In late 2015, I was going on one of my morning walks along the Tama River in Tokyo:
(Pretend that you can see the river to the right of this photo. Also, pretend that it's winter and there are no beautiful cherry blossoms. Also, it's freezing.)
Being a bad student (that day), I was not listening to any language-learning content. Instead, I was binge-listening to a daily podcast about entrepreneurship.The podcast had over a thousand episodes!
I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool if I could teach a thousand lessons to people studying Japanese?
Imagine how much useful information people would get out of them! Thus, NDLs were born. I didn’t have much of a plan when I started.
The only goal was to write a lesson every single day. I thought maybe I’d last a month.
But then I started getting feedback from readers, thank-you emails from my fellow students. It was AWESOME.
(This was the tiny work-space Rei and I had when we started producing NDLs.)
Month #2, my performance at work started to suffer. Sometimes I was spending 5-6 hours preparing a single lesson. It wasn’t feasible. It wasn’t practical. I mean, I wasn’t getting paid for any of it.
Still, I love Japanese. And I love teaching Japanese. So I stuck with it.
Now, well over two years later, we’re rapidly approaching our 700th lesson.
Students that have been following NDLs since Lesson #1 have been exposed to over 7,000 example sentences (all written by native Japanese speakers, mind you).
Our team has really created something amazing—and amazingly valuable for students of Japanese.
We’ve looked at casual language, JLPT grammar, kanji, vocabulary, anime, manga, Japanese songs—the works.
However, it’s simply not feasible to keep putting out so much content without any compensation. At the same time, we won’t accept the prospect of taking these lessons away from readers, either.
Thus, in hopes of keeping these free lessons alive for all of you students out there, we created…
Premium NDLs are different from the free lessons sent out daily in that they include:
Premium NDL subscription is also the only way to access the hundreds of past NDLs that have been published.
"I just wanted to say I absolutely love these daily lessons. I took Japanese back in high school but almost completely forgot it all over the past 7 years or so. But since starting up my journey again to mastering Japanese, getting these lessons every day (and reading your blog posts) have been one of the constant things keeping me going and inspiring me to continue day after day.
I can't tell you the number of times I've seen a weird grammar point somewhere and been like "what does this... mean?" only to find it covered in one of your NDLs days later. I've been studying Japanese for years and can confidently say I have the basics down solid. But through your daily emails and your website, I'm still learning essential tools for expressing myself and boosting my confidence further in this confusing but beautiful language.
The way you explain things and the examples you use make things crystal clear, where sometimes all I get from a google search are muddy and confusing answers. Also, I feel like we have similar senses of humor, so there's that. The lol's are real, and I frequently chortle whilst reading your stuff. (Yes, I just used the word "chortle" casually.)
I wish I had known of you years ago, you're one of the few language educators who just "get it." I might be taking a job as an ALT next year, and thanks to your help my steady improvement is slowly increasing my motivation and confidence in my ability to live and work in Japan.
Sorry for the long message, just wanted to encourage you to keep doing what you're doing and to especially thank you for encouraging me to keep learning Japanese. You're a rad dude, you are.
Cheers man, best wishes to you and Rei."
- Jimmy V.
Notice! In the sense of transparency, I should mention that a significant proportion of the testimonials appearing on this page are from long-time subscribers to the free Niko's Daily Lesson emails. Premium access includes the lessons they are referring to, plus additional content such as audio by voice actors, flashcards, etc.
"These lessons are absolutely wonderful!
I'm a super busy student and am learning a few other languages in my free time - your lessons form the backbone of my Japanese studies and most of your examples land in my Anki.
Following the lessons, in about one and a half years I went from not knowing kana to N4-N3ish level without too much study :)"
"These NDLs are like smacks right in the face! I can skip the "look the web for some grammar" process and just jump right into learning something useful!
A lot of the things in there are actually stuff you will be hearing a lot. And knowing those things saves you the trouble of making missteps when trying to interpret Japanese. There seem to be a lot of peculiarities and confusing parts in Japanese sentence structure(and stuff), it also seems necessary to go through each and every one of them thoroughly in order to master Japanese.
This is what I believe NDL is trying to offer in a comprehensive, not at all overwhelming ”bit by bit” format."
- Filip E.
"Thank you so much for the NDLs, I find them to be extremely user-friendly, entertaining and instructive with clearly presented examples – altogether a great format and very useful for both my studies and less formal attempts to communicate in Japanese.
Please keep up the great work!"
- Simon F.
"I love love love love (!) reading NDLs! They're like a window to the soul of Japanese!
I guess in a less fantastic description, these lessons take fine grammar points and break them down very simply and understandably, yet are so thorough you can't really ask for more without feeling guilty...
In any case, I hope to keep seeing these and look forward to reviewing the older lessons as well!"
- Ivan L.
I've already made the flashcards for you.
Here is the front side of an NDL flashcard:
And here's the back side:
What's going on here?!
So. Much. Information. *_*
"You and your team's daily lessons are awesome.
I've been learning Japanese for about 10 months now, and I find they are a helpful part of my Japanese language studies. I love how easy it is for me to follow along even though my bank of Japanese vocabulary is still fairly limited.
