Are you struggling to learn Japanese? Downing in textbooks? Although there’s nothing wrong with teaching yourself a new skill the old-fashioned way, we now have a new tool to make our lives easier: the internet! It has so many free or very affordable resources, and if you’re not scouring for them, you’re missing out.
And they come with some significant benefits. Whether you want to focus on grammar, reading, listening or speaking, you’ll find a wide range of learning materials in different formats that are always getting updated.
Moreover, the internet gives you a chance to join a community of Japanese learners so you can bond over the turmoil of mastering kanji. You also get to connect with Japanese people interested in learning your native language.
Now that you know how the internet can enhance your study session, here is our list of the best online resources for learning Japanese.
If you have a long commute, JapanesePod101 is perfect for you! Why let all that time go to waste when you have more than two thousand podcasts you could listen to? You have to select your Japanese language level, and it will show you the most suitable lessons. You’ll find everything from beginner to almost fluent.
New lessons are uploaded regularly, and many of the themes are related to Japanese culture, so you’ll also get to learn a bit more about that.
Anki is an excellent resource for learning kanji and expanding your vocabulary. It’s a free software program you can use to create your virtual flashcards or download them from the platform. Since it uses spaced repetition, it will show you the cards you struggle with the most frequently until you’ve managed to retain them.
Memrise is similar to Anki. You also get flashcards you can use to learn new words, kanji and katakana, but many other features. For example, you can search for flashcard decks derived from popular textbooks like Japanese Roundup and Genki.
Another advantage that Memrise has over Anki is that you have to select or write the correct answer, making it easier to remember. Anki is less interactive in this regard. You think of the right solution and then flip the flashcard to see if you got it right.
Your Netflix subscription is an excellent resource for learning foreign languages. And you no longer have to feel guilty for binge-watching all weekend because you’re productive. There are many international shows and movies on this platform, and you can extend your Japanese content library by using a VPN.
The most obvious way to find them is to type “Japanese” in the search bar, but you can also search for shows based on language, or you can look in categories such as “Japanese Anime,” “Japanese Movies,” “Japanese Dramas,” and “Japanese TV Shows.”
Most shows and movies will have both Japanese and English subtitles you can use depending on your level. There’s also a Chrome extension called Language Learning with Netflix that allows you to see both English and Japanese subtitles at the same time.
If you don’t know what to watch, we have a few recommendations. Terrace House is a reality show similar to Big Brother but more down to earth and more well-adjusted. Unlike Big Brother, they get to leave the house and have a life that shows a more realistic feel. This show is great because you see what everyday life is like for young Japanese people and their things in ordinary language.
If you’d like something with a bit more drama, you can try Ainori, part dating shows, and part travel shows. The participants travel the world in a pink van, and the goal is to find love among the other participants, return to Japan, and live happily ever after.
YouTube is another fantastic resource for learning Japanese, whether you’re just getting started or you’re near fluent. You’ll find channels and videos that explain grammar concepts and expand your vocabulary.
It’s also great for exploring regional dialects and cultural differences. As your Japanese language skills improve, you can even try the channels targeted at native speakers.
A great channel to check out is Easy Japanese, which follows a “man on the street” interview format. The hosts talk to Japanese people about various topics, and the conversations have subtitles in both English and Japanese, including Romaji.
You should also try Japan Society NYC, where you can find playlists for learning hiragana and katakana and videos about Japanese culture in New York City.
NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, also has a YouTube channel that includes an Easy Japanese Lesson playlist with short animated dialogues. There are many videos made for an international audience about current events and Japanese culture.
The best way to learn a language is to speak it. On italki, you can find professional language teachers for one-on-one video lessons. As we’re writing this article, over 600 Japanese teachers are on the platform you can choose from. The hourly rates vary from teacher to teacher, but they’re reasonable.
You can read through the reviews for each teacher, and they usually offer reduced rates for the first lesson.
If you want to talk to Japanese native speakers but don’t want to take lessons from a professional teacher, you can try the language exchange. Conversation Exchange is an excellent platform for finding language exchange partners for any language, including Japanese.
You can look for people nearby you can talk to in real life or use video conferencing platforms like Facetime, Skype and Google Hangouts.
Tandem is another excellent app for language exchange. The advantage is that you can talk to people through audio and video calls directly from the platform. You can also look for people nearby.
When it comes to sending text messages, the app can translate them for you, and your language partner can also correct your mistakes so you can improve your skills faster.
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