For those passionate about learning the Japanese language, here is a comprehensive guide to all the learning opportunities, tools, and resources that you can possibly need to become proficient!
Find the Best Online Japanese Course
Japanese learning courses can empower beginners as well as advanced learners through the use of innovative learning materials for Japanese grammar, vocabulary, phonetics, writing systems, and communication. Students pursuing such courses can:
- Read simple texts in Japanese and write using the hiragana and katakana scripts as well as the kanji characters.
- Understand basic vocabulary in speech and use it in everyday communicative situations.
- Form their own sentences using the provided grammar material.
Find an Online Japanese Class
Beginners in Japanese language learning will come across the complex Japanese writing system which is composed of syllabic kana and logographic kanji. Kana has two syllabaries; hiragana and katakana. Japanese kanji is based on borrowed Chinese characters.
Any online course is likely to start with an introduction to the ways to pronounce different sounds and recognize the 4 forms of writing:
- Hiragana (ひ ら が な)
- Katakana (カ タ カ ナ)
- Kanji (漢字) = Chinese characters
- Roumaji (romaji)
The Tofugu site gives you a chance to learn the Japanese alphabet. You will also find an "art and history" tab to learn more about Japanese culture.
Busuu is one of the largest online learning communities for languages. It offers 12 different language courses over the web as well as mobile apps. Interested learners can sign up for free. There is also a Premium subscription for those willing to move on to more advanced levels of learning, such as advanced grammar lessons, Offline Mode, McGraw-Hill Education certification, or the adaptive Vocabulary Trainer.
This website is ideally suited for beginners with or no knowledge of the Japanese language. The website does not require learners to possess knowledge of hiragana or katakana since romaji is used. What's more, the price of learning is absolutely free!
Japanese-Lesson.com offers 10 completely free lessons that cover essential Japanese words and phrases for complete beginners. Each lesson also comes equipped with audio files for key terms. Look for grammatical and cultural explanations under the “Tips” section. Cement your knowledge of Japanese with different 'drill' exercises.
Try Distance Learning with a Japanese Private Tutor
Irrespective of your motivation for learning Japanese, private lessons in Japanese from a qualified and experienced teacher can go a long way in helping you improve your language skills.
One-on-one or Private Japanese Lessons
It is advantageous for students in private classes as they can ask the tutor to focus on any particular language learning goals they may have in mind. For example, learning Japanese for the purpose of travel (for work or leisure). Private Japanese lessons are ideal for those students who prefer the traditional mode of learning with a teacher or for those who find group lessons to be too slow for their liking.
With the rise and growth of online teaching, it is easy to find private Japanese tutors online. However, the availability of tutoring services usually depends on your locations.
Use Google to find local Japanese tutors. Post your queries on online forums or in the local community clubs, or ask any local Japanese cultural institutes, such as the Japan Foundation, for recommendations. Learning is usually much faster with a private Japanese tutor than in group classes. Private tutors are flexible enough to discuss and curate courses especially for your learning needs.
Use the Power of Online Streaming Platforms to Learn Japanese
YouTube and other online streaming platforms offer the best audio and video formats to help you progress in the Japanese language!
Learn Japanese for Free with Online Movie Streaming
The diversity of Japanese television can take you by surprise. Use it to build a basic foundation of Japanese cultural knowledge, including language nuances. Learn to speak Japanese just like native Japanese speakers. Simply, pick a movie that feels right for your learning level - easy or basic, intermediate, or advanced. Movies are 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.
How to Learn Japanese on a Smartphone
With technology now being available at our fingertips, turn your smartphone or tablet into a virtual classroom for learning Japanese on the go!
Benefits of Learning Japanese via Smartphone Apps
Compared to studying Japanese through textbooks, smartphone applications have the advantage of being practical and usable in all circumstances. help you save time while being just as effective as learning Japanese using textbooks, or attending Japanese learning classes.
