. 

Bear in mind that you don’t get much writing or reading practice, while grammar explanations are rare. If you’re looking to build a sound grammatical foundation or want to focus on kanji, you might prefer one of the other options on this list.

Pros

  • Well-structured lessons that build on each other
  • The lessons encourage active rather than passive learning
  • The method is backed up by scientific research
  • You can learn on the go

Cons

  • The 30-minute-long audio lessons can drag
  • Limited focus on grammar
  • Very little reading and writing practice
  • Visual learners may find it’s not the best resource for them 
  • The supplementary practice activities feel basic and not overly useful
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month or $55.99/year
Fun app with clear grammar explanations

LingoDeer is an entertaining (and kawaii) app that will teach you Japanese grammar, vocabulary, and basic kanji. The company claims it will take you up to B1/N4. However, serious learners will likely want to combine it with other resources, including additional word lists/vocabulary-builders.

Each bite-sized lesson teaches you a grammar point and some vocabulary, which you drill with a variety of practice tasks: writing sentences, identifying the unnecessary word in a sentence, multiple-choice quizzes, and more. The units wrap up with listening comprehension exercises, and you can record yourself saying the target dialogue. 

There are character drills, too, but only for 100 kanji. And you can also take their Fluent Japanese dialogue lessons, which go from N5 to N3 and sit alongside the main course.

LingoDeer’s companion app, DeerPlus, has additional vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension exercises. It’s a fun expansion option that will add some variety to your studies, but it isn’t included in your premium subscription.

Pros

  • Decent introduction to kana and beginner-level kanji
  • Clear grammar explanations
  • Listening comprehension activities
  • Fun but effective

Cons

  • Subscribing to two different apps, while optional, is annoying
  • Serious learners will want to combine it with other resources
  • Only includes character drills for 100 kanji
  • No speaking feedback
4.3/5
Price: From $6.99/month
bunpo-logo
Well-organized grammar lessons that go up to N1

Let’s be honest: Japanese grammar and sentence structure can be challenging. And although learning vocabulary, writing kanji, and speaking are important activities, sometimes you just want a resource that will cover the main grammar points at each JLPT level. That’s where the app-based course Bunpo – not to be confused with BunPro (review) – comes into play. 

Bunpō means grammar, and this is the course’s main focus. However, it also teaches the kana and basic vocabulary in the elementary level. 

Once you’re into the JLPT levels, each course is divided into themes which are further divided into topics. For example, the first lesson of N5 is on the basic sentence structure, with lessons on the standard declarative sentence, questions, indicating possession, negatives, and も/also.

The lessons themselves start with an explanation and plenty of example sentences, followed by some practice activities. These are a little dull and monotonous, but the grammar is broken down well. To get the most out of this course, try making your own sentences afterwards.

Pros

  • Well-structured
  • Good for grammar and phrases
  • Lots of example sentences
  • Can toggle kana/romaji on and off

Cons

  • Best used as a supplementary resource
  • No speaking or listening comprehension
  • Not as engaging as other courses
4.2/5
Price: Free
NHK-World-Japan
Beginner-level audio and video course

Looking to dip your toe into the world of Japanese studies? Easy Japanese is a great place to get started.

You’ll learn useful expressions for everyday situations, such as shopping in a bakery or hanging out with friends. The course is structured like a drama, with you learning a bit of Japanese in every session.

The lessons themselves are short and sweet, at just 10 minutes per audio lesson and 30 seconds per video lesson. There’s plenty to learn, however, with a combined 96 lessons.

Since Easy Japanese contains lots of audio recordings, it could also be a good supplementary choice if you’re currently studying with a textbook or app.

Pros

  • Accessible and entertaining introduction to Japanese 
  • Includes cultural insights
  • You can save vocabulary to your notebook
  • Lots of listening practice

Cons

  • Only suitable for beginners
  • The organization can be a little confusing
  • Limited reading and writing practice
4.2/5
Price: From $9.99
Human Japanese Logo
Textbook-esque course with lots of vocabulary

Fed up of apps and courses that expect you to pick up Japanese without any explanations? Try Human Japanese instead. 

This course feels like an interactive textbook, complete with detailed explanations, cultural notes, word lists, chapter reviews, and more. If you liked studying languages in school, you’ll probably like Human Japanese.

Bear in mind that you’ll dive into Japanese vocabulary and grammar before you’ve learned the kana. This could trip you up later on. For example, when you first study toire, meaning toilet, you’ll see it written in hiragana – even though it should be written in katakana. Given that the course also shows the romaji version of beginner-level vocabulary, this is a strange and unnecessary choice that could get confusing.

You’re probably also best pairing it with a flashcard app to help you remember the extensive vocabulary lists. Try something like Anki or one of the Human Japanese courses on Memrise.

Pros

  • Excellent breakdowns
  • Engaging tone

Cons

  • Limited practice opportunities
  • The amount of vocabulary can be overwhelming
  • Sometimes uses the wrong kana in beginner lessons
  • Difficult to navigate on your mobile
4.2/5
Free/Classes from 3,780¥/month
Japanese classes plus a huge amount of free self-study material

There’s nothing spicy about this online school, but there’s plenty of mouthwateringly good resources. 

There are two main ways to learn Japanese with Wasabi: you can sign up for one-to-one online classes, or you can study by yourself using their extensive amount of self-study material.

The classes are subscription-based: you sign up for a monthly pack and can add extra classes as and when you wish. The teaching is typically done in Japanese, but you can request an English-speaking teacher if you’re a complete beginner.

The self-study materials, meanwhile, include grammar guides, graded readers with audio recordings, video lessons, and more. They do not include drills or practice activities, so you’ll have to create your own tasks and revision tools. However, there’s a wealth of information that you could use to structure your studies or simply supplement other courses and textbooks. 

