Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

FluentU Review

Thursday, May 30th

2024 Japanese Lesson Reviews

FluentU Review 2.5 Star Rating


2.5 Star Rating
  • Priced from $29.99 per month to up to $359.99 per year
  • Video-based approach
  • Context exercises and vocab
  • App for Android and iOS
  • 14-day free trial
  • 20-day money-back guarantee
  • 4.3-star average

FluentU offers a unique approach to Japanese learning, aiming to help you gain fluency by immersing you in authentic video content from various sources like music videos, TV shows, and movies. Unlike traditional classroom methods, FluentU provides context-rich lessons that mirror real-life language usage (like watching Iron Man in Japanese) to foster a deeper understanding and comfort with Japanese.

No trial lessons unless you give them your payment info

When you first get started on FluentU, you'll see a preview video (or rather, a movie trailer) of what you can expect from the FluentU teaching style. Using TV, movies, and music videos in Japanese, you can learn from your favorite entertaining sources rather than a textbook. To jump into the process just click the "14-days free" button. You'll be asked questions about which language you want to learn, how fluent you already are, your age, your daily goal (from 5-50 minutes per day), and then asked to sign up with your email. However, before you can get to any lessons, you'll have to put in your credit card information. Unlike competitors that offer sample lessons with no strings attached, FluentU's trial terms may keep students from even trying the program out.

Great for visual learners

FluentU supports Japanese lessons from the beginner to the advanced level. By using authentic video clips, FluentU offers a "dynamic" learning experience supplemented with interactive tools such as word lookup, contextual examples, subtitles in Japanese and English, and spaced repetition exercises. This is definitely a program for any visual learners (and film fans).

Best Japanese Lessons

Price includes multiple languages

FluentU offers subscription options at $29.99 per month or $359.99 per year (or $143.99 per year on sale). This is a bit more expensive than many other Japanese lessons online, and your purchase might incur foreign transaction fees between 1-3% because FluentU is based in Hong Kong. Despite the relatively higher cost, subscribers enjoy access to a wide variety of languages, which could be attractive for those interested in learning multiple languages simultaneously.

Gain skills by watching captioned videos

You can progress from beginner to intermediate through context-based learning. One way that FluentU helps with this is the interactive video lessons. While the video plays, captions are displayed at the bottom, featuring Japanese text accompanied by furigana (character readings) and English translations. There's an option to toggle the captions to show only Japanese without furigana or English, which can help you improve your reading speed faster. What distinguishes FluentU is its feature which allows you to hover your mouse over unfamiliar words in the video captions, automatically pausing the video and displaying the word's definition before you continue your content. This, mixed with other interactive exercises and vocab study, helps students move from beginner to advanced Japanese.

20-day money-back guarantee

FluentU has recently added a refund policy to its site. You are offered a 20-day money-back guarantee, which makes it a little easier to sign up for the free trial with your credit card information. However, it's still a smaller refund window than many competitors. According to FluentU, all you have to do is contact customer service to get your refund within that 20-day window.

Best Japanese Lessons

Solid, but not the best reviews

The feedback for FluentU is solid, though not the highest we've seen in our review. It averages around 4 stars from the Google Play store and 4.3 stars from the Apple store. While it gets a favorable score from Trustpilot with a 4.3-star average there too, there are only around 80 total reviews to back up that score. Generally, students praise how easy and fun the program is, though a handful of reviews call the lessons "scattered" , making it harder to learn Japanese with FluentU from scratch.

Misses the mark with transparency and structure

Overall, while FluentU offers an innovative approach to language learning through authentic content, it may not be as suitable for beginners. While it's a fun way to learn Japanese using videos and contextual exercises, the concerns from students who called it "scattered" make it less ideal for those looking for a structured lesson plan. Given that you can't try the program before you put in your payment information, it doesn't rank high in transparency either. Many of our higher-rated programs offer more complete lessons and the ability to try the program first.

Where Can You Find the Best Japanese Lessons?

Learning a new language opens up a world of opportunities, and Japanese is one of the most intriguing languages you can choose. Suppose you're fascinated by Japanese culture, anime, manga, or traditional arts like tea ceremonies and calligraphy. In that case, delving into the Japanese language can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of what you love.

Fortunately, with the increasing popularity of online learning, you can easily find Japanese lessons on the internet. Whether you're a complete beginner or seeking to refine your conversational skills, online Japanese courses offer a variety of teaching styles. From immersive audio lessons and interactive quizzes to multimedia resources and virtual language exchanges, online platforms offer an engaging learning environment.