Though it's possible to travel to foreign countries without knowing how to speak the native language, without the ability to communicate in the native language with Japanese people, you cannot fully participate in day-to-day life, nor understand the culture.
You don't necessarily need to speak fluent Japanese, or even have a conversational level. But whatever you do, make sure you at least memorize a few Japanese phrases and expressions before you travel.
When you know the language, you have the comfort of being able to successfully navigate all sorts of situations, like order meals in restaurants, ask for and understand directions, find accommodations and perhaps negotiate cheaper prices, and meet and talk with natives, to name only a few.
Top Apps for Japanese Language Translation
Translation apps are an essential reference guide when you need something translated quickly to get you out of a sticky situation in a foreign land. For example, while walking the streets of Tokyo, you might need to have a Japanese to English translator to make life easier! Language translator apps are a blessing in this regard.
The Necessity of Japanese Translation Apps
When you start learning a new language, you often tend to feel overwhelmed. What you need to feel relaxed is the feeling of convenience. Japanese translation apps can be conveniently downloaded on your smartphone. That is so convenient when you think of the alternative of carrying around a heavy language dictionary!
Free to Use Language Translators
Simply open a language translator app and open your mind to a world of possibilities when it comes to learning new languages and cultures. The best part about language translator apps is that most of them offer free versions containing the same basic functions as the most advanced versions.
Easy Language Learning
Use a language translator app to learn any of the three Japanese languages - hiragana, katakana, or the kanji writing system. Apps offer an easy learning environment, especially when you are on the go.
Effective Tools for Communication
Japanese translation apps aren’t just Japanese-English dictionary apps. Instead, they come with impressive combinations of dictionary-like features, full-sentence translations, and pronunciation aid. Facilitate a conversation in Japanese and clarify your intentions with native speakers by simply whipping out your smartphone, with no need for an interpreter.
Go Traditional: Learn Japanese Using Textbooks
With your basic knowledge of Kanji, it is a good idea to invest in a textbook and start learning the framework in which you can use all the Japanese you've learned. It may be a little overwhelming to choose the most suitable textbook for learning Japanese, given the abundance of quality textbooks in Japanese.
Learning the Basics: Japanese for Busy People
This one is ideal for the busy bees who are keen on learning Japanese but are struggling to include Japanese learning courses or Japanese classes into their hectic schedules. Essentially a series of beginners, the book includes lessons on grammar and sentence structure, vocabulary, and practical conversation practice in a balanced, friendly manner.
The books are available in two versions: romaji (the Romanized Japanese alphabet) and kana (Hiragana and Katakana, two phonetic alphabets), so readers can choose the one they are most comfortable with. The texts are structured into different units based on practical themes and professional settings. The textbooks are designed for professionals. However, high school or college students can also benefit greatly from studying it.
The book is a complete self-study package including an audio CD as well as an answer key to the practice questions, making this the ideal book for self-study. Students can not only study to know the various aspects of Japanese grammar and vocabulary but also practice how to speak in Japanese every day.
Minna No Nihongo
This one may be a challenge for beginners. Minna no Nihongo is entirely in Japanese. You need a separate "translation book" in English to study properly. Studying with the main, all-Japanese textbook lets you apply yourselves that much more. You can always check the translation book for grammar explanations when you get stuck.
- Covers more ground than other textbooks
- All Japanese text means lots of reading practice
- Intense, in-depth grammar explanations
- Requires a second "translation book" to use the main textbook
- Fairly expensive
Minna no Nihongo covers a lot of material and uses complex terms to teach grammar points, even taking pains to explain pitch accents with new grammar you learn. This is a big advantage for those using this textbook in Japanese because the pitch accent should be learned early but few textbooks cover it.
For the more academic aspirants who want to learn as much as possible, this is a great option for you because you can take your time and soak in the knowledge. If you hit a roadblock, a private Japanese tutor or language partner would work well with this textbook.