Apps are a great way to supplement your learning and give you a great opportunity to get ahead with your learning particularly if you’re doing a short course over in Japan. They give you a chance to learn on the train, plane or just when you’ve got some time to kill.
When it comes to learning Japanese it can be difficult to know where and how to start learning. There are a lot of app options out there and knowing where to start and what to focus on can be tricky. So whether you have iOS or Android on your phone, we’ve tried out as many as we can and have picked our favourites for learning Japanese.
If you’re starting out on your journey of learning Japanese then you’ll be going with Hiragana and Katakana. The first app on our list is to help with that. Hiragana Quest uses mnemonics to help you learn both sets, meaning that you’ll always remember them once they’re in your head. We are a bit biased though as it was developed by one of our former students! 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. It’s on both iOS and Android on the apps stores too.
What’s more useful when learning a language than a dictionary. You’re able to look up words in English and Japanese with multiple input options. Hiragana, Kanji and Romaji entry is available on the Japanese side of things. This is ideal if you’re not sure what something means but have heard someone saying it so you only know the pronunciation. A useful additional tool is an option to input kanji using a selection of radicals. It can be a little time consuming but is very useful if you don’t know the reading of a kanji character and want to look it up.
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 including 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 practice 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 which can be a real life saviour for the trickier parts of JLPT practice.
This app is available on Android and has full offline functionality without taking up much space.
This is our favourite for learning Kanji. There is a free version that has lower level kanji as well as hiragana, katakana and radical study options. The higher levels do give you an extensive range of kanji on higher levels so it is worth it. You can sort by JLPT as well as others such as Japanese school grades, frequency in media and many more. There’s also the option to create custom sets for yourself. You can also choose between flashcard study, quizzes and writing challenges. You’re able to track each of these too to help with personal motivation. Each kanji has a page that includes stroke order, definitions, all readings (including playable options to hear the reading out loud), recommended words and a range of example sentences.
With such an extensive range of functionality, it’s worth the small cost to get the full range of Kanji and it’s updated regularly to keep in line with government standards and JLPT updates. What’s also useful is that it has full functionality offline.
This is a brilliant option for practicing your conversation skills even if you haven’t been able to talk to anyone in Japanese, you will get the chance to try out casual conversations. HelloTalk allows you to both post out sentences for feedback and to start conversations with people to test your skills when it comes to having a normal conversation rather than a very structured textbook one.
If you’d like to take things a step back, why not explore our other blog posts and learn about the history of the Japanese language too.
Last Updated on December 15, 2022