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October 10th, 2012

Free Guide to Learning Japanese

Tae Kim's Guide to Learning JapaneseOver the Summer I had the chance to play with an iPad as part of my Job. Naturally, I decided to have a look for some great resources that I could use that fit within my budget, which was, of course, free. I happened to download a handful of free applications that could be useful, however none of them seemed professionally put together, or lived up to my expectations. That was until I found “Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese”.

iOS App

It is a great, textbook-like Application that is split into a number of different sections covering everything that a beginner would need to learn. Due to only having it to play with for a very short amount of time, I wasn’t able to get past the second section, but it seems very extensive indeed.  It starts off with Hiragana, before moving onto basic sentence structure. This was something I loved, as even though I was still working towards simply being able to read what I have found I could read sentences, if still extremely slowly.

Guide to Learning Japanese iPad Application Screenshot

Screenshot from the iOS App running on an iPad

This application is carefully laid out in easy-to-follow sections that progress at a nice, steady rate, whilst still containing a plethora of information. Each of the lessons in these sections contain a different subject, whether it be Hiragana, or Sentence Structure.

When you get to the end of a lesson there are even some exercises that you can then assess yourself with. This is one of the most convenient parts about using it on a digital device. I often find that the massive exercise sections in some textbooks are overwhelming, this breaks it down into nicely manageable, interactive sections.

Another aspect that is seamlessly integrated into the application is the audio and video in each section. Something that is traditionally located on a rarely-used CD in the back of a textbook has been transformed into a well integrated experience. This provides the fundamental aspect of listening to a language when you are learning it.

Something that really jumped out at me was the fact that from the outset Kanji was included in sentences, which guides you along to start learning some characters. It also had an extremely useful feature in which you could  select different characters and find out their meanings. I found this particularly useful when it came to learning about sentence structure.


If you don’t have an iOS device, do not worry, for there is an online version of it as well. If you happen to be in the mood for some grammar, check out this guide. If you don’t enjoy digital copies of resources, there is a book available to buy as well, where the profits go back into managing the website and information.

The whole website itself is amazing, it has everything from a blog about the language to a forum if you have some questions. All in all it’s a very well-rounded resource that is still growing everyday.


All in all, if you’re looking for a very useful, free resource I wouldn’t look too much further past this. It has a brilliant overview of the language, managed by someone who is obviously passionate about what he’s writing about.

You can find the free iOS Application here.

Looking for some more Resources? Check out my resources page!

Had any luck with this? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Posted by:

Stephen is a student who is currently studying Computer Science at University in the UK. He writes for his own blog, Challenge Japanese, which is about learning Japanese. He has a wide range of interests, ranging from Theatre, to fine foods, to Rock Climbing.

  • How lucky you are to be learning Japanese now with free apps, youtube videos and podcasts.

    I started learning Japanese in the early 90s. No internet back then. I was determined to get to a level where
    I could read Japanese news papers. I almost got there, but found it way to time consuming.

    However, I the investmentment is now paying off with my Japanese related business.

    All the best with your studies.



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