Pros

  • Reading and listening practice
  • Grammar and pronunciation guides
  • Video and text lessons
  • Affordable one-to-one classes

Cons

  • If studying by yourself, you have to create your own practice drills
4/5
Price: Free
Choose how much you want to be challenged with these beginner courses

Maybe you just want some basic Japanese practice before you vacation in Kyoto. Or perhaps you actually want to learn Japanese and are looking for something that will give you a fairly comprehensive foundation. The great thing about Marugoto is that it has courses for both types of learners.

Katsudoo will get you speaking and listening to basic Japanese vocabulary. With Rikai, you’ll study the same Katsudoo lesson, but then you’ll do some extra activities to get you working on kanji, reading and writing comprehension, and more.

The courses use a variety of activities, from audio clips and videos through to questionnaires and PDF downloadables. You can also sign up to study in groups with a tutor who will give you feedback.

Plus, it’s designed to accompany the Marugoto textbook series, so you’ve got plenty of expansion options.

Pros

  • Explanations in multiple languages
  • Tutor support is available
  • Lots of listening comprehension
  • Some speaking practice

Cons

  • Only for beginners (A1–A2)
  • The Katsudoo course has no writing practice and limited reading practice
  • Studying Rikai after Katsudoo feels clunky and convoluted
4/5
Price: Free
Yes Japan course
Video course that accompanies a beginner textbook series

Intrigued by Japanese, but intimidated by kanji and the very different sentence structure? YesJapan is a relaxed introduction to the language.

Their textbook series, Japanese From Zero!, is fun and easy, while admittedly moving at a snail’s pace. And their video course arguably outshines the books.

You’ll learn vocabulary, grammar, and cultural insights, while the videos feature dialogues and quizzes. You can save key vocabulary and toggle between romaji, kana, and kanji.

As a video course, it’s short on reading and writing practice. However, the native audio means you’ll quickly get used to hearing Japanese pronunciation.

Pros

  • Native audio
  • You can choose between romaji, kana, and kanji

Cons

  • No writing practice
  • Superficial in content
4/5
Price: Free
Comprehensive grammar course for dedicated self-study

Imabi is not your typical course. It’s an intense series of online text lessons with lots of information – perhaps too much for the average student. 

The primary focus is grammar, but unlike other grammar guides such as Tae Kim (review) and BunPro (review), there are also dedicated lessons to vocabulary. There’s plenty of cultural information, too, and some excellent lessons on pronunciation. On the other hand, there are no exercises; drills; or reading, writing, or listening activities. It’s up to you to practice this material. 

Beginners could find Imabi intimidating or even demotivating. There’s no gamification here, and the lessons never shy away from the technical aspects of Japanese. However, the information is excellent. Even adept Japanese speakers might learn something from the beginner lessons. 

Extremely dedicated students will be able to use Imabi as their principal course, but it’s important to also use external resources to practice writing, listening, reading, and speaking. Alternatively, Imabi makes a great supplementary resource that you can dive into when you want more information about a topic.

Pros

  • Exceptionally detailed explanations
  • Excellent grammar breakdowns
  • Vocabulary and cultural insights
  • Material for beginner through to advanced students

Cons

  • No exercises
  • No reading, writing, listening, or speaking practice
  • Beginners will likely find it overwhelming technical and detailed
  • For most students, it’s probably best as a supplementary resource
4/5
Price: €49.90
Translation-based course with natural dialogues

With Assimil, you can try learning Japanese through immersion, no matter if you’re in Nebraska, the Welsh Hills, or Auckland. Or that’s the theory, anyway.

The Assimil courses are designed to replicate the way children learn: by hearing how native Japanese speakers talk and eventually mimicking them. In fact, it’s not until lesson 50 that you begin speaking Japanese and actively learning grammar. Until that point, you’ll just be listening, translating, and doing comprehension exercises.

Assimil’s been publishing language textbooks for almost a century, and in recent years, they’ve also turned their hands to online courses. The brand has some passionate fans who believe the Assimil method helps them achieve conversational fluency.

However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re itching to start speaking Japanese from day one or prefer not to focus on translation, take a look at one of the other courses on this list.

Pros

  • Realistic dialogues
  • Extremely thorough grammar indexes and appendixes
  • Some cultural information
  • High-quality audio

Cons

  • Heavily focused on translation instead of output
  • The pronunciation explanations and feedback could be improved
  • Less engaging than other courses and apps
4/5
Price: Freemium; premium plans from $6/month
Kanshudo
Kanji-focused courses and games with some grammar explanations

It’s easy to neglect studying kanji, but Kanshudo’s structured course and games will help keep you on track.

In the free 20-lesson beginner course, you’ll be introduced to five different kanji in each lesson, along with some example words and sentences. You can practice tracing the kanji on your phone and tablet, and finish up with some games to check your memory. There are also some interspersed grammar points.

However, Kanshudo is best used as a supplementary resource. The grammar isn’t drilled, while the vocabulary is at times not explained very well. For example, when you learn the kanji 大 for big in lesson one, you’re also shown how it turns 学生 into 大学生, university student. Unfortunately, however, the text forgets to mention that 学生 means student, so you don’t see the relevance of this. It’s still a useful lesson overall, but it would be even more effective if you knew some basic Japanese vocabulary before taking the course.

The intermediate course will teach you 1,000 kanji, but with the exception of the first three lessons, it’s behind a paywall. This course is a more interesting one since you’ll practice using the kanji in sentences, but it’s still best used alongside other resources.

