13 Free Online Japanese Courses

Gokigenyo! Interested in learning Japanese? Join the free online Japanese courses curated in this post and begin your journey to speaking and writing in Japanese with professional fluency.

I’m a huge anime fan and manga reader. Being into anime made me, and many people too, fall in love with the Japanese language and culture. There is this sense of adventure, excitement, and liveliness that comes with listening to Japanese. Of course, I knew the Japanese language existed before I began watching anime but I didn’t care about it since I barely or never watched Japanese-speaking content before.

The first anime I saw, Naruto, made me fall in love with the Japanese language. The drive and action of the show coupled with the language can make anyone want to start learning Japanese immediately. At that moment I understood why Japanese voice actors and actresses for anime are paid so much. And if it ever occurred to you to pursue a career in animation, you should get to know about the top animation schools in Japan and begin from there.

It is different for everyone, while anime shows sparked an interest in me to start learning the Japanese language, it could be the Japanese songs for you or maybe you want to travel to Japan for education, business, or tourism purposes and need to learn the language. If it is for education purposes, while learning the language you also need to check out universities in Japan that accepts international students.

Access to learning has become very easy nowadays, from the comfort of your home you can learn and gain a host of skills online and get equipped with valuable skills that you can use in the workforce. Learning a new language is not any different either, you can learn the German language online and get a certificate, you can also take Spanish language courses online, and even Italian language courses are available online to learn. All of these, from the comfort of your home, either curled up on your bed or relaxing on your sofa.

The free online Japanese courses compiled are also not different. Taking the courses will teach you, from the basics to pros, how to speak Japanese without breaking the bank. You can then go on to apply or use the language wherever you want to maybe for education, business, or traveling purposes. This way, when you get to the country or among other Japanese you won’t feel left out nor get paranoid at every little thing because you understand what they say and can also respond accordingly.

Aside from learning Japanese for business, school, or tourism purposes you can also learn a bit of Japanese – as an English speaker – and start teaching English online to Japanese students while earning an income.

Where Can I Learn Japanese Courses Online

There are various platforms or websites where you can learn Japanese online. Some of these platforms offer paid services while others offer free services. Where you can learn Japanese courses online are:

  1. Duolingo
  2. Udemy
  3. edX
  4. Alison
  5. Akira
  6. Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute
  7. Coto Japanese Academy
  8. Nihongo Master
  9. Loecsen
  10. Japatalk
  11. FluentU
  12. YouTube
  13. JapanesePod101
  14. Rosetta Stone
  15. Japanese Ammo
  16. Yuko Sensei
  17. CosCom Japanese
  18. Japanese From Zero
  19. Marugoto
  20. Nihongo-Pro.com
  21. The Japanese Page
  22. Kanshudo
  23. NihongoShark
  24. NHK World’s Online Japanese Lessons

These are tested and trusted resources where you can learn Japanese online, there are so many to choose from, check each of them one by one and select the platform that suits your demand.

How to Join Free Japanese Courses Online?

Joining a free Japanese course online isn’t hard as you may think. You simply need to do a bit of research and in less than 5 minutes you should be able to find free online Japanese courses. While many platforms offer Japanese courses online, not all of them are free most of them are paid but this doesn’t rule out the existence of platforms that teach the language for free.

Tested and tried platforms that offer free online Japanese courses are edX, Alison, YouTube, and Duolingo. And joining these platforms to learn the Japanese language is very easy, you simply need a PC, smartphone, iPad, or tablet and a stable Wi-Fi connection and you’re in, you can start learning almost instantly.

Free Online Japanese Courses

This is where all the available free online Japanese courses everywhere on the internet can be found. I have researched each of these courses and the platforms offering them and then extensively discussed them here for you to easily find what you need. The free online Japanese courses are provided by top Japanese universities and offered on edX and Alison – the two largest providers of free online courses.

Without any further ado, the free online Japanese courses are:

1.     Steps in Japanese for Beginners 1: Part 1

If the only thing you know about the Japanese language is its existence and the race that speaks it, come and gather here. Since you’ve shown an interest in learning the Japanese language and have no prior knowledge, you should begin from the most basic and that is where this course starts from. This is where you should begin your journey in learning this unique language.

Whether you are traveling to or already in Japan for study purposes or work-related kinds of stuff and want to quickly learn the basics like saying greetings, introducing yourself, asking about food, and ordering then this is the course for you. You shouldn’t miss it. The course is offered on edX by Waseda University and takes approximately 5 weeks to complete but you can always progress on your own time.

It is one of the free online Japanese courses designed for beginners.

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2.     Steps in Japanese for Beginners 1: Part 2

This is one of the free online Japanese courses also offered on edX by Waseda University.

Now, after you are done with the course above you have to continue your learning and progress to the next phase which will land you in part two of Japanese for beginners. While the first part teaches you greetings, making food orders, and introduce yourself, this part teaches you how to get important information and also be able to convey information to others.

You learn how to ask for directions anywhere, check course information if you are a student, describe plans and habits, and describe the required travel time and route to a destination. Taking and completing this course shows your improvement and progress in learning the Japanese language.

