Japanese is a unique language. Learning Japanese, therefore, is an exceptional experience as well. Japanese reading and writing Japanese words isn't the same as learning to use the English alphabets. For Japanese lessons, one has to master a completely new writing system composed of words in Kana, Kanji, and Romaji.
- Kana: Made up of 2 syllabaries; Hiragana and Katakana
- Kanji: Borrowed Chinese characters
- Romaji: Way to write Japanese using the Latin alphabet
Compared to those who learn in a more "conventional" way on paper, you will be able to work on your visual and auditory memory in order to memorize Japanese characters and Japanese vocabulary.
Here, we take a look at the best audio and video formats to help you progress in the Japanese language! There are a number of online tools to learn Japanese, so make the most of them to advance your Japanese learning experience.
Learn Japanese for Free with Online Movie Streaming
Take advantage of the diversity of Japanese television for building a basic foundation of Japanese cultural knowledge, including language nuances. Television and streaming services are a good way for learners to emulate native Japanese speakers.
Japan is a country where many great movies are produced.
Pick a movie that feels right for your learning level - easy or basic, intermediate, or advanced - and you'll be surprised by how fast your Japanese progresses by watching Japanese films. It is also a great way to learn and improve your Japanese listening skill.
If you are beginning to read Japanese words, watching a movie with Japanese subtitles, in your native language may be a good option. Pick up new words and phrases in kanji or katakana, and practice how to pronounce them. It is effectively a free Japanese tool as you would be paying your subscription regardless of learning Japanese.
Advantages of Learning Japanese with Japanese Movies
The numerous benefits to learning Japanese through movies, instead of textbooks, can be summarized thus:
- Learn real, colloquial Japanese, the way it’s spoken in Japan. Despite the sometimes exaggerated lines in movies, they are natural enough for you to lay a basic foundation. Moreover, the movies will also teach you Japanese conversational etiquette, social customs, and much more.
- You learn from a great variety of native speakers. By watching Japanese movies, you're exposed to different accents, styles, and ways of speaking.
- Movies are a fun way of learning. It will make you want to keep doing it. This theory applies to language learning as well. Sharpen your listening skill and expand your Japanese vocabulary, while enjoying the best of cinema from Japan.
- You learn about Japanese culture that will further help you communicate and connect with Japanese speakers.
The Top 5 Japanese Films to Watch if You Want to Learn to Speak Japanese
Immersion in any language is a great way to learn all aspects, from greetings and how to introduce yourself, to become fluent in order to have a proficiency in the language in order to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
If you watch movies in the right way, you can learn a lot from them in terms of the language used. Here are five films to see in the original version:
- The Firefly Tomb: The film takes place at the dawn of the Second World War, not far from Kyoto. After the bombing of Kobe, Seita, a 14-year-old teenager, and her sister take refuge with their aunts. Soon, the aunts make them understand that they are an embarrassment to the family and that they must be deserving of their daily portion of rice.
- Voyage to Tokyo tells the story of an elderly couple who comes to visit their children in the capital. First received politely, the trip quickly becomes disturbing as they are no longer on the same page as their children.
- Departures presents us with Daigo Kobayashi's new life. When his orchestra musician career falls apart in Tokyo, he is offered a job at a funeral home. Immersed in an unfamiliar environment, Daigo is forced to lie to his wife about his new activity, which is a taboo in the land of the rising sun.
- Like Father Like, Son tells the story of Ryoata, a success-hungry architect and exemplary father who sees his family weakened when he learns that two babies were exchanged at birth and that his biological son grew up in a very modest environment.
- Harakiri: Samurai Tsugomo visits the home of the powerful Lyi clan to become hara-kiri. The steward of the clan tries to dissuade him. The wandering samurai then lets us know the real reasons behind this action.
YouTube: Find Your Kind of Japanese Course Online
For those who want to supplement their private online Japanese classes with some self-study sessions, the availability of video tutorials has come as a blessing.
With the ever-increasing expansion of YouTube, more learning resources are made available for learners and teachers to take advantage of. This is true of online video tutorials for learning new languages, including Japanese.
There is something for every learner at any level of learning - from basic Japanese and intermediate to very advanced tutorials and courses from native speakers of Japan. Try this form of immersive learning and enrich your knowledge of the Japanese language and culture.
The native speakers who upload the vlogs tend to be as interesting as they are informative, ensuring that your time on YouTube is well-spent. Here are our top 3 picks for you.
Bilingirl Chika is known for her engaging and informative content if you are looking to acquire new languages. Originally intended for Japanese people looking to learn English, it has now become an excellent resource for Japanese learners, with a second channel to cater to English speakers.
Check out the basic course for beginners, Japanagos. Chika is careful to provide English subtitles for each one of her video tutorials so that learners don’t have to waste their time hearing the Japanese they already know to get to the meaningful bits of learning the languages they wish to learn. She’s also got some great tips for traveling and all kinds of cultural insights.
A beginner will find navigating the videos fairly easy. There are about 480 episodes and new content is posted all the time! A lot of the videos are at least half in Japanese, and listening to her speak will most definitely improve your Japanese pronunciation and rhythm.
For a beginner, it is also of importance that Chika doesn't believe in a lot of handholding when it comes to pacing your learning and word choice. This is exactly what you need to become bilingual yourself.
Walk through basic Japanese lessons every day with Chiaki who offers a quick course to help you with simple questions and answers in Japanese. You can also follow her adventures around England to get a novel perspective on living abroad as a native Japanese.
Japanese people are very curious about how people from other cultures go about daily life, and you’ll have a leg up on talking about this by learning from Chiaki before you make your journey.
You can refresh your Japanese lessons every day. Chiaki helps you with explanations in Japanese about basic everyday explanations you might have to yourself give to Japanese people in Japanese at some point if you’re in Japan for an extended period of time.
Practice your listening comprehension and speaking skills in Japanese with Chiaki every day. Also, check out her beauty and fashion videos for your viewing and preening pleasure.
NHK 高校講座 (NHK こうこう こうざ)
These 高校講座 (こうこう こうざ — high school course) videos are the basic learning material you will need to just get started in Japanese lessons. Sponsored by NHK, these courses cover every major subject for the Japanese high school curriculum, including Japanese classes or biology in Japanese.
You do require basic knowledge of a few kanji to navigate the site well but don't let that stop you from exploring the site. There are free PDFs available for those interested in the course notes from the videos. Just print them out and for self-study lessons.
The website also has a Japanese history section which is a goldmine for gaining more insightful knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. Moreover, the video lessons are free of any irritating commercials or advertisements.