22 Japanese online classes for beginners and intermediate learners
Learning a new language can be the challenge of a lifetime, especially investing time in a complex language such as Japanese. However, it is also an inherently rewarding experience that can open up exciting possibilities in your personal and professional life.
In this article, we will give you a tour of the best Japanese courses online for beginners and intermediate learners of the Japanese language.
Japanese Courses Online – Overview
Whether, you are interested in working in Japanese society, studying at a Japanese university, or just traveling abroad to experience the wonders of Japan, knowing how to speak, understand, and read Japanese could be an excellent investment of your time.
The demand for individuals who know both Japanese and other languages continues to grow. Multi-lingual employees are sought after by international corporations with offices throughout the country. Learning Japanese can also have notable positive effects on your cognitive skills, your memory recall, and the way that your brain functions as a whole.
Studying Japanese has its challenges though. For example, there are various writing systems, compound words, and different readings for words, or the many different levels of politeness and formality. These can be tough to master and also seem a bit daunting. The key is to find a learning method that fits how you study and not give up.
Below is a list of some of the best Japanese courses online and web resources that you can use to start learning or improving Japanese. We will cover the core skills being taught, as well as learning goals and techniques to help you choose the best online class.
Best Japanese Courses Online 2023 – Top Picks
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*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure at the end of this post.
Note: This review provides an overview of the best Japanese courses online. We cannot claim comprehensiveness as there are many other Japanese online classes available.
1. Rocket Languages – Japanese Courses
Rocket Japanese (visit website) is an effective and comprehensive language learning program to study Japanese online. It offers a wide range of tools and audio lessons that focus on listening comprehension, writing, and speaking Japanese.
While it is not structured in a typical “course-based” format, it has a variety of lessons and activities, including audio and video lessons, practice exercises, and mini quizzes. The lessons are designed for learners of all levels with the program split into sections to allow a more customized and self-paced learning style.
The pricing varies and is specific to the learners’ goals. Level 1 is literally a Japanese course for beginners. Combining Levels 1 & 2 is for more ambitious learners and allows you to reach a good conversational ability. The complete Level 1-3 helps you become an advanced speaker of Japanese and is aimed at sophisticated students.
Rocket Japanese offers great features to enhance your language learning experience. These include recording yourself and comparing your Japanese pronunciation with that of a native speaker. You can listen to how native speakers say Japanese words and phrases, practicing writing by tracing over the shadow of kanji characters and hiragana words. It is one of the best Japanese online classes for beginners and intermediate learners alike.
User Reviews: 4.8 ★★★★★ | Info: Visit website. Free trial + discounts.
Pricing: Level 1 from $99 | Level 1/2 from $249.90 | Level 1/2/3 from $259.90
2. Udemy Japanese Courses Online
Udemy (visit website) offers some of the best Japanese courses online for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners. More than 700,000 students have enrolled in their Japanese classes. These include beginner classes, kanji courses, speaking courses, and tiered Japanese courses that follow material covered on the Japanese proficiency exam.
Udemy Japanese courses all come with a specific set of goals that they aim to achieve. For example, the beginner Japanese courses advertise that by the end of the 12-lesson course you will be able to master hiragana and katakana pronunciation and writing and understand a majority of the Japanese voiced sounds.
All of the Japanese online classes give you the ability to learn at your own pace, with unlimited access, and provide a variety of teaching materials ranging from videos, textbooks, worksheets, and articles. To get started we recommend the Complete Japanese Course for Beginners (view) and the N5 Japanese Online Class (view).
Japanese courses: 800+ | Rating: 4.5-4.8 ★★★★☆
Info: Browse category for all Japanese Courses on Udemy. Up to 95% off.
3. Rosetta Stone – Learn Japanese
Rosetta Stone’s “Learn Japanese” (visit website) is a series of Japanese online classes that offers an interactive, comprehensive way to learn the language. It provides a variety of activities and online lessons tailored to your learning preferences, with audio and visual components to help you retain the language. Learning materials and tools are included.
Rosetta Stone offers an app for IOS and Android, which makes it possible to study anywhere you go. One app feature is speech recognition technology that can help you adjust and self-correct pronunciation mistakes.
Like Udemy, these online Japanese courses provide progress tracking. This allows you to view your progress and determine any strengths and also areas you may need to improve on. Students can go with a monthly subscription plan or a lifetime payment of $299. The latter can be a great deal if you wanted to study another of the 60 languages included.
