Here are all of the resources I have used to learn Japanese. I have tried a lot of different programs, books, and apps, but I only listed the best ones here. I believe that if I found all of these resources from the start, I would have learned Japanese much faster. I hope that these resources will help you with your Japanese too.
- Best Online Japanese Lessons
- Best Japanese Apps
- Best Books for Learning Japanese
- Best Resources for Learning Kanji
- Best Resources for Private Teachers/Tutors
- Finding Speaking Partners for Free
- Best Free Online Lessons: Hiragana and Katakana
- Best Free Online Lessons: Grammar and Expressions
- Best Online Dictionary / Translation
- Best Resources for Learning Vocabulary
- Best Resources for Reading Japanese
- YouTube: Japanese Lessons, TV Shows, and Entertainment
- Best YouTube Channels for Learning Japanese: Cooking Channels
- Learning Japanese Channels
- Best Forums for Japanese
- The Best Way to Learn Japanese Chapters
Best Online Japanese Lessons
For absolute beginners to low-advanced students:
I love this website. Their audio and video lessons really helped me to improve my Japanese. In fact, I went from a low-intermediate level to an advanced level in a few months.
You have to pay for a membership, but for me, it was worth every penny. They offer tons of free lessons on their website, so you can listen to the audio and video lessons to see if you’ll like it or not.
Best Japanese Apps
If you have a smart device, these apps will help you out a lot.
Japanese by Renzo
This is a Japanese dictionary. I think it’s the best one out there. And at the time of this writing, it’s FREE! I believe I paid around $20 USD for it many years ago, and I think it’s still one of the best, apps I have. I use it all the time to look up vocabulary words and kanji. I find it hard to believe that they can offer such an amazing app for free. But it might not stay free for long so be sure to get it while you can!
This simple flashcard app can help you learn Japanese much faster and easier than with traditional methods. If you use this flashcard system to study, you can learn a lot of Japanese quickly. You can also pre-load lots of different flashcards into the program. There are thousands of kanji, vocabulary, grammar, and example sentence flashcards you study. The PC version is free, but the app costs around $24.99.
Best Books for Learning Japanese
I have tried many different books during my years of studying Japanese. You can check out my list for the best books I have found for each level. A good book can give you structure and organization, which will make learning easier and faster. Books also teach details that are often left out of videos or audio lessons.
Best Resources for Learning Kanji
Remembering the Kanji
When you finish learning hiragana and katakana, you’ll have to learn kanji next. I highly, highly recommend you learn kanji with the Heisig System. His book, “Remembering the Kanji,” is the best way I have found to remember the kanji.
This is the perfect companion to studying kanji with the Remembering the Kanji book. The flashcards are in the same order as the book and gives more example stories for each character. It’s awesome, and it’s free!
The only drawback is that it’s made for desktop computers. If you prefer to study on your smartphone, Anki is the better option.
This website is pretty cool. If you don’t mind a little crude language, this website is a great reference. If you’re using the Remembering the Kanji method, then Kanji Koohi is your best resource. However, Kanji Damage can give you insight to characters that you’re having trouble with. The casual examples on Kanji Damage make it easy to understand the meaning and nuance of kanji.
Best Resources for Private Teachers/Tutors
This is the best thing you can do if you want to learn how to speak Japanese in the shortest amount of time possible. Having a good teacher correct your mistakes and teach you proper, natural Japanese will improve your Japanese with the least amount of effort and in the shortest amount of time.
Hire Private Teachers/Tutors
One of the best resources for finding a professional Japanese teacher or a private tutor to help you learn quickly and easily. There are a lot of teachers available, so you can check their profiles and find the perfect teacher for you.
Prices for a professional Japanese teachers runs from around $8.00 – $32.00 per hour. Prices for a tutor range from $6.00 – $22.oo per hour. The great thing about Italki is that most teachers offer a 30-minute trial lesson for a very cheap price. Professional teachers offer 30-minute trial lessons for $1.00, but the average is around $5.00 – $7.00. Private tutor trial lessons are around $2.00 – $5.00 for 30-minutes.
If you want to learn Japanese in the fastest and easiest way possible, the teachers on Italki is exactly what you are looking for.