It's always fun to test myself by trying to translate the example sentences, while learning the new grammar introduced in the lesson. Keep up the excellent work!"
- John L.
Podcasts and stuff are cool... but if you're like me, you probably start daydreaming after listening for 3 minutes.
Or you simply don't have time to listen to a 30-minute lesson when you're just walking through the grocery store!
As of the time of this writing, we have taken 2,183 example sentences (from lessons), then had native speakers read them out loud. For example, we saw a flashcard earlier for the following sentence:
One of my back teeth hurts.
Literally: "back tooth + painful"
Spoken by a Japanese speaker, that sentence sounds like this:
This audio is then looped 8 times in what we call a "shadow track:"
Usually it's about 20-30 seconds... of brain-searing Japanese memorization.
You will remember these words. I promise.
The trick is listening and repeating.
Not once. Not twice. 96,431 times!
I just explained how above.
Did you read that?
Or are you just scrolling with reckless abandon? Come on, yo. Get with it.
I really enjoy reading NDLs, it keeps me going and also makes me laugh so often…!
Your explanations are easy to understand and I learn loads of vocabulary from the example sentences. So, thank you very much.
- Xenia T.
"Your daily lessons are out of this world good.
Each grammar topic is carefully explained with plenty of examples broken down word by word.
My Japanese comprehension has jumped considerably since discovering your site and using the material there. (Toby in Tokyo; NDL, blog posts).
You and your contributors do a wonderful job, Niko. Thank you for everything! がんばってねー！^o^"
- Kirsten M.
What if you decide tomorrow that you don't want to study Japanese?
What if you stole your mom's credit card to pay for this, and she gets mad at you?
That's chill―just email me (niko [at] nihongoshark.com) and ask for a refund within 30 days. I'll send 100% of your money back, no questions asked.
I wouldn't want you to pay for a course you don't actually do, anyways. My number one goal is to help people learn Japanese. If I can make a living helping people learn Japanese, then that's really awesome, but I would never accept money from someone who didn't think that they were getting their money's worth.
"These daily lessons have helped me tremendously more than the hundreds of hours I've spent on books in concise small lessons that are much more relatable than formal books.
The subtle nuances are perfectly on point and I love the kana and kanji translations with each lesson.
I'm not one to often leave reviews but I'd be doing a disservice to any student by not stating that these daily lessons have really transformed my fluency in only a few months after many years of not studying at all.
Hands down my favorite resource and was completely unexpected! Again, thanks so much!"
- Brent S.
"I enjoy reading NDLs very much!
The following are a few things that I really like about NDLs:
1. Explanations are easy to understand with plenty of clear examples.
2. Literal break down of a sentence into smaller components help me to decode other sentences and make sense of how components are being used in sentences.
3. Links to related NDLs allow me to do further reading/revision on the same topic. E.g. giving and receiving series.
4. Length of lessons. Just nice and achievable for a daily dose of Japanese learning.
5. Formatting. Minimalistic, but highlighting important stuff. And also inclusion of clear visuals explaining concepts... I am a visual person - so I like it :)
6. Humour. Example of sentences, the style of writing. Makes learning fun!
7. Last but not least, these are free and easily accessible! ;)
I am so glad I found your lessons! I have recommended your site to a few of my friends who are studying Japanese, hoping that they will find it useful as I do.
Thank you very much! ありがとうございました！"
- Shu Y.
Yo! I'm Niko, the founder of NihongoShark.com. I'm also a Japanese translator, writer, and all-around language nerd. I created this site to help as many people master Japanese (any language, really) as possible.
I live in
Tokyo, Bangkok, Sapporo, Saigon, San Diego, Tokyo, San Diego, Chiang Mai, Portland, Oregon! So if anyone wants to meet up for a refreshing nama beer, I'm probably down for that. Or a coffee. Learning Japanese can be rough. But we're in this together. ファイト！
Good luck with your studies!
"I really enjoy reading NDLs. Here are a couple of reasons why:
1. They're not too long or tedious or dense in material; just the right amount for a daily thing.
2. The topics and grammar discussed are immensely useful. They're things that appear everywhere in spoken language (at least in anime ^^''). I love it when there's a phrase stuck in my head because it's been repeated so much, and then an NDL appears talking about just that. I love it when I read the lesson and everything makes sense! This has happened countless times.
3. They're organized. I like the way the example sentences are written. When it's grammar, the explanations make more sense than anything else I've read on Japanese. They seem to hit on the exact points that may seem confusing in Japanese me and put them in a way that really makes me understand. I'm not amazing, but I can say my comprehension of Japanese has noticeably improved ever since I started reading those lessons.
4. They're very motivating. There's never the air of "Forget this, you'll never fully understand". Rather everyone's like "You'll get the hang of it with practice!" Just the fact that the writers of the lessons speak Japanese as a second language makes me think: "I can do it!"
5. They're fun! I can feel the writers' personalities in them and they feel warm and kind and casual.
THANK YOU NIKO AND FRIENDS!!!"
- Sun T.