The Best Advanced Japanese Lessons Online in 2023 (and Our Favorite Tips for Building Fluency)
After several years in Japan, I figured, “Okay, I can speak enough Japanese to get around, follow conversations and make friends.”
It’s true that my Japanese had come a long way, but there’s no finish line for learning a language.
To become a really fluent Japanese speaker, I’ve had to keep pushing myself to learn more difficult vocabulary words and sentence structures.
Here are my picks for seven of the best advanced Japanese courses online, plus tips on how to keep improving your Japanese skills when you feel like you’ve hit a wall.
- Best Advanced Japanese Lessons Online in 2023
- Japanese Study Tips for Advanced Learners
Best Advanced Japanese Lessons Online in 2023
1. MIT’s Advanced Japanese I
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a vast amount of online courses. One of them is the Advanced Japanese I course, which is also an undergraduate resource.
This free course is designed to improve both listening and writing proficiency. The main focus is on vocabulary, kanji studies and grammar.
Lessons include plenty of materials and downloadable content, like mp3 files and readings.
FluentU teaches Japanese via authentic content, which works well for advanced Japanese learners—you’re at the stage where exposure to natives is important for you to get closer to fluency.
FluentU’s library of video clips comes from real Japanese media, movie trailers, drama scenes and news reports, and each clip has interactive subtitles that let you see definitions and save any unknown words to your vocabulary lists while you watch.
After watching a video, you’ll practice the Japanese you’ve seen in it with personalized quizzes and spaced repetition flashcards (that adapt to your level of comfort with each word).
FluentU also lets you complete some parts of quizzes on mobile by speaking instead of typing or tapping out your answers.
3. Rocket Japanese Platinum (Level 3)
Rocket Languages offers a ton of language courses divided into three levels. Their Platinum Japanese course is level three and designed for advanced learners.
The lesson plan for this course focuses primarily on speaking and listening in Japanese for more complex situations and fluency.
To enroll in this course, you’ll need to purchase a level three membership for approximately $150. With this membership, you’ll gain access to interactive audio, language and culture lessons, voice recognition for speaking practice and a bonus survival kit.
There are no requirements for enrolling, but you may have to take a test to determine if advanced Japanese is ideal for you.
4. Online Japanese N2 Course
Are you studying for JLPT N2, one of the highest levels of formal fluency? Then this fantastic course from Udemy is perfect for you.
In this course, which often goes on sale for less than $20, you’ll be formally trained by a native speaker for the purpose of acing your JLPT N2—with 11 hours worth of videos.
The ultimate goal of these lessons is to pass the exam and gain proficiency in reading newspapers, magazines, books and emails. So, it focuses on both writing skills and spoken comprehension skills.
For this course, you’ll need a basic knowledge of hiragana and katakana, as well as general JLPT N3 level knowledge.
Even if you aren’t studying for the exam, this course is great for those who want to study business Japanese.
Lessons include kanji tests, vocabulary words, reading practice, grammar practice and more.
Using it is super easy and works with your schedule, too—all you need to do is sign up and all the videos, lectures and course materials are available for you to learn as you go. If necessary, you can get in touch with your teacher and other students for extra help.
5. JOI’s Japanese JLPT N1 Lessons
JLPT N1 is the highest level of Japanese fluency. By passing this exam, you’re opening up a ton of doors for job and internship opportunities. But since this test is so intense, even advanced Japanese students who think they’re ready often still need some extra help.
In this course, you’ll study reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar and comprehension at the N1 level.
There doesn’t seem to be a formal requirement for taking it, but it’s recommended that you pass the N2 exam before enrolling. Signing up is very simple and Japonin has fantastic customer service.
Japonin is currently offering two trial lessons for $9, after which you’ll need to pay approximately $10 per lesson in addition to purchasing several textbooks.
You can start this course at any time, but live classes often take place on a specific day every week.
6. Japanese Language Teacher Training Program
Udemy makes the list again with their Japanese Language Teacher Training Program.
This course, which costs approximately $15 per lesson when on sale (for a two-lesson program), is specifically designed for advanced learners who have passed the JLPT N1 exam and wish to become proficient enough to teach Japanese.
Think of it as a polishing course to get as fluent and teaching-ready as possible.
You’ll be formally trained in word order, linguistic types, N1 prep (if you haven’t yet passed the test) and context dependency. It’s a fantastic resource to put on your resume if you’re trying to obtain a Japanese language teaching license.
If you plan to teach, it’s vital to learn the nuances of the Japanese language, and this course can help you do so with accessible and well-crafted video lessons.
Each class is approximately two hours long and includes several supplemental resources. You’ll also receive a certificate of completion at the end.
Japanese Study Tips for Advanced Learners
On top of trying out the courses above, here’s how you can bridge the gap from advanced Japanese all the way to fluency:
Use a Monolingual Japanese Dictionary
If you’ve been using a Japanese-English dictionary, now’s a good time to switch to one that’s only in Japanese. When you need to look up a new word, look it up in Japanese instead of English.
This presents a nice challenge for your Japanese skills and you’ll learn some new vocabulary from the definitions. You can also catch nuances you won’t get from a Japanese-English dictionary, which really uses translation.
Keep a Journal
Start keeping a journal in Japanese. It can be electronic if writing would slow you down too much.
Every day, sit down and write about what you did and the things that happened to you throughout the day. As you write, you’ll stumble upon words, phrases and ideas that you don’t know how to express in Japanese. This is a good way to learn new words that are particularly useful to you and relevant to your life.
Do Activities in Japanese
Choose an activity that you currently do or want to try, and do it in Japanese. It could be playing a sport, cooking, playing music, hiking or any other free-time activity that you have.
Even if you don’t live in Japan, you can meet up with your local Japanese community or exchange students. Remember that you can also do some activities like playing video games online.
Take Part in a “New Vocabulary” Challenge
Challenge yourself to learn a specific number of new vocabulary words per day. No matter how far you get into a language, you should never stop learning and drilling vocabulary.
Creating a challenge and setting a minimum for daily new words is a great way to make sure you keep learning new stuff.
Learn New Kinds of Japanese
Try learning a new way of speaking in Japanese. You can study keigo, a polite form of speech used to show respect, or learn a dialect like Kansai-ben or Tohoku-ben. Listen to older dialects of Japanese speech from historical dramas to learn to talk like a samurai. Learn the latest slang used by the kids in trendy Harajuku.
There’s a huge variety of Japanese registers, dialects and manners of speaking, all of which can help you improve your standard Japanese as well.
You can start using these resources and tips today, and make it a habit to keep studying and learning—even when you can’t feel the steady progress you’re making.
With some elbow grease and a lot of dedication, you’ll soon be a top-tier fluent Japanese speaker!