One of the fullest online Japanese courses with a lot of unique content created with regard to Japanese culture, Rocket offers several progress-tracking features, a working forum, and many more benefits hard to find in other courses. Downloadable audio and printables make it possible to learn offline as well.
Additional materials might be needed to learn writing.
A whole lot of resources agree with us in this: Rocket Languages is the best way to learn Japanese online. Equally good for those better perceiving information visually and those preferring audio learning, these online Japanese classes are a blessing for travelers and on-the-go working people.
Android and iOS
Progress tracking, Forum, Pronunciation check, Downloadable content, Tests, Customer support
A personal teacher selected with regard to your specific needs is still considered by many to be the best way of learning a language. They will guide you, assess you with a certain goal in mind, and will become a strong anchor that provides both engagement and motivation.
No native speaker teacher at the time of this review.
Online Japanese classes via Skype on CoLanguage are the choice of dedicated learners who prefer live communication and set schedule to a freewheeling self-studying. You can stray off-topic, select subjects of interest, and ask for clarifications.
1-on-1 Skype lessons
Some teachers offer a trial lesson
Personal approach, Varying rates, Professional teachers, Regular feedback, Tests, Printables
Created by a best-selling author and polyglot Benny Lewis, this is a free week-long course on how to start using a language you are learning instead of just cramming it silently.
Not an actual language course.
A very helpful guide for someone learning a new language for the first time. Filled with practical advice and motivational stories and videos, this short course will help you combat the fear of speaking.
It's a free course
The grammar and vocabulary are explained in an entertaining story-like way with a bit of humor here and there. With this course, you will learn the everyday life in Japan almost like you are there yourself. A good choice for people who get bored fast.
And check out their blog, it's hilarious!
Very limited free content.
LinguaLift is a group of language enthusiasts and Japanese was their first language in this project, meaning it is their most developed course today. Broken into 50 lessons per level and each lesson into categories, this site offers Japanese courses that teach you not just language but the culture in an incredibly fun way.
First lesson of two levels, two lessons if you share a link on Facebook
Simple and engaging learning system, Tests, Vocabulary, Space Repetition System, 24/7 Chat with mentors
A unique system that looks online for the content to correspond to your level of knowledge and transforms it into a game-like experience. You can even add content if you want. If you have difficulties understanding a word, the built-in Google-translate feature will come to your rescue.
No mobile app yet.
Bliu Bliu is a freemium-based course, meaning that you can actually learn Japanese online free, although paid option will speed up the process. The community of multicultural users including native speakers for almost any of taught languages can help you learn better.
Web-based game (app in development)
Most content is available for 5 minutes at a time, then you make a pause while it's renewed
Words in natural context, Challenges, Flexible content system, Google Translator add-on, Community
What Is a Japanese Online Course?
One of the most puzzling and mysterious countries in the world—Japan. An unbelievable combination of superior technology and centuries-old traditions still alive not only in deeply rural areas but just about everywhere in the country; a unique philosophy born from blending what seems impossible to blend. A culture that is hard to grasp the essence of but easy to fall in love with—truly a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. And Japanese language is as real a representation of this bewilderment of a country as can be (just think about three completely different writing systems you will have to combine in a single sentence).
Between Japanese economic miracle and a huge hype over anime culture, Japanese has become a highly demanded language among learners of all ages and interests. However, Japan had been a tightly closed country for many centuries, equally guarded by its citizens and nature, making it little surprise that it is still not easy to find affordable Japanese language courses in every other city, let alone smaller towns. Many business persons and other adults with little to no free time come to find learning Japanese a good investment, too. What do you do when going to a language school regularly is impossible? That's where online courses are a real savior—accessible from literally everywhere in the world if you have an Internet connection, they spread the knowledge of the language and the love for this fascinating country. Here in this review, we would like to get you acquainted with Japanese online courses we find particularly good in some way or another. Created for different levels of knowledge and different learner types, they represent the market in a nutshell. We believe you can find the ones to satisfy your needs and help you reach your goal.
