Are you having trouble learning Japanese? As you’re drowning in textbooks, is your enthusiasm starting to turn into frustration? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the old-fashioned way of picking up new skills, but why not do everything you can to make your life easier? And we now have this neat new tool we can use: the internet. You must have heard of it. It’s amazing! It gives you access to so many more resources, and if you’re not already looking for them, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Well, you’re about to find out because we’re going to discuss a few of them in this article. Online resources have important advantages. First of all, unlike a textbook, the content is always getting updated. Secondly, you can find free or very affordable resources for all possible areas you want to improve, whether it’s grammar, reading, listening, or speaking.
On the internet, you also get to join communities of other Japanese speakers, so you don’t have to face the agony of mastering kanji all by your lonesome. You can also get in touch with Japanese native speakers for language exchange.
You have to admit, the internet can do wonders for your study sessions. So, without further ado, here’s our list!
JapanesePod101 is perfect for those of you with long commutes. Now you won’t feel like you’re wasting all that time anymore because you’ll have over two thousand podcasts you can use to learn Japanese. You start by selecting your language level, and the website will display the appropriate lessons. And there’s something for everybody, starting from absolute beginner to nearly fluent.
New lessons get uploaded on a regular basis, and you can also use the platform to learn more about Japanese culture since many of the lessons are centered around this topic.
We mentioned the agony of learning kanji in the introduction. Here’s Anki to the rescue! Anki is great for learning kanji and improving your vocabulary. It’s free, and you can use it to make your own set of virtual flashcards. You also have the option of downloading ready-made ones.
One of its main advantages is that it uses spaced repetition so you can practice the flashcards you have trouble remembering more often until you’ve retained their content. And it’s also free, which is always nice.
Memrise is a lot like Anki but with some additional benefits. It’s also based on flashcards you use to improve your vocabulary and learn kanji and katakana. You can even search for flashcard sets based on widely recognized textbooks such as Genki and Japanese Roundup.
Memrise is a bit more interactive than Anki. For instance, when using Memrise, you select or write the answers, which helps you memorize them faster, while with Anki, you do it mentally and flip the card to see if you were right.
These days you can learn almost anything on YouTube, and Japanese is no exception. There are a lot of channels and videos that clarify aspects of Japanese grammar and help you broaden your vocabulary. YouTube is also good if you want to explore regional dialects. As you develop your comprehension skills, you can check out some of the channels for Japanese people or use a VPN to access Niconico, Japan’s largest video-sharing service on the web, similar to YouTube.
We highly recommend Easy Japanese on the Easy Languages channel. This channel teaches languages through a compelling interview format. The hosts interview native speakers on different topics. On the Easy Japanese playlist, the videos have both English and Japanese subtitles and include Romaji. The advantage is that you get to see how real Japanese people talk and pick up on day-to-day words and phrases while learning more about cultural differences.
Japan Society NYC is another great channel with videos about Japanese culture in New York City and playlists that will help you learn katakana and hiragana.
Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, also has a YouTube channel with fun lessons for beginners. You’ll find them in the Easy Japanese Lesson playlist. The videos contain brief dialogues that are broken down and explained by the host. You’ll also find a lot of interesting videos about current events and Japanese culture geared towards an international audience.
Do you have a Netflix subscription? If yes, you can turn binge-watching after work into productive study lessons. Although not advertised as such, Netflix is a great platform for learning a foreign language. It has a lot of Japanese content that you can find by simply typing the word “Japanese” into the search bar. You can also look it up in categories like “Japanese TV Shows,” “Japanese Anime,” “Japanese Movies,” and “Japanese Dramas.”
Most of the movies and shows you’ll find will have both English and Japanese substiles, and if you want to see both at the same time, you can use a free Chrome extension called Language Learning with Netflix.
And of course, we have a couple of recommendations. Our favorite show is Terrace House, which follows a similar concept to Big Brother, but it’s not so over-the-top, and the participants are more well-adjusted. Unlike Big Brother, they’re allowed to leave the house and get on with their lives, which makes the show more interesting and realistic. You get a glimpse into the lives of ordinary Japanese people and listen to them talking about their day-to-day over dinner.
If you’d actually prefer a bit more drama, try Ainori. It’s a mix between a dating show and a travel show. The premise is that the participants travel to different countries in a pink van. During their travels, their goal is to bond and find love among the other participants. If they are successful, they get to go back to Japan together and live happily ever after.
The most effective way to learn a language is to speak it, so as soon as you reach intermediate level, you should start looking for a language exchange partner. And that’s exactly what Conversation Exchange is for. It has an advanced search tool you can use to find the perfect language partner to help you become fluent in Japanese. Then you can contact them and sort out how you’d like to communicate.
Most people use videoconferencing software like Skype or Facetime, but you can also search for someone nearby and meet face-to-face.