Apps are a great learning tool to supplement your Japanese lessons. In this article we explore some of our favourite and best apps to learn Japanese with.
Note that we recommend using these apps together with going to Japanese classes, or taking our online Japanese lessons. Apps on their own are never enough to give you the comprehensive learning you need when studying Japanese. However, apps offer a range of resources for learning everything from Japanese writing, conversation, grammar and vocabulary.
There are a lot of options though and knowing which ones are going to help you make the most progress with your learning can take time. So whether you have iOS or Android on your phone, we’ve trawled through all the apps for learning Japanese and put together a list of our favourites.
If you’re starting out on your journey of learning Japanese then you must learn the basic writing systems first: hiragana and katakana. Go! Go! Nihon has its own app for learning this, called Hiragana Quest, and it was developed by one of our former students. It uses mnemonics to help you learn both sets, meaning that you’ll always remember them once they’re in your head.
Our mascots Hirako and Katako take you through step by step with a story for each character and a chance to practice writing them as you go.
The app is available for download here www.hiraganaquest.com. It’s on both iOS and Android on the apps stores too.
We can’t have a list of apps for Japanese without including a dictionary. Jsho gives you options to look up words in English and Japanese with multiple input options. For Japanese you can enter words by hiragana, kanji and romaji. This is great if you’re not sure what something means, but you only know the word by the pronunciation.
What’s more, if you’re unsure of a kanji character and don’t know the spelling you can input using a selection of radicals. It can be a little time consuming, but is very useful.
There’s a useful filter for nouns, verbs, etc and when you click on the word you can see the breakdown of each kanji character. This includes JLPT level, on’yomi, and kun’yomi and even the stroke order for each character. There’s also the option to bookmark your favourite words to help you practise the ones you come across most regularly.
Last but not least, where applicable, it has the full range of conjugations for each word including the polite, past and negative versions. This can be a real life saver for the trickier parts of JLPT practice.
The app is available on Android only and has full offline functionality without taking up much space.
This is our favourite for learning kanji on Android phones. There is a free version that has lower level kanji as well as hiragana, katakana and radical study options. The higher levels are very worth it though, as the functionality is extensive. You can sort by JLPT levels or a ridiculous range of other options including Japanese school grades, frequency in media and many more.
You can create custom sets for learning and you can choose between flashcard study, quizzes and writing challenges. These are all tracked so you can set targets and see your daily progress. Each character has a comprehensive page including stroke order, definitions, all readings (including playable options to hear the reading out loud), recommended words and a range of example sentences.
Users can also see the stroke order including parts highlighted based on common mistakes people make AND a list of other kanji that are often confused with the one you’re reviewing. It’s essentially collated data from all the quizzes that its users have completed to understand common mistakes that people make to help you understand what to look out for.
With such an extensive range of functionality, it’s worth the small cost to get the full range of kanji. It’s updated regularly to keep in line with government standards and JLPT updates, too. Oh, and just like Jsho, it has full functionality offline.
It’s all well and good learning a language, but if you’re not practising it then what’s the point?! Now we know that’s why you’re coming to Japan, but if you want to get started before you arrive or you’re still feeling a bit shy while you settle in, then HelloTalk is a good option for you. It lets you connect with Japanese speakers to practise your skills. You can either chat with people one on one, or put out a question to everyone on a feed to test a sentence structure or ask a question. People can then reply with the correct form to help you learn and understand. You can also make friends and practise conversation across the globe. There are built-in dictionaries and translation tools if you get stuck too.
Last but not least is Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Learning. This covers everything you could ever need to know about grammar rules in Japanese. It can be a bit heavy because it’s so comprehensive, but it is an excellent reference to have to hand. It’s particularly great for looking up things like Japanese counters and how to navigate your way around the different levels of politeness.
So now you know the best apps to learn Japanese why not take your study journey to the next level and contact the staff at Go! Go! Nihon to learn Japanese in Japan. If you can’t make it to Japan, we also offer comprehensive online courses designed for all Japanese levels. In particular, our 2-week crash course and 12-week beginner course are great for those new to learning Japanese.
If you like to read more about Japanese language, make sure to follow our blog where we cover everything you need to know about Japan!