Rocket Languages Japanese Online Courses
All-Round Language Course
There is a valid basis for Rocket Japanese course to be one of the most popular online Japanese classes—it features the fullest set of exercises targeted at absolutely any type of student. If your memorizing skills work better through listening or your ultimate target is to start speaking quickly, this course is virtually perfect, but there is plenty of great material for visual learners as well. And it doesn't matter what your Japanese language skills are as there are three levels that can be purchased individually as well as in bulk.
So what do you get inside this best Japanese language program?
Each level is divided into five categories: Interactive Audio Lessons, Language & Culture Lessons, Writing Lessons, Survival Kit Lessons, and Flashcards. Basically, it's easy to understand what each category offers.
- During Interactive Audio Lessons, after the introductory text, you will listen to the dialogues between native speakers and English teachers that will explain to you the words and how to use them. There are transcripts for all Japanese words and phrases in Hiragana, Kanji, Romaji (Japanese words written with English alphabet), and translated into English.
- Language & Culture Lessons offer you language mechanics including grammar and cultural tidbits, most of them with audio and sometimes video support.
- Writing Lessons are what they are, here you will learn Hiragana, Katakana, and eventually Kanji. The lessons have videos on the correct strokes order and signs shape.
- In the Survival Kit Lessons, you'll see some "hot topics" that might be essential when if you have a trip to Japan soon and have no time for basics just yet. What to say and how to say it—this section is a savior.
- Flashcards are, well, flashcards.
Each section ends with a bunch of tests for you to complete and earn points. You will have to repeat the words, translate them, write them with a convenient display keyboard (that is, if you don't have Japanese language support installed on your PC or gadget), and even sort of participate in a conversation. All the content is downloadable, from PDF files with text to audio, so you can learn offline with your PC or smartphone/tablet (iOS and Android apps are there for you to check out). Finally, you can leave notes for every lesson—something to remember regarding it—right there to never lose it.
Perks of a Purchasing System
Truth to be said, the course prices might seem rather steep when you initially see them but see, these prices are for a lifetime access, not per month or year. This means that once you've acquired the program, you are free to advance at your own satisfactory pace without worrying about how much you've succeeded in a month for the money you've paid and how long you will have to continue paying until you master the language (which can be years for a busy person to whom Japanese is not an immediate necessity). Besides, you will have a week-long trial to check out quite a number of lessons in each level to see if the Rocket Language system works for you. Moreover, if you choose to buy not one but two or all three levels, you will have a good discount any time throughout your trial time, and, according to the CEO message found on the price list page, if you buy the course and still find it not good for you, you can, in fact, get a refund during whole 60 days! That's quite a lot of time to make up your mind.
Rocket Language had had some issues with their users in the past regarding various aspects but what adds to their collective karma is that the owners listened to the customers' outcry and did their best to fix most of the problems. One of those was a not too convenient design. When you come into your account now, everything is as comprehensive as possible: on the side control panel, you'll see your purchased levels, each of which drops down to a menu with categories and then lessons. The Tools menu drops down to show links to your progress, the forum, notes, vocabulary, and advanced learning. Simple as that. Also, the progress is tracked below in a never-hidden menu so that you could just glance at it anytime: Today's Points, your place on the Leaderboard, and Current Streak, a number of days you've been studying in consequence. The only thing we find a bit inconvenient for some users is that the control panel is not fixed, it disappears as scroll the lessons down, therefore, to switch to another lesson or level, you'll need to scroll all the way up. However, there is a Return to the top button at the bottom.
All in all, we find Rocket Japanese to be the best way to learn Japanese online if you are serious about it and you often have to learn on the go. The Survival Kit will help you if you find yourself in Japan unexpectedly but all the other aspects of the program, from the number of lessons to the price, are created more for those who plan to dive into the Japanese language and culture deep and for a long time.
Colanguage Japanese Online Teacher
Find Your Sensei
Tutoring is one of the most popular ways to learn languages even today and it will hardly be replaced with other types of courses soon since no computer can yet replace a human teacher. The good thing about tutors is that they are actual people who will adjust their teaching system for their students to understand the subject better, change the way they lay out the material, explain things in a variety of ways. You can ask your teacher a question and receive a comprehensible answer right away. What is more, with a real person as a teacher, you not only learn things but also communicate.
