Imagine that everyone around you suddenly started speaking in Japanese.
How much would you understand?
The key to understanding spoken Japanese is listening practice!
And one of the best ways to listen to Japanese is through podcasts.
Through podcasts, you’ll get your ears used to picking up vocabulary, grammar and the rhythm and music of the Japanese language.
But where can you find great Japanese podcasts?
Don’t waste your time wading through low-quality, amateur work!
We’ve already tracked down the best and brightest Japanese language learning podcasts available today!
The Benefits of Listening to Japanese Podcasts
Podcasts are great for learning! Here are just a few reasons why:
- They’re created by people who are passionate about language learning and committed to giving you the resources and imaginative lessons you need.
- Hands down, spending time with Japanese podcasts is one of the best ways of improving your Japanese listening skills. This is something that books and flashcards can’t deliver.
- You can listen to them any time and anywhere—on the long commute home, while you’re jogging around the park or soaping up in the shower. They can even be playing in your ears as you go to sleep at night!
In this post, we’re going to go through some of the best Japanese podcasts for language learners out there. Plus, at the end, we’ve got a bonus section for you on how to reach Japanese fluency faster.
Awesome Audio: 8 Japanese Podcasts for Accelerating Your Learning
The title says it all. This fabulous learning resource features a different fun news topic every week which is read out in slow, clear and precise Japanese. Every syllable can be easily heard.
This is a wonderful way to hone your listening and comprehension skills. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to stretch yourself a little, you can listen to a faster version of each slow news story.
Among the site’s eclectic mix of topic categories are movies, manga, good news, culture, humor, internet and sports. The audio is accompanied by popup translations and readings of the kanji. Many of the posts also feature a video of the topic under discussion.
This Japanese learning podcast is hosted by Alex, who created the website to improve his own language skills, and Asuka, a native of Japan who speaks several languages. It’s a good choice for the beginner who needs to master useful Japanese phrases and vocabulary.
The typical show format features a handful of short conversations between the pair, conducted in Japanese. They’re designed to illustrate how certain words and phrases are used.
Each conversation is then dissected in English to give the listener a thorough understanding of what’s taking place. This is backed up by an array of supporting materials including transcripts of the conversations in Japanese and English.
Alex and Asuka are a good double act who spark off each other, and their tone is friendly and engaging with an occasional splattering of humor. To date, there are more than 100 podcasts on the site—plenty to sink your teeth into!
This is an excellent way to learn Japanese online!
LingQ’s podcasts cover a range of formats such as interviews, features and audiobook excerpts, although most of the lessons are conversations in real Japanese. They feature numerous topics of everyday interests including current affairs, education and food and drink.
Each podcast comes with a transcript, but they’re only available after you have signed up for a free account with LingQ. The podcast series is aimed at the intermediate level Japanese language learner, but advanced beginners not frightened by a challenge can also benefit from tuning in.
If you think that LingQ’s free podcasts are working well for you, then you should probably consider getting a LingQ membership and using their full program—which comes complete with features like flashcards, vocabulary lists, progress trackers and neat web browser extensions for learning while you surf.
If you’re a beginner to Japanese, The Japanese Page is designed squarely for you. Its aim is to get you away from textbook Japanese and speaking real, everyday conversations.
The mini podcast lessons are conducted in English and feature short conversations in Japanese, which are then explained in English. Each lesson concludes with a quick recap and episodes are accompanied by English and Japanese texts of key phrases and information.
Although each podcast episode is self-contained and can be listened to in isolation, they build on each other. Each one starts with a quick review of what was covered in the previous lesson.
JapanesePod101 is quite simply one of the best podcast series out there for learning Japanese.
It has a superlative library of material for the beginner, intermediate and advanced language learner. In addition to the audio lessons, there are plenty of video tutorials, too. The presentation is clear and crisp throughout, with ample opportunity for the student to repeat what they’ve just heard.
One of the many great features of JapanesePod101 is that the pronunciation is so clear and distinct, allowing for every syllable to be heard.