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3.     Steps in Japanese for Beginners 1: Part 3

This is the third part of the journey for beginners learning Japanese. Like the first two, it is also one of the free online Japanese courses offered on edX by Waseda University. After completing part two, the next thing is to progress to the next learning phase in learning the Japanese language which should land you here.

In this part, beginners will explore important words and phrases for building relationships with other people. This will help students and those in a work setting maybe in Japan or among Japanese clients. You will learn how to invite someone, request permission, explain relationships, and describe your experience. Remember that the class is self-paced, you can start and complete it on your own time.

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4.     Steps in Japanese for Beginners 2: Part 1

If you are still a beginner at learning the Japanese language, like you’ve completed the first three courses above or already know some basic terms then you should begin this course. It is still for beginners but for those who have improved to a certain extent. You will learn casual expressions which are used among people who know each other well and the small talk which helps build personal relationships.

At the end of this course, making small talk, expressing your wishes, and describing people will no longer be a problem. At this stage, holding conversations with native Japanese will become easier for you.

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5.     Steps in Japanese for Beginners 2: Part 2

On the free online Japanese courses, this is part two for beginners who want to keep improving on their Japanese language fluency. The course will teach you how to ask the details concerning a situation and make requests to people. You will also learn how to understand instructions, make requests politely, and explain your physical condition in a case where you fall ill.

The course is offered on edX by Waseda University and is self-paced. But with a learning commitment of 3-5 hours per week, you can complete the course in 5 weeks.

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6.     Steps in Japanese for Beginners 2: Part 3

Getting into trouble in a foreign country cannot be entirely excused. You might get lost, miss your bus or the train, or find yourself in any troubling situation at all. Explaining in a language that the locals understand is how you can get yourself out of the mess and that is where this course comes in.

This Japanese course will teach you how to explain your overall condition, create conversational opportunities, and how express your opinion.

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7.     Japanese Pronunciation for Communication

This is one of the free online Japanese courses on edX designed to teach Japanese language learners how to improve their pronunciation and gain confidence when speaking Japanese. You will learn appropriate pronunciation, accent, and intonation to improve your communicative Japanese, different techniques to practice and improve Japanese pronunciation, and Japanese culture and society through pronunciation practice.

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8.     Invitation to The Tale of Genji: The Foundational Elements of Japanese Culture

This is one of the free online Japanese courses offered on edX. In this course, Japanese learners will explore one of the oldest and first novels in the world and build the perspective to understand Japanese classical literature and the foundation of Japanese culture.

This novel will surely improve your Japanese-speaking and writing skills and take your understanding to a new level.

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9.     Diploma in the Japanese Language

This is one of the free online Japanese courses provided by NPTEL and offered on Alison. Those at beginner and intermediate levels who are still learning Japanese and want to improve on their fluency may want to consider taking this course. Enrolling in this course will set you on the path to fluency and in no time, you will begin to hold conversations even with Japanese natives.

You can take this course before traveling to Japan for business or educational purposes and make living there easier and bearable for you. The course is self-paced and takes approximately 15 hours to complete.

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10.  Japanese Language: Introduction to Japanese Scripts

In your quest of learning the Japanese language and you thought of writing Japanese scripts for Japanese shows, ads, skits, etc. this is an opportunity for you. This course will keep improving your Japanese while teaching you how to create engaging and exciting Japanese scripts for clients from various industries.

This course promises to be an exciting adventure for students who enroll.

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11.  Japanese Language: Time and Parts of Speech

This is also one of the free online Japanese courses that will help improve your vocabulary. You will learn how to talk about time in Japanese and hold conversations related to time, about manipulation of the months of the year, days, hours, and minutes. You will also study the object of a sentence, and learn about Japanese demonstratives, verbs, particles, and many more.

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12.  Japanese Language: Introduction to Japanese Conversation

Japanese is an interesting, unique language, and conversing with others using Japanese will make you fulfilled and show all your hard work. If you have passed the beginner stage, then you should dive into this course and, in no time, learn how to confidently speak Japanese with other students, professors, and business clients.

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13.  Japanese Language: Introduction to Japanese Phrases

This is the last course on our free online Japanese courses. The course introduces learners to several key phrases that will be useful if you simply want to move around Japan. Through this course, you will get a grasp of both Japanese grammar and vocabulary getting you started on the path to speaking Japanese with simple, fast, and effective lessons, tips, and examples.

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This wraps up the free online Japanese courses and I hope they have been helpful. Consistency is what it takes to learn and start speaking Japanese in no time.

Free Online Japanese Courses – FAQs

Can I learn Japanese online for free?

Yes, you can learn Japanese online for free

What is the best website to learn Japanese for free?

The best website to learn Japanese for free is Duolingo

Can I learn Japanese in 6 months?

You cannot completely learn Japanese in 6 months. What you can learn in this time frame is a basic communication level but fluency and proficiency take a longer time.

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Thaddaeus is a lead content creator at SAN with over 5 years of experience in the field of professional content creation. He has written several helpful articles for Blockchain projects in the past and even recently but since 2020, he has been more active in creating guides for students who want to study abroad.

When he's not writing, he's either watching anime, making a delicious meal, or definitely swimming.

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