Do you want to homeschool Japanese in high school?
I received a 6-month subscription to Nihongo Master for free and was compensated for my time to create this post. These are my honest opinions and I was not required to post a positive review.
My kids love anime. One kid even has a collection of Studio Ghibli movies!
But there’s one problem we keep running into. Constantly reading the captions destroys the enjoyment of the film. So my kids determined there’s one solution: learn Japanese online!
My kids and I have two different purposes behind them studying Japanese in high school. The kids want to learn Japanese online so they can read manga and anime. I want them to complete two years of Japanese to complete the second language requirements for college.
My ideal is a way to learn Japanese online that covers more than two years of Japanese. And one that uses manga in its lessons to keep the kids engaged.
This is why I was delighted to discover Nihongo Master!
Learn Japanese Online with Nihongo Master
Nihongo Master is an online Japanese program that uses adaptive software and manga to teach kids Japanese. The software figures out what the kids know and don’t know. So if your child has mastered a lesson, the software moves on. If not, the software offers more drills.
And many of the lessons also include short manga exercises so you can practice the Japanese you’re learning!
And you don’t need any fancy equipment to use Nihongo Master! My kids and I have been using our laptop computers and earbuds. That’s it. No fancy headphones or trying to upload complicated programs.
Just click and learn!
When you first log into Nihongo Master, you see the dashboard.
On the lefthand side is a checklist of tasks you need to complete.
At the top you can see your progress through in the level you’re working on, rather like a video game. And you even gain achievement badges as you master different levels and concepts. Talk about motivation! I don’t know about you, but I love earning badges. They make me feel like I’m actually progressing.
Underneath the progress bar, you can see the lesson you’re about to complete and what it’s about. At the bottom right, you’ll see a button for you to go directly to the lesson from the dashboard.
There’s even a section on the right that posts recent questions and answers about the Japanese language. For instance:
Is 哲学 (てつがく) the correct word to use when talking about Philosophy as a major?
And yes, you have the opportunity to ask and answer questions as needed within Nihongo Master.
The introductory lessons introduce two writing systems: Hiragana and Katagana. Kanji is taught later. It also teaches some simple vocabulary and introduces you to your first sentence grammar.
The very first lesson begins by teaching the vowels and a couple words made up entirely of vowels.
The second lesson begins to add consonants.
There are 9 pages of lessons just to introduce you to Japanese!
Each lesson includes text to read that explains the Japanese you’re learning. There’s an audio recording so you can listen to each sound and word as often as you need to listen to it.
Clicking on the pencil opens a popup that shows you how to write the sounds and words. You’re shown each stroke one at a time. The first is green, and then red, and then green again. And don’t worry, there are practice sheets you can print to practice writing!
Some of the lessons include a quick tip about speaking Japanese. For instance, at the end of the second lesson you have a quick tip about the gesture for ‘me.’ Apparently when the Japanese gesture ‘me,’ they don’t point at the chest as we do. Instead, they point at the face.
Other lessons include manga for you to practice reading Japanese.
Let’s just say, my anime and manga loving kids adore being able to put their new skills to use!
Mom, I love the manga that Nihongo Master includes in the lessons!
Once you’ve finished your lesson, you click to unlock practice drills so you can actually master what you just learned. And the drills do just what they claim. They drill you until you’ve mastered the information. If you get stuck, there’s a link back to the lesson where the information is taught.
You’re not left hanging and guessing the correct answer!
Nihongo Master’s lessons and drills come in four different levels.
The Introductory Level is just what it seems. It introduces you to the Hiragana and Katakana writing systems. It also teaches a few words and your first sentences.
The beginning level teaches the grammar and vocabulary you need to begin speaking to other people. You learn simple sentences and enough Kanji to read simple texts.
I would guess that there are about 162 beginning lessons. My calculation is based on the fact that there are approximately 6 lessons on each page, and there are 27 pages of lessons. And that doesn’t include the drills and quizzes!
The beginning level of Nihongo Master is aimed at teaching enough Japanese to pass the JLPT 5 exam. The JLPT exam is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test the Japanese government gives worldwide. There are 5 levels with the 5th level being the lowest. And once your teen has completed the beginning level, they’re learned the same amount of Japanese taught in the first year of high school.
As you can imagine, the intermediate level ramps up a bit. And it continues to use manga to help teach the lessons! The lessons are in the same format as the previous levels. You click to hear the audio as many times as needed to fully understand what you’re saying.
The intermediate level of Nihongo Master teaches people the skills they need to pass JLPT 4 which is to understand basic Japanese to some degree. And it’s also equivalent to the second year of high school Japanese.Learning Japanese is more fun when it includes manga!
The advanced level at Nihongo Master teaches to JLPT 3. There are not many advanced lessons at this time, but Nihongo Master is still coming out with new lessons!
When this level is completed, it will be equivalent to 3 or 4 years of high school Japanese.
By this point, kids should have enough Japanese to understand an everyday conversation at close to normal speed.
There are practice sheets available for kids to download, print, and practice writing Japanese.
You can create your own or use the ones already uploaded into the system.
Nihongo Master also includes community groups for students to ask specific questions or to chat.
There’s also the community question and answer board I mentioned earlier that you can access from the dashboard. You can see the most recent questions asked, and if you click over you can also ask questions as well.
Speaking Japanese is probably the hardest part when you learn Japanese online. At this time I didn’t see many opportunities for kids to practice speaking Japanese, so I asked Taylor, who founded Nihongo Master. This is his reply:
As for practicing speaking, we’re working on some tooling to better check pronunciation and we’re looking at re-introducing our tools which allow voice communication with other members to have practice speaking sessions. This is coming up soon!
So if your kids are like mine and love anime and manga, you need to check out Nihongo Master.
Not only will your kids learn Japanese online with manga practice, but they’ll be working their way through their two years of the foreign language they need in high school.
Learn more about Nihongo Master: