Resources for learning Japanese

All resources listed below are free to access unless otherwise noted.

Learning a language already involves a considerable investment of time, but it can be costly in terms of money too, especially if you take face-to-face lessons or travel to the country where your target language is spoken. There are some resources which are worth paying for, but I believe that you can learn a lot from the free materials available – this can give you a good grounding in the language and make sure you are fully committed before spending money unnecessarily.

Good luck with your Japanese language learning!

Easy Japanese

easyjapaneseThis is a free downloadable textbook complete with mp3s for each lesson. While I haven’t tried this one myself I have heard good reviews for others and it seems like a solid introduction to Japanese. They have vocabulary quizzes for each chapter too!

erin japanese

Erin – short video lessons for learning basic Japanese, made available by free by the Japan Foundation

Colloquial Japanese


Download all the audio from the Colloquial Japanese series for free here

You can buy the companion book quite cheaply secondhand, borrow it from a library, or just use the audio at first to see whether or not you would like to invest in the textbook.

Japanesepod 101


I used their podcasts for learning Japanese and found them very useful although I didn’t use the rest of the website so much. If you sign up through itunes you can get their free podcasts every week so you can test them out before deciding if you would like to pay for a subscription or not. You can also see some resources on their Youtube channel

FSI (Foreign Service) audio and pdf for learning Japanese – two free courses.

Learn Japanese Pod

Free to join with a variety of podcasts and video lessons, as well as free downloadable resources once you have joined.

Variety of Japanese radio stations

Simplified NHK news – News in Japanese, made available with furigana (hiragana pronunciation of kanji written above them). This is really useful for learners of Japanese as it means you can read the news and learn new vocabulary without spending a long time looking up unfamiliar kanji (Chinese characters).

Free audiobooks in Japanese from LibriVox – there are some short stories and poems as well as full-length novels.

Japanese audiobooks complete with a transcription and translation – perfect for study and all free!

Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese Grammar (can also download a free pdf here)

Kanji arranged into vocabulary lists by grade level, JLPT level, etc

JLPT study materials (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)

Japanese through anime video blog

Fantajikan youtube channel – some popular Japanese stories with Japanese subtitles

Popo kids youtube channel – they have a fantastic selection of stories from around the world, traditional Japanese stories and popular picture books being read aloud. I highly recommend it! Very clear, with cute animation and music.

Interviews in Japanese – from SBS radio and for more advanced learners of Japanese

Basic Japanese cheat sheet – a useful reference for Japanese learners – keep it as your one-page guide!

Cool Japanese cheat sheet – a follow-up to the sheet above with colour vocabulary and some ‘cool’, perhaps more obscure Japanese

Manu Bishop – a student translating graded readers with vocabulary lists. While it is an amateur translation, the website gives you a preview of some of the graded readers and an insight into some useful vocabulary so could be useful if your own Japanese level is high enough to create your own translations and compare them with those provided.

University of Virginia Library Online Japanese Text Initiative

A wide collection of texts complete with furigana, variety of English translations, etc. Extremely useful for more advance Japanese learners who wishes to hone their own translation skills by comparing various translations over the years.






Other resource lists:

Tofugu – this list is comprehensive and very well-organised – a great starting point!

Benny Lewis’ (Fluent in 3 months) recommendations for learning Japanese