japanese speaking online

6 Easy Ways to Talk to Japanese People Online: Start Chatting and Have Fun

I’m wktk!

That’s Japanese internet slang for being excited.

But what is exciting is that you can practice Japanese speaking online effectively with real native Japanese speakers using these six awesome resources.

To make it even easier, I’ve described how each one works, what the pros and cons are and how you may feel about the apps as a beginner or advanced learner. 

Contents

1. HelloTalk

japanese speaking online

One of my personal favorites, this app has the potential to become a very valuable practicing tool for most foreign language learners. You can use it to speak Japanese online as well as to improve your grammar, vocabulary and, of course, pronunciation.

The app works much like many popular social networks. The only difference is that its focus is on language learning. You choose a language you wish to learn and your native language and then you can start posting photos, stories or audio recordings.

Native speakers who wish to learn your language will see those posts and correct your errors. In return, you can do the same for them in your native language.

The program can also help you find a language exchange partner for more one-on-one attention. You can chat or speak to this partner for plenty of practice.

HelloTalk is a goldmine of cringeworthy posts, but it’s also extremely useful for improving your speech and finding new friends. I actually found my brother-from-another-mother there and a few more other nice people who helped me considerably with my studies.

The Pros

  • The app is easy to use since it has a very simple interface.
  • It has a lot of users, so you can find friendly individuals pretty quickly.
  • With the implemented translator and beginner courses, it’s a great choice for complete beginners who know very little to no Japanese.
  • When it comes to actually speaking Japanese, the most important feature is the availability of voice calls and audio recordings. You can record a message and include it in your profile or post and receive feedback from native speakers.

The Cons

  • Some users won’t respond to your messages at all, or they’ll respond initially and then disappear after you exchange a couple of texts or audios.
  • The translator is far from perfect, so you shouldn’t trust it completely, even though it can be helpful if you’re a beginner.
  • If you’re only learning Japanese, you’re fine. But if you’re interested in learning more than one language, there’s a paywall.

What Beginning Learners Think

“I like how quickly you can find people who are learning your language and are native Japanese speakers. Some of the people I contacted knew a bit of English so we could talk without much trouble. With others, I used the translator and I think it did the job pretty well.

“I learned that my pronunciation is horrendous, but I received a few tips on how to improve it, which is nice.

What Advanced Learners Think

“The program’s good and it does its job quite well, which is to connect you with native speakers, even if the chat sometimes glitches.

“It doesn’t offer video chat but that’s okay: After all, your priority is speaking and you don’t need to see the other person to do that. If you combine it with a different app like Line, you can find some great friends and stay in touch with them for a long time.”

2. Line

japanese speaking online

Line is like a fusion of Viber and Facebook (but less annoying), predominantly used by Japanese people.

It’s not exactly a language learning app, so it does require quite a high skill level to be able to use it with regular native speakers.

That said, this app is by far the best one for speaking Japanese because of the sheer volume of native Japanese speakers on it.

So when you meet a potential chat partner, just say hey, what’s up, can I have your Line ID?

The Pros

  • Line offers a lot of different official accounts for you to follow. From music bands and TV celebrities to the cooking shows that I myself enjoy so much. You can improve your skills by watching live streams, reading posts and commenting on them.
  • Video and voice chat work very smoothly and are great for improving your speaking game.

The Cons

  • Although you can find friends by sending requests to someone who follows the same accounts you do, Line isn’t quite made for that. It’s used for staying in touch with people you met on different platforms, or in person. That means it’s not the best standalone learning app.

What Beginning Learners Think

“I don’t know any Japanese people in person so I couldn’t really use this app without the help of other apps, first.

“Most people I meet on other apps didn’t really want to give me their Line ID because we don’t know each other that well. A few did give me their ID, so we stayed in touch.

“Still, I can’t talk with them that much on Line because it has no translator tool.”

What Advanced Learners Think

“I love Line! It’s absolutely amazing. I use it all the time to talk with both my Japanese and non-Japanese friends, by text and voice or video call. I also enjoy being up-to-date with my favorite music bands and watching their live streams.

“Funny thing is, whenever I ask a Japanese person for their Line ID, they act surprised and almost glad. I guess that’s because not many foreigners use it.”

3. Instagram

japanese speaking online

Yeah, you can actually use Instagram to speak Japanese. Don’t think of it as a content sharing platform but instead, consider it as being a tool for finding Japanese friends.

You can seek them out by searching different hashtags—like your hobby, but in Japanese—or by checking out the followers page of your favorite Japanese-language accounts.

Use it together with Line and you’ll get a very helpful speaking practice combo.

The Pros

  • You can make friends organically on this app, by checking out some hashtags you like or your favorite official accounts. You’ll automatically have something in common, which is a great plus for easy communication!
  • Since you can send voice recordings in messages, you can also practice speaking Japanese, not just typing.
  • Watching live streams can help you adjust your ears to native Japanese speech.

The Cons

  • The very nature of the app is one of its biggest flaws: It’s distracting. You can quickly forget why you’re there and keep watching meaningless stuff for hours.
  • Since this isn’t a language learning app, Instagram users aren’t always looking for friends. Some just want to comment on or stay up to date with their favorite Insta-celebs, and they’re not looking for a conversation. Because of that, finding friends can sometimes be challenging.