Languages: 60+ | Review: ★★★★★
Pricing: from $7.99/month. Visit website.
Deals: $179 Lifetime. Access all languages. View deal.
4. Japanese Online Institute – Learn Japanese
The Japanese Online Institute offers a great range of Japanese online classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners. Your teachers are licensed Japanese teachers, and you participate in live online lessons for a maximum learning experience.
There are two options. 50-minute lessons with a small group of other students And one on one Japanese tutoring with a curriculum and study plan that is made specifically with your Japanese learning goals in mind. The Japanese lessons are completely flexible, and they can accommodate the needs of someone with a full-time job, or weekend-only availability.
You can choose your teachers, and you can participate in an unlimited number of lessons per day. In terms of pricing, they offer flex lessons from 5 lessons for $49.99, to 90 lessons for $599.99. Private Japanese lessons are available in packages as well.
The institute also provides a detailed explanation of the learning goals for each course, so learners know exactly what to expect. If you are looking for personalized or private lessons the Japanese Insitute certainly offers some of the best Japanese courses online.
Rating: 4.8 ★★★★☆ | Price: from $44.99/5 lessons | Trial: 2 free lessons
Reading tip: Here is a guide on how to learn a language fast. Browse our lists of language courses online or language learning apps to learn multiple languages.
5. Pimsleur Japanese Courses Online
Pimsleur online Japanese courses (visit website) help learners quickly and effectively learn Japanese, with an emphasis on speaking and understanding. The Japanese classes follow the Pimsleur method, which is based on research from Dr. Paul Pimsleur.
The aim of this learning method is to give you a general sense of the language and make you functionally conversational within a relatively short period of time. It is marketed as a more practical and scientific approach to help learners gain confidence in their ability to communicate in a language.
There are 5 different levels, each containing 30 lessons. Within each class, there are 30-minute audio exercises, review practice, and spaced repetition review software to help learners memorize phrases and words. The Japanese course 1-5 premium package is $575.00. individual sets of Japanese classes are also available, and so is a subscription.
Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★ | Price: $14.95/month. Discounts available.
Info: Visit website to start learning. | Try free: Get 7-days free here.
6. Marugoto Japanese Online Course
The Japan Foundation offers a printed coursebook called Marugoto: Japanese Language and Culture which is built upon the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education. Marugoto Japanese is the online version of this coursebook.
The JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education was devised as a way to think about teaching, practicing, and measuring the knowledge of the Japanese language. It was based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment), which is a foundation of language education in Europe.
By utilizing the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education, you are able to determine your skill level in Japanese depending on the things you can do, and different scopes relative to those activities. The Marugoto Japanese Online Course is geared predominantly toward adult learners living abroad who want to learn Japanese.
There are a number of Japanese online classes to enroll in. The Self-Study Course is a program where participants use interactive learning materials independently. The Tutor Support Course includes the same interactive content, as well as additional features such as feedback on assignments and live classes for each topic. All of the courses are free.
Rating: 4.8 ★★★★☆ | Price: Free Japanese courses online | Trial: Yes
Tip: Not the right language? Check out our lists of best Italian courses or Spanish courses or French courses or English courses or German classes or Portuguese classes or Chinese classes or Arab courses or Russian Courses online.
7. Japanese Uncovered – StoryLearning
StoryLearning (visit website) puts storytelling at the heart of learning any language, including Japanese. The principle behind this Story Method is that storytelling is the most organic approach to learning a language, mimicking the same process that Japanese children subconsciously undergo at the beginning of their life.
As such, by using immersion as a learning technique, the aim of Japanese Uncovered is to get you to speak confidently and fluently in Japanese through a four-step process. As you advance through each chapter of a beginner-friendly story, Olly Richard – the founder of the Story Method – guides you line-by-line through the Japanese vocabulary, phraseology and grammar of the narrative, bringing it to life.
Each chapter is also translated and illustrated to aid your learning. You will then access activity sheets and other creative material to consolidate your learning, complemented by pronunciation training and speaking practice to help bridge the gap from the virtual classroom to real life.
From beginner to upper-intermediate levels, Japanese Uncovered claims to teach you Japanese six times faster than an average online Japanese course, using the innovative Story Method. It is one of the best Japanese online classes for beginners.
Provider: StoryLearning | Level: A1-B1 CEFR. Vocab, Grammar, Pronunciation.
