Best Apps to Learn Japanese

At times, it may appear as though Japanese language learners are at a disadvantage compared to students of other languages.

You can use apps to learn Japanese whether you’re saving up to visit Japan or are already here and want to spend most of your time learning and understanding the wonderful historical sites.

It is difficult for native English speakers to master and Learn Japanese. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, there aren’t nearly as many good resources for Japanese as there are for other languages.

Strangely, finding tools to study Japanese is so difficult, yet there are over 126 million native speakers worldwide!

This is because it is difficult to create courses or apps that effectively teach the language. The Japanese language is extremely difficult to break down into manageable chunks due to its grammatically unique nature.

When it comes to studying Japanese, it might be challenging to determine where and how to begin. 

Textbooks are no longer necessary for studying, and combining your learning methods can be the most effective way to discover what works best for you. 

One of our favorite methods is to study and learn Japanese through applications. There are numerous resources available for learning everything from kana to kanji, grammar, conversation, and vocabulary. 

You have a wide range of options to choose from, and pinpointing which one will help you learn the most can be challenging. 

Therefore, whether you have an iOS or Android phone, we’ve combed through all the available apps for learning Japanese and compiled a list of our favorites.

How To Select a Great App for Learning Japanese?

You don’t have to worry about grammar errors.

It is common for firms to rebrand a Spanish course as a Japanese one by replacing Spanish terms with Japanese ones. 

For them (and you), what works for teaching a language that seems similar to English will not work when learning Japanese.

There are few or no similarities between English and Japanese in terms of grammatical structure. The verb order is varied, the word order is honorific, and the terms themselves are not precisely defined… The list goes on and on.

The top applications will educate you on the Japanese language on its terms. It will recognize and decipher linguistic distinctions for native English speakers.

The writing system is taken into account.

There are complete Japanese classes and applications available that neglect to teach the Japanese writing system; nonetheless, if you’re serious about learning the language, this aspect is critical for fluency! 

The most successful apps will assist you in learning and effectively using the writing system. Written Japanese blends logographic symbols (kanji) with syllabic characters (kana). Similar to Chinese characters, each kanji character symbolizes a word or concept.

Best Apps To Learn Japanese

Hiragana Quest

If you’re just beginning your path of learning Japanese, you’ll use Hiragana and Katakana. We have listed an app that can help you achieve that goal in the first place. 

Hiragana Quest employs mnemonics to aid in acquiring both sets, ensuring that you will always remember them once they are internalized. 

However, we are a little prejudiced because it was created by one of our past students! Our mascots Hirako and Katako, guide you step by step, providing a backstory for each character and an opportunity to practice creating them along the way.

The app may be downloaded from www.hiraganaquest.com. It’s also available in the app stores for iOS and Android.

Pimsleur Japanese

Until recently, Pimsleur did not have an app. Pimsleur has a long history of being an excellent method of learning a second language through conversation.

Pimsleur’s innovative call/response/feedback system teaches you to think in Japanese and generate your sentences and responses. 

As far as applications go, this is the closest you can come to face-to-face speaking practice without actually meeting a native Japanese speaker.

The true benefit of this strategy is that you learn grammar implicitly (via speech patterns)rather than explicitly (through rules and grammar charts). 

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It is one thing to understand grammar; it is quite another to use it practically. Pimsleur teaches you how to speak Japanese in a conversational setting. It is one of the few apps that I am aware of that accomplishes this.

Additionally, the software incorporates a substantial reading track into the audio lessons. Students are introduced to hiragana via phonetically reading texts (along with native audio). 

After then, consumers are gradually exposed to Kanji. This is an excellent method of learning Japanese.

Pimsleur offers five levels of Japanese instruction, from beginning to intermediate. Users can access all five-course levels for $14.95 per month. 

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Pimsleur offers a free week of full access to their Japanese courses, allowing you to try them out and see if they’re a good fit for you before you pay anything.

The app is available for iOS as well as Android on the Google Play store.

LingoDeer

Using LingoDeer, you can start speaking Japanese from the very first lesson, improving your fluency right away. The game-like approach involves playing with blocks. 

You will be tested based on what you learned at the previous session by using various approaches.

LingoDeer combines audio from local Japanese speakers, words and sentences from Japanese content, and cultural content from standard Japanese media. 

You can even slow down the speaker’s voice to ensure that your pronunciation is as perfect as possible—a critical skill for language learning. 

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Additionally, you can turn on furigana to study kanji and discover the meaning and context with a simple tap.

