Starter (A1) Course Open at IRODORI Japanese Online Course! Multilingual Support Also Available!

Nihongo Kyoiku News
This corner introduces the latest information on matters of high interest to overseas Japanese-language educators from among the Japanese-Language Education Programs conducted by the Japan Foundation.

August, 2023
The Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai

The IRODORI Japanese Online Course (IRODORI Course) is the online course version of Irodori: Japanese for Life in Japan, a Japanese-language coursebook for acquiring the basic Japanese language communication skills needed to live and work in Japan. Courses are offered free of charge and can be taken by registering as a user. You can learn the Japanese language needed for daily life in Japan using videos and plenty of illustrations and audios. Since the courses can be taken on your smartphone, computer, or tablet, they are also ideal for studying in your spare time.
In this News article, we will feature the contents of the Starter (A1) course, which started in October 2022. We will also introduce the multilingual support available in the IRODORI Course.
For more information on the overall features of the IRODORI Course and how to use it, please see the article 「いろどり日本語オンラインコース」初級1(A2)を開講しました!/ IRODORI Japanese Online Course Elementary 1 (A2) Is Now Open!

Image of the IRODORI Japanese Online Course top page

Top page

Starter (A1) course contents

The Starter (A1) course is largely made up of three types of contents, namely the study contents, practice contents, and the Introduction, which is unique to the Starter (A1) course.

Image of a Starter (A1) page

Starter (A1) course top page

Study contents

In the Study contents, the Japanese language is studied in line with Can-do goals, based on the syllabus of Irodori: Japanese for Life in Japan. You can acquire the basic Japanese communication skills required for daily life situations in Japan.

  • Image of a listening practice page, with the instruction Listen to the dialogs. Does the vehicle go to where he/she wants to go? and an illustration of a person talking while in line to board a bus, among others
    Listening practice
  • Image of a speaking practice page, with two women's head shots and the dialogs すみません。このバスは、空港に行きますか? and ええ、行きますよ。
    Speaking practice
  • Image of a try speaking page, with a woman's photo and the instruction It’s your turn to speak when You appears on the screen., among others
    Try speaking
    (talk to the person in the video)

On the last page of every lesson, there is a content called "Tips for life in Japan VR immersion." This is an original Starter (A1) course content that enables learners to experience virtual reality immersion through 360-degree photos on Japanese culture and useful information for life in Japan related to the study topic in each lesson. The 360-degree photo makes it possible to feel as if one is actually in the scene, as one can freely move around and change line of sights within the photo. Moreover, reading descriptions placed within the 360-degree photo also helps deepen understanding of Japanese culture and life in Japan.

Image of a VR immersion page called Taking a train, with photos of a person using the ticket vending machine and the ticket vending machine with the description Ticket vending machine - Select the ticket type and press the button for the fare price you obtained from the fare chart.

Tips for life in Japan VR immersion

Practice contents

The Practice contents contain original IRODORI Course content that enable practice on Words, Kanji, Grammar and Expressions learned in the Study contents. The Starter (A1) course also contains practice on Hiragana and Katakana.

  • Image of the page for selecting lessons to practice, such as Introduction or Topic 1 - Starting to Speak Japanese
    Selecting the lesson to practice
  •  Image of a page for selecting categories and practice methods, such as Grammar - Flashcards, Read and Choose, Typing or Expressions - Read and Choose, Listen and Speak
    Selecting the category and practice method
  •  Image of a Grammar - Read and Choose page, with Read the sentence and choose the one that fits in the underlined part the most. and the problem sentence: 空港まで、タクシー (underline) 乗ります。 and choices: に で を
    Grammar(Read and Choose)

The Practice contents are also available as a smartphone app called IRODORI Practice. In addition to the initial Android app, the iOS app was released in May 2022. By downloading the app to your smartphone, you can study offline for a stress-free practice environment even with unreliable internet connections.

  • Image of the top screen of the IRODORI Practice app

    Top screen of the app

  • Image of QR code for the Android app installation page

    Installation page (Android)

    Image of QR code for the iOS app installation page

    Installation page (iOS)


The Introduction contents are for people studying Japanese for the first time and where they can read descriptions about features of the Japanese language, in order to help them smoothly advance through the course studies. It is divided into three parts: Introduction to Japanese, Hiragana, and Katakana.

Image of the page for selecting contents in the Introduction

Introduction top page

In the Introduction to Japanese, you can read descriptions about Writing, Grammar, and Pronunciation.

