Have you tried taking more "traditional" Japanese lessons with a textbook but the lack of playful and lively exercises feels boring to you?
Do you prefer to use a smartphone or an app because it's the only way you can study and learn whenever and wherever you want?
It's true, apps are very useful tools to learn Japanese!
Whether you want to learn Japanese cuisine on the spot, become one of the many travelers in Japan, visit the archipelago, participate in matsuri or other traditional festivals, there are applications tailored to your every need, profile, point of view, and expectations!
The Business of Bilingual Language Applications
Bilingual Applications are on the rise when it comes to all foreign languages.
Japanese is obviously part of this equation.
Smartphone or tablet applications also have the advantage of enticing you to be much more involved in your learning.
Indeed, whether you are a beginner and you want to study Japanese words or phrases before you go to Japan or you have are intermediate but want to progress in order to work in Japan, you will find something that fits.
Like with any learning, you will have to ask yourself the right questions to use the appropriate supports (to learn Japanese).
- If you are a tourist and plan to travel to Japan to see Kyoto, the capital, Mount Fuji, or temples and shrines, your learning objectives will generally be limited to understanding a simple conversation when you will be there.
- If you want to settle and live in the land of the rising sun, your learning goals will have to be higher.
Linguistic applications take into account the degree of investment in your learning. Some target a beginner audience and are more of a simple introduction to Japanese while others require some common knowledge of the language before they can be used.
Do you also want to know what the best techniques to learn Japanese are?
What Are the Advantages of Learning Japanese Via Applications
Compared to studying Japanese through movies or textbooks, applications have the advantage of being practical and usable in all circumstances.
Would you take out your 500-page textbook on a crowded public transport in the morning when you leave for work? The answer is definitely no!
Learning Japanese on your smartphone via an app is much easier in such circumstances. And it's just as effective as learning Japanese by webcam or studying the Japanese language by video!
If we keep with the same comparison with books, learning via an app is more fun and you will certainly feel like it is less serious than when you are learning via books.
Finally, with an app you are directly interacting with the language learning.
If you are looking to travel to Japan, then learning the Japanese language with or without apps is definitely important. Japan is a country where learning the language brings a lot to the table.
Though it's possible to travel to foreign countries without speaking the native language, your experience will be largely shaped by your ability or inability to see beyond the surface of the culture. When you lack the ability to communicate in the native language, you can not fully participate in day-to-day life, understand the culture, or communicate with the people. The language barrier can be anywhere from frustrating to downright dangerous.
When you know the language, you have the comfort of being able to successfully navigate all sorts of situations, like order meals in restaurants, ask for and understand directions, find accommodations and perhaps negotiate cheaper prices, and meet and talk with natives, to name only a few. In most countries, people will appreciate attempts to use their language. You will be able to communicate more completely and have a deeper, more satisfying travel experience.
We definitely are not saying apps are the only way to go. You should not burn your Japanese books! But when you're away from home, it's clear that apps are easier to use and just as effective! Feel free to use both methods to progress faster in Japanese!
The Paying App JA Sensei
Vocabulary, verbs, adjectives, the kana alphabet (hiragana katakana), kanji, writing--everything goes with JA Sensei.
The application is extremely well thought out and works both the oral aspect and the written aspect of the Japanese language.
For the oral part, there are modules to help you review or learn the kanas and master their pronunciation.
Quizzes are available (for which you can choose the level--beginner, intermediate, advanced) to validate what you have learned. On the hands-free mode, the application asks you oral questions that you must answer as quickly as possible.
The app also gives you 34 Japanese lessons to master your sentence structures as well as elementary Japanese grammar. A text is attached to each of these lessons as well as a grammar recapitulative (more than 100 flashcards in total!). There are also anecdotes on Japanese civilization, culture, traditions, and customs prevailing in the country of the rising sun. For example, you will learn about hanami and what religion is practiced in Japan.
It's extremely convenient if you are going on a trip to Japan anytime soon!