CoLanguage is a reputable resource where you can find a professional language teacher. There is a whole variety of languages offered there and Japanese is one of them. After just a bit of time with the CoLanguage Japanese courses, you will try speaking live without any fear to embarrass yourself like you would probably do if the first time you actually speak is when you are already in Japan trying to book a hotel or ask for directions. Teachers are cool.
First of all, this is a popular site where many teachers gather for work, so you will have a selection of options with people proficient in Japanese, you can try each of them to find yours. This also makes it easier to find the teacher who will be ready to work at a time comfortable for you. You will get a feedback on a regular basis, and will even have a possibility to receive a CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) certificate corresponding to your level. CoLanguage also offers the possibility to work for them, you can teach the languages you already know, including your native. This way, you will earn as well as spend. A win-win.
Personal Traits Are Important
When it comes to learning and teaching, a personal approach is a good thing. At CoLanguage, there are teachers of various origin, age, genders, experience, and characters. At the time this review was written, we're afraid to say there is no native Japanese speaker among the language teachers, but maybe there will be one when you check them—with the "Become a Teacher" option visible right there on the site, there are chances someone will appear sooner rather than later. And even if there is none still, do consider those non-native teachers who are still proven professionals and you might very well find them compatible with you in spirit. After all, this way you will not only learn the Japanese language and culture but will have a peek at how it is perceived in a different country.
The rates per hour are set by the teachers themselves. CoLanguage also offers their tutors and students an option of a trial lesson. That's when you check out a teacher for free once before you decide if you want to study with them. Whether the teacher is okay with this is up to them, and many tutors do offer a trial. No harm in trying out, right?
Fluent in 3 Months Plus Speak In A Week Language Course
Speak In A Week is not actually online Japanese classes but this course can indeed help you find out how to learn Japanese online and, what is more important, start using it. It is a course where upon subscription (which is completely free, by the way) you will receive an email every day during a week. Each letter from your tutor will open to you the ways to "hack" virtually any language, not just Japanese but any. What we're trying to say is that it's a one-size-fits-all instrument you can use with each new language you learn. And it's free. The author, Benny Lewis, will tell you gradually how to study in such a way that you will actually talk without fear and excessive shyness in the country of your target language, with locals. To some, his advice might seem obvious but what we've discovered is that even then it just so happens that we don't use these possibilities we know about. Sometimes we have reasons we find important. But Benny's stories of life, videos, and messages destroy all our barriers and help us shred all the unnecessary obstacles. You might or might not find this course good for you personally but it is free and short, you can try it and forget it if it's not. If it is, though, you will be glad you've found it.
Who Is Benny Lewis?
Benny Lewis calls himself "Benny the Irish Polyglot" and he does not really exaggerate. Born in Ireland, he claims to have been struggling with languages for many years until he'd found his own way, which he talks about in his free Speak In A Week course. Today, Benny is a polyglot speaking six languages fluently: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Esperanto, and Portuguese. He also speaks his mother country's native Irish language, American Sign Language, and Mandarin Chinese. And it looks like he doesn't plan on stopping there. He was awarded the "Language Ambassador of the Year" in 2012 and National Geographic's "Traveler of the Year" in 2013, had given two TEDx talks, and overall is pretty well-known in a modern polyglot society. He is also a best-selling author of the Fluent in 3 Months book and he has a website by the same name. All things considered, we came to think that his product has a place in our review despite it not being a Japanese language program.
Lingualift Learn Japanese Online
Incredibly Fun Way to Learn Japanese Online
LinguaLift is a project created by language enthusiasts, and it shows. The teaching system on the site is funny, all the material is given to the students spiced with lots of humor. Japanese course was the first LinguaLift had launched so it is the most profound and developed. Probably, one of the biggest and most important pros of LinguaLift is that it shows you not only the language itself, with the ton of everyday life information offered within grammar lessons or vocabulary, you will feel almost like you are in Japan and the Japanese life is all around you.
You go through each lesson by passing the categories one by one:
- In the Primer section, you will have the lesson woven into a story. Besides the rules, you will get to know the history behind them, which is sometimes absolutely hilarious, will obtain some information (aggregating as you proceed) on the casual ways of Japanese people, how they live, how they think and how Japan came to be what it is today. The story is sometimes complemented by audio and/or video materials, tips and hints from the native speakers and tutors. Did you ever imagine that learning Kanji could be fun? The LinguaLift team can show you how.
