11 Best Online Japanese Classes [2023 Summaries & Reviews] (2023)

Finding the right resources to learn Japanese can be a challenge… and it’s a huge reason why many people give up at this early and crucial stage.

Perhaps the Japanese teacher running local group classes wasn’t as fluent as you thought they’d be, or you’re not feeling much progress from the app you’re using, or the YouTube videos you’re watching are making you fall asleep.

But fear not! There are a number of online Japanese classes and coursesavailable to practice the language and learn in ways that suit you.

Learning Japanese through online classes and courses can be more effective — and often much more affordable — than traditional routes. There’s no need to pack your bags to Japan to learn Japanese… you can do so from the comfort of your own home!

11 best online Japanese courses

Sifting through the breadth of options can be quite the drain on your time and energy. So we’ve put together a list of eleven different ways to learn Japanese online. We’ve arranged these courses by the type of online learning styles and focuses they excel at, so you can choose a Japanese course that suits you. Let’s dive in!

  • Preply: Best for live 1-on-1 classes with a tutor
  • Clozemaster: Best for gamification
  • Bunpo: Best for Japanese grammar
  • JapanesePod101: Best for audio content
  • Udemy: Best for beginners
  • Memrise: Best for technology
  • Japanese Online Institute: Best for group classes
  • NHK: Best for free resources
  • All Japanese All the Time: Best for self-study ideas
  • Kanshudo: Best for games and flashcards
  • Nihongo Master: Best for quick lessons

Preply

Best for live 1-on-1 classes with a tutor

Preply works by connecting Japanese language learners with expert teachers in 1-on-1, live online lessons. When you sign up, your teacher will create a custom learning plan suited to your Japanese level, schedule, and other needs.

You can even choose a teacher based on other languages they speak, so if you are a native English speaker and a beginner at Japanese you can find a tutor to support you.

Your tutor is like your language coach, fully focused on taking you (rather than a full class of other learners) all the way from the basics of Japanese to advanced levels. This is all done through 1-on-1 conversations, a proven way to boost recall of new Japanese words, combined with a suite of built-in learning tools like whiteboards and live chat. You can even practice these words later as flashcards with the Preply vocabulary feature.

When it comes to price, the tutor search feature allows you to choose what you pay. Prices on Preply start from $5 per hour. If you are not satisfied with your first lesson, Preply will refund you or replace your tutor for free.

  • Pros: Gives you private lessons with your own private language coach, which is an effective way to practice speaking, and means that every lesson can be tailored to suit your needs.
  • Cons: Live video sessions require a strong and steady internet connection.

11 Best Online Japanese Classes [2023 Summaries & Reviews] (1)

Clozemaster

Best for gamification

Clozemaster is all about language learning by turning cloze tests (fill-in-the-blank questions), into a game with thousands of sentences, passive and active recall training, as well as speaking and listening practice.

It’s free to sign up and play Clozemaster. There is also Clozemaster Pro with more advanced features such as favoriting sentences and customizing gameplay, offered at $8 per month or $60 per year.

  • Pros: If your goal is to grow your Japanese vocabulary quickly and have fun while doing it, Clozemaster is an addictive tool that you’ll want to use often.
  • Cons: Clozemaster’s sentences can be a bit tricky for complete beginners. It is built through AI and machine learning and can sometimes include errors that you, as a new Japanese language learner, may not even realize.

Bunpo

Best for Japanese grammar

Bunpo is a great tool for learning one of the trickiest parts of Japanese, grammar (otherwise known as bunpō in Japanese). In addition to teaching grammar, Bunpo also teaches Kana, an essential part of the Japanese writing system that is used for writing foreign words. You can also learn basic vocabulary here, but grammar is where it really shines.

Bunpo offers explanations, examples, and practice activities to help you learn Japanese grammar. The cost of Bunpo starts at $6.99 a month.

  • Pros: Bunpo is structured well, has lots of example sentences, and is a wonderful option for Japanese learners who know that the main area they need to work on is grammar.
  • Cons: The practice activities can be a bit monotonous, and this isn’t the best all-around resource for learning Japanese.

JapanesePod101

Best for audio content

As you may be able to guess from the name, JapanesePod101 focuses on teaching Japanese through podcast-style audio (and video) lessons with likable hosts and interesting dialogues.

JapanesePod101 have maintained a good level of consistency with their lesson quality, and the ‘Learning Paths’ feature is an enormous improvement to lesson navigation. Overall, a good option for anyone learning Japanese.

If you’re looking to jump into a random audio lesson and start learning, then there is a large variety to choose from and the lessons are high quality. However, they also have ‘Learning Paths’ which gives you a structured pathway to navigate through your Japanese learning experience. The price for all of this starts at $8 a month.

  • Pros: An engaging way to learn Japanese, with plenty of humor and storytelling. Lessons will build on one another so you can progress as you listen more. A great option for people who are already fans of learning Japanese with podcasts.
  • Cons: Because the lessons are dialogue-centric, you won’t get any practice reading or writing Japanese, so you’ll have to pair JapanesePod101 with another resource.

Udemy​​ Japanese Beginner Course

Best for beginner level learners

If you like learning anything online, chances are that you’re already familiar with Udemy, a popular online course platform. Udemy offers a wide range of Japanese language courses, but the best one, if you’re just getting started, is their Japanese course for beginners.

