The Best Sites to Learn Japanese Online [May 2019]
Japanese is not the easiest language to learn by Western standards. It’s complex and has multiple ways to spell, speak, and write. There are two phonetic scripts, one for Japanese and the other for foreign words. There’s also a 3rd, ideographic script that was taken from Chinese language. All three used together on a daily basis, making Japanese language unique in this regard. Japanese is very different from the English language or other commonly spoken Indo-European languages. That being said, it’s really fun once you get the hang of it. Moreover, it can feel extremely rewarding to gain proficiency in a language as exotic as Japanese.
This website is one of the most popular if you’re looking to learn Japanese through listening exercises. JapanesePod101 is essentially a vast podcast library. You can download lessons based on your current level (beginner, intermediate, advanced), as each podcast features short conversations with explanations and translations.
First, you’ll hear clear sentences spoken in Japanese. Then you’ll hear the correct translation. In addition to that, you get explanations of new words, including grammar rules you might need to know about.
It makes for a fun experience at any skill level. There’s also a free membership which you can take advantage of and start building a solid foundation.
Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese
If you’re looking to become a master at Japanese grammar, then this might be the platform for you. This website is less flashy and exciting than others of its kind. However, it has amazing lessons, covering everything from beginner to advanced levels. You’ll learn everything from a simple jikoshokai (introduction) to complex and elusive keigo (polite language).
It has a wealth of information and everything is easy enough to find on the website. You’re not forced to follow a specific curriculum so you don’t have to waste time if you already know the basics. The website also has informative guides on the differences between spoken and written Japanese.
PuniPuni looks very kid-friendly or at least oriented towards young learners. And still, the lessons cover the four basic teaching methods required to learn Japanese from scratch: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Don’t let the website’s looks deceive you. The lessons and guides offer clear explanations of hiragana and katakana. You’ll learn why it’s so important to know the differences between the two and what each is used for.
CosCom may seem a bit overwhelming at first. There’s a lot going on with the website as it has more to offer than just lessons. The site also offers cultural information, news from Japan, weather reports, and so much more.
But at the core of it all, the website is still designed to be a learning platform. The lessons cover everything from the most common words and basic rules to advanced conversational Japanese and grammar.
You can learn the importance of differentiating hiragana, katakana, and kanji. You can learn how to type, write, and spell correctly in Japanese. There are both audio and text-only lessons, allowing you to choose your preferred style.
And for each lesson, you can also find short articles to practice on and test your knowledge while also learning about current events.
Special Mention – YouTube
Think of anything that you might want to learn, and you’ll probably find at least 100 guides on YouTube. There are many language channels on the platform which can teach you at least the basics of Japanese. If nothing else, YouTube videos will be enough to help you understand conversational Japanese and be able to speak to street food vendors, flight attendants, bartenders, and so on.
Of course, you can probably gain even more knowledge on this video sharing platform if you dig hard enough and take your time. It won’t be as efficient as learning with a private tutor or from a dedicated educational platform, but it’s usually free and entertaining nonetheless.
A Final Thought
Learning Japanese strictly online probably won’t help you land a job where speaking the language is a must. However, it would certainly be worth pursuing if you’re serious about mastering it.
Online lessons can do more than just lay out a strong foundation. They can take you to quite an advanced level, meaning that when you decide to get an experienced tutor you won’t have to spend too much money.
You’ll be able to skip the basics and jump straight into the complex stuff that online lessons can’t explain that well. After all, the only real downside of using online websites to learn a new language is not having someone to practice speaking with.