- After the Primer, you get to Assessment. Here, there are quizzes and tests which you can pass several times even when you do good as they are greatly varied and can change.
- The Like a Local part is more information on daily life and culture, with even more amusing details.
- Vocabulary is to review the words you've learned.
- Finally, there is the Cake section. This is your reward for the work well done. In this part, the creators have added funny videos taking place in Japan, recommendations for books and movies, and a lot of other fun stuff.
SRS or Space Repetition System
LinguaLift is one of the best Japanese language courses in part owing to the implementation of the Space Repetition System. You will probably find this system in many game-based language courses. What does it mean? Basically, the SRS is a system that returns the words you struggle with to your tests time and time again until you learn them. Say, you're doing a test in the Vocabulary section and you get one word wrong. The system will show you the right answer and the test will continue as nothing happened (because it's okay to make mistakes!) but after some time the trouble word will pop out again when you least expect it. If you do it right this time, the interval for it to appear once more will become longer and vice versa—do it wrong again and it will be repeated shortly. As you learn and your vocabulary expands, you'll see the word in your test more and more rarely but get it wrong again after several months of correct answers and the interval shrinks again. This system is quite old, said to be dating as far as 1932 (attributed to the Psychology of Study work by C. A. Mace). It has developed with years and today is used in many language programs.
Many websites today have blogs, it doesn't surprise anyone anymore. Hell, every IT company is practically obligated to have one. But LinguaLift Blog is just something else entirely. Sometimes, it's like a stand-up performance. You'll find many things there, from apps and tips for certain languages (LinguaLift mainly focuses on Japanese and Russian now) to articles like "Gifts for language lovers" and tests on how much of a language nerd you are, all written with jokes scattered here and there. It's really entertaining and entertaining to follow.
We highly recommend LinguaLift online Japanese classes to teens, young adults, and generally to everyone who loves a good laugh.
Bliubliu Japanese Online Course
When you Google "learn Japanese online free for beginners", chances are you will get recommendations for a whole variety of language game apps, they are extremely popular today. Well, there might be fewer of them that feature Japanese than, let's say, German or Spanish, but still quite a feast to choose from. Bliu Bliu is one of such games, only it is browser-based (at least for now—the mobile app is said to be in development). But what made us choose it despite this downside is that in a way, it is a truly unique way to learn Japanese online for free. The thing is, Bliu Bliu uses a special algorithm that, after your language level is set in the system, finds the content of that same level online and helps you learn the language through it. The grammar comes naturally this way and when you struggle with some Kanji or word Bliu Bliu will use its built-in Google Translator helper. Throughout your learning process, you will check the words you find easy or known to you among those painted red and they will be added to your profile where you will see your progress: word count, time spent, words seen, and leaderboard.
To keep you motivated, the Bliu Bliu creators developed a system of challenges. The date the challenge begins is set in advance and the number of contestants is limited so you need to check from time to time for your challenge to arrive. During30 days of a challenge, you will meet (online) other participants and a native speaker mentor who will help you through it. At the end, you will receive a special certificate stating that you have completed a challenge.
Another way to "challenge" yourself on Bliu Bliu that you will hardly find in many gaming apps and even full-fledged online Japanese lessons is that here, you can read books in Japanese as well as listen to them. A fascinating opportunity, if we may say. You can also upload books and other content, too, even YouTube videos and images, or record voice messages. In fact, everybody in the Bliu Bliu community can actively participate in the site work and development. The content appears on the Japanese Language Wall where users can communicate, help each other, and offer support. It is a great way to learn a new language.
What's a Freemium?
Bliu Bliu is a so-called Freemium course. It means that with it, you can learn Japanese online for free but if you pay for a Premium account, you will have more options. For example, book uploading is a Premium option, although reading what is already uploaded is free. You also have 5-minute sessions with the Free account and have to wait a bit as they renew whereas Premium users have no such limitations.
Overall, Bliu Bliu is a nice game to use as an additional practice source to your main Japanese lessons, online or IRL, it helps you stay motivated and entertained. When it gets an app, it will probably become one of the most popular language courses among smartphone and tablet users.