The 7 Best Online Courses to Learn Japanese Successfully
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If you’re learning Japanese, you may have wondered where to start. There are apps, courses, books, live classes, and more. All are effective ways to study and can help you learn from home. An online Japanese course is a good option for learners who want a structured and comprehensive way to study. They are detailed and include everything you need to learn the language. Let’s take a look at the best online courses to learn Japanese.
Best for Beginners
Most Structured Course
With over 120 million speakers, Japanese is one of the most spoken languages in Asia. But Japanese is only the de facto language of Japan since the country doesn’t recognize an official language. There are also populations of Japanese speakers in neighboring countries like China and Korea as well as large emigrant communities in places like Brazil, Australia, and the United States.
There are many reasons to learn Japanese. Japan has the 3rd largest economy in the world and knowing the language can provide excellent business or work opportunities. Japan excels in many economic sectors, but especially in automobiles. Some of the most popular brands such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Honda are based in Japan. The country also excels in the electronics sector and produces many consumer electronics used worldwide.
How Long Will It Take You To Learn Japanese?
What is your current level?
What level do you want to reach?
How many hours will you study each day?
Many people think Japanese is similar to Chinese, but they are distinct languages from different language families. However, Japanese does use a writing system, kanji, that was developed from Chinese characters. It also uses 2 additional writing systems called hiragana and katakana. Often, these 3 different writing systems are mixed in the same sentence.
What Are The Best Courses To Learn Japanese?
To find the best online Japanese courses, I first looked at options that are popular with Japanese learners as well as courses offered by reputable language learning companies. Then, I looked at each one to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Finally, I narrowed down the options based on what kind of course it was and who could benefit from learning with it.
In the table below, you’ll find the 7 best online Japanese courses. Scroll down to learn more about each one.
|Best Overall Japanese Course||Rocket Japanese|
|Best for Beginners||Japanese Uncovered|
|Best Structured Course||Attain Online Japanese Language School|
|Best for Flexibility||XSeries Program in Steps in Japanese for Beginners|
|Best for Self-Paced Learning||Nihongo Master|
|Best for Live lessons||Coto Japanese Academy|
|Best for Learning for Free||Marugoto Online Japanese Course|
Best Overall Japanese Course
Rocket Languages is the overall best course to learn Japanese. It’s comprehensive and guides you from the basics to an intermediate level. You'll learn all the necessary skills to get you conversational in Japanese. The lessons revolve around a dialogue spoken by Japanese speakers. This allows you to hear the correct pronunciation and how to form sentences.
Each level has 120+ hours of lesson time. Most lessons are audio-based. Some teach grammar and culture, and there are even writing lessons so you can learn hiragana, katakana, and kanji. The lessons also include many practice activities to help you reinforce what you learned in the lessons. You can learn more about it in this Rocket Japanese review.
- Comprehensive course that teaches all language skills
- Lessons to learn the different writing systems
- Learn about Japanese culture while you learn the language
Rocket Languages has 3 levels, and the price depends on how many you buy. Level 1 costs $149.95, levels 1 & 2 cost $249.90, and the entire course is $259.90. It’s a one-time purchase that gives you lifetime access to the material.
Best for Beginners
Japanese Uncovered is the best course for beginners because it immerses you in the language without being overwhelming. Japanese Uncovered lets you learn through stories. During each unit, you listen to a chapter of the story and then watch video lessons that go in-depth into grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
Each unit has extensive lesson notes and practice exercises that help you remember and drill what you learned in the lessons. There are currently 4 levels available to take you from complete beginner to upper-intermediate. You can try Japanese Uncovered for free for 7 days to see if this course is right for you.
- Learn through stories
- Video lessons that teach grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation
- Extensive lesson notes
You can purchase the Japanese Uncovered beginner course for a one-time payment of $397. This gives you lifetime access to the material. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the course.
Attain Online Japanese Language School
Best Structured Course
The Attain courses on the Udemy platform are popular with Japanese learners and are highly rated. They offer many different levels, from absolute beginner to N5-N1 courses. Each course has between 10-15 video lessons and comes with a downloadable textbook that you work through alongside the video lessons.
Before you buy a course, you can watch a preview video and read past student reviews. You can also see what the units are and exactly what will be covered in each lesson. You can also read more about the platform in this overall Udemy review.
- Hours of video lessons
- Downloadable textbook
- See exactly what is taught in each course
You pay for each course separately and you get lifetime access to its content. Each course has a different price, but most cost around $100.
EdX: XSeries Program in Steps in Japanese for Beginners
Best for Flexibility
Steps in Japanese for Beginners is an in-depth course available on the EdX platform. The goal is to get you conversational in Japanese by learning the most important words and phrases. It’s an extensive course that has video lessons, practice exercises, quizzes, as well as discussion forums to learn about Japanese life and culture.
Steps in Japanese for Beginners is an all-inclusive option and has 3 courses included in the price. It’s a self-paced course, meaning you can do it when you have time, but you should dedicate 3-5 hours per week. The course is led by a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo.
