japanese speaking online

5 Super Spots for Japanese Speaking Online and Getting Chatty with the Locals

I’m wktk!

No, that wasn’t a typo. That was me trying to sound hip by using some Japanese internet slang.

Being “wktk” means being excited. Isn’t that cool?

Okay, so maybe using cool slang isn’t all that exciting.

But what is exciting is that you can practice Japanese speaking online.

I don’t mean all those times you’ve muttered to yourself while sitting at the computer or yelled at the screen after getting beaten in a game by a 12-year-old.

I mean actual, effective Japanese speaking practice, with real native Japanese speakers.

How?

Just check out the five awesome resources in this post!
 


 

Practice Your Japanese Speaking Online with 5 Friendly Resources

In this list, we’ve highlighted five excellent apps and resources for Japanese language learners who are interested in learning to speak online. For each resource, we’ve put together a brief description as well as some things it does well and some that it does… not so well.

You’ll also notice two more curious sections under each resource: “What Beginning Learners Might Think” and “What Advanced Learners Might Think” 

These two sections show what a typical learner at the beginner or advanced level might have to say about each resource. They’re by no means the only way to think, but are rather intended to give a sense of how different learners can use the resource and what benefits it can have for you at your particular learning level.

Whether you’re a beginner, an advanced learner or stuck on the intermediate plateau, keep in mind that your speaking skills can also benefit from honing your listening skills. How? Well, the more you listen to authentic Japanese speaking, the more attuned you’ll become to the sounds, rhythms and pronunciation of the language.

japanese speaking online

And you don’t have to be advanced to listen to authentic Japanese—any level of learner can do so thanks to FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. The program makes Japanese approachable to any level thanks to interactive subtitles, video-enhanced flashcards and adaptive quizzes that evolve as you do.

Try out FluentU before you dive into one of these apps for some stress-free practice.

Learn a foreign language with videos

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 Might 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 Might 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.”

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 Might 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 Might 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.”

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 Might 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 Might 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.”

Anygram

japanese speaking online

Anygram is pretty much HelloTalk on steroids. It offers almost everything HelloTalk does, but it takes it up a notch. Open debates, open stories and questionnaires are just some of the interesting features of the app.

At the time of this writing, the Android version seems to be unavailable, but keep an eye out for it!

The Pros

  • There are many users on this app who want to learn English and are Japanese.
  • Open debates and stories are good tools for finding people who share your thoughts.
  • The translator tool is surprisingly good and is a great help for complete beginners.
  • Voice chat can be very handy for improving your speaking skills.

The Cons

  • A lot of users seem to consider this to be a dating app, so they end up chasing away people who actually want to learn something.
  • Even though the translator is one of the better ones out there, it still isn’t good at accurately translating longer or more complex sentences.

What Beginning Learners Might Think

“I like it because I can talk to a lot of people. Some of them speak English and others use the translator like I do, and I think it conveys the message very well.

“The interface is also quite simple and easy to get accustomed to.”

What Advanced Learners Might Think

“I’m not sold on this. The app has many more users than HelloTalk but I couldn’t get in touch with a bunch of them. It seems like HelloTalk is more efficient even though it offers fewer features.

“The debate feature has a lot of potential, but it somehow ended up being too simple, with basic “yes” or “no” questions on offer.

“I also prefer speaking with people in private, but it seems like when you send a voice or text comment to someone, it gets posted on their profile wall. I think I’ll stick to other apps.”

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

  • As with Anygram, 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 Might 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 Might 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.”

 

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 five out and see which one (or ones) work best for you. Now go and speak Japanese like you never spoke it before!
 

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.

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