Another good site for finding a Japanese teacher online. While there are not as many native Japanese speakers as Italki, the Japanese teachers on Verbling are great. Virtually all of them have near perfect ratings from their students, and they have very reasonable rates. Just like Italki, most teachers off small trial lessons for just a few bucks.
Finding Speaking Partners for Free
The costs of hiring a private tutor can also add up quickly. One lesson is usually anywhere from 10$ – 50$ per hour. The average is around $20/hour. To get the most out of a tutor, you should speak with them as much as possible. At the very least, 2 times per week if that is all the studying you do. At $20/hour, that would come out to $160 per month. Many of us just don’t have that much spare cash to blow every month.
So here are some free options to find people to speak with, exchange e-mails, or even meet up in real life.
A very simple site connecting people who want to do a language exchange. You can find people who are learning a language you can speak, and in return, they can teach you Japanese. There are options to find people to meet in real life or just communicating by e-mails or online chat.
Find groups of people who are interested in learning Japanese near your location.
Best Free Online Lessons: Hiragana and Katakana
Learn Hiragana Course
This course is mostly text and a little dry, but if you want to learn how to read and write hiragana for free, it gets the job done.
Learn Katakana Course
This course is straightforward. There isn’t any exciting pictures or videos in this course, but it will teach you how to read and write all of the katakana characters.
Learn the Stroke Order of Hiragana and Katakana
While this webpage is old and has no exciting graphics, it’s a great resource to use when you need to check the stroke order of any hiragana or katakana character. Just click on the character you want to see and it will provide you with an animation of how to write it.
Best Free Online Lessons: Grammar and Expressions
NHK Japanese Lessons
These are some great free lessons to learn conversational Japanese. The material isn’t organized in an academic way, so it’s best to use it to learn basic conversational skills or as a backup resource.
Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide
You can’t study Japanese on your own and not mention Tae Kim’s online resource. He has written lessons on Japanese grammar. There is a ton of material on his website. There is material for beginners and advanced students as well. If you prefer to have a hardcopy of his lessons, he published the material on his website into a book that you can purchase on Amazon.
This is a great site for learning Japanese grammar and expressions. What makes this site different from other resources is that it teaches the nuance and natural uses of the material. You’ll learn little details that will make you understand the meaning of the grammar much clearer than most books. I love the way they teach you how to sound natural with your Japanese.
Best Online Dictionary / Translation
Jim Breen’s Online Dictionary
Online Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionary. The “text glossing” option is awesome for reading paragraphs or even pages of Japanese. You can just copy and paste the Japanese into the text glossing text box, and it will translate all of the kanji for you.
This website can be used as a dictionary to look up words, but can also look for phrases as well. The translations of phrases and expressions aren’t the best, but it’s probably better than Google Translate.
The only problem is that this website does a better job going from Japanese to English than it is translating from English to Japanese. If there a word written in hiragana or kanji, this website does a pretty good job at translating those.
You’ll get the most out of this website as an intermediate to advanced level of Japanese. This is because, at this level, you’ll have enough knowledge to choose the best translation and ignore the crappy ones.
Best Resources for Learning Vocabulary
Japanesepod101 Vocabulary Lists
Lots of vocabulary words organized by theme. If you ever wondered what type of vocabulary words you should study next, these lists can help you out.
This is a great way to learn vocabulary words in Japanese. Use this as a companion to other resources to deepen your understanding of the vocabulary you are studying.
You’ll need to type the vocabulary word in Japanese (go here to see how to type in Japanese) into the Google Images search bar.
You’ll then get images of the word you searched for. Of course, nouns are the best type of words to search for since you get concrete images that are easy to understand. However, it words for verbs and adverbs as well.
By seeing an image of the word you are studying, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of it. Most people just study vocabulary by reading the English definition and the Japanese translation of it. This is okay, but having visual images to go along with the word help you to learn. Try it out!