There are more than 2500 words available with the possibility of creating your own list of words (for those you have trouble learning for example).
Through audio quizzes, you'll be able to understand numbers and learn to count to 10,000.
For 10 USD, you will have unlimited access to all parts of the application.
What we liked:
- Affordable fee for all the proposed content
- The fact that you control your learning (choice of quiz level for example)
- The application's design (pleasant and ergonomic)
- The fact that you can track your progress
- The fact that the application has a website with free content
What we liked less:
- The fact that the application is only available on Android and not IOS
Learn the Kanji with Kanji Recognizer
The application is based on one single aspect of the Japanese language: the writing and recognition of the kanji.
You will have to copy the kanji, which will then be systematically translated into English. Quizzes will validate your progress and allow you to retain the information more easily.
A similar application is available for devices running IOS, it is called JEDict Lite and offers the same features.
What we liked:
- Being able to train by copying kanji yourself
- Quizzes testing your knowledge of kanji
What we liked less:
- The austere design of the application
Writing, Numbers, and Quizzes with Obenkyo
Like with the JA Sensei application, Obenkyo has a wide learning field.
This is very useful if you want to learn numbers and digits. They are always translated into romaji, hiragana, or kanji (do you know these great English-Japanese translation tools?).
These exercises will help you to smoothen your Japanese language skills and express yourself in a clearer way. It is also great for anyone trying to learn Japanese.
The work around the kanjis is excellent and you can learn exactly how to transcribe them line by line with stroke animations.
Similarly, the richness of the lexicon will allow you to expand your vocabulary and travel through the history of Japan. Samurais, emperors, and other geishas will soon be a part of your general culture! Take advantage of the opportunity to enrich your lexicon but also expand your approach and your cultural perspective of Japan.
What we liked:
- The very original pattern recognition system
- The very clear animations around the kanjis
- The application is free and does not have ads
What we liked less:
- Some issues with the quizzes that sometimes messed with the results
JED to Learn Japanese Vocabulary
This application is ideal if you are traveling to Japan and find yourself in misunderstandings with native speakers.
The application translates things quickly and sheds clarity on hazy conversations. Be careful, however, as it is important to have notions of Japanese and especially some experience of Japanese writing in order to use it properly (know put a verb in the infinitive for example).
A beginner can still use it without benefiting from all the features.
The system of learning kanji is also extremely well developed. You will find a line by line breakdown of each kanji, which greatly facilitates learning and memorization. Kanjis are sometimes long to master.
The application is not available on iOS, but do not panic! The application Imiwa will meet all your expectations, too: examples, pronunciation exercises, or animations in order to show you how kanjis are broken up...it is similar to the Android app.
What we liked:
- The fact that the application allows us to translate Japanese into several languages (French, Spanish, English) and vice versa
- Available offline, so convenient if you are communicating in more remote areas.
What we liked less:
- The austere design and black background of the application
- The app experiences regular technical issues
- Start by asking yourself what your expectations and needs are in terms of learning Japanese. As we have seen many times before, profiles and needs vary greatly between someone wanting to work or live in Japan and someone who just wants to go to Japan for holidays.
- If you are looking for a great application to learn Japanese which can satisfy both beginners and intermediate students, we recommend you download JA Sensei, which is certainly at a price, but with a relatively low cost (10, 99 USD) when compared to how great it is.
- For more specific topics and if you want to refine your Japanese writing, then we recommend Kanji Recognizer.
- If you are with an interlocutor and a misunderstanding occurs, vocabulary applications like Imiwaou and JED Android will be most useful.
- + If you are experiencing a mental block with apps, you can always take private Japanese lessons (examples: Japanese lessons in New York City or Japanese classes in Miami).
As you can see, some applications are intended to provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of Japanese, while others are very useful to meet specific needs.
Ganbatte (which means good luck!)
And, finally, have a look at the best books with which to learn Japanese.
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