- 3 courses to teach you Japanese basics
- Self-paced learning
- Graded quizzes and assignments
You can enroll in all three courses for $222.30. This gives you lifetime access to the course, as well as graded assignments and exams. There’s also the option to audit the course for free, which limits your access to some of the course material.
Best for Self-Paced Learning
Nihongo Master is perfect for self-paced learning because you can study when it’s convenient for you. The course goes from introductory through an advanced level. There are over 200 lessons available, and most take about 10 minutes. It’s a good course if you don’t have much time to study, but can dedicate a few minutes each day.
Nihongo Master is best for independent learners that don’t need to be walked through a lesson. Each lesson is written out and you have to learn the material yourself. There are also sound clips to hear the pronunciation of each vocabulary word. Then, you practice what you learned with drills. There is also tons of additional information and practice activities on the site.
- Introductory to advanced levels
- Written lessons and practice drills
- Learn Japanese language and culture
You can Nihongo Master for free with a 7-day trial. A monthly membership costs $9.99 per month, a 6-month membership costs $49.99, and a yearly membership costs $79.99.
Coto Japanese Academy
Best for Live Lessons
Coto Japanese Academy is a language school based in Tokyo, but they also have many options to study Japanese online. There are self-study courses available for a very low price. But Coto Japanese Academy is best for live lessons. You have the option to take 1-on-1 lessons or small group lessons with a maximum of 8 students.
They offer classes in the mornings and evenings so you can find a time that fits your schedule. There are also intensive options if you want to take classes every day, as well as specialized classes such as Business Japanese and conversation classes. They also offer online Japanese lessons for kids.
- Individual or group lessons
- Live classes with Japanese teachers
- Courses on specialized topics
The price varies depending on what course you want to take and if you want group or private lessons. Classes range from $75.00 to $353.00. Check out the Coto Japanese Academy website to get a free level assessment and learn more about the courses.
Marugoto Online Japanese Course
Best for Learning for Free
Marugoto Online Japanese Course is an interactive way to learn basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary. Instead of video lessons, each lesson consists of various exercises that help you learn through doing. First, you are introduced to the new topics, and then you practice until you have memorized it.
The Marugoto Online Japanese Course provides a lot of guidance for self-study. In addition to the interactive lessons, there are downloadable materials that explain vocabulary, grammar, and writing topics more thoroughly. There are also notes included within the lessons that give you hints and additional information about what you’re learning.
- Interactive activities
- Learn through doing
The self-study courses without tutor support are available for free. You just need to register on the website. If English isn’t your first language, the Japanese course is also available in other languages, such as Spanish and Indonesian. You can try a sample lesson to see if you enjoy the platform.
Why You Should Take an Online Course To Learn Japanese
Online courses are one of the best ways to learn Japanese effectively. They are a structured way to learn and take the guesswork out of what to study next. Most are very comprehensive and let you practice all language skills necessary to develop a strong level of Japanese. They are also convenient because you can take them from the comfort of your home and when it fits your schedule.
How To Use Online Courses To Learn Japanese
Using an online Japanese course is most effective if you study consistently. It’s helpful to make a study plan and stick with it. Even if you can’t study every day, dedicating time at least a few days every week will help you see steady improvement and remember what you already learned.
An online Japanese course is best used alongside other resources such as a language app or a self-study book. For example, a language app can quickly teach you a lot of vocabulary or help you learn the Japanese writing systems. Books are also helpful resources because they provide detailed explanations of complicated topics.
Best Online Courses To Learn Japanese: Final Thoughts
It’s important to find a way to study that you enjoy. An online Japanese course is an effective way to learn, and there are many options available that can fit your schedule and budget. Once you find the right one for you, it’s easier to stay motivated and continue learning. You’ll be speaking Japanese like a pro in no time!
Best Online CoursesTo Learn Japanese: FAQ
Rocket Languages is the best Japanese online course. It’s comprehensive and guides you from the basics to an intermediate level. You’ll learn all the skills necessary to begin communicating in Japanese: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It also includes dialogues recorded by native speakers so you can hear exactly what Japanese sounds like.
The best Japanese learning program depends on how you like to learn. Rocket Languages is an excellent choice if you are just beginning Japanese and want a program that will teach you all necessary language skills. If you have limited time to study, using a Japanese language app like Mondly or Drops might be a better choice.
Yes, it’s possible to learn Japanese online. There are many effective courses that can help you reach a communicative level of Japanese. Rocket Languages and Japanese Uncovered are two good options to help you get started. Once you reach a higher level, taking classes with an online tutor is more effective. A platform like italki or AmazingTalker can connect you with a tutor to take 1-on-1 lessons.
In 2 years, you can learn enough Japanese to be communicative and have conversations. Japanese is considered one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, so you might not be fluent after 2 years. Take a look at this fluency calculator to see how long it will take you to learn Japanese.