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List of Free Online Japanese Lessons and Courses

See a list of the top free online Japanese lessons and courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

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Info on Free Online Courses and Lessons in Japanese

Free online Japanese courses generally involve learning spoken Japanese (vocabulary with pronunciation drills) and stroke-writing practice. Many free courses for learning and practicing Japanese are accessible on the Internet. The selection of courses covered in this article offer a taste of what's available. The providers of these courses and course materials don't grant credit for their use.

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Free Online Japanese Courses and Lessons

Victoria University of Wellington

  • Genki Kanji Quiz 1.0 includes interactive exercises to help users learn Kanji (a system of Japanese writing adapted from Chinese characters). Exercises include crosswords and jumbles, fill-in-the-gap and multiple-choice modules. To complete some exercises, users need to install a Japanese language pack on their computers.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Japanese I helps students gain basic skills in writing, reading and conversation. Instruction includes 56 Kanji characters and introduces Katakana and Hiragana, syllabic alphabets with distinct purposes. Students don't need prior knowledge of the language. OpenCourseWare (OCW) material includes a syllabus naming the required texts used in the original course, lessons and practice quizzes with answers. Lessons include movie clips, which require QuickTime Player for viewing.
  • Kana covers learning Katakana and Hiragana. Materials include videos of stroke order, audio segments demonstrating pronunciation, interactive vocabulary quizzes and listening exercises. QuickTime software is needed to view videos and audio clips. Users may purchase the associated textbook online.

Digital Dialects

  • Japanese Games offers games for learning Japanese characters (Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana) and vocabulary. Users can practice the alphabets, learn greetings and take quizzes. Categories of vocabulary words include colors, numbers, animals and calendar terms. Specialized software may be required.

University of Texas at Austin

  • Japanese Online Self-Help Utility (JOSHU) offers a wide variety of Japanese learning resources. Users have access to lessons and practice worksheets in Kana and Kanji, listening exercises in mp3 format, vocabulary games and flashcards, grammar quizzes and cultural links. QuickTime Player is required to play movies.

University of Chicago

  • Kanji Alive is geared toward beginning and intermediate students and it helps students learn to write and read Kanji. QuickTime Player must be installed to use this application. Videos demonstrate the brushstroke order for each character. In addition, this resource has audio files for learning pronunciation.

Dartmouth University

  • Kanji Practice allows students to develop their skills in reading and writing Kanji. The site provides images of brushstrokes and videos that demonstrate their order. Sample readings are also available, with English translations and audio files. QuickTime Player is required to view the video clips and hear the audio files.

University of Minnesota

  • Speech Acts in Japanese helps online students learn to navigate a variety of conversational situations, such as expressing thanks, giving a compliment or making an apology. The lessons are geared toward intermediate or advanced Japanese learners. Several exercises are available with audio files.

Purdue University

  • Ultimate Kana Challenge includes games designed to help students develop facility with the two Japanese syllabic writing systems, Katakana and Hiragana. Players remove the letters of each alphabet by clicking on them in the correct alphabetical order.

George Washington University

  • Visualizing Japanese Grammar includes 66 Flash animation units. Each unit consists of an animation outlining a grammatical structure, a word list and a quiz (with answers). The explanations are in English, but some knowledge of Japanese may be beneficial. PowerPoint presentations accompany 12 of the unit lessons.
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