  • Image of a page with the description Type and Number of characters - There are three types of characters in the Japanese language. and where audios can be played
  • Image of a page describing grammar: The word order in Japanese is subject, object, and predicate. using the example sentence 私は 本を 読みます。
  •  Image of a page with the description The Japanese language have a pitch accent, with high and low accents. The pitch of the first and second sounds are always different. and with pictures, audio playbacks, and accent symbols for トマト こんにちは しんかんせん

Hiragana and Katakana contain introductions to the kana and practice. You can also read descriptions on how to pronounce and type in Pronunciation TIPS and Typing TIPS.

  • Image of a page containing the instruction Listen and say aloud., an audio playback button, hiragana chart and TIPS button.
    Introduction to Seion (Basic sound)
  • Image of a page containing the instruction Listen and choose., an audio playback button, and the choices あ い う え お, among others
    Practice (Listen and Choose)
  • Screen page containing the instruction Write the word in hiragana., an illustration of a house, いえ, and an input field, among others
    Practice (Typing)
  • Image of a page containing the description How to read the table (applies to both hiragana and katakana) - There are only five vowels in Japanese. Consonants are combined with vowels to form a syllable. These syllables can be summarized in the systematic 'consonant + vowel' table below. as well as a table
    Pronunciation TIPS
  • Image of a page containing the description Typing hiragana - Typing in Japanese is generally the same as typing in the reading in the hiragana table., among others, as well as an input screen example
    Typing TIPS

Support contents

The IRODORI Course also provides Support contents, which are contents that offer support for even self-study, in order to help learners continue their studies. For those who want to know more about the Support contents, please see the article いろどり日本語オンラインコース」初級1(A2)を開講しました!/ IRODORI Japanese Online Course Elementary 1 (A2) Is Now Open!

In addition to Support contents similar to those in Elementary 1 (A2) and Elementary 2 (A2) courses, the Starter (A1) course has a romaji display button. The alphabet-based writing (romaji) of the Japanese can be displayed together with Japanese characters so that even those who have never studied Japanese before do not give up on their studies just because they cannot read the characters. The romaji display button is available from lessons 1 to 10 in the Study contents of Starter (A1) course.

  • Image showing the romaji display button at a Study contents page
  • Image of a Study contents page with the Japanese and romaji characters displayed together

Romaji display button

Levels and languages of explanation

The following table shows the available levels and languages of explanation (as of the August 2023).

Level Online Course Language of explanation
A1 Starter(A1) Japanese, English, Indonesian, Khmer, Mongolian, Myanmar, Nepali, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese
A2 Elementary 1(A2)
Elementary 2(A2)

The language of explanation can be changed from the button with three lines at the top right of the screen.

Image showing the procedure for changing the language of explanation at the Topic 1 My current Self page

Changing the language of explanation

Changing the language of explanation allows learners to read instructions and use various contents, such as explanations of words, tips for life in Japan, explanations of grammar items, word searches, and so on, in a language they can understand.

  • Image of a Study contents page displayed in the Indonesian language
    Study contents page
  • Image of a page explaining the word 友だち in the Indonesian language
    Explanation of a word
  • Image of a page explaining Greetings お元気ですか? in the Indonesian language
    Tips for life in JapanTIPS
  • Image of a page explaining Duration になります 日本に来て1年になります。 in the Indonesian language
    Grammar notes
  • Image of a page explaining the searched word 通う in the Indonesian language
    Word search

Future plans for the IRODORI Japanese Online Course

The IRODORI Course launched its first course, Elementary 1 (A2) course (Japanese and English versions) in May 2021. Since then, it has developed and expanded its levels and languages of explanation.

Currently, the Starter (A1) course has been launched. This makes it possible for a wide range of people who want to study the Japanese language necessary for daily life to start learning, especially those people who do not know any Japanese at all. Moreover, the courses are now available in eight other languages, in addition to the Japanese and English versions, so we hope that you try changing the language into one that you can understand for stress-free learning. We are also currently working on providing new support languages for the courses in Bengali, and Lao languages.

We have recently heard from Japanese language instructors using the IRODORI Course in classroom settings that they use videos in the Study contents during classes and use the Practice contents for assignments. For Japanese language instructors who want to adopt the IRODORI Course in their classes, or who want their students to use it, the Japanese learning platform, JF Japanese e-Learning Minato , offers the いろどり日本語オンラインコース活用B2自習コース as an online course to think of how they can utilize it in their classroom. We do hope that you try this as well.

For inquiries, please use the Contact page at the IRODORI Course. Share with us your comments, suggestions, and examples of how you use it in the classroom.


  1. 1.Japanese-language coursebook Irodori: Japanese for Life in Japan
  2. 2. Nihongo Kyoiku News, Nihongo Kyoiku Tsushin:

(KASAI Yosuke/Language education specialist, Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai)

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