The website also contains reading materials organized by level and free exercises and drills for some of the most common Japanese textbooks, including Genki, Minna no Nihongo, and Japanese for Busy People.

Pros

  • Lots of drills and games 
  • Great for reviewing kanji
  • You can earn Study Points by studying and then exchange them for free access to the Premium content

Cons

  • Weak focus on grammar and vocabulary
  • Best used as a supplementary resource
3.8/5
Price: From $5/month
Live and video classes that go from N5 to N1

BondLingo does it all: a textbook, live video classes where you can ask questions, pre-recorded video lessons for self-study, JLPT quizzes, level test, and vocabulary lists. And it will take you all the way from complete beginner up to N1.

The website also has a blog with posts on everything from the Obon festival to how to describe your sexuality and gender in Japanese.

Some of the lessons use a lot of English, but others are predominantly in Japanese. Bear in mind that you can only type in the lessons; there’s no option for speaking (or feedback on your speech).

Pros

  • Goes from N5 to N1
  • Live classes with a teacher
  • Self-study material
  • Textbook

Cons

  • Some videos use lots of English
  • Limited practice drills and homework
3.7/5
Price: Free
Thorough beginner Japanese courses from the University of Kyoto

For beginner students looking for a solid foundation in Japanese, samidori is a great place to start. You’ll learn the kana, vocabulary, grammar, and more, while there’s plenty of listening and reading practice.

It’s not a perfect course, however. You’ll need to look elsewhere to learn how to write kanji, plus there are no speaking and writing exercises. And although they have lessons for lower intermediate students, most of their material is designed for beginners.

That said, the course and lessons alike are well structured. Most lessons follow the same format: the lesson topic and vocabulary is introduced in Japanese and English, then there are example sentences and audio recordings for the target language, and finally you get timed practice questions to check your understanding.

If you’re looking for a free resource that will cover the basics of Japanese, and you don’t care about gamification, flashcards, and other features, then samidori is a great choice. Just make sure to also use a kanji app or workbook and practice speaking and writing. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more engaging, try LingoDeer.

Pros

  • Comprehensive, well-structured courses
  • Lots of listening and reading practice
  • Teaches kana, grammar, and vocabulary
  • Audio recordings for all new words and phrases

Cons

  • Doesn’t teach you how to write kanji
  • No writing or speaking practice
  • Limited lessons for lower intermediate students
3.5/5
Price: From $99.99/level
Japanese Level Up
A flashcard course that will take you from beginner to advanced

Jalup promises to help you level up your Japanese, and it does so through a leveled-up flashcards system.

Flashcards can be dry, but Jalup does its best to keep it engaging, with sentences from Japanese manga and novels. In fact, you might even recognize some of the content.

Each new flashcard builds on previous ones, while spaced repetition will help you to remember what you’ve learned. You can either use these flashcards on Anki or the Jalup app. The latter is more expensive but includes far more features.

In theory, the structured, nine-level syllabus takes you from the very basics (kana) through to “Jalup Expert”. The two-person team behind Jalup has also mentioned that they hoped to add a tenth and final level at some point.

However, more analytical learners might get frustrated with the lack of grammar explanations, while you’ll also want to pair it with activities for practicing listening comprehension, speaking, and writing. 

Pros

  • Teaches you in Japanese from level 4 onwards
  • Great for reading
  • Native audio clips for some levels
Cons
  • Limited grammar focus
  • No output (speaking/writing) practice
  • Pricey for a flashcard system
  • Less engaging than other apps
3.5/5
Price: From $7.99/month
Mango-languages-Logo
Compare your pronunciation to a native speaker’s

Looking to polish your pronunciation while learning basic grammar and vocabulary? Mango Languages might be a good option.

It has some things in common with Pimsleur: you’ll listen to a dialogue, get a grammar or cultural explanation, and then practice building your own sentences and questions using the target language. Repetition is a key feature of this method, but unlike Pimsleur, the lesson pace doesn’t feel quite so sluggish. 

However, what really makes Mango Languages shine is the ability to record yourself speaking a Japanese phrase and lay it over a native speaker’s. While Japanese pronunciation isn’t too challenging for English speakers, it can be hard to get the difference between similar words like いえ (ie, house) and いいえ (iie, no) or to reproduce that tricky sokuon/double consonant. Mango Languages will help you spot when you haven’t quite got it right.

Bear in mind, however, that Mango Languages is mostly focused on speaking and listening. You’ll need to look elsewhere to learn how to write and read Japanese.

Pros

  • It’s great for spotting unnatural pronunciation
  • You’ll practice making sentences from the first lesson
  • Lessons build on each other well
  • Some North American libraries and universities offer free access

Cons

  • Limited focus on writing and reading
  • Some users find the heavy drilling monotonous
  • Only caters for beginner and lower-intermediate learners
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month or $55.99/year
Fun app with clear grammar explanations

Chinese For Us is an exceptionally thorough series of courses for beginner and lower-intermediate Chinese learners. In fact, it’s so thorough that even higher-level students may benefit from taking these courses to fill in gaps in their knowledge.

The syllabus takes a tortoise rather than a hare approach to learning Mandarin, preferring a comprehensive curriculum to fast progress. If you’re hoping to reach fluency or live in a Mandarin-speaking territory, it will give you an excellent base. However, if you want to quickly learn survival Mandarin or pass an HSK exam, you may be better off opting for a different resource.

The teacher, Lili, speaks very clearly in Mandarin, plus her explanations are clear and detailed. The courses mix video lessons, quizzes, and reviews, while some lessons have downloadable worksheets so you can practice writing the characters. You’ll also get access to two remarkably thorough courses dedicated to pronunciation and tones.

