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Improve Your Japanese Anytime, Anywhere – Learning Japanese Online

Nowadays there are many online options for learning Japanese. When I was actively learning Japanese there was not much online material available, so I mostly had to stick to the good old textbook. For this article, I checked out some websites and apps for learning Japanese and reviewed them.

Learning Japanese with Duolingo

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Duolingo is quite popular for learning languages online. They have courses in a wide variety of languages. At the moment Japanese courses are available for English and Chinese speakers. As a native German speaker, I find it a little disappointing however there is not much Japanese study material in German available anyway, so I am pretty much used to studying with English materials.

Duolingo provides lessons based on certain topics, like food, asking for directions, greetings, Hiragana etc. All lessons consist of a tips section that provides some explanation and a questions section. I had the impression that Duolingo can be a nice way to get into Japanese learning and find out if it is something you want to continue. However, the questions only check your reading and listening skill. You do not practice talking and writing.

Nevertheless, Duolingo exercises do not take much time and can be done anytime and anywhere on your phone. Also, they add a gamification aspect to learning as the more you study, you level up and get access to new lessons. 

Learning Japanese with NHK World Japan – Easy Japanese

Photo by Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai / Nihon Hōsō Kyōkai on Wikimedia Commons.

The Easy Japanese section of the website of NHK World provides several conversation lessons, that consists of a video clip with a sample dialogue, important vocabulary and key phrases from the dialogue, practice questions, a kanji lesson and additional cultural information. The lessons focus on situations that are typical when traveling in Japan. In general, the lessons are structured like a typical textbook but with the added video clips and sound files learning becomes more entertaining.

The site also has a function that lets you put check marks on lessons that you finished so you can track your progress better. Using the website is completely free of cost and audio files can be downloaded for offline use. NHK World Easy Japanese offers lessons in 18 different languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and several Asian languages.

I liked this website better than Duolingo as it does not only group words and phrases into categories but puts them into the context of a dialogue. At the moment there are 37 lessons available that should help you reach a level of basic Japanese. After you are done with these lessons the NHK website offers additional lessons plans for advanced learners as well.

Studying Japanese Characters with Anki

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Anki a software that can help you with your Kanji study. It can be used in combination with one of the above-mentioned websites or any other online or offline Japanese course.

It is a software for digital flashcards that lets you make your own flashcard sets or download premade sets from the Anki website. There are several flashcards sets available for learning Japanese that you can download for free. The software itself is also free for the PC version. The mobile versions, however, costs 25 USD.

The main feature of the software is that does not only ask a question and show the answer it also asks you how easy/hard it was for you to remember that certain answer on a scale of 0 to 4. Depending on what you choose the frequency of this question will be adjusted and you can concentrate more on your problem areas.

The flashcards are highly customizable so you can adjust them to your learning needs. Also, Anki is not limited to Japanese learning or language learning. You can make your own flashcards on any topics that you want to study or search online for pre-made flashcard sets.

I hope you found my review helpful and will try out some of the above-mentioned online offerings. When learning online, make sure to get some handwriting and talking practice as well.

READ MORE : The Process of Learning Japanese

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