There is no shortage of reasons to learn Japanese, from economic opportunities with one of the world’s largest economies to a culture that is intriguing yet decidedly different from our own. Luckily, for those wishing to learn Japanese online, there are plenty of resources available. Best of all, many of them are free to use. Of course, while learning Japanese online is no easy task, having the right resources can make it much easier. This article will help would-be Japanese speakers find the best ways to learn Japanese online, from simple conversations to mastering hundreds of kanji as efficiently as possible.

6 Resources to Learn Japanese Online

#1. BBC Languages – Japanese

bbc language platform screenshotFor beginners, there is really no better resource than the BBC’s page on learning Japanese. It will not take users to fluency by any means but helps students better understand the basics of Japanese. This includes an introduction to the writing system and basic conversation, as well as many facts about Japanese culture. Segments are easy to complete, lending themselves to encourage students to frequently revisit the site until they have mastered all relevant content. Complete with quizzes to help make sure that learners are using phrases properly, this incredible resource helps students learn Japanese online quickly.

For more advanced learners, the BBC offers links to its World Service, a top-notch radio station that focuses on stories of international interest. Japanese is among the largest languages in which the BBC conducts broadcasts. These are available online, free of charge.

#2. NHK World’s Easy Japanese

nhk world japanese learning screen shotThe Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, NHK, produces this thorough introduction to the Japanese language that could stand as a resource in its own right to learn Japanese online. Students are able to delve deeper into the intricacies of the language, mastering basic topics of conversation along the way. Whereas the BBC’s resources are largely limited to travelers, NHK’s Easy Japanese is focused to an audience that wants to learn Japanese as an everyday language. Needless to say, for those who want to learn Japanese online, this is a frequent destination. Plenty of practice is also provided for mastering the two most basic writing systems of the Japanese language. Further, as students continue to learn Japanese online, they will find the broadcasts of the NHK to be an excellent source of news and entertainment, surpassing even the BBC’s World Service.


japanesepod website screen captionFor learners who wish to incorporate podcasts and other audio means into their attempt to learn Japanese online, is a great place to start. The site boasts almost 2,600 podcasts covering different aspects of Japanese language and culture. For those who just want to speak Japanese, rather than learn to read or write it, this is an incredible resource that can just be downloaded or streamed at any time. That is not to say that does not feature materials for those who want to gain written fluency in Japanese as well. Downloadable PDF files contain thorough explanations of grammatical points. Additionally, kanji guides help those who learn Japanese online decipher the Chinese-inspired characters that make up much of the written language.

Finally, is fully integrated with social media, meaning that friends can follow progress. Combined with online forums and lesson discussion sections, brings a great measure more of social interaction than many other resources to learn Japanese online.

#4. Digital Dialects – Japanese

digital dialects website screenshotJust because Duolingo has yet to create a Japanese course does not mean that gamification has not arrived to help learn Japanese online. Digital Dialects features a number of Flash-based games that help learners of the language. While it certainly lacks the social element of, the games at Digital Dialects help to provide instant feedback. Also, since it is a game, it provides a competitive element that encourages learners to aim for a perfect score.

That said, the total scope of words covered is relatively small – only a few dozen games are provided, compared to the hundreds of podcasts available on other sites. While Digital Dialects teaches some Kanji, it is not enough to learn Japanese online to fluency. Still, it is a valuable tool along the way to that goal.

#5. Nihongo o Narau

nihongo o narau platform screenshotWhile games and podcasts are very useful, many people who want to learn Japanese online may prefer a more old-fashioned approach. That is exactly what Nihongo o Narau provides. In many ways, it resembles a Japanese textbook more than a website. Learners are provided with thorough lists of vocabulary, as well as a complete walkthrough of Japanese grammar. If the goal is to learn Japanese online to read the news of manga, Nihongo o Narau will meet that objective. On the other hand, its offerings on speaking and listening are rather scant.

#6. FSI Language Courses – Japanese

fsi language courses screenshotFew organizations teach languages better than the United States Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. Luckily, much of their material is available in the public domain for free! This site offers materials from two college-level courses used to help teach American diplomats Japanese as quickly as possible. The Headstart course focuses almost exclusively on culture and speaking, with very little given in the way of reading or writing. Meanwhile, the FAST course offers more in the way of the written language. For those who want to learn Japanese online as efficiently and quickly as possible, and who do not mind a steep learning curve, FSI’s courses in Japanese get the job done.

No matter what someone’s motivation is to learn Japanese online, there are plenty of resources available to help. While these resources are among the best out there, they are by no means the only ways to learn Japanese online. No matter what, it takes serious dedication to learn Japanese online, even if sites such as these make it much easier. Feel free to share any experiences learning Japanese online, whether through these sites or any others that are available on the internet.

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