Pros

  • Decent introduction to kana and beginner-level kanji
  • Clear grammar explanations
  • Listening comprehension activities
  • Fun but effective

Cons

  • Subscribing to two different apps, while optional, is annoying
  • Serious learners will want to combine it with other resources
  • Only includes character drills for 100 kanji
  • No speaking feedback
4.3/5
Price: From $6.99/month
bunpo-logo
Well-organized grammar lessons that go up to N1

Let’s be honest: Japanese grammar and sentence structure can be challenging. And although learning vocabulary, writing kanji, and speaking are important activities, sometimes you just want a resource that will cover the main grammar points at each JLPT level. That’s where the app-based course Bunpo – not to be confused with BunPro (review) – comes into play. 

Bunpō means grammar, and this is the course’s main focus. However, it also teaches the kana and basic vocabulary in the elementary level. 

Once you’re into the JLPT levels, each course is divided into themes which are further divided into topics. For example, the first lesson of N5 is on the basic sentence structure, with lessons on the standard declarative sentence, questions, indicating possession, negatives, and も/also.

The lessons themselves start with an explanation and plenty of example sentences, followed by some practice activities. These are a little dull and monotonous, but the grammar is broken down well. To get the most out of this course, try making your own sentences afterwards.

Pros

  • Well-structured
  • Good for grammar and phrases
  • Lots of example sentences
  • Can toggle kana/romaji on and off

Cons

  • Best used as a supplementary resource
  • No speaking or listening comprehension
  • Not as engaging as other courses
4.2/5
Price: FrEE
NHK-World-Japan
Beginner-level audio and video course

Looking to dip your toe into the world of Japanese studies? Easy Japanese is a great place to get started.

You’ll learn useful expressions for everyday situations, such as shopping in a bakery or hanging out with friends. The course is structured like a drama, with you learning a bit of Japanese in every session.

The lessons themselves are short and sweet, at just 10 minutes per audio lesson and 30 seconds per video lesson. There’s plenty to learn, however, with a combined 96 lessons.

Since Easy Japanese contains lots of audio recordings, it could also be a good supplementary choice if you’re currently studying with a textbook or app.

Pros

  • Accessible and entertaining introduction to Japanese 
  • Includes cultural insights
  • You can save vocabulary to your notebook
  • Lots of listening practice

Cons

  • Only suitable for beginners
  • The organization can be a little confusing
  • Limited reading and writing practice
4.2/5
Price: From $9.99
Human Japanese Logo
Textbook-esque course with lots of vocabulary

Fed up of apps and courses that expect you to pick up Japanese without any explanations? Try Human Japanese instead. 

This course feels like an interactive textbook, complete with detailed explanations, cultural notes, word lists, chapter reviews, and more. If you liked studying languages in school, you’ll probably like Human Japanese.

Bear in mind that you’ll dive into Japanese vocabulary and grammar before you’ve learned the kana. This could trip you up later on. For example, when you first study toire, meaning toilet, you’ll see it written in hiragana – even though it should be written in katakana. Given that the course also shows the romaji version of beginner-level vocabulary, this is a strange and unnecessary choice that could get confusing.

You’re probably also best pairing it with a flashcard app to help you remember the extensive vocabulary lists. Try something like Anki or one of the Human Japanese courses on Memrise.

Pros

  • Excellent breakdowns
  • Engaging tone

Cons

  • Limited practice opportunities
  • The amount of vocabulary can be overwhelming
  • Sometimes uses the wrong kana in beginner lessons
  • Difficult to navigate on your mobile
4.2/5
Free/Classes from 3,780¥/month
Japanese classes plus a huge amount of free self-study material

There’s nothing spicy about this online school, but there’s plenty of mouthwateringly good resources. 

There are two main ways to learn Japanese with Wasabi: you can sign up for one-to-one online classes, or you can study by yourself using their extensive amount of self-study material.

The classes are subscription-based: you sign up for a monthly pack and can add extra classes as and when you wish. The teaching is typically done in Japanese, but you can request an English-speaking teacher if you’re a complete beginner.

The self-study materials, meanwhile, include grammar guides, graded readers with audio recordings, video lessons, and more. They do not include drills or practice activities, so you’ll have to create your own tasks and revision tools. However, there’s a wealth of information that you could use to structure your studies or simply supplement other courses and textbooks. 

Pros

  • Reading and listening practice
  • Grammar and pronunciation guides
  • Video and text lessons
  • Affordable one-to-one classes

Cons

  • If studying by yourself, you have to create your own practice drills
4/5
Price: $14.95–$19.95/month
Slow but good-quality audio courses

Struggling to remember vocabulary lists? Tripping over long Japanese words? You might find Pimsleur helps you improve your vocabulary recall and pronunciation.

These audio courses are based on the Pimsleur Method, an approach to language learning that’s based on scientific research. It’s made up of four principles: never learning too much at a time, studying new vocabulary in context, revisiting it after increasingly longer intervals, and giving you time to formulate the correct answer.

The courses contain 30-minute audio lessons in which you’ll listen to new vocabulary being used in conversation, hear brief explanations, and then practice saying and creating the sentences yourself. 

It also uses a technique called backchaining to help you learn Japanese pronunciation. If you’re struggling with phrases like ittehaikemasenka/行ってはいけませんか or the infamous sokuon/double consonant, this could be helpful. 

Bear in mind that you don’t get much writing or reading practice, while grammar explanations are rare. If you’re looking to build a sound grammatical foundation or want to focus on kanji, you might prefer one of the other options on this list.