What Beginning Learners Think

“I was surprised at how quickly I found potential new friends from Japan. I checked out Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s account and after a few minutes, I found some interesting people who share my interests on her “followers” page.

“They all accepted my requests and we even exchanged a few words. I had to use a separate translator app, though.”

What Advanced Learners Think

“I love photography and I remember way back when I spontaneously became friends with a Japanese photographer on Instagram. I commented on his photo and he replied by commenting on mine. Before I knew it, we were talking about all kinds of things and he even helped me correct my grammar mistakes.

I guess it’s a bit unusual, but Instagram can be very useful for improving your Japanese.”

4. Langmate

japanese speaking online

This program is all about being straightforward and simple. Once you make your profile, you’re given a list of people who you might want to talk to. Decline them and move on to different users, or accept them and wait until they accept you as well to become connected.

Then, you can text them or send them a voice recording and practice Japanese with their help.

The Pros

  • This app is advertised as being specifically designed for Japanese language learners or for people who want to meet friends from Japan.
  • The app connects you with your new friends very quickly.
  • Most users speak English, so it’s also beginner-friendly.

The Cons

  • Some users consider it a dating app so it can get a bit frustrating at times.
  • You can’t make an account on the app. Instead, you connect the app with one of your social networks and create your profile by adding some additional info about yourself.

What Beginning Learners Think

“I thought I’d be in trouble because this app doesn’t have a translator but it turned out that everyone I talked with knew English quite well so we communicated easily. I’ve sent them a few recordings and they gave me feedback on my pronunciation and how to improve it.”

What Advanced Learners Think

“This app is supposedly made for meeting Japanese people yet far more non-Japanese users contacted me. The few Japanese people who did connect with me insist on talking in English. As an advanced learner, this is frustrating—but I also understand that they’re also trying to learn.

Many users also stop replying completely after one or two texts, so even though I got matched up quickly, it’s not that easy to keep a conversation going.”

5. Tandem

Tandem app logo

Tandem is a language exchange platform that prioritizes simplicity and direct communication. Upon creating your profile, you receive a list of potential conversation partners. Choose to either reject and explore other users or accept and wait for a reciprocal acceptance to establish a connection.

Once connected, you can engage in text conversations or exchange voice recordings to practice Japanese with your language partner.

The Pros

  • The app efficiently connects users with new language partners.
  • Most users are proficient in English, making the app beginner-friendly.

The Cons

  • Some users may view the platform as more geared towards dating, leading to occasional frustration.
  • Account creation requires linking the app to a social network, and profile setup involves adding supplementary information.

What Beginning Learners Think

“I initially worried about the lack of a translator on this app, but surprisingly, everyone I interacted with had a good command of English. Communication was seamless, and I even received constructive feedback on my pronunciation through voice recordings.”

“I found it to be full of fun and friendly people, although one person tried to ask me out.”

What Advanced Learners Think

“I found that a majority of users reaching out to me were non-Japanese. The few Japanese connections often preferred English, which, as an advanced learner, proved frustrating.”

“Many matches stopped responding after a couple of exchanges, making it challenging to sustain meaningful conversations despite the quick initial connections.”

6. Lingbe

Lingbe app logo

Lingbe stands out for its straightforward approach to language learning. Upon profile creation, users are presented with a list of potential language partners. The choice is yours: decline and explore other options or accept and await mutual acceptance to establish a connection.

Engage in text conversations or send voice recordings to practice Japanese with your language exchange partners.

The Pros

  • Great design and the app works wonderfully.
  • The app excels in swiftly connecting users with new language partners.

The Cons

  • Similar to other language exchange apps like Tandem, Lingbe may be perceived by some users as more inclined towards dating, leading to occasional frustration.
  • Account creation involves linking the app to a social network, and users are required to supplement their profiles with additional information. Some people may want to avoid this.

What Beginning Learners Think

“I was initially concerned about the absence of a translator, but to my surprise, everyone I connected with spoke English fluently. Communication was easy, and the platform allowed me to receive valuable feedback on my pronunciation through voice recordings.”

“I met some really cool Japanese speakers on this app.”

What Advanced Learners Might Think

“While Lingbe is marketed for meeting Japanese speakers, I found that a significant number of users contacting me were non-Japanese speakers. The few Japanese connections I made often preferred English, which, as an advanced learner, was frustrating.

“Some of the matches I made just stopped communicating after a couple of exchanges, which was really frustrating because they were super helpful!”

 

As you can see, all of the resources on this list of ours have their virtues and flaws. Some work better for beginners while others suit experts more. If you want to practice your Japanese speaking online, we recommend that you try all four out and see which one (or ones) work best for you.

And if you need a bit more help in your conversations, you can always listen to and watch native content to top up your speaking abilities. For example, watching an anime series on Netflix can guide you when you’re talking about last night’s episode, while subtitled Japanese media clips on the FluentU program can help you with conversational phrases and pop-culture references.

Now go and speak Japanese like you’ve never spoken it before!

And One More Thing...

If you love learning Japanese with authentic materials, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.

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FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos as you'll see below:

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FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.

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All definitions have multiple examples, and they're written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

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The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You'll have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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