The online course for beginners takes you through the basics of Japanese pronunciation, as well as greetings, simple conversations, and basic expressions. The price is a one-time payment of $18, but Udemy’s prices constantly change over time, so it’s worth checking to see if you can get the best deal.

  • Pros: The instructors are experts, you pay per course, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Cons: This course is great to capture the very basics, but there isn’t much scope to practice further.

Memrise

Best for technology

Memrise is all about teaching Japanese online through language immersion, using a three-step approach that includes learning words and phrases, listening to audio and video clips from native speakers, and learning to speak. It includes over 4600 words and phrases and over 10,000 audio and video clips from native speakers.

Memrise is free to download and sign-up, with a pro version offered for $8.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or $119.99 for a lifetime subscription.

  • Pros: Memrise focuses on giving you the confidence to speak a new language, and its courses are designed by Japanese language experts who know what you need to learn for real-life situations.
  • Cons: Memrise purposely skips teaching you grammar in an effort to avoid intimidating you, which can be great for some but might not be a fit for those who do want to learn grammar.

Japanese Online Institute

Best for group classes

Japanese Online Institute offers small group lessons of two to seven students in each class. You’ll learn essential language skills including Japanese pronunciation, speaking, listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary, kanji, hiragana and katakana (Japanese writing).

There are 20 different classes, making it easy to find one that suits your level. You can get 3 trial group lessons for $9. From there, you can buy courses in packs ranging in price from $49.99 for 5 lessons to $599.99 for 90 lessons.

  • Pros: You can take as many lessons as you want a day, with any teacher, which is great for those who want to take a course but also learn at their own pace. There is also a private option available, although JOI recommends the group courses.
  • Cons: While small group lessons may be great for some, others might prefer to go down the 1-on-1 route, which JOI is not made for.

NHK

Best for free resources

NHK’s Easy Japanese website helps you learn useful everyday expressions through dialogues, with each audio lesson clocking in at ten minutes and each video lesson only 30 seconds. There are 96 lessons total, which is great for a free resource.

  • Pros: This can serve as an accessible, entertaining introduction to learning Japanese for beginners and is a great way to get in listening practice.
  • Cons: This resource isn’t exactly comprehensive, with only 96 lessons.

All Japanese All the Time

Best for self-study ideas

All Japanese All the Time is a resource and Japanese learning website based on the experiences of the site’s creator, known as Khatzumoto, who taught himself Japanese in 18 months before moving to Japan.

The site includes a huge library of free articles on techniques, motivation, challenges, and strategy, as well as various Japanese study products and a pro version of the site available at a cost. AJATT Plus costs $9.95 per month, $49.95 every six months, or $89.95 per year.

  • Pros: Many people love AJATT’s writing style and swear by the unique tips and methodology presented on the site.
  • Cons: The AJATT website can be pretty confusing and requires a bit of a deep dive to understand. It’s not as user-friendly as some of the other options on this list.

Kanshudo

Best for games and flashcards

Kanshudo is all about helping you study kanji starting with a 20-lesson beginner course that introduces you to five kanji per lesson, as well as some example words and sentences. You can practice tracing kanji and play games based on Japanese culture and geography to check your memory.

In the intermediate course, which is paid, you begin to practice using kanji in sentences. The website also includes reading material organized by level. Kanshudo is free, with premium plans starting at $6 a month.

  • Pros: If you like drills and games, Kanshudo is a great way to help you remember kanji.
  • Cons: Kanshudo doesn’t dive too deeply into grammar or vocabulary, which means it’s best used as a supplementary resource.

Nihongo Master

Best for quick lessons

Nihongo Master offers a large, comprehensive database of quick Japanese lessons presented in an engaging, humorous way. It’s based on the idea of making quick progress by keeping consistent with a core language habit of studying for 15 minutes every day.

The platform is filled with smart tools to track your progress, practice kanji and hiragana, and even compete against others. The price varies from $19.99 monthly, $99.99 per 6 months or $159.99 yearly

  • Pros: Nihongo Master offers a vast library of Japanese lessons, an extensive vocabulary and kanji dictionary, and a helpful community for questions.
  • Cons: The price of Nihongo Master is quite high, and it focuses more on bite-sized study material rather than deep study material.

Choosing a Japanese language course to suit you

There you have it: eleven online Japanese classes to choose from. Ultimately, the best course for you will be the one that most fits your own unique preferences, learning style, and goals, so don’t hesitate to try out several different options.

We hope that this list gives you plenty of options to get started or continue with your Japanese language journey and discover what works best for you.

Frequently asked questions

Is Japanese an easy language to learn for English speakers?

Japanese is not the easiest language to learn for native English speakers as there are big differences between the languages. In general, for English speakers, it would be easier to learn a European language like German or Spanish because there are many shared words and a shared alphabet.For Japanese speakers, it would be easier to learn a language like Chinese because of the shared writing system and other similarities like the Japanese number system. However, no matter what your native tongue is, you can learn a new language with dedication and effort.

Can you self study for JLPT or do you need classes?

It’s possible to study for the JLPT on your own but we would recommend taking classes with a qualified tutor. That way, they can prepare you in whatever areas you are weakest which is something you may not be able to identify on your own. Additionally, if you invest in lessons on a learning platform, it could save you money in the long run because it costs $100 every level you take.

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