Pros

  • Well-structured lessons that build on each other
  • The lessons encourage active rather than passive learning
  • The method is backed up by scientific research
  • You can learn on the go

Cons

  • The 30-minute-long audio lessons can drag
  • Limited focus on grammar
  • Very little reading and writing practice
  • Visual learners may find it’s not the best resource for them 
  • The supplementary practice activities feel basic and not overly useful
4/5
Price: Free
Choose how much you want to be challenged with these beginner courses

Maybe you just want some basic Japanese practice before you vacation in Kyoto. Or perhaps you actually want to learn Japanese and are looking for something that will give you a fairly comprehensive foundation. The great thing about Marugoto is that it has courses for both types of learners.

Katsudoo will get you speaking and listening to basic Japanese vocabulary. With Rikai, you’ll study the same Katsudoo lesson, but then you’ll do some extra activities to get you working on kanji, reading and writing comprehension, and more.

The courses use a variety of activities, from audio clips and videos through to questionnaires and PDF downloadables. You can also sign up to study in groups with a tutor who will give you feedback.

Plus, it’s designed to accompany the Marugoto textbook series, so you’ve got plenty of expansion options.

Pros

  • Explanations in multiple languages
  • Tutor support is available
  • Lots of listening comprehension
  • Some speaking practice

Cons

  • Only for beginners (A1–A2)
  • The Katsudoo course has no writing practice and limited reading practice
  • Studying Rikai after Katsudoo feels clunky and convoluted
I Will Teach You A Language Logo
Learn Japanese through reading and listening to a story

Reading and listening in Japanese as a beginner is tough. It has an extremely fast speech tempo, i.e. people really do speak Japanese faster than Spanish, Mandarin, and English. And when you’re reading, there are no spaces between the words. Unless you recognize them, it’s really hard to isolate them and look them up in the dictionary. 

Enter Japanese Uncovered from I Will Teach You a Language. This 20-module course focuses on learning Japanese through a multi-chapter story. In doing so, it will give you lots of reading and listening practice.

First, you’ll read and listen to a chapter. Then you’ll learn the vocabulary from that chapter, followed by the grammar, the pronunciation, and part of the script. Finally, you’ll get some cultural and politeness insights and a quiz. Then, it’s onto the next chapter.

Not everyone likes being pushed into the deep end of the swimming pool – even with armbands. For some learners, Japanese Uncovered will likely be too intense. But for others, it will be a fun way to engage with the language and get more listening and reading practice. 

Pros

  • Lots of reading and listening practice
  • A native speaker gives the pronunciation classes
  • It’s fun and interesting

Cons

  • Uses a lot of romaji, especially at the beginning
  • The review/quiz is very basic for the quantity of information you learn per chapter
  • Currently only for beginners
4/5
Price: Free
Yes Japan course
Video course that accompanies a beginner textbook series

Intrigued by Japanese, but intimidated by kanji and the very different sentence structure? YesJapan is a relaxed introduction to the language.

Their textbook series, Japanese From Zero!, is fun and easy, while admittedly moving at a snail’s pace. And their video course arguably outshines the books.

You’ll learn vocabulary, grammar, and cultural insights, while the videos feature dialogues and quizzes. You can save key vocabulary and toggle between romaji, kana, and kanji.

As a video course, it’s short on reading and writing practice. However, the native audio means you’ll quickly get used to hearing Japanese pronunciation.

Pros

  • Native audio
  • You can choose between romaji, kana, and kanji

Cons

  • No writing practice
  • Superficial in content
4/5
Price: From $8/month
japanesepod101
Heaps of audio and video classes

Podcast-lovers will likely enjoy JapanesePod101, which teaches the language through relaxed audio and video lessons with charismatic hosts and often-humorous dialogues.

There are plenty of lessons to choose from, but if you’re not sure where to get started, just pick a “pathway” or specific series. 

The lessons are mostly dialogue-centric. You’ll listen to a target dialogue, and then the hosts will break it down for you line by line. Often (but not always), the lessons build on each other, using material from past lessons while also introducing a new grammar point and some vocabulary.

That said, there is a very limited focus on reading and writing Japanese, so you’ll want to pair JapanesePod101 with some extra resources or a textbook like Minna no Nihongo or Genki.

Pros

  • Huge number of lessons with various hosts
  • Premium subscribers get access to extra features, including topic-specific flashcard decks
  • Voice recorder function
  • Fairly decent for grammar

Cons

  • Limited reading and writing practice
  • Too much English, especially at higher levels
  • Can feel unstructured
4/5
Price: Free
Comprehensive grammar course for dedicated self-study

Imabi is not your typical course. It’s an intense series of online text lessons with lots of information – perhaps too much for the average student. 

The primary focus is grammar, but unlike other grammar guides such as Tae Kim (review) and BunPro (review), there are also dedicated lessons to vocabulary. There’s plenty of cultural information, too, and some excellent lessons on pronunciation. On the other hand, there are no exercises; drills; or reading, writing, or listening activities. It’s up to you to practice this material. 

Beginners could find Imabi intimidating or even demotivating. There’s no gamification here, and the lessons never shy away from the technical aspects of Japanese. However, the information is excellent. Even adept Japanese speakers might learn something from the beginner lessons. 

Extremely dedicated students will be able to use Imabi as their principal course, but it’s important to also use external resources to practice writing, listening, reading, and speaking. Alternatively, Imabi makes a great supplementary resource that you can dive into when you want more information about a topic.

Pros

  • Exceptionally detailed explanations
  • Excellent grammar breakdowns
  • Vocabulary and cultural insights
  • Material for beginner through to advanced students

Cons

  • No exercises
  • No reading, writing, listening, or speaking practice
  • Beginners will likely find it overwhelming technical and detailed
  • For most students, it’s probably best as a supplementary resource
4/5
Price: €49.90
Translation-based course with natural dialogues

With Assimil, you can try learning Japanese through immersion, no matter if you’re in Nebraska, the Welsh Hills, or Auckland. Or that’s the theory, anyway.