Price: $297 Lifetime | Trial: Yes. 7-days full access. | Rating: 4.9 ★★★★★
Info: View course page. Browse all Japanese online classes from StoryLearning.
8. Memrise Japanese Online Course
Memrise (visit website) offers Japanese online classes and lessons that focus on speaking first, to help make learners feel more comfortable with communication basics. They emphasize learning to speak through language through listening to native speakers, with audio and video clips to aid in your daily study.
Memrise also provides real-life examples and short practice lessons focused on getting the learner to start ingraining and using Japanese from day one. They do not focus on Japanese grammar lessons, nor do they offer homework, or have complex kanji lessons.
The Japanese online classes are for people who immediately want to use everyday Japanese as a utility for traveling or doing simple tasks. If you look for a quick start these classes are probably among the best Japanese courses online for beginners. With a membership, you also get access to all language programs on Memrise.
Review: ★★★★☆ | Availability: Web, iOS, Android.
Price: Free account. $8.49/month. $29.99/year. Lifetime $119.99.
Info: Browse catalog and all languages. View Premium plans.
9. Steps in Japanese for Beginners – Waseda University, edX
Waseda Universities Steps in Japanese for Beginners on edX (visit website) is a 15-week Japanese class broken into 3 levels, and each level is 3-5 hours long.
The online Japanese courses claim that you will gain familiarity with the language including the characters, pronunciation, etc. You will also be able to carry out basic conversations such as making greetings, discussing favorite foods, and ordering in restaurants.
Along the way, students gain an understanding of basic words and grammar required for conversing and deepen their knowledge about Japanese culture with everyday phrases.
The Japanese course takes about 4 months, although it is at your own pace. Your teacher is an associate professor from Waseda University, which is a long-standing top 10 ranked Japanese university. It offers classes backed by university credits and certification options.
Provider: Waseda University, edX | Type: XSeries Program
Duration: 4 months. 3-5 hours/week | Pricing: approx. $225
Info: View course page. Browse: Search all language programs on edX.
10. Preply Online Japanese Tutors
Preply offers a choice of almost 1,000 different private Japanese tutors online. The Japanese teachers are predominantly native speakers, each offers a different level or all levels of lessons. Those tutors have competitive prices that vary and you can easily book your Japanese online classes according to the tutor’s schedule.
Preply also offers flexible messaging, and you are able to see reviews for each teacher publically posted as well. Learning objectives are typically discussed between you and your private tutor beforehand. Your tutor will then suggest the most effective path for you to reach your Japanese language learning goal.
All the tutors are manually approved by Preply to ensure quality educators. Your payment choices for all lessons are available through PayPal, Apple Pay, or your credit/bank card. Preply offers some of the best Japanese courses online to learn Japanese individually.
Tutors: Various tutors to learn Japanese 1 on 1. Native speakers. Multiple languages.
Review: ★★★★☆ | Pricing: Low: $10. Medium: $15/hour. High: S40/hour.
11. Japanese Online Classes – Coto Japanese Academy
Japanese courses through Coto Japanese Academy are available as in-person classes in the heart of Tokyo, Yokohama, but also online. The academy offers their online Japanese courses geared towards the JLPT test in the form of video lessons, live private lessons, live group lessons, and live kids lessons. Self-study Japanese online classes are available too.
This school bases its lessons on a specific teaching philosophy and strategy. This strategy includes 5 rules that state: lessons should be fun and engaging, give students time to speak and practice, always find ways that you can improve your teaching, focus on communication in the classroom, and teach lessons you would want to take.
Coto Academy offers monthly subscription packages for your lessons that range from about $100 dollars per month up to $650 a month. The prices are based on the frequency of Japanese lessons per month. They also offer informal Japanese conversation classes which are practice sessions with a native speaker.
Rating: 4.8 ★★★★☆ | Price: from $100/month | Trial: Yes
Bunpro provides a similar method of study to WaniKani. The difference is that it offers a spaced-tiered repetition learning platform for learning grammar rather than kanji. It sports thousands of vocabulary and grammar points which are all based on the JLPT test.
What is interesting is that through API technology, you can link your WaniKani account to Bunpro. When linked, it will sync the vocabulary and kanji you have already memorized on both platforms, allowing you to not have to study the same words and kanji twice.
Bunpro also has a high degree of customization; you can choose the font, text size, preferred repetition pattern, and whether or not you see English example sentences with your grammar points. One of the best Japanese courses online with great resources.
