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Edited 26 July 2016

9 Best Apps for Japanese Language Course in 2016


Staying focused and motivated is the key to success in completing Japanese study to an advanced level. In addition to using traditional textbooks to study Japanese, there are now many interesting apps to help beginner and advanced learners to learn Japanese effectively. Here is our choice of the best apps to learn Japanese online:

Genki Vocab Cards

Firstly, Genki Vocab Cards. This app accompanies Japanese language course that uses the popular textbook series Genki. As the name suggests, the app helps in revising vocabularies learnt from the textbook Genki. It is suitable for beginner Japanese learners. Using the app attracts a fee ranging from $5.99 – $9.99, depending on where you live. It allows users to memorise new vocabularies through flash cards that contain native speaker sound files. Users also get to do a self-test and remove the word once it is mastered. Plus, the flash cards contain good illustrations to aid memorisation visually. Where kanji is used, hiragana is provided, so it is helpful for learning all three writing systems (hiragana, katakana, and kanji).  The app also includes example sentences on how the word is used, complete with English translation.

Ohayou

This app is designed to test user’s listening skills. Materials are grouped into 5 levels from N5 (basic) to N1 (expert). Each level contains no more than 15 short listening materials spoken by native speakers. A script fully in Japanese is included. However, any unknown words need to be looked up externally as the app does not provide English translation. One free script is redeemable by watching a short ad. Without ad, the script is redeemable with points. 100 points cost about US$1. There are 50+ short scripts in total.

Japanese language app
Japanese language app

Waygo

Next, a useful app that allows users to have unknown printed words translated instantly. Simply hover the unknown text into the required box, and voila! the text will be translated instantly complete with pronunciation. No photo needs to be stored. It can translate a single line as well as multiple lines. The only catch is that user has to make sure that the texts are captured within the designated box quickly, so it requires a steady hand. It does not require internet connection to function once downloaded. Currently, the app offers 10 free texts per day with an upgrade option for more translations. Very handy when travelling to Japan and wanting to understand street signs and restaurant menu. Best of all, Waygo works not only for Japanese words, but also Chinese and Korean words.

Japanese by Renzo

This Japanese/English dictionary app contains more than 170,000 entries and yet is less than 100Mb in size, so downloading it is fast. It works completely offline, making it convenient. Users can search either in English or Japanese. If inputting in Japanese, there are 3 ways to do this: user can either use the built-in Handwriting Recognition, input components, or input SKIP code. For example, if a user wants to find the meaning of the word 晚, using input SKIP code, firstly, user needs to determine the position of the radicals (left-right, top-bottom, etc), then select the number of strokes for those radicals (for the word 晚, it is 4 and 8).

Other useful features of this app include animated strokes of hiragana and katakana, kanji divided into 7 different school grades from grade 1 to junior high (you can tap to see the stroke order, as well as common compounds for that kanji character and example sentences), classification of words from astrology to transportation, as well as lexical categories that include nouns, verbs, adjectives, and 100+ proverbs. The dictionary also groups words based on JLPT from N1 to N4. Users can create their own vocabulary list and add notes to it. The app is also an ideal tool to aid study as it contains SRS flashcard learning system. It is suitable for beginner as well as advanced Japanese learners.

Japanese language app
Japanese language app

Japanese by Nemo

This app is good for users wanting to learn Japanese for travel purposes. It contains free section where users can learn essential words, phrases, and ask basic questions. However, the more useful part of the app that contains specific dialogues for food, shopping, or travel, are accessible for a fee. For $14.99, users can access to 32+ topics from weather to clothes.

Japanese language app

Memrise

This app contains a selection of Japanese courses, especially for practicing reading and writing of hiragana and katakana. It is a good app for beginner Japanese learners. Users can set the learning and sound settings (how many words per learning session and per reviewing session). For example, in Japanese 1 course, users get to learn basic greetings vocalised by native Japanese speakers. The course also prompt users to revise word meaninsg and how the words are written in romaji.

Japanese language app
Japanese language app

Tae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide

As the name suggests, this app is a reference for Japanese grammar. It contains an overview of the Japanese writing system (hiragana, katakana, and kanji). It contains basic grammar comprising 11 lessons, and essential grammar comprising 18 lessons. All Japanese lessons contain English notes of the grammatical point and short Japanese examples. The app also contains 13 lessons of special expressions and 10 lessons on advanced topics. This app is suitable for beginner Japanese learners and advanced Japanese learners alike.

Japanese language app
Japanese language app

FluentU

Finally, an app that allows learners to learn through the use of videos and audios. Users can filter materials according to level (from newbie to native), topics (arts, business, health), and formats (trailers, news, shows). User can set their daily goal, be it 1 minute a day or 30 minutes a day. Each lesson is short enough and progress is tracked. User can learn a number of new words in each session, followed by a mini quiz on recognizing the word, pronunciation, and meaning. Users learn how to use words and phrases in a natural, real-life context. This subscription based app costs $15 a month for unlimited videos and audios, or $30 to include the learning mode.

Japanese language app

HelloTalk

Here’s an app that enables users to learn to speak Japanese by chatting with native speakers. Users can see a list of fellow users to do a language swap with and contact them to become a language partner or send them a message to start talking. In addition, users can chat via a variety of methods (text, voice messages, voice call, or video call). The app also has a function to correct writing errors. Another convenience is that it has a function to translate written messages from English into Japanese, vice versa, and to pronounce them as well. Users can also search for language partners according to their locations.

See also Useful Apps for Kids Learning Japanese.

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