The Assimil courses are designed to replicate the way children learn: by hearing how native Japanese speakers talk and eventually mimicking them. In fact, it’s not until lesson 50 that you begin speaking Japanese and actively learning grammar. Until that point, you’ll just be listening, translating, and doing comprehension exercises.

Assimil’s been publishing language textbooks for almost a century, and in recent years, they’ve also turned their hands to online courses. The brand has some passionate fans who believe the Assimil method helps them achieve conversational fluency.

However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re itching to start speaking Japanese from day one or prefer not to focus on translation, take a look at one of the other courses on this list.

Pros

  • Realistic dialogues
  • Extremely thorough grammar indexes and appendixes
  • Some cultural information
  • High-quality audio

Cons

  • Heavily focused on translation instead of output
  • The pronunciation explanations and feedback could be improved
  • Less engaging than other courses and apps
4/5
Price: Freemium; premium plans from $6/month
Kanshudo
Kanji-focused courses and games with some grammar explanations

It’s easy to neglect studying kanji, but Kanshudo’s structured course and games will help keep you on track.

In the free 20-lesson beginner course, you’ll be introduced to five different kanji in each lesson, along with some example words and sentences. You can practice tracing the kanji on your phone and tablet, and finish up with some games to check your memory. There are also some interspersed grammar points.

However, Kanshudo is best used as a supplementary resource. The grammar isn’t drilled, while the vocabulary is at times not explained very well. For example, when you learn the kanji 大 for big in lesson one, you’re also shown how it turns 学生 into 大学生, university student. Unfortunately, however, the text forgets to mention that 学生 means student, so you don’t see the relevance of this. It’s still a useful lesson overall, but it would be even more effective if you knew some basic Japanese vocabulary before taking the course.

The intermediate course will teach you 1,000 kanji, but with the exception of the first three lessons, it’s behind a paywall. This course is a more interesting one since you’ll practice using the kanji in sentences, but it’s still best used alongside other resources.

The website also contains reading materials organized by level and free exercises and drills for some of the most common Japanese textbooks, including Genki, Minna no Nihongo, and Japanese for Busy People.

Pros

  • Lots of drills and games 
  • Great for reviewing kanji
  • You can earn Study Points by studying and then exchange them for free access to the Premium content

Cons

  • Weak focus on grammar and vocabulary
  • Best used as a supplementary resource
3.8/5
Price: From $5/month
Live and video classes that go from N5 to N1

BondLingo does it all: a textbook, live video classes where you can ask questions, pre-recorded video lessons for self-study, JLPT quizzes, level test, and vocabulary lists. And it will take you all the way from complete beginner up to N1.

The website also has a blog with posts on everything from the Obon festival to how to describe your sexuality and gender in Japanese.

Some of the lessons use a lot of English, but others are predominantly in Japanese. Bear in mind that you can only type in the lessons; there’s no option for speaking (or feedback on your speech).

Pros

  • Goes from N5 to N1
  • Live classes with a teacher
  • Self-study material
  • Textbook

Cons

  • Some videos use lots of English
  • Limited practice drills and homework
3.7/5
Price: Free
Thorough beginner Japanese courses from the University of Kyoto

For beginner students looking for a solid foundation in Japanese, samidori is a great place to start. You’ll learn the kana, vocabulary, grammar, and more, while there’s plenty of listening and reading practice.

It’s not a perfect course, however. You’ll need to look elsewhere to learn how to write kanji, plus there are no speaking and writing exercises. And although they have lessons for lower intermediate students, most of their material is designed for beginners.

That said, the course and lessons alike are well structured. Most lessons follow the same format: the lesson topic and vocabulary is introduced in Japanese and English, then there are example sentences and audio recordings for the target language, and finally you get timed practice questions to check your understanding.

If you’re looking for a free resource that will cover the basics of Japanese, and you don’t care about gamification, flashcards, and other features, then samidori is a great choice. Just make sure to also use a kanji app or workbook and practice speaking and writing. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more engaging, try LingoDeer.

Pros

  • Comprehensive, well-structured courses
  • Lots of listening and reading practice
  • Teaches kana, grammar, and vocabulary
  • Audio recordings for all new words and phrases

Cons

  • Doesn’t teach you how to write kanji
  • No writing or speaking practice
  • Limited lessons for lower intermediate students
3.5/5
Price: From $99.99/level
Japanese Level Up
A flashcard course that will take you from beginner to advanced

Jalup promises to help you level up your Japanese, and it does so through a leveled-up flashcards system.

Flashcards can be dry, but Jalup does its best to keep it engaging, with sentences from Japanese manga and novels. In fact, you might even recognize some of the content.

Each new flashcard builds on previous ones, while spaced repetition will help you to remember what you’ve learned. You can either use these flashcards on Anki or the Jalup app. The latter is more expensive but includes far more features.

In theory, the structured, nine-level syllabus takes you from the very basics (kana) through to “Jalup Expert”. The two-person team behind Jalup has also mentioned that they hoped to add a tenth and final level at some point.

However, more analytical learners might get frustrated with the lack of grammar explanations, while you’ll also want to pair it with activities for practicing listening comprehension, speaking, and writing. 

Pros

  • Teaches you in Japanese from level 4 onwards
  • Great for reading
  • Native audio clips for some levels
Cons
  • Limited grammar focus
  • No output (speaking/writing) practice
  • Pricey for a flashcard system
  • Less engaging than other apps
3.5/5
Price: From $7.99/month
Mango-languages-Logo
Compare your pronunciation to a native speaker’s

Looking to polish your pronunciation while learning basic grammar and vocabulary? Mango Languages might be a good option.

