Learning a new language nowadays can be easy with the number of free resources you can find online. However, there’s so many websites and app that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed very fast.
Besides, not every site is well done. Of course, you can also still use more ‘traditional’ resources such as textbooks and exercise books; then again the choice is vast! And it’s your lucky day, I even have some textbooks to recommend you!
I love learning new languages, and I have been learning Japanese for about five years now (on and off), so, I have tried my fair share of online resources and what not to help me learn Japanese. That’s why I thought to regroup the best online resources to learn Japanese in one post could be useful to help you out.
Those websites cater to all levels, some will be for beginners and some for the more advanced degrees. This means everybody can find what they might need.
I will split all the resources into different categories, so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
The Best Resources To Learn Japanese By Yourself
Before anything when you want to learn Japanese, the first thing to do is to learn hiragana and katakana to be able to read as Japanese doesn’t use the Roman alphabet. It’s effortless to find, any websites or simply a board would do the job to learn them.
Simply googling Hiragana and Katakana will show you thousands of board you can learn from.
Minna no Nihongo I&II – They are entirely in Japanese, but you can also buy additionally translated version.
This is what we used at university, they got all the grammar you need to know, also, there’s an additional website to help you out with the vocabularies and kanjis you can find in each lesson.
Additionnally the Genki book also offers some good elementary lessons and vocabularies if you’re a beginner and is really popular among both Japanese students and teachers; so that’s something. It is suitable for absolute beginners, classroom learning and people aiming for the JLPT N5 and N4.
It may also be less intimidating than the Minna No Nihongo as it is not fully in Japanese therefore you don’t need to buy an additional book to get the trasnlation.
Writing practice & Grammar
When you study/learn Japanese, you can’t neglect the writing part. I see a lot of people thinking that they can only learn to speak it and that it will be fine but that’s not true. You need to learn to write as well with all the grammar correct grammar rules.
You need to know hiraganas/katanas when learning and more importantly kanjis, you might find some basic lessons written in romaji but that won’t take you far.
- Lang-8 – is a great site where you can write an entry in whatever languages you wish to and native correct your entry. You can also do the same for whoever learn your language.
- Nihongo – a website where you can find Japanese lessons based on the Minna No Nihongo. Even if you don’t own the book it’s a good tool by itself.
Kanjis are by definition “a system of Japanese writing using Chinese characters, used primarily for content words” and anyone who learns Japanese can tell you they are a true pain in the neck (that and Keigo of course)
This meme is pretty accurate of what it feels like.
Here are some useful ressources to tackle down your kanji learning.
Although, the key in learning kanji is consistent practise are there’s just so much to memorise.
If you’re a French speaking person I advise you to buy the Kanji Kakitai textbook.
The more vocabulary you know the better, and that goes for every languages. If you have the grammar but not the vocabulary you will struggle a lot. Here are the best ressources to use to learn Japanese vocabulary.
It’s always good to listen as much as possible of the languages you want to learn, this way you can memorise the intonation and pronunciation of words you may have read but not heard before.
- Nihongomori on YT – this channel isn’t only listening as it caters to everything, grammar, vocabulary, kanji…
- MyKikitori – Listening comprehension
- JapanesePop101 a youtube channel with a wide choices of videos, they also have a great website.
Practising your speaking skills is one of the hardest things to do when you’re learning a language on your own. Of course, you can practise by saying words and sentences out loud, no matter how stupid you feel that helps. But that’s not enough to know the right pronunciation or intonation you need to put in some words.
Your best bet is to find penpals to practise.
The JLPT or Japanese Language Proficiency Test is a certifying you reach a certain level in Japanese. The levels go from N5 (easiest) to N1(hardest). For each level, you need to learn a certain number of Kanji, vocabularies, grammar rules…
On the official JLPT website, you can find sample questions for each level.
Other useful resources:
Studying can be a little tedious sometimes, that’s why you can throw some fun in and found different ways to learn and enjoy it. For examples by watching some TV shows, playing a
- KeyHoleTV – provides Japanese TV in real time. You can find links on google to download it for
windows, IOS, Android…
- Nico Douga – to watch online video and whatnot, you can find everything there.
The main blogging platform in Japan is without a doubt Ameba, you can open a blog and post about whatever you want to praticse your Japanese, however, people won’t correct you there.
It can be a good exercice to learn how to naviagte the website though.
Shiritori– a fun word game where you need to create a word with the last kana of the previous word. It is forbidden to end your word by the “n” kana though!
Useful App to learn Japanese:
- Imiwa? – an online dictionary which also includes all kanji’s from all the JLPT. (AppStore Only)
- HelloTalk – an app to find strangers to talk to! You can also shares in your feed
- AnkiDroid – (Android Only) using flashcards to learn vocabulary or anything you would like. You can find already made anki deck by people on the website to download.
- Japanese by Renzo Inc – a good app that uses the flashcards principle to learn Kanji and vocabulary. Organised by the different JLPT levels.
It’s always tricky to start learning a new language, so, hopefully, those would help you!
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BEST RESOURCES TO LEARN JAPANESE