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Discover the best way to learn Japanese

Learn Hiragana and Katakana with Busuu's app

Hiragana & Katakana

Want to build a foundation in the Japanese alphabet? Try our app’s Hiragana and Katakana courses. Learn to read in Japanese and write letters in the Hiragana and Katakana alphabets. Then progress to our Complete Japanese course.

Learn with Busuu's Complete Japanese language course

Complete Japanese

Learn to write, read and speak the language with our Complete Japanese course. Whether you’re starting out as a beginner or at a more advanced level, expect to master everything from basic Japanese vocabulary to Japanese grammar.

Learn with Japanese for Travel, Busuu's online course

Japanese for Travel

If you’re thinking of visiting Japan, you might like our Japanese for Travel course. Prepare for your adventures by learning all the basic Japanese phrases you’ll need to get by as a traveller – from asking for directions to ordering food.

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Speed tips: how to learn Japanese, fast

Achieve your goals by learning Japanese online in 10 minutes a day

1. Start with 10 minutes

Begin learning – perhaps one of the Japanese alphabets, Hiragana – on our app for free and try your first Japanese lesson. Research shows that learning Japanese in small, 10-minute chunks is best.

Organise your time when learning Japanese online with a Study Plan

2. Track your progress

Learn to speak Japanese in record time by keeping a record of your progress. With our Study Plan, you can track things like Fluency Score and the Japanese words you’ve learned against your goals.

Make lots of mistakes when learning Japanese online

3. Don't rely on romaji

Learning romaji – the Roman alphabetisation of the Japanese language – instead of the Japanese writing systems may seem like a good idea at first. But it's only a temporary solution – and it's not the best way to learn Japanese! We recommend starting with hiragana or katakana – it's more doable than you think! 

6 reasons why Japanese isn’t as hard to learn as you think

Some have called Japanese the hardest language to learn, with a caveat about true difficulty versus time taken to learn.

And there are certainly some challenging aspects to learning the Japanese language. It's got three different writing systems, and there are polite variations of words and phrases that you need to learn, known as honorific speech. There are also function words called particles and structures that will be unfamiliar to English speakers, as well as those who speak many other Western languages.

But when you get past the mental hurdle of believing that Japanese is tough to learn, what you’re likely to find is that you can, in fact, learn Japanese – and with little to no more difficulty than any other language.

1. Hiragana and katakana are easy to learn

It’s true: to learn Japanese, you do have to learn new writing systems. But hiragana and katakana are pretty easy to learn and they have a lot of similarities, so once you learn one, the other is almost a breeze.

Plus, using mnemonics (like we do on Busuu!) makes hiragana and katakana easier to memorise. It definitely takes some practice, but once you have these two writing systems under your belt, you can get into the real learning.

2. Pronunciation is fairly straightforward

Japanese has fewer sounds than English by a long shot – it’s more like Italian, in a funny way. The syllables are pronounced how they’re pronounced, so there aren’t any surprises, once you learn how they go together.

3. Grammar follows simple rules

Another thing that makes Japanese logistically easier to learn is its grammar.

Japanese grammar is different from English grammar, but it’s very regular. It only has past and present tenses, it doesn’t use gender, and there are few to no exceptions to Japanese grammar rules. So once you learn it, you’ve learned it.

4. Technology is here to help

In the old days (and by the old days, we really just mean pre-smart phones), learning Japanese meant flipping through giant dictionaries, and learning to write meant meticulously learning stroke order to write the writing system kanji correctly.

These days, you can just look kanji up, or type them using romaji. It’s quick and easy to add a Japanese keyboard to your phone and laptop – and it’ll make your life way easier.

5. Loanwords are everywhere

It may come as no big surprise that, just like in English we know what sushi, sake, and tsunami mean, there are plenty of words that are translated into Japanese, but basically shared.

Hot tip: Katakana is typically used for words that come from foreign languages, so if you see katakana and sound it out and it sounds familiar? You’re probably right on the money.

6. You have so many resources at your fingertips

Last but certainly not least, we have the thing that makes learning Japanese so much easier than ever before – all the resources available to you! Of course, there’s Busuu's award-winning online Japanese course, but you can also supplement your learning with everything from YouTube videos and Japanese TV, to online memory games and kanji flashcard tools that people have built.

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