It has some things in common with Pimsleur: you’ll listen to a dialogue, get a grammar or cultural explanation, and then practice building your own sentences and questions using the target language. Repetition is a key feature of this method, but unlike Pimsleur, the lesson pace doesn’t feel quite so sluggish. 

However, what really makes Mango Languages shine is the ability to record yourself speaking a Japanese phrase and lay it over a native speaker’s. While Japanese pronunciation isn’t too challenging for English speakers, it can be hard to get the difference between similar words like いえ (ie, house) and いいえ (iie, no) or to reproduce that tricky sokuon/double consonant. Mango Languages will help you spot when you haven’t quite got it right.

Bear in mind, however, that Mango Languages is mostly focused on speaking and listening. You’ll need to look elsewhere to learn how to write and read Japanese.

Pros

  • It’s great for spotting unnatural pronunciation
  • You’ll practice making sentences from the first lesson
  • Lessons build on each other well
  • Some North American libraries and universities offer free access

Cons

  • Limited focus on writing and reading
  • Some users find the heavy drilling monotonous
  • Only caters for beginner and lower-intermediate learners

The 19 Best Online Courses for Learning Mandarin Chinese

The right Mandarin course will help you speak with confidence, understand hanzi characters and pinyin, and perhaps most importantly of all, enjoy learning Chinese.

But not all Mandarin Chinese courses are the same. Some are more focused on listening, others on writing. Some are suitable for beginners, others for intermediate students. Some are well-suited to the HSK exams, while others are better at everyday Chinese slang.

And some just aren’t that great. After all, there are tons of Chinese courses out there (here on All Language Resources, we’ve reviewed hundreds of Mandarin resources). Some of them wowed us; others were flops

A sub-par course won’t just waste your time and money. It will leave you demotivated, frustrated, and potentially learning incorrect Mandarin.

So we’ve rounded up our top picks for learning Mandarin Chinese. Each one of these courses gets a rating of at least 3.5 out of 5 stars, meaning they’re above average on our site. What’s more, they all have something that sets them apart. No matter what you’re looking for – beginner lessons, hanzi, in-depth explanations or a less intimidating introduction to the language – we think you’ll find it on this list.

Sort By:

4.7/5
Price: From $29/unit or $149/course
yoyo chinese banner
Excellent conversational video courses – but less impressive hanzi/reading ones

We love 50% of Yoyo Chinese’s courses. The other half are… okay. Just okay.

Fortunately, it’s less a lucky dip and more just a case of choosing the right courses. Yoyo Chinese’s conversational courses are well designed, full of great teaching, and have some unique features that help them stand out from the crowd.

Namely, they feature interviews with real Chinese speakers on the street (and, in later videos, the teacher Yangyang also interviews her family members). This means the course teaches you both proper, academic Chinese and the natural, relaxed Chinese you’ll hear out and about.

The conversational courses also come with audio reviews, quizzes, speaking practice, flashcards, and extra downloadable files. With this much self-study material, you should find yourself naturally remembering more of the videos than with some competitor courses.

However, we’re not sold on the character courses and reading course (which is more like a listening one). There’s nothing bad about them; they’re just not as good as the alternatives.

Pros

  • Authentic, unscripted native dialogues
  • Lots of review features and downloadable worksheets
  • The conversational courses have a thorough syllabus with lots of drilling

Cons

  • Lots of English
  • We think there are better, cheaper  Chinese character courses and apps
  • Not the best option if you’ve got a tight deadline for learning Mandarin
5/5
Price: $24.99 a month or $59.94 for six months
Thorough pre-HSK1 through to HSK3 courses that will give you a strong foundation for long-term learning

Chinese For Us is an exceptionally thorough series of courses for beginner and lower-intermediate Chinese learners. In fact, it’s so thorough that even higher-level students may benefit from taking these courses to fill in gaps in their knowledge.

The syllabus takes a tortoise rather than a hare approach to learning Mandarin, preferring a comprehensive curriculum to fast progress. If you’re hoping to reach fluency or live in a Mandarin-speaking territory, it will give you an excellent base. However, if you want to quickly learn survival Mandarin or pass an HSK exam, you may be better off opting for a different resource.

The teacher, Lili, speaks very clearly in Mandarin, plus her explanations are clear and detailed. The courses mix video lessons, quizzes, and reviews, while some lessons have downloadable worksheets so you can practice writing the characters. You’ll also get access to two remarkably thorough courses dedicated to pronunciation and tones.

Pros

  • It’s extremely comprehensive
  • There’s a strong focus on learning Chinese characters early on
  • The quizzes push you to problem-solve and learn in context
  • The six-month+ subscriptions are extremely good value for money

Cons

  • You’ll spend a longer time at the beginner levels
  • Some of the beginner-level quizzes are too easy
4.3/5
Price: From $29 per course 
Supplementary resource that’s particularly useful for the HSK exams

Studying for the HSK exams can be a drag. The textbooks are thorough and, in theory, all you really need. But if you’re struggling to stay motivated, then you’ll probably benefit from signing up to Chinese Zero to Hero’s video courses.

These courses aren’t only for people studying for the HSK exams. They’ll help anyone improve their Mandarin vocabulary and grammar. However, they’re structured based on the HSK system.

There are over 800 videos, including warm-up ones where you’re introduced to the target language, vocabulary ones that dive in deep on the new words, and grammar ones. Plus, there are homework activities. We think the grammar explanations are where the course really shines, but all of the videos have value.

