All About Japan

4 Ways to Learn Japanese from YouTube

| Video , Learning Japanese

It used to be that if you were studying a foreign language in your own country, the only listening practice that was easily available to you was hearing your teacher or classmates speak, or listening to the CD that came with your textbook. With YouTube, students now have access to myriad free Japanese videos on any topic you could possibly desire.

1. Watch Language Learning Videos!

You can find “how-to” videos for just about anything on YouTube, and language learning is no exception. Compared to studying at home with traditional video media (language-learning software or DVDs, for example) the interactive nature of online videos is a clear advantage. If you don’t understand something in a YouTube lesson, you can comment on the video asking other viewers (or even the maker of the video!) for help. Here’s my top pick of Japanese lessons on YouTube:

→ Japanese for Morons

Self-proclaimed “King of the Morons” Victor has been making short videos entitled "Japanese for Morons" since 2009, moving the series to a dedicated separate channel a few years back. Each lesson focuses on one word or short phrase, and videos are both annotated on-screen and accompanied by a list of new words in the description. They’re short, informative, and there’s over 200 of them.

Victor also makes "JNEWS" videos, explaining new vocabulary and phrases from news and current affairs in Japan, such as the one above on the Tokyo Olympics and "omotenashi."

Many of these videos are co-hosted by his energetic Japanese friend Tomoko, and seeing as in a lot of their videos Victor speaks in English and Tomoko speaks in Japanese, listening to them interact is also a great way to get in some bilingual listening practice (more on that later). Tomoko also has her own channel at tomoko tomoko.

→ JapanesePod101.com

This online learning site makes Japanese video lessons and listening comprehension exercises. A good section to check out is "Weekly Japanese Words with Risa," which introduces new words and example sentences on a range of topics, from weather to falling in love. What I like about these videos is the explanations and commentary are mostly in Japanese, with just a little supplementary English.

→ Learn Japanese From Zero

This YouTube channel from YesJapan.com offers five-minute mini-lessons. "Japanese From Zero!" is a book series, but the accompanying videos make decent stand-alone short lessons. You won’t actually hear much Japanese being spoken in the videos, except during example sentences—but think of them as five-minute grammar explanations, and they’d be a good supplementary resource for anyone self-studying or taking classes. Their "Japanese in 5" series cheerfully rejects any idea you might have that you don’t have time to study Japanese, asking you to take just five minutes every day to study and practice.