Why are so many people looking for methods for learning Japanese via the internet?
Japanese culture has fascinated the Western world for centuries, and now the Far East seems a little less far away many tourists are traveling there and experiencing the culture like never before. As this need to expand horizons grows, so does the interest in learning the Japanese language, and as a result many websites and companies have created online resources to help people in their quest. The problem is, with so many different options and websites out there to choose from how do you make your choice? Which methods are worth the effort and will give you great results and which will leave you wishing you hadn’t bothered and no further forward in your attempts to learn? This brief guide on the different ways of learning the Japanese language via the internet is designed to show you the pros and cons of the most commonly used examples and provide some guidance so that you can make a more informed decision.
Conventional methods: language software, distance learning courses and the chance to earn a qualification.
One of the most well-known ways to learn a language online is with Rosetta Stone – a company that provides software, materials and online support in a series of lessons to help people master the language. If you’re interested in more information on Rosetta Stone Japanese, read this review. Japanese is part of their range and comes recommended, however there is another company providing a course at a much better price. Rocket Japanese lets you learn Japanese online in a similar way; however they provide greater emphasis on the written language and offer certification on completion that is the equivalent of an A2 level European qualification. Here’s a review of Rocket Japanese. While on the subject of qualifications, the truly adventurous may instead wish to choose an online degree or diploma from a university. Distance learning provides a great education and rewards; but it also requires a lot more time, effort and money in order to complete it. For some this will not be an issue as the ends will justify the means, but for others it could be seen as an extreme option.
Alternative methods: the benefits of joining online forums, playing some language games and indulging in some Japanese film.
Of course conventional online courses are not the only way to learn Japanese online. There are many free resources on the web which provide a little of what these course can offer, whether it is a forum with native speaker, a site with interactive games or a fun phrasebook. None of these alone can offer the same comprehensive learning of an official Japanese course or language software, but they do add to the experience as useful tools. Online forum and other activities where you can chat to other users offer a great opportunity to test your skills at conversational Japanese with native speakers. If they are nice they may even give you some corrections and helpful advice, especially if you can also test your pronunciation with a video chat.
Another option that you may not have considered, in addition to using the conversation and language of forums and video chats, is to enjoy a little Japanese culture and boost your understanding of the natural language through film and other media. There are many website dedicated to streaming an unlimited number of films and television programs either for free or a small monthly fee. Many of these sites will have pages devoted to Japanese culture and anime. If you are studying the language you are no doubt familiar with the genre, so why not enjoy the film and pay closer attention to the language. You can either play it in English and read along with the Japanese subtitles to better understand the alphabet, or have the film play in Japanese and have the English subtitles as a guide. This method is perhaps best suited for the more experienced and confident learner else you could be throwing yourself in at the deep end.
All these websites and resources offer great opportunities for learning Japanese when it comes to reading and listening, but how do you overcome the biggest problem of all – understanding the characters and how to write Japanese?
Watching these subtitles can also give you a better understanding of the way that the language works. One of the greatest challenges you can face when trying to learn Japanese online is understanding the characters and symbols, there is so much more to learning Japanese than more familiar languages such as French and Spanish and you have to completely rethink the way that you write and start from scratch. Online phrasebooks may tell you how to say key phrases and give you audio of pronunciation but it there is too much focus and reading and listening to the language and not enough on the writing element.
This is another reason why using programs with detailed materials and plenty of support – such as Rocket Japanese or distance learning courses – are so beneficial, but there are other ways to really start from the beginning. Interactive sites with games and other tools can provide an alternative way of learning with an understanding of characters presented at a basic level, but many of these sites are tailored towards children and may not appeal to older users.
So, which is the best method for learning Japanese online for you?
In summary, there are many different options available when attempting to learn Japanese online. For those looking for a casual hobby or the chance to expand some vocabulary, free online lessons and simple phrase books could be enough but there is the issue with a lot of online material in the lack of emphasis on writing over speaking. For this reason, university courses and software packages may be the best option. They certainly provide the best range of materials and support and the most comprehensive program available, which means a greater understanding of the language and perhaps even a qualification as a reward. With some research into the most effective and cost-efficient options available, it should not be hard to find a way to learn Japanese online that is right for you – and hopefully this guide has pointed you in the right direction.