Can you learn Japanese free? Absolutely. We can show you how to get to native-level fluency without spending a single penny.
Let’s assume you have no resources at all other than a computer or a tablet (you are reading this after all). You can’t travel. You can’t buy anything. Can you learn Japanese to complete fluency?
Absolutely you can. We’ll explain how.
It will be hard work, but any method by which you really learn Japanese, free or otherwise, is hard work, even if you spend fortunes on it. The methods we recommend have the advantage of being fun as well.
The best way to learn Japanese, or any language, is immersion. This is how children learn. But can you have Japanese immersion without living in Japan?
The answer to that is yes. The internet has made it possible. Ironically enough many learners who do live in Japan find it difficult or impossible to have Japanese immersion. This is because they are often teaching English and living in a heavily English-language environment in Japan. You could well find that your chances of Japanese immersion are better outside Japan than living there.
So if you want to learn Japanese free, how do you go about this?
Using the power of the internet it is absolutely possible to immerse yourself. YouTube is full of Japanese material. You really don’t need to watch any English media at all if you don’t want to. I don’t.
You can fill your iPod with Japanese songs and stories and anime soundtracks. Hukumusume is a really good source of Japanese stories both written and downloadable audio.
You can and should fill your ears with Japanese all the time. If you need to concentrate on something, turn it down, not off. Only when you really need to concentrate very hard do you have to stop the flow of Japanese completely.
Learn Japanese Free: how to get started
Maybe you don’t know any Japanese, or only a very small amount. Is it going to help filling your head with sounds you don’t understand?
There are different views on this but my view is “probably not”. You need to find a way to get a foothold in Japanese before you start. But don’t worry. You can still learn Japanese free. This doesn’t have to cost anything.
• Next you should start working on Japanese anime with Japanese subtitles. Again we show how to do it with all-free resources.
• You also need to build a core vocabulary. Again, here is everything you need using free resources.
These techniques will guide so that you will be able to immerse yourself in Japanese and build your understanding step by step.
Thinking in Japanese
Japanese immersion isn’t just about reading and hearing Japanese. It is also about communicating in Japanese and thinking in Japanese. There is only one way to learn Japanese. You only learn a language by using it. Everything else is just learning about the language.
This means doing the things you used to do in English in Japanese. Watching movies, reading books/manga, playing games etc. It also means communicating with others in Japanese, and thinking to yourself in Japanese. And outer communication is the key to to inner thoughts.
This is the aspect of learning Japanese that most online, lone-learner techniques ignore. And it is very important. Language is a means of communication. The mind does not process input-only language as “real language”. You need to be using language to communicate thoughts and develop relationships before your “linguistic mind” can start firing on all cylinders.
Fortunately we have you covered there too. The Kawaii Japanese Forums are there for people to talk about Japanese or anything else, play RPGs or word games, or do anything else they want in Japanese. It is an easy stress-free, friendly way to ease yourself into the waters of Japanese communication. And (as you probably guessed) they’re free.
The Forums are the perfect bridge to get you across the psychological barrier between feeling Japanese as a “foreign language” and feeling it as something you actually live.
Learn Japanese Free – or very cheap
You probably have an iPod, phone or some kind of MP3 player already. But what if you don’t? Can you still learn Japanese free?
We can’t recommend a way of getting a free MP3 player, but you can get a cheap Chinese player on eBay or a local fleamarket for well under $5. It may lack some bells and whistles but if you want to keep the flow of Japanese into your ears and listen to stories and songs, even the cheapest player will do the job.
If you have a little more money to spare you could (if you don’t already have one) get a Nintendo DS. This game machine is “obsolete” so you can buy it very cheaply. It has a ton of excellent Japanese games with a lot of text, often with furigana. Unlike its more recent sister the 3DS it is not region-locked, so you can buy second-hand Japanese games cheaply on eBay or elsewhere.
But assuming you can’t even afford this, you absolutely can learn Japanese free.
Any questions? Use the comment form below.