Similar to our own Top 2000 vocabulary book, Duolingo strives to get people going quickly by concentrating on words and phrases people use in everyday conversations. It's a great way to get started from scratch and is also a great complementary tool to our own learning resources.
Anki is a great free flashcard tool that's available for desktop, online and mobile. It comes with a list of flashcard decks ready for you to download but also allows you to build your own ones if you wish.
This is a straight forward one to most, but maybe not for all, so I put it in. The amount of free learning content Youtube provides you with is unparalleled. I'm talking not just about learning videos that teach you Japanese, a lot more interesting are things like sport videos, fan videos and other things targeting a certain topic that you're interested in and that you actually want to watch. This is when learning becomes easy and enjoyable.
Similar to Youtube but for reading, Wikipedia provides you with a vast pool of information filled with articles on virtually any topic. Read the article on your favourite NBA team, your favourite singer, artist, business person, you name it. Make it a goal of yours to read 1 article a day in Japanese and your progress will be through the roof.
Similar to Youtube but audio only, podcasts provide a variety of both learning resources and topic targeting content. Podcasts can help you in any stage of your learning process and are perfect in combination with flashcards or vocabulary heavy learning resources like our own.
This stands for a whole list of similar offerings, but I found Meetup.com to be one of the best out there for looking for either studying meetups or language exchange with Japanese native speakers. There are also language exchange platforms online, just make a search and you should be able to find a list of those.
Long gone are the times when you had to pay for your newspapers, most of them are available for free now online. Tokyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, Nishinippon Shimbun and Tokyo Sports are only some of the vast list of newspapers in Japan out there for you to read. More of them are only a Google away.
Many major TV stations in Japan do have online on demand offerings as well. Three examples would be Nippon News Network, Fuji News Network and Japan News Network. Some of the videos might not work outside of Japan, but there is usually also quite a bit of self-made content that is.
With the internet you have a bigger amount of information and resources at your fingertips than ever before. The vast amount of free resources online is often best utilized in conjunction with either language courses (online or in person) or other structured learning material like our Japanese vocabulary resources. I hope this article can help you a bit to speed up your progress and make learning Japanese more interesting!