Home Technology Language app Duolingo can finally teach you Japanese

Language app Duolingo can finally teach you Japanese

1 min read


Duolingo is an incredibly popular, incredibly powerful language-learning tool. I’ve used it myself to learn a bit of German, before ignoring it to go and play videogames instead. One of the most requested languages – and probably one of the hardest to implement – is Japanese.

There’s an entire subculture of people who’re tired of watching bad dubs and reading subtitles on their favourite anime shows who’ve been yearning for an easy, interactive way to learn Japanese – and now there is one.

“This is by far the most requested and highly anticipated course launch in Duolingo’s five-year history,” said Duolingo co-founder and CEO Luis von Ahn. “No matter what we’d share on social media, tons of people would respond with, ‘that’s nice, but when are you launching Japanese?’”

The Japanese language course hasn’t gone the easy route of using Romaji – which is Japanese sounds represented through a westernised alphabet. Instead, you’ll be expected to work through and understand 100 Kanji and all the Hiragana characters.

Why’d it take so long?

“Japanese is very difficult to teach,” said Duolingo engineer Masato Hagiwara. “We did extensive research and read papers on the optimal way to teach the language.”

Unlike some other Duolingo courses, there’s a huge focus on real-world interaction; ordering food, travelling within a city and the sorts of things you’ll likely need if you’re planning to head to Nippon for 2020 Olympics. There’s also the nerdy stuff you’re all hoping is there.

“English speakers love food, culture, and anime from Japan, and it makes them want to learn the language,” says engineer Hideki Shima. “You’ll learn to say ‘I cosplay on the weekend,’ and ‘I am a little bit of an otaku.’”

Japanese is available in the iOS version of Duolingo right now, with Android support on the way soon.

Last Updated: May 19, 2017


  1. Magoo

    May 19, 2017 at 10:04



  2. VampyreSquirrel

    May 19, 2017 at 11:00

    *checks android app store*
    Ooooo! I can learn English, and that’s it, no other apps from Duolingo found xD


  3. HairyEwok

    May 19, 2017 at 11:04

    With tech and the lazy nature of people today they would just buy that hand held translator rather than learning a language.


    • Guild

      May 19, 2017 at 11:07

      I’m using Duo to learn German at the moment. Been using it for over a year and it’s been well worth it. Now I can have decent conversations with my inlaws instead of just smiling and nodding my head.


    • Saber1213

      January 24, 2021 at 09:10

      Bwahaha! Says you. I’m actually taking the time to learn the language.


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