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How to Learn Japanese for Free Online. 10+ Ways

Looking for ways to learn Japanese online for free?

Good news and bad news.

Bad news is… free isn’t always good quality.

But the good news is, there ARE some programs and websites that are good enough and offer free resources.

So, in this guide, you’ll discover some places where you can learn Japanese online free. Apps. Workbooks. Programs. Podcasts. Where you can learn words, phrases, grammar, reading, writing and much more. All are free or have some free and noteworthy aspect.

Japanese Programs

1. JapanesePod101 is a learning program that teaches you Japanese through bite-sized audio/video lessons.

You press play on a lesson and follow along.

Each lesson teaches you a conversation.

The teachers translate every word. By the end, you understand it all. Lessons are just a few minutes long. And then…?

check out this free lesson

Then, you move on to the next one. You learn more Japanese conversations.

You learn more words, phrases and grammar rules through the conversations.

They have enough lessons to take you from Absolute Beginner to Advanced.

  • What’s free? They release new audio/video lessons every week. All new lessons are free for 3 weeks. So, you can sit back and download lessons as they come out. But they do have paid plans.

Click here to visit JapanesePod101 and get a free account.

2. Duolingo is a quiz-based program/app.

So, while JapanesePod101 teaches you conversations, Duolingo focuses on word acquisition through quizzes. It’s another way to learn Japanese online free.

Workbooks & Printable Stuff

3. Japanese Alphabet (Kana) Workbook

The first thing you should learn with any language is the writing system. Japanese has 3: Hiragana, Katakana (both referred to as Kana), and Kanji. And through JapanesePod101 (a Japanese learning program), you can get their workbook for free.

japanese pdf lesson

Also, on top of the workbook, you can also get a free 7-day email course – sending you video lessons on how to write Hiragana.

4. Free Kanji Ebook

If you want to learn Kanji – which is a mission and a half – then you’ll want a good resource.  This is where “The Radical Approach to Mastering Kanji” comes in. It teaches you the building blocks of Kanji, called “radicals.” If you know them, you can easily learn all Kanji that come your way.

This book is actually on sale and NOT free…but you can get it for free if you’re learning with JapanesePod101’s program.

Reading Practice

5. NHK News Web Easy

I wrote about them in the past here. This website is a wonderful way to read news in easy Japanese. The catch though is… you need know enough Japanese to read… and get value out of it. It’s good for upper beginners and more so for intermediate learners and up.

So, if you don’t know any Japanese, maybe print just 1 article and focus on that without looking at others.

But, before you get to reading, make sure you learn Hiragana and Katakana. Use workbook I mentioned above.


6. Anki Spaced Repetition Flashcards.

Anki is an online flashcard program that uses “spaced repetition” learning. What’s that? It means that it quizzes you and requizzes you on words so you don’t forget them.

See, you can learn a word now. But you will forget it soon, which is natural.

What Anki (and all spaced repetition programs) does is, after you see a new word once, it will show it to you again days later. Then, you’ll see it AGAIN some more days later. But if you get the word wrong, you’ll get quizzed on it in that same session until you get it right.

With Anki, you can find tons of free vocabulary card decks. So, it’s a good way to learn Japanese words for free.

7. Word of the Day Email Lessons

Here’s another super simple way to learn Japanese online free.

Word of the day.

Every day, you get an email with a new word. You check it. You review the word. You get the meaning. You now know a new word. Simple. And this takes a minute or less.

If you want to get more value out of this free tool, then write the words down in a notebook and review them.

One word a day may not be much but smart learners use small routines like this to make themselves consistent.

Click here to get the Japanese Word of the Day.

Japanese Word of the Day App

8. Learn Japanese – Free Word Power App (iOS)This free app teaches you 100+ words, AND also includes a word of the day feature. This app is for Apple only.

9. Japanese Word of the Day (Android). If you need an app for the Android device, then get this one.


10. Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese. Tae Kim’s guide is a popular resource for grammar and also a good way to learn Japanese online for free. Essentially, it’s one giant blog site with grammar articles. He

Other “Less Serious” Resources

Apps, Workbooks and grammar lessons aside, there are less serious ways to learn Japanese online for free.

By less serious I mean that they’re fun. But fun resources may also not be the fastest ways to learn. Good for downtime and overall exposure. Not good for actual practicing, training and reviewing

11. YouTube

There are a boatload of Japanese learning YouTube channels out there.

Here are just a few you can check out.

12. Podcasts

Podcasts are another great way to learn Japanese online for free. Podcasts are kind of like the “radio” of the internet or digital age.

And there are a ton of learn Japanese podcasts out there. Just visit the link for my recommendations.

Also, download the Podcasts app and search around.

The benefit of podcasts is that you can listen in your downtime. Very easy to take in. But of course, unless you’re listening and writing things down, you won’t learn much just by listening alone.

The good news is that you can learn Japanese online free.

But as with all things in life… it all depends on you. You need to put in effort.

You can have a wonderful free resource and not use it. The result is, you won’t learn any Japanese.

The downside of free material, as I wrote here, is that you don’t value it as much. But, if you paid $40 or $100 for a resource, you’d treasure it just a little more… because you had to lose something (money) to gain it.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn Japanese online free.

You just need to put in effort. Cool?

So, pick at least one resource and use the hell out of it.

– The Main Lingua Junkie


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