The host, Peter, guides a clear path through each lesson which features native Japanese speakers. As well as language and conversation essentials, they throw in occasional tidbits of Japanese lifestyle which helps to keep the lessons interesting. Among the topics featured are Japanese for everyday life and phrases for getting by.
Each episode follows the format of an interview session, but in truth the pace is so snappy that it feels like you’re listening in on a conversation.
Part of what makes “NHK World” an attractive option for the beginner is the simple structure of its podcast audio lessons: Two hosts take the reader through various scenarios over the course of a ten-minute lesson.
Each episode is conducted in English intermixed with Japanese words and phrases and how they’re used in different situations. Episodes also feature scenarios played out by native Japanese speakers.
The moderate pace of the Japanese is fairly easy to comprehend. And no worries if you miss what was said: the friendly hosts repeat conversations, exploring them in a little more detail. There’s a strong focus on pronunciation and grammar.
The podcast also includes interactive elements to check your understanding of the Japanese. There are 50 lessons in all and among the featured topics are how to ask for things, ordering in a restaurant and words associated with disaster situations. Text versions of the lessons are available in PDF format.
Ready to turn it up a notch? As the name implies, this podcast is for advanced Japanese language learners. What you’ll hear on the podcasts is Japanese natives talking at natural speed, using colloquialisms and the language you’ll hear on the street.
If you’re at an advanced level but not currently residing or staying in a Japanese-speaking country, then daily bursts of the podcast will keep your language skills alive.
If you find any parts of the conversations too difficult, there are downloadable transcripts in Japanese with English translations.
Although this resource is no longer updating, there are so many excellent advanced Japanese audio available here that we felt it still worth mentioning!
If you’re traveling to Japan for a vacation or business trip and don’t have a clue about the language, Survival Phrases by Innovative Language can help.
It’s like your Japanese language learning SOS with podcasts that cover the essentials, such as how to introduce yourself, say “thank you” and ask for things in Japanese.
As the website says, “a little Japanese learning can go a long way.” Impress your hosts by making some effort to communicate with them in their own language. And learn some really useful Japanese, while you’re at it!
The podcasts are entertaining to listen to, largely due to the up-tempo, friendly style of the host and the clear and expert tuition.
The interesting topics, diversity of difficulty levels, rich vocabulary and authentic speaking styles make Japanese podcasts an awesome tool for Japanese language learning. Start at your level and steadily work your way up. Before you know it, you’ll be listening to full-on native Japanese audio!
The sooner you start listening to these podcasts, the sooner you can get yourself on the fast track to Japanese fluency.
Bonus: How to Learn Japanese with Authentic Resources
Ready to kick things up a notch and get into authentic Japanese resources, made by native speakers for native speakers?
That can be an intimidating step to take.
Not only will you find grammar lessons and YouTube language learning videos here, you’ll also find authentic Japanese videos that natives actually watch on the daily.
FluentU takes these real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It’s all broken down into six Japanese proficiency levels, so you can rest assured that your chosen content will be within your reach.
FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Read along while you watch!
Simply tap on any subtitled word to look it up instantly. All definitions have multiple examples written for Japanese learners like you. Tap “add” to save a word to your vocab list for later review.
Vocabulary lists and tailor-made flashcard decks will help you learn actively while watching your favorite videos. The flashcards are truly unique, integrating a multimedia mix of materials for the ultimate in-context learning experience.
The best part? FluentU keeps track of your progress, then it provides quizzes and suggests content based on the lessons you’ve already mastered. You’ll have a 100% personalized experience.
And even better (if you can imagine that) is the FluentU App is now available for iPhone. It’s also still accessible as a website that you can use with your computer or tablet, and if you’re an Android user, fear not—our Android app is currently in the works!
All in all, between your podcasts and FluentU content, you’re sure to find yourself accelerating towards Japanese fluency faster than ever.
Listen up! Put the pedal to the metal and get those ears working hard. Learn Japanese through podcasts with the excellent audio resources above!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.