Best Resources for Reading Japanese
NHK News Web Easy
This website is gold. Reading the newspaper or new articles in Japanese is very difficult. There are tons of hard kanji and words that you have to know. But with this website, you’ll be able to read news articles with ease. This website puts furigana (small hiragana characters that show the reading of kanji) for all of the difficult kanji. Use the other resources listed above (ALC, Jim Breen, etc.), and you’ll learn Japanese in context. This makes it easy and fun to learn how to read in Japanese.
Traditional Japanese Children’s Stories
This website has a lot of traditional stories translated into English. The original Japanese is also included for your reference.
The design of the website is dated and a little difficult to navigate. It is also very, very text heavy, so it can be tiring to study for long periods of time.
However, the material on here is great for beginners or intermediate students who want to practice reading simple stories in Japanese.
YouTube: Japanese Lessons, TV Shows, and Entertainment
To have fun while learning Japanese, you need to incorporate something that you love to study. For example, many people love anime or manga. By using anime to study Japanese, they not only learn better, but they enjoy it. So no matter what you’re into…cooking, Japanese music, history, etc., use it help you study.
That being said, a great way to Japanese is by watching Japanese TV shows. Why TV shows? Of course, it will increase your listening skills, but it will also improve your kanji and speaking skills.
How does it improve your kanji? Many Japanese TV shows have kanji subtitles. Actually, it’s not subtitles. What many shows do is that they use hiragana, katakana, and kanji to emphasize what someone said. So if someone said something funny, written Japanese will appear on the screen repeating what was said.
The drawback is that you need to know a pretty good amount of kanji to follow along. But when you reach the level where you can read many of the kanji, it is very, very good practice. I’m convinced my reading speed increased A LOT by just watching Japanese TV an reading the kanji that comes out.
The kanji usually only stays on the screen for a second, so you have to be fast to read them all. Awesome training, and it’s fun too.
Also, many Japanese TV shows are filled with stupid comedy, light dramas, and interesting experiments. Due to this type of lighthearted content, many shows speak in casual, informal Japanese. Listen to how they describe certain situations…I bet it’s completely different that what any book taught you.
If you want to learn more formal or polite Japanese, watch documentaries, or even better, the news. The news is full of formal Japanese words and grammar that can be found on the JLPT N2 and N1.
Also, because TV is visual, you don’t need to understand everything word to know what is going on with the show. Just by watching what the people are doing and the tone of the show, you can guess pretty accurately about what is going on.
Movies with actual subtitles are a good way to study too.
YouTube has tons of Japanese TV shows that you can watch.
Best YouTube Channels for Learning Japanese: Cooking Channels
Cooking with Dog
A fun and lighthearted channel showing you how to cook delicious Japanese food. While it is narrated in English, the cook introduces each dish in Japanese. The ingredients in the video description section is also written in both English and Japanese, so you can learn some vocabulary related to food.
The host of these cooking videos speaks in English, but the subtitles are in Japanese. This makes it easy to learn Japanese words and grammar from context. She also has some cute recipes!
Learning Japanese Channels
Nihongo no Mori
This YouTube channel is awesome. While the material is not organized and other resources are better, it’s still an amazing channel for learning Japanese. Not only do they teach you basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary, but they also have tons of videos teaching you material from the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test).
Best Forums for Japanese
Reddit Learn Japanese
A pretty cool forum that is pretty active. You can get information about all areas of learning Japanese.
Stock Exchange Japanese
If you have a question about Japanese vocabulary, grammar, kanji, or anything else, this is a great site to visit. There are lots of useful answer and advice given here.
If you have a specific question about learning Japanese, you can ask it here. The answers that people provide can be very detailed and professional, which makes it really helpful.
Congratulations! You finished all 5 chapters of this guide. You now have all the tools and techniques you need to learn Japanese in the most efficient way possible. The main thing is to take action right now to accomplish your goals. Taking consistent action daily is the secret to becoming fluent in Japanese. If you have any comments or concerns, please leave us a comment down below.
Good luck on your Japanese journey!
The Best Way to Learn Japanese Chapters
Chapter I: The Learning Japanese Formula
Chapter II: What You Should Study to Learn Japanese
Chapter III: 5 Steps to Be Successful Learning Japanese
Chapter IV: Troubleshooting – Answering Common Problems When Learning Japanese
Chapter V: The Best Resources for Learning Japanese