Self-study is key if you really want to get ahead in your Japanese language studies. Fortunately, there are a lot of great websites available offering free online study materials that can help keep you motivated. Here’s a run-down of some of the best.
Weblio is a free integrated bilingual dictionary website which you can use to perform both Japanese-to-English and English-to-Japanese searches.
The Weblio dictionary includes not only Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary but 70 other dictionaries too. This site is not only handy for everyday searches, but it can also be invaluable when you want to look up particularly obscure words.
ALC is a computerized English-Japanese dictionary that can prove useful when you can’t find the exact word you want on Weblio.
The advantage o<>f ALC is that it provides you not only with translation options for the word you are looking for, but also multiple examples of that word’s usage in a great variety of contexts. This can be really useful if you are not completely sure whether the word you have found really matches what you want to say.
Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese is a somewhat legendary website among Japanese language students.
It is particularly strong on grammar, as it includes a comprehensive guide to basic and essential grammatical expressions which is both detailed and easy to comprehend. That’s not all though, Tae Kim also provides lessons in the different written scripts such as hiragana, katakana and kanji, lessons in pronunciation, and essential vocabulary and expressions. If you check out one website today to improve your Japanese, this one should be it.
NHK World has a complete set of free Japanese language learning resources provided by Japan’s national public broadcaster.
At this website you can access a full program of Japanese language lessons covering basic grammar and expressions, with audio and video lessons as well as textual materials. This site is particularly useful for beginners, but they do have an “Easy Japanese for Work” program which will take you up to Intermediate level. Another great aspect of this website is that the beginners’ lessons are presented not only in English but in several other languages, including Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
Kanji Alive is an excellent reference resource which you can use to learn how to read and write kanji.
You can look up 1235 kanji on this website by meaning, pronunciation, stroke number or just copy and paste an unfamiliar kanji into the search bar. Each kanji has an animation to show you how it is written along with useful information on the kanji’s radical, stroke count, readings, meanings, and contextual sentences. Mnemonics are also supplied to help you remember them.
Animelon is a website with a huge selection of Japanese anime videos, all of which can be watched with three sets of subtitles: the original Japanese in kana and romaji, and the English translation.
Full transcripts are also provided and they even have little language tests you can do after watching based on the vocabulary in the video. If studying while watching anime strikes you as a fun way to learn Japanese, this site is for you.
Learn Native Japanese is an Instagram account devoted to teaching natural Japanese language, slang words, and casual expressions.
Each day a short video is posted in which a native Japanese speaker introduces a new word or phrase with an English explanation of how it is used and some example sentences. If you want to improve your Japanese conversational ability and make your speech more natural, then this account is the one to follow.
Learn Japanese with Noriko is a podcast series from a professional Japanese language teacher. Noriko-sensei is an enthusiastic teacher who speaks very clearly and each episode is not too long, so if you work your way through her lessons on a daily basis you are sure to see a rapid improvement in your listening abilities. For those who prefer some visual stimulation Noriko-sensei also has some Youtube videos on her site.
Aozora Bunko is a wonderful reading resource for more advanced students.
Here you can find the full texts of classic Japanese novels and short stories that are in the Public Domain. Classic English language books that have been translated into Japanese are also available on this website, so you could also try improving your reading ability by getting reacquainted with some old favorites.