Learn Japanese These lessons contain English translations.

Japanese is the national language of Japan where it is spoken by 125 million people, making it the 9th most spoken language in the world. It is also spoken by small communities of the Japanese diaspora, notably in Brazil, Hawaii, and North America. Japanese is part of the Japonic language which includes the Ryukyuan languages of Okinawa. Though widely debated, it is believed by many linguists that Japanese is distantly related to the Altaic (Turkic) language family. Japanese has also been heavily influenced by Chinese in its adoption of Chinese characters and in turn many Chinese words.

Japanese is written with four writing systems. In addition to Chinese characters, it is primarily comprised of two 46-character syllabaries: ひらがな(hiragana) for Japanese words and カタカナ(katakana) for loanwords from other languages. Roman script is also used, albeit in limited situations. Numbers are represented both by Arabic numerals (0-9) and Chinese numerals.

Links to get started with learning Japanese:

  • Pronunciation Introduction
    An introduction to the sounds and pronunciation of Japanese.
  • Interactive Hiragana and Katakana Chart
    Learning Hiragana and Katakana is one of the most important first steps for all serious Japanese learners. This is an extremely useful interactive chart for studying the two 46-character syllabaries.
  • How to Spell English Words with Katakana
    There are thousands of Japanese words that have been taken from other languages, overwhelmingly from English. Using this resource to learn how to represent the sounds of English with the Katakana writing system, you will have a significant portion of everyday modern Japanese vocabulary available to you.
  • Grammar Overview
    This link provides an overview to the unique grammar construction of Japanese. Though quite in-depth, it is a useful resource for familiarizing yourself with the mechanics of Japanese’s agglutinative grammar.

Typing in Japanese is surprisingly easy. Follow these guide to learn how to enter Japanese on your PC, Mac or mobile device.