In the first of my reviews of iPhone apps for students of Japanese I looked at dictionaries. In this article, I’ll be recommending four fairly simple apps from independent developers.
The iPhone version of the Adobe Air app, allowing users to improve kana reading speed, review JLPT kanji and vocabulary, and learn Japanese grammar in context.
It’s a pretty straightforward game. These are the instructions:
Here, the ballons are gradually floating down from the top of the screen – touch the correct balloon before they hit the ground!
This is one of those apps that just does one thing, but does it extremely well. Made by award-winning new media developer and designer Philip Seyfi, this app is a pleasure to use. The interface is beautiful and the games easy to get to grips with. Certainly stands out from the crowd. Check out the free trial of the desktop app to get a feel for it.
Note that like many other apps, this groups kanji by the 4 old JLPT levels due to the fact that lists for the 5 new levels have not yet been published, thus at this stage any attempt to classify them by the new levels would have to be based on guesswork.
Next up we have a couple of apps from www.JapanNewbie.com.
Japanese 101: Particles
As the app name suggests, Japanese 101: Particles looks to develop your knowledge of those little elements of the Japanese language that tie everything else together (は、を、に、で etc).
From the iTunes description:
When using the Study Mode the front of the Study Card shows a sentence in Japanese with a key particle removed. The card also auto-plays audio of a native Japanese speaker reading the sentence leaving a blank at the missing particle. Touch the card to flip it over and see the sentence with the correct particle used, the romaji, and the English translation. You can also press the notes section to see a grammatical explanation of the particle usage.
This way you can SEE the Japanese, HEAR the Japanese, and READ the romaji and translation to ensure that you UNDERSTAND, and also check the notes section to STUDY the fundamental rules on particle usage.
It does what it’s designed to do pretty well, although beginners who are not yet proficient in the kanji required for levels N4 and N5 of the new Japanese Language Proficiency Test may struggle, due to the fact that kanji are used on the front of the flashcards.
A good tool for reviewing / revising particle knowledge once you’ve learn the basics with you textbooks.
Japanese 101: Numbers
The second app from JapanNewbie helps you reinforce your knowledge of Japanese numbers. The interface and use is essentially the same as in Particles. From the iTunes App Store description:
When using the Study Mode the front of the Study Card shows a number. The card also auto-plays audio of a native Japanese speaker reading the number. Touch the card to flip it over and see the number in Japanese Kanji, the romaji, and the English translation.
This application currently covers the numbers 1-100, and than a random selection of numbers from 100 to 9,999,999.
This app is good not only for beginner-level students or people coming to Japan for a vacation, but also for those of us who’ve been in Japan for some time and still find it difficult to get our heads around 7-digit numbers!
More apps from Japan Newbie.
One of the better apps for practising kanji, covering the following areas of study:
- Kana (hiragana and katakana)
- Kanji (over 6,000 kanji)
- Vocabulary (over 20,000 words)
I quite enjoyed using this app. It’s very straightforward, has a Scores section to help you keep track of your studies, and a timed quiz mode with which to prove that you know more kanji than that annoying person who insists on asking everyone how many kanji they know.
Check out their Website for more info, and for a demo video featured a rather alarming severed hand and funky soundtrack.
Note that like many other apps, this groups kanji by the 4 old JLPT levels due to the fact that lists for the 5 new levels have not yet been published.
That’s it for now. If there’s a Japanese language learning app that you think deserves attention, do get in touch.