My favourite way to learn Japanese years ago was with Japanese audio lessons. I would sit on the train going from Nerima to Shibuya with my “discman” and listen to a Japanese audio course I had borrowed from a private Japanese school. I can’t remember the name of the course. The course was from a Canadian university and focused on polite conversational Japanese. At the time it was the only Japanese audio program I could get my hands on.
For someone starting to learn Japanese in this century, there is an abundance of Japanese learning programs giving students of the language a choice to study what they want. Back in the 90′s there was very little in the way of quality Japanese audio courses. Most of them were still on tape and cost several hundred dollars. Now you can learn Japanese for free with the many Japanese language podcasts on iTunes and hundreds of Japanese lessons on Youtube. The problem is no longer a lack of choice, but an over abundance of resources.
The Best Japanese Audio Lessons
The old expression “you get what you pay for” holds true with most online content for learning languages. While there are some great free audio lessons and podcasts out on there web, most fall short of providing what students really need – quality audio lessons that build upon each other in sucession. For example, you’ll find most Japanese youtube lessons are just random monologues of people sharing what they know of the Japanese language. I haven’t found a Youtube channel that provides concise lessons that build on each other.
There are a number of paid programs which I have tried including:
- Rocket Japanese
- Pimsleur Japanese
- Rosetta Stone
- Japanese Podcast 101
Rocket Japanese Audio Lessons
Rocket Japanese, in my opinion, still remains as the best paid Japanese audio program on the web. The lesson build on each other and reinforce past learnings. If you like talking your lessons on the go then you will be very happy with Rocket Japanese.
The product is unpdated often and has a great support forum where your questions about the Japanese language will be answered within 24 hours by the moderators.
There are also games and quizes with the program and a very helpful progress tracker.You also learn about Japanese culture and how it relates to everyday lagnuage and conversation.
Here is how Rocket Japanese compares with other competitors.
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Free Japanese Lessons
If you are wanting some quality free Japanese lessons then check out NHK World’s Yasashi Nihongo Lessons. You can download the audio and text of each lesson free. No sign is up required. They update their site with a ten minute lesson every week. The lessons are top notch and well worth your time. Like with most things in life, we tend to undervalue what we can get for free.
Why You Should Check Out NHK World
- The lessons are free and you can learn Japanese whenever you want.
- The lessons are concise and easy to understand so even kids can learn without getting bored.
- You learn Japanese from native speakers – it’s important to listen to the pronunciation of native speakers and practice by imitating the way they speak
- MP3 Downloads – You can download lessons onto your MP3 player and listen to them on your way to work or school.
- PDF textbook – you can read the contents of all the lessons at once.
If you are a beginner and are not want to spend any money on online lessons then you’ll find more than enough resources at NHK World.