Chinese Zero to Hero won’t be enough on its own. You’ll likely want to pair it with textbooks or classes. However, it’s an affordable resource that can help round out your studies and keep you on track for the HSK exams.

Pros

  • Covers HSK1–6
  • Makes studying grammar more enjoyable
  • It doesn’t use pinyin outside of the vocabulary videos

Cons

  • It’s best as a supplementary resource
  • The quizzes and homework are very short
  • At the beginning, some students may struggle with the lack of pinyin
4/5
Price: $29/mo or $599 For everything
Hacking hanzi with creative codes and lots of hard work

You know how going to the gym is awful for the first couple of weeks, but then you’re glad you stuck with it? That’s a bit like the experience of using Mandarin Blueprint. But instead of exercising your muscles, you’re stretching your imagination.

Although it starts off with a pronunciation course, Mandarin Blueprint’s main focus is learning characters and words. Each character is taught with the Hanzi Movie Method, a technique that encourages you to create a coded story about the hanzi character. These codes should tell you the initial and final sounds, tone, and meaning.

You have to put in a lot of work to understand these methods and create memorable stories. It takes hours of studying before you can begin actually using the language. Some learners can find this frustrating.

However, others find that this method allows them to better recall the characters. And as the lessons build up from single characters to words, then sentences, and finally full stories, they feel that they’re reaping the benefits of their initial investment of time.

Bear in mind that technophobes will probably not enjoy Mandarin Blueprint. As well as the video lessons, you have to use Google Slides and Anki. The instructions alone are 76 slides long.

Pros

  • Extremely comprehensive course
  • A logical yet creative approach to studying that more analytical learners might enjoy
  • The Hanzi Movie Method is convoluted but effective

Cons

  • You need to use the course for a while before you can reap the rewards
  • It’s mainly focused on reading, with no speaking practice
  • An unintuitive, clunky system with three separate apps and programs
4/5
Price: Freemium; $124 for the premium course
coffee break itunes
Relaxed podcast-style Mandarin lessons

Worried that Mandarin is too challenging? Give Coffee Break Chinese a go. This unintimidating course will help you to feel comfortable learning the language.

Coffee Break Chinese consists of two parts: a free podcast and a premium course. In the free podcast, you’ll listen along as Crystal teaches Mark Mandarin in an unscripted (but planned!), pressure-free way. You’ll learn important phrases, grammar, cultural norms, and more.

Invest in the premium course and you’ll get access to lesson notes, a video version of the course that also contains the written (pinyin and hanzi) forms of the words, an ad-free version of the podcast, and a bonus audio lesson with additional vocabulary and translation exercises.

Coffee Break Chinese won’t teach you Mandarin on its own: it’s just not in-depth enough. But it will take the stress out of learning a new language and help you gain some confidence.

Pros

  • A lot of the course is free
  • It makes Mandarin unintimidating
  • You’ll learn cultural information

Cons

  • It’s not the best option for serious learners
  • You’ll need to find other ways to practice writing Chinese
  • With the free version, you won’t be able to learn the pinyin or hanzi spelling of the words
4/5
Price: $14.95–$19.95/month
Pimsleur375
Slow but high-quality audio courses

If you feel swamped by flashcards and Mandarin vocabulary lists, the Pimsleur Method might be a good choice for you. It’s backed up by scientific research and has won over lots of language learners. And much of it centers around how to better remember vocabulary. 

It’s made up of four principles: never teaching too much at a time, learning new vocabulary in context, revisiting that vocabulary after increasingly longer intervals, and giving the listener (you!) time to formulate the correct answer before providing the answer.

Each Pimsleur course contains 30-minute audio lessons in which you’ll listen to new vocabulary being used in conversation, hear brief explanations, and then practice saying and creating the sentences yourself. It also uses a technique called backchaining to help you better pronounce tricky sounds.

Although there’s a lot in Pimsleur’s favor, it’s not for every learner. If you’re looking for something fast-paced, with lots of grammar explanations and vocabulary, or with writing practice, you should probably look elsewhere. 

Pros

  • Well-structured lessons that build on each other
  • The lessons encourage active rather than passive learning
  • You can learn on the go
  • The method is backed up by scientific research

Cons

  • The 30-minute-long audio lessons can move at a sluggish pace
  • It teaches a limited amount of grammar and vocabulary
  • Visual learners may find it’s not the best resource for them 
  • The supplementary practice activities feel basic and not overly useful
4.7/5
Price: From $699 for 30 lessons
Well-designed Mandarin course that also incorporates one-to-one classes

While courses are a great way to learn a language, they often provide limited opportunity for speaking practice and zero feedback. Meanwhile, one-to-one language classes give you lots of speaking practice and feedback, but often lack the structure that comes with a course.

TutorMing marries the best of both worlds: it provides a thoughtfully designed course to ensure you make progress. And it provides classes with teachers in which you can get practice at using the material in conversation, as well as receive personalized feedback and answers to any of your questions.

The course is impressive. As well as studying Mandarin Chinese grammar and vocabulary, you’ll learn a wealth of cultural information. In our experience, even students who live in China or have Chinese family members may come across new cultural insights.

And unlike on some platforms, your teachers won’t just be native Mandarin speakers. They all have Chinese teaching qualifications, and it shows – we found the teaching quality to be excellent.

Pros

  • Combines a structured course with lessons
  • High-quality teachers
  • Interesting curriculum with lots of cultural insights
  • Lessons are available around the clock
  • Even group classes are typically one-to-one

Cons

  • You have to buy a minimum of 30 classes at a time, and although you can get a refund if you’re not happy, it can be a barrier to entry
  • The homework is extremely quick and simple
4/5
Price: From $699/course