Rating: 4.8 ★★★★☆ | Price: $30/month | $24.99/month annually | Trial: Yes
Additional Japanese Online Classes & Courses
13. Maggie Sensei
Maggie Sensei, who is represented as a picture of a dog, is a Japanese learning website that provides everything you need for self-study. It has tiered grammar points (JLPT level 1-5), each with a comical picture and colloquial Japanese example sentences.
It has sections for formal Japanese, slang, commonly used expressions, Japanese you would need in an emergency, and kanji and katakana practice lessons. The Japanese online lessons feel organic, honest, and made with intention.
It is evident that the creator of the website has spent many hours compiling useful links, and has thought deeply about what he/she needs to include to create the best Japanese class for a potential Japanese learner.
14. Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese
Tai Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese is a website for learners who are looking to obtain a better understanding of Japanese while pursuing a formal class. Tai Kim created the Guide to Japanese Grammar to enhance learners’ studies and provide them with a comprehensive grasp of the grammatical framework of the language.
It details the elements of Japanese grammar in a step-by-step manner, starting with the most basic concepts and slowly progressing to more complex grammar. It carefully clarifies the origins of most grammar points and provides example sentences with context.
The Japanese grammar guide is also available as a downloadable app for both Android and iOS devices. It is an easy-to-use website that provides ample supplementary material for someone eager to study Japanese online.
Fluentu allows you to access foreign content and media to use as study resources. They have flashcards with videos, that are taken from the real-world. Other features are that they have interactive subtitles for all content on their website and app. They suggest that it is much easier to remember words when they are reinforced by experiences. Their system focuses on stopping learners from losing motivation while studying their chosen language.
WaniKani is a kanji, hiragana, and katakana memorization system. It has 60 stages and can take years to complete, but it provides a unique way to learn how to read. The website is focused on learning the necessary kanji that you will need to become a fluent reader. It starts with the most basic kanji and gradually becomes more complex as you progress. WaniKani costs $9 per month, and iis available for PC or as a smartphone app.
Tofugu is a comprehensive Japanese self-study and learning website. It has resources and blogs concerning grammar, adjective usage, interesting expressions, cultural phenomena, podcasts, and links to an abundance of resources. The website itself is a wealth of information that can provide nuanced information on the more difficult and interesting aspects of the Japanese language and culture.
18. Nihongo Master
Nihongo Master provides a membership program that is monthly, biannually, or yearly from $9.99 to $79.99. It has PDF kanji study sheets for download, a community forum for language learners to chat with, audio study materials, and hundreds of downloadable lessons from beginner to advanced. They also have a Japanese podcast series that you can follow to passively study Japanese on the go.
19. Lingodeer Japanese
Lingodeer is similar to other Japanese online classes in that it has audio material, and downloadable lessons. They have many users worldwide (almost 20 million), and the app seems to be popular for learning all different languages. They offer beginner and intermediate lessons for Japanese starting from $14.99 per month.
Coscom offers beginner and intermediate materials for studying Japanese online. They have daily simplified news articles that provide in Japanese hiragana and katakana lessons, and basic phrase and vocabulary audio study resources. They also teach you how to type in Japanese, so that you can learn to write emails and messages correctly.
21. Kanshudo Japanese Online Tutor
Kanshudo Online Tutor provides a unique learning experience that is tracked by AI. Your progress in a particular area of Japanese is represented by an AI pie graph chart. They offer kanji, hiragana, and katakana study courses at all levels, and you can start from whatever level that you believe you have reached before starting the program.
Kanshudo has formal Japanese courses, self-study options, and reading practice. Kanshudo also offers a language tour of Japan, where they begin on a map of Japan and you have lessons based on vocabulary distinct to this different area. As you learn Japanese, you also are able to learn about Japanese culture.
22. Japanese Ammo with Misa
Japanese Ammo with Misa is a popular YouTube channel. There, Misa publishes compact online Japanese courses that teach grammar and vocabulary content to her students. Some of her Japanese video classes are situational, while others dive deeper into one or two specific grammar points and how they are used by a Japanese native speaker.
Misa allows viewers to ask questions via YouTube and will make a video about the points that her audience wants to study. Her website has merchandise, useful blogs about living in Japan, and her vlog, which you can follow each week (view channel).
How To Choose the Best Japanese Courses Online
Learning Japanese can be an incredibly rewarding experience. If you’re just starting out, it can be overwhelming to choose some of the best Japanese courses online for yourself. To make the right choice, it’s important to consider your goals and motivations.
