If you, like me, are a starving artist, a student, or just suffering from scroogitis, this list of free or relatively cheap resources for learning Japanese should appeal to you.
This is a site where you can upload diary entries any language and have native speakers check them, and it seems to be dominated by English and Japanese speakers. You just create a profile, upload your diary and wait for others to come by and check it, although it helps a lot if you go check some of the English diaries people have up. I like this site because people can make correction and comments too if they want. And more than one person can correct the same diary so you can learn different ways to say one thing.
I’ve got these on iphone and ipad. These are great for practicing before the JLPT (Japanese language proficiency test). Better to use these as a gauge than a study tool though, because they don’t give you much info about the answers, but based on the JLPT test I took, I’d say they’re in line with the levels.
Tae Kim’s guide to Learning Japanese
This one’s another app, and the only free textbook I’ve seen. I’m not a huge fan of textbooks, at least not on their own. But it does help put the grammar in perspective.
A decent Japanese dictionary app, but honestly, sometimes it doesn’t have words I’m looking for. But eh, it’s free and it works most of the time. It’s that or pay for an electronic dictionary.
This site’s very popular, and you’ve probably heard of it. It’s a website full of podcasts, PDFs. and practice tests. I highly recommend it…but a pro membership is about $200usd a year. But this guide is for cheapskates remember? When you first sign up, they give you this “ultimate getting started” offer, where you can get pro access for a month for just a dollar, and all their podcasts are downloadable.
You see where this is going.
If you’re a true scrooge you’ll sign up, spend the month downloading all the podcasts at your level and not renew. However… They’re always adding new stuff. If you sign up for their newsletter they’re always sending out offers, and I was able to get a yearlong subscription for half price. And they have a lot of resources besides the lessons like a grammar bank, dictionary. great practice tests for the JLPT, and a PDF breakdown of the grammar for each lesson. It’s worth the money.
Looove this one, because I can use it when I’m commuting which is a loooot these days. It’s a website but the also have an app, and it’s primarily for learning vocabulary, though you can pick up some grammar through the example sentences. There’s also a dictation feature you can use to practice your pronunciation. It’s about $70-80 a year.
This only applies to expats in Japan, but there are a surprising number of free or super cheap (not more than $20USD a month) Japanese classes taught by volunteers. The one I go to has been really great. I only had to buy the textbook. However the focus is heavily on conversation, so If you’re looking to learn Kanji you might need to sign up for “real” classes, at a school or university.
So those are the main resources I use to learn Japanese. How about you?