Improving Your Japanese on The Go

By OptiLingo

What better way to spend your time commuting than learning a language such as Japanese? The average person in the United States spends more than 200 hours a year in their car getting back and forth to work. This unproductive time spent commuting, or when you’re traveling, can be made more useful and fun by listening to Japanese in order to learn the language.

As most people commute five days a week that’s most days of the week they could be spending learning Japanese. If you spend a bit of time on this activity on the weekends as well you have made it a daily habit. There are many ways to learn Japanese in your car which this article will enlighten you on. One of the best things to do is practice the words that you already know while you’re in the car and spend your other learning time on new words and concepts.


The 13 Great Ways to Learn Japanese While Traveling


Listening to Audio

If you have either a CD player in your car or a way of connecting your smartphone to your car’s audio system you have many things in Japanese to listen to. This is one of the best way to learn Japanese in the car. This works if you’re alone in the car or with someone else who also wants to learn Japanese.


Language Course CDs for Japanese

Drive Time Japan is a great CD that really keeps your attention. It’s designed for beginners.

Pimsleur is for intermediate Japanese learners and is rated highly on Amazon

Learn Japanese is for people who have become advanced in this language



FluentU is a great resource for learning Japanese. There is even a way to print out transcripts so once you’re done driving you can review what you heard. This program creates personalized language lessons that use real-world videos you already know like movie trailers and music videos.

LearnJapanesePod is for all levels of learning.

JapanesePod101 offers material made by professional teachers. They teach everyday conversational Japanese, grammar, vocabulary, and Japanese culture as well.


Japanese Music

Listening to Japanese music, including J-pop, is a great way to learn how Japanese speak in the real-world. Some great artists to listen to include Utadu Hikaru, Mr Children, and Bump of Chicken.


Japanese songs, poems, and nursery rhymes

These are among the best way to learn Japanese in the car. Nursery rhymes are especially helpful as, designed for small children, they use very simple words and sentences which is ideal for beginning Japanese learners. You also learn about Japanese culture from these sources.

If you want to hear traditional Japanese instrumental music and excellent choice is the “Shamisen Song Collection”. A collection of fantastic Japanese poems is found in “The Birth of a Poet”.



Audiobooks are ideal for advanced Japanese learners. You get to enjoy a story while improviing your Japanese. You can also listen to stories you already know which means you don’t need to understand every word and can look up unknown ones later on.

You can listen to Japanese books if you like which also helps learn about the culture. You can also listen to the Japanese versions of books you already know such as the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, or A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones).


Car Games

If you’re in the car with someone else who is either Japanese or wants to learn the language these can be pretty fun. You can also practice on your own if you’re a solo driver. This game is most useful for words you already know and want to practice. However, if you’re with someone who is at the same level of your or higher when it comes to Japanese it’s a great opportunity to learn new words.


20 Questions

One player thinks of some word and the other players ask questions to narrow down the answer. This is a great way to learn new words.


I Spy

One player sees something while in the cdar and gives the first letter of it to the other players. The other players compete to guess what it was.


License Plate Game

Look at license plate and then form words using the letters on the plate. The more absurd the sentence you come up with the more fun this game is to play.


Name Game

The first player says a Japanese word and then the next person comes up with a word starting the last letter of that word, and so on.


Restaurant Race

Each player in the game picks a popular chain restaurant like Mcdonald’s or Subway. Within a set time limit each time the player sees that restaurant they count up in Japanese.


Talking to Other Japanese Speakers in Your Car

Talking to others in your car in Japanese makes the drive more productive and fun.


Traveling with a Fellow Learner or Japanese Person

If you’re traveling with others who speak some level of Japanese than you both benefit from practicing while driving. You can chat even if you’re the driver without taking your eyes off the road. In this way you’ll deepen your Japanese language understanding and learn about the other person.



If you live in Japan and are trying to learn the language than carpooling with someone can be really helpful to learn the language. This can be a coworker or a fellow student.


Using a handsfree system

As long as it’s legal where you live a handsfree device lets you talk to others while you drive. You can call a Japanese conversation partner if you have one and use the time that otherwise would go to waste.


Summing it Up

The time spent in your car getting somewhere doesn’t have to be wasted time. You can use the time to expand your knowledge about another language and have fun doing it. By doing this in your car you can spend less of your free time dedicated to mastering this language. You can likely spend a few hours as least a week, or more, learning the language so that you can grasp it that much quicker.