Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese


Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese


Learning a language can be expensive.  Whether you are throwing down 500 bucks for Rosetta Stone, enrolling in classes, or even just studying out of a textbook, it is going to be expensive.  If you are a beginner and not even sure how far you want to take your language studies, it can be quite the commitment.  That is why we recommend you check out some free resources before you go throwing your money at products that may or may not work for you anyways.  Here we will discuss 5 different websites that will help to improve 5 different areas of Japanese; the basics, writing, word usage, grammar, and listening.



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Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese

The Basics: Nihongo Master


Nihongo Master is absolutely perfect for mastering the basics.  After creating a login, the site will start you at the most basic of basics and teach you hiragana.  Nihongo Master takes 5 symbols at a time starting with あーお and will not only drill you on the readings but gets you to combine them and make words.  When you go through the drills, Nihongo Master will time you on how long it takes you to answer the questions, and appropriately divvy up the words into appropriate review groups.  For example if you take a long time to answer or answer incorrectly, Nihongo Master may have you review it again right away, but if you are quick and accurate you may not see that word again for a week or even a month.

If you are completely new to Japanese, then you might find Nihongo Master to be challenging, but if you keep at it, this website will give you an incredibly strong foundation to build off of.



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Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese

Writing:  Lang-8


If you have been studying Japanese for awhile, you may very well be familiar with this terrific website.  Lang-8 is a free blogging website that allows you to write entries in the language you are studying. After posting your entry, native speakers will then see your post and make corrections and comments to help you understand your mistakes.  It is a great way to take your language ability to the next level.  If you ever have a question on how to use a specific grammar point or a new word, write a Lang-8 entry and within minutes native speakers will teach you the correct usage.

Some do not like writing on Lang-8 because it can be embarrassing to make mistakes.  However, if you can get over the embarrassment, and learn from your mistakes, you will become a much better writer.  You may also make some friends and learn a great deal about the culture.   We really cannot recommend this site any higher.



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Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese

Word Usage: Tatoeba Project


Quite often when studying Japanese, you will come upon words where you are not entirely sure how to use them.  This can be incredibly frustrating when your sentence makes sense in English, but for some reason or other your Japanese friends have no idea what you are talking about.  Using words correctly can be tricky, but fortunately the “Tatoeba Project” is here to help.

The Tatoeba Project is gathering example sentences in dozens of different languages to help show language learners how to best use the words they are studying. You type in the word you want to see used, choose the language you want to see it in, and it gives you example sentences that will show the correct usage of the word. People from all over the world have submitted example sentences in their native language for the benefit of other language learners. It is kind of inspiring to see people from all over the world united in the hopes to aid language learners.

If you are interested in hearing more about the Tatoeba Project, be sure to check out this video.



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Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese

Grammar: Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese


Whether you are a completely new to Japanese or a pro, Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese will have a great deal of grammar guidance that will prove to be invaluable.  Tae Kim has mapped out, explained, and given example sentences for dozens of essential and advanced grammar points.  Not terribly sure how to use the particles “は、が、に、or で?”  Well Tae Kim explains all of these key particles in a very clear cut manner that will be very beneficial to anyone studying Japanese.  Tae Kim’s Guide may as well be an online textbook, and it is completely free to use.  Even if you were to drop $30 on a textbook, there is no guarantee that it will be nearly as extensive, easy to use, or helpful as Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese.



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Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese

Listening:  JPOD 101


If you are not familiar, JPOD 101, or Japanese Pod 101, offers hundreds if not thousands of Japanese Audio Lessons that are great for pronunciation practice.  The podcast contains real life dialog that builds upon itself which makes it an effective way to build both your listening as well as your pronunciation.   Although JPOD 101 offers a great deal of paid services you are able to listen to several of their podcasts for free.  You also get a week to try out the paid services to see if it is anything you would use on a regular basis.

It is also worth noting that JPOD 101 offers a dictionary, flash cards, and a host of other services to help you learn Japanese.  However these can be found in the paid services.  Still though, worth checking out.


Five Free Websites to Help You Learn Japanese

Bonus: Reading with Rikaichan


Nothing more frustrating than when reading an article in Japanese, you come upon a character you have never seen before.  Looking up characters in dictionaries can be a pain, and it takes you out of what you were reading.  The whole process is just not enjoyable.  Firefox’s “Rikaichan” changes all of that.  Rikaichan is an add on that allows you to add a popup dictionary to your internet browser.  Anytime you find a kanji you do not know, simply hover over it and in a second you will have the reading as well as the translation.  There is also a Chrome version called “Rikaikun.”



All of these websites are fantastic ways to take you Japanese to the next level, and best of all they are free.  So go, check these sites out, and become a Nihongo Master!