Want to get your audio on?
Ready to hear real Japanese in conversation?
Looking for some gripping Japanese audiobooks?
Just need to hear a word pronounced correctly?
Come one, come all. We’ve got audio resources for all that and more.
Thanks to the vast resources on the internet, hearing Japanese the way native speakers use it is easy—no matter what language level you’re at.
There are so many helpful Japanese audio tools out there, you can train your ears for fluency right from the start.
Whether you’re just starting out or a near-fluent speaker, there’s something for you here. We’ll take you through a diverse collection of Japanese audio tools that you can use to boost your skills and prepare for real-life interactions with native speakers.
So grab those headphones and let’s get started!
How Can Audio Tools Help You Learn Japanese?
Can listening to Japanese really help you speak it? Science indicates that yes, it can.
For example, one study showed that when it comes to language learning in adults, the ability to understand spoken language was highly correlated with the ability to understand written language. This suggests that developing listening comprehension skills—the primary focus of Japanese audio materials—is linked to overall language comprehension.
Audio tools also have more immediate benefits, like exposing you to a range of Japanese accents or getting you accustomed to the cadences and rhythms of spoken Japanese.
Plus, as you’ll see below, the wide variety of audio tools available not only demonstrates a range of genres and speaking styles, but also helps keep your studies fresh and diverse so you never get bored.
Listen Up! Learn Japanese with 9 Awesome Audio Tools
Starting out with the right tools will help you to go a long way on your journey. Below are our top picks for Japanese learning audio tools, organized roughly by proficiency level. Note that many of these tools are appropriate for a range of learning levels, so you can continue to use them even as you advance.
You may be familiar with Rosetta Stone, which is a good option for a comprehensive start to Japanese learning. You’ll get sequential Japanese lessons along with speech recognition technology so you can hear and imitate correct pronunciations.
Just be aware that Rosetta Stone does put a lot of emphasis on word repetition, so you’ll see words multiple times. This may or may not benefit you depending on your particular learning style. It also requires some interaction with the software, so you won’t be able to listen passively while you drive.
With the innovative tool that is FluentU, even beginner learners can build their skills using authentic Japanese audio. FluentU provides real-world Japanese videos, like music videos, new clips and more, that’ve been transformed into language learning tools. These interactive videos come with captions you can click to learn the pronunciation and definition of any word.
There are also audio-only tracks that you can use for more listening-focused study. You’ll be getting essential exposure to real Japanese audio right from the start while actively building your vocabulary.
FluentU provides content for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners, so this is a tool you can use all the way through your language journey. Plus, the platform remembers what you’ve studied and suggests further content based on that information, so you get a truly personalized learning experience.
Another good option for basic audio practice is JapanesePod101. This resource aims to provide engaging, culturally relevant audio and video lessons that’ll hold your attention. There are more than 2,500 lessons and counting, which come with PDF notes if you want to read along with your audio. Some people find that kind of reinforcement helpful to their learning process.
For more nitty-gritty audio practice, check out the pronunciation tool Forvo. Just type in a word and you’ll get a range of pronunciations from native speakers. You can also get translations of the words. There are more than 14,000 Japanese speakers contributing to the platform, with more than 153,000 pronunciations available.
This is a great audio tool to supplement your other studies—for example, if you come across an unfamiliar word in your Japanese textbook. Just be aware that it’s most useful for looking up individual words.
Podcasts like News in Slow Japanese will give you complex sentences and thoughts, but at a manageable pace so you won’t get overwhelmed. This is a great option for intermediate to advanced learners of the language who are trying to get a grip on the day-to-day speech in Japan.
It has the added benefit of presenting current events from a Japanese perspective, so you’ll be rounding out your cultural knowledge as well.
SurvivalPhrases.com is designed for first-time travelers to Japan who want to get around and talk to natives in day-to-day interactions. It’s a great springboard for intermediate learners to get comfortable talking with native speakers and navigating life in Japan.
As its name indicates, this resource will teach you essential phrases along with cultural tips for getting the most out of your trip. Some lessons are available for free, but you’ll need a premium account to unlock all materials, including PDF guides.
When you’re ready to speed it up, give Japanese Listening Advanced a try. This podcast will get you comfortable speaking Japanese while giving you real-life context for the language. You’ll hear native speakers having real-world conversations, and you can pick up a lot of handy tricks on interaction.
Plus, the podcasts come with transcripts so you can read along for boosted learning.
If you’re looking for a good story, you can try “Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers.” This is a physical book, but it comes with an audio CD with narrated versions of the stories.
Since short stories are good for small bits of time, they can fit easily into your study plans.
If you prefer non-fiction, then you can also try the “Read Real Japanese” essays collection.
If you have a specific Japanese text that you’d like to hear, RhinoSpike is a unique resource that’ll connect you straight to native speakers who can read it for you. All you have to do is submit an audio request and wait for it to be picked up by a Japanese speaker—then download their recording!
This is a perfect tool for advanced speakers who may need to hear more niche or specialized Japanese speech that isn’t easily found online. You’ll get audio files that you can download to your computer or mobile device to take your audio practice anywhere.
To bump your audio request up in line, you can submit readings in your own native language.
With time and dedication, you’ll build your Japanese skills with these audio tools. They provide a great way to make the most of otherwise dead time, like driving in the car or waiting in line.
Just remember to be patient. The process of coding audio into your brain doesn’t happen overnight. If you feel the urge to give up, give yourself a break and start again during your next study session.
Of course, not every audio tool is right for everyone.
So don’t be afraid to mix, match and experiment until you’ve built an effective and engaging audio study plan.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.