Learning Japanese? The internet can be your best friend.
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to learn whatever you want!
You no longer have go to Japan, to university, or even to night school to learn Japanese. You can get all the lessons you need online – and mostly for free, too!
With that in mind, here’s my roundup of the absolute best websites for learning Japanese.
I’ve divided them into categories so you can decide what you want to work on.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out my resources page too. It has loads of extra websites, apps and tools that didn’t fit onto this list.
Here we go:
Best sites to learn Japanese reading
Reading is probably the easiest skill to practise online. Here are a few great websites to give you some extra reading practice in Japanese:
Traditional Japanese Children’s Stories
A list of Japanese fairy tales, written in very simple Japanese (all hiragana!) and translated into English line by line. All Japanese children grow up hearing these stories, so they’re an essential part of Japanese culture. Best for beginners.
This stylish site is great for self-learners who want to learn about Japanese culture, such as calligraphy, tea ceremony and martial arts. It has short videos (with English subtitles) on each topic, accompanied by short texts in simple Japanese with new word lists and plenty of pictures. Best for beginner and intermediate learners who can already ready hiragana.
NHK News Web Easy
Read NHK’s top news stories each day in simple Japanese. The site is complete with furigana (pronunciation guides) on the kanji, and a great Japanese-to-Japanese dictionary explanations that pop up when you hover over a word. Many stories have videos too. Suitable for intermediate learners who know hiragana, katakana and basic kanji.
Matcha is a slick and stylish Japanese travel and culture magazine. It’s available in 8 different languages, including an easy Japanese version! Like NHK News Web Easy, it does use kanji but always with furigana above to teach you the pronunciation. Most of the articles are available in English too, so you can read in both languages to check your understanding (change language using the drop down bar at the top). The translations aren’t always word for word, though. Best for intermediate learners.
If you want more, I also have a full list of 40+ free sites to practise Japanese reading 🙂
Best sites to learn Japanese listening
I think listening is one of the very best ways to learn Japanese! Lots of listening gets your ear used to the language so you can speak more naturally. Also, you can listen to audio lessons or Japanese soundtracks while you’re out and about. It’s a great use of time for busy people 🙂
Here are some good resources for Japanese listening practice:
…or possibly even the best website to learn Japanese… period!
This site has literally thousands of podcasts to download, from total beginner level right up to advanced. Each track teaches a short conversation in Japanese, with explanation of the new words and grammar in English. You can access all the new lessons with a free membership.
There is enough to keep you busy on YouTube for the rest of time! Whether you’re into Japanese dramas, documentaries, you want to learn some simple phrases for beginners or naughty Japanese slang, someone will be teaching it for free on YouTube.
To help you navigate the sheer volume of videos out there, I’ve written a list of mytop 7 Japanese Youtubers.
Best sites to learn Japanese speaking
Italki is one of the best websites for Japanese learners. It’s aim is to connect language students and teachers for lessons or conversation practice online. You can connect with a Japanese student learning English for a language exchange for free (search under the ‘community’ tab for this). Or you can shell out a small amount of money for a private lesson with a qualified teacher or casual tutor (depending on your budget), all taking place over Skype, Facetime or your platform of choice.
Conversation Exchange is a great site for finding language exchange partners all over the world. It has a large community of Japanese speakers who are waiting to chat with you! You can find people to chat with online via Skype, Google Hangouts, Line, Facetime and lots more platforms. You can even search for people nearby you for a face-to-face chat.
Best sites to learn Japanese writing
Lang-8 is a great site that lets you practise your Japanese writing skills by posting in Japanese. Your writing will be corrected by a native speaker. You can write blog posts, diary entries, essays, or simple ask questions. There’s a very active community with loads of Japanese speakers keen to help you learn! One of the best websites to learn Japanese writing by actually communicating with native speakers.
Best sites to learn Japanese grammar
Tae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide
This is hands down the best site to learn Japanese grammar. It’s a comprehensive guide to Japanese grammar, from complete beginner level up to some very advanced phrases. You can access the full content of the guide for free on the website, or you can also download it as a free pdf or app.
If you’re studying for the JLPT, bookmark this website right now because it will become an essential resource. This site covers all the grammar points for every level of the JLPT. The page for each grammar point provides an explanation, plus loads of sample sentences. The sample sentences are user submitted, so there’s always a big variety.
There’s also a comments section where people discuss the things they don’t understand. If you have a question, you can be sure somebody else has asked it first! The only bad point is that this site has not been updated in a long time and still uses the old levels (JLPT 4-1) instead of the new ones (JLPT N5-N1). Still, the grammar hasn’t changed!
Do you know any more great sites for learning Japanese? Share in the comments!