The Best Japanese Lessons Compare Japanese Lessons Compare Japanese Lesson Reviews What are the best Japanese Lessons Best Japanese Lesson Reviews

Japanese Lesson FAQ

Japanese is in the top 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, with over 130 million people who use it. 99% of those speakers live in Japan, but there are over a million people in the US, Brazil and Guam who also speak fluent Japanese.
Yes, but you probably won't encounter anything beyond Standard Japanese unless you travel throughout Japan itself. The Japanese you learn will be understood throughout the country, and differences are mostly related to accents and some vocabulary. It's not unlike what you find between speakers from different regions of the US, or between people from England and Australia.
If we're being completely honest, we'd say that Japanese is one of the hardest languages you could attempt to master: even the US State Department ranks it with Arabic, Korean and Chinese as one of the four most difficult! Part of that stems from the fact that Japanese has three separate writing systems (Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji). However, if you've got the grit to work hard and be patient with your studies, Japanese shouldn't be out of reach for you to learn.
You're going to need to wrap your head around the three Japanese alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. You'll find all of them as you learn the language! As you learn the alphabets, start memorizing basic vocabulary for how you intend to use Japanese, whether that's for business use or just to understand your favorite anime! Speaking of TV, it's a great way to pick up the accent and pronunciation naturally, especially if you don't have the chance to talk with native speakers on a regular basis.
There's no need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a one-semester Japanese class at a university when you can get on-demand instruction for much less. You may not even be able to find in-person classes near you, but there are always options online that let you learn Japanese as quickly (or as slowly!) as you desire.
You need to take a few extra steps to enable the Japanese language on your computer. The steps differ if you're using a Mac or Windows-based PC, and you'll have to search for the instructions based on your operating system. There are also online Japanese keyboards that let you click on characters without modifying your settings.
They're very affordable. You can get month-to-month subscription plans for less than $25/month, or make a one-time purchase of a Japanese lessons package for under $500. Either way, you'll get much more for your money than if you were paying for a semester or two of college courses.
You'll want to read the terms and conditions of any language platform you're considering. The subscription plans typically allow customers to cancel at any time but don't offer a refund of previous payments. The Japanese lesson packages that are one-off purchases may have a 30- or 60-day money-back guarantee. We suggest that you use all of the free resources that the language program has to offer - such as a sample lesson, or a trial period - so that you will already know how it approaches instruction and if it's a good fit for your preferences.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Whether you dream of exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo, immersing yourself in the serene landscapes of Kyoto, or simply connecting with Japanese speakers, learning the language can be a rewarding experience.

Japan has a rich cultural heritage, steeped in centuries-old traditions and modern innovations. From the graceful movements of traditional dance forms like Noh and Kabuki to the intricate artistry of sushi-making and bonsai cultivation, Japanese culture offers art, history, and innovation. By learning Japanese, you gain access to a vibrant cultural world that spans ancient history and contemporary pop culture phenomena like J-pop music. From the elegance of Japanese architecture to the dynamic energy of modern city life, learning Japanese allows you to delve deeper into the heart and soul of Japan.

In today's interconnected world, proficiency in Japanese can open doors to many personal and professional opportunities. Japan is a global economic powerhouse, home to leading technology companies, automotive giants, and influential cultural exports. Whether you aspire to work for a Japanese corporation, pursue academic research in collaboration with Japanese institutions, or engage in cross-cultural exchange programs, fluency in Japanese can significantly broaden your horizons.

As you embark on your journey to learn Japanese, it can be hard to narrow down the options. Here are some key factors to consider to help you find the best resource for your Japanese lessons:

  • Teaching methodology. Identify your preferred learning style - whether auditory, visual, or kinesthetic - and select a Japanese course that works best with how you learn. Whether you thrive on interactive exercises, audiovisual content, or structured grammar discussions, make sure you prioritize platforms that offer methods that support how you learn best.
  • Free trial option. Look for Japanese language platforms that offer free trials or sample lessons. This allows you to check out the program before committing to a subscription. Some platforms offer course previews or multi-day trials. These will give you the best chance at trying a language program before you have to pay.
  • Cost. Evaluate the cost of Japanese language courses with respect to the value they offer in terms of educational content and language proficiency outcomes. Many Japanese language lessons are free, but you may not get full proficiency from those sources. On the other hand, some programs are very expensive, but you still might miss some key features. Balance the cost and value of the language instruction to find your best fit.
  • Reputation. Research the reputation and credibility of Japanese language platforms through customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials. Explore third-party review sites, language learning forums, and social media channels to see if your favorite Japanese lesson provider offers the results you want. Look for platforms with positive feedback regarding instructional effectiveness, customer support, and learning outcomes for a rewarding and fulfilling learning experience.

To help you get the most out of your language studies, Top Consumer Reviews has tested, evaluated and ranked the best options for online Japanese lessons today. We know this information will give you all the info you need to choose the best program for your learning style and schedule.

Compare Japanese Lessons

Select any 2 Japanese Lessons to compare them head to head

See the Best Japanese Lesson
The Best Reviews of Japanese Lessons