Why are you learning Japanese? Are you looking to become fluent in the language? Or, do you simply want to learn the basics to help you when you travel?
Knowing your reasons will help you narrow down your options and choose the best Japanese course online and one that best fits your needs. Additionally, you should make sure the class is in line with your target level. If you’re a beginner, certainly look for online Japanese courses coming with easier tasks and a tiered learning plan.
Most importantly, make sure your Japanese online class is both engaging and fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself while learning, it will be all that much harder to stay motivated. With the right course and online resources, you will be on your way to learning Japanese.
Best Japanese Online Classes 2023 – Review Verdict
Wrapping up our tour of the best Japanese courses online in 2023. In closing, I can suggest the resources that I chose to use on my path to becoming fluent in Japanese. If you are starting from zero, I can say from experience it is worth taking a combination of online classes, tools, and resources to balance out your study of the Japanese language.
Reading is just as important as speaking, and grammar holds the same precedence as listening. I would recommend beginning with WaniKani to learn some basic kanji and parts of the alphabet system and try some video lessons or Udemy Japanese online classes.
If you know your goals, try the Rocket Japanese course 1-3 and combine your learning experience with an online tutor on Preply or iTalki. Particularly, online tutors can get you to practice with a native Japanese speaker in real time.
In conclusion, the more angles that you can study Japanese from, the more well-rounded your language ability will become. Japanese online classes will help you reach that goal.
Best Japanese Courses Online 2023
- Rocket Japanese Courses Online
- Udemy Japanese Online Classses
- Rosetta Stone – Learn Japanese
- Japanese Online Classes – Japanese Online Institute
- Pimsleur Japanese Online Classes
- Marugoto Japanese Online Class
- StoryLearning Japanese Uncovered
- Memrise Japanese Online Course
- Steps in Japanese for Beginners – Waseda University, edX
- Preply Japanese Tutors Online
- Japanese Online Classes – Coto Japanese Academy
- Bunpro Japanese Online
Other Resources, Tools, and Japanese Courses Online
- Diploma in Japanese – Alison
- Human Japanese – Online apps
- NihongoShark – Resources, articles
- Japanese Uncovered – StoryLearning
- Japanese from Zero to Hero – Online lessons
- Verbling Japanese Online Tutors – Customized Lessons
- Wyzant Japanese Tutors – Private online lessons
- Varsity Tutors – Japanese online classes and lessons
- Japanese Online Lessons – JapanesePod101
- Japanese Online Class – Yuko Sensei, YouTube – View
- Wasabi – Learn Japanese Online
- Busuu Japanese – Language App
- AmazingTalker – Japanese Conversation
- NHK World – Japanese online grammar lessons
- Loecsen Japanese Audio Course
- The Japanese Page – Free Japanese online classes and resources – Visit
- Anki Japanese Flash Cards – View
Is Japanese a Difficult Language to Learn?
Japanese is ranked third among the most difficult languages to learn in the world. The journey of learning Japanese at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced level have significant hurdles to overcome. It is comprised of 3 writing systems.
Kanji characters are grouped and combined to evoke different meanings. Hiragana is a phonetic writing system derived from Chinese during the 9th century. And Katakana, a specific writing system for foreign or borrowed words from other languages.
In addition to the three various writing systems, Japanese also has many different levels of politeness and formality; these can be a challenge to master.
Often, compound words and different readings for words have the same kanji character. This also applies to spoken Japanese, which is primarily a tonal language; only a slight pronunciation difference in a spoken word may have a completely different meaning.
Last, but certainly not least, are the many colloquial ways of speaking in different parts of Japan. While this is common in many countries around the world, in different prefectures throughout Japan, words can have completely different connotations or meanings.
Are there any Japanese Language Exams?
Many learners of Japanese strive to be recognized for their proficiency by taking the JLPT exam (Japanese Language Proficiency Exam). The exam is offered in 5 levels of difficulty, and many people studying Japanese pursue it to gauge their progress.
What are the best Japanese courses online for 2023, in your opinion? Which Japanese online classes, programs or lessons have you taken? What have you learned? Please let us know in the comments below, or contact us via email for questions.
Sources: Japan Wikipedia –1 | Japanese Language – 2 | Japanese Writing System – Britannica – 3
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to some providers of Japanese courses online. courselounge may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. It does not add any extra costs. All reviews, opinions, descriptions and comparisons expressed here are our own.