Learning Japanese Online
CONTRIBUTED BY COURTNEY FRY
What’s that? You want to learn some Japanese but don’t have an iPhone, or want something more in-depth than the apps? Here are a few ways you can learn with your computer, for free!
Transparent Language (pictured above)
If you go to the Kadena Library, you can get a free subscription to this language-learning website. And you should! It is divided into useful categories (“At the Restaurant” or “Bathroom”), you can learn hirigana and katakana, and it allows you to practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening. One of the best features, in my opinion, is the option to speak into your computer’s microphone and both see and hear how your pronunciation compares to that of native speakers. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the lessons can be a little slow to load, but I think the fault lies more with our slow internet connections here and less with the website itself. I definitely recommen this site.
This is a free website that you can sign up for on your own. Unlike a lot of the other sites out there, it isn’t full of obnoxious ads and you can learn quite a lot without having to pay for the premium upgrade. It is an interactive community, meaning that you can interact directly with native speakers if you choose. This also means that it will sometimes ask you to interact with someone who is learning English, but it is not a requirement that you do so (this might be as simple as grading a short paragraph and leaving a comment). If you don’t like the idea of interacting with others, though, rest assured that you can go through the lessons by yourself.
You can also search YouTube if you are looking for something specific, but don’t plan to regularly invest time in learning Japanese. For instance, you could search “ordering food in Japanese” or “buying clothes in Japan.” There is a series called “Waku Waku Japanese” on YouTube that is comprised of many small lessons based on such themes.
Another idea is to download free Podcasts from iTunes. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this for a beginner, because you are only able to listen – there is no interaction and no context such as pictures or video to help you comprehend what you are hearing. However, if you are going on a long car ride and want to make use of the driving time, or if you already know a little Japanese and want to hone your listening skills, there are a variety of free Japanese language podcasts available.
What other websites do you all use and recommend? Please share in the comments!