While LingoDeer is not free, you may learn the fundamentals such as hiragana and katakana and over 1,000 vital Japanese phrases and go deep into the initial modules. 

If you would like all courses and N5-N3 vocabulary and grammar coverage, you can upgrade to the premium edition for a modest fee.

Japanesepod101

Japanesepod101 is one of the most popular applications on this list for a reason. 

The website/app is centered on podcast-style audio courses and has many helpful features and resources to accompany them (including spaced repetition flashcards for learning kanji).

While Japanesepod101 is not as strong in the written form of the language, it is a fantastic resource for studying grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and reading.

Each lesson (or episode) is based on a discussion between two fluent Japanese speakers. Additionally, two English-speaking hosts will deconstruct the dialogue’s grammar and terminology.

Keeping in mind the context of a real conversation, I enjoy this format most because you learn new vocabulary and grammar.

The Japanesepod101 podcast is, however, much more than audio alone. In addition to the sample sentences, vocabulary lists, grammar guides, and audio transcripts (in English, Japanese, and Romanji), our courses also provide Kanji review aids.

There are hundreds of classes on Japanesepod101, ranging from absolute beginners to expert levels. There are few other apps for learning Japanese that contain such a wealth of relevant content.

While the Japanesepod101 app has some important free features, full access requires a premium subscription starting at $4 per month. The app is available on iOS and Google Play.

Jsho

A list of Japanese apps would be incomplete without a dictionary. Jsho provides several input methods for searching for words in English and Japanese. 

You can enter words in Japanese using Hiragana, Kanji, or Romaji. If you are unfamiliar with a term’s meaning but are familiar with its pronunciation, this may prove useful. 

Additionally, if you are unsure of the meaning of a Kanji character or its spelling, you can enter it using various radicals. It is a little time-consuming but quite beneficial.

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There is a handy noun, verb, and so on the filter, and you can also see each Kanji’s breakdown, including the JLPT level, on’yomi, and kun’yomi, as well as how each gesture is performed. 

Additionally, you can save your favorite words by assisting you in practicing the ones you encounter most frequently.

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Finally, it includes the complete spectrum of conjugations for each word, including the polite, past, and negative forms, which can come in handy during the difficult periods of JLPT practice.

This app is available for Android and features complete offline capability without taking up much storage space.

Anki

Using Anki, you can convert kanji and vocabulary from renowned textbooks and JLPT lists into flashcards. 

These can range from a single word or kanji to terminology embedded in phrases to aid incomprehension. You can add audio cues and humorously cheesy stock images to these.

When confronted with a flashcard, consider the answer and click to reveal it. You can then self-mark from Again to Easy, with the time interval between repetitions indicated beneath the selections.

Apart from the option to design your decks, Anki has several handy features, such as an answer timer and the ability to reverse the questions and answers. This is very useful when transitioning from reading to writing kanji or vocabulary.

There are several ways to use Anki, including an app, an internet service, or a desktop application. 

You may find it faster to create decks on the desktop version and sync them to your mobile. Apologies to iOS users—you will need to pay—but you will not be disappointed.

Kanji Study

Kanji Study is one of the most effective programs for teaching yourself to read and write Japanese. The app takes you from an N5 reading level (complete beginner) to an N1 reading level (advanced).

For beginners, kanji study is completely free. This level teaches kana, radicals, and Kanji fundamentals. Additionally, they will have access to a comprehensive Japanese dictionary.

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For $12.99, users gain access to all kanji, which the popular software categorizes into ten tiers. Each level is divided into kanji sets. 

The basic level contains eight sets of ten kanji (a total of 80). In contrast, the majority of the remaining levels contain up to two or three hundred individual kanji that have been organized into sets.

The strategy employed by Study Kanji is straightforward, uncomplicated, and extremely successful. The software will display a collection of kanji alongside their English translations and some sample phrases or sentences. Following that, users are presented with three methods for studying the kanji set.

HelloTalk

It’s all well and good to study a language, but what good is it if you don’t practice using it?! 

While we understand that you are visiting Japan, if you want to get started before you arrive or are still feeling a little hesitant as you settle in, HelloTalk is a good alternative. 

It enables you to communicate with Japanese speakers to practice your language abilities. You can either talk with individuals or broadcast a question to the entire feed to evaluate a sentence structure or ask a question. 

Individuals can then respond with the right form, assisting you in determining where you may have gone wrong. Additionally, you can make friends and practice conversation with people from all around the world. 

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Additionally, there are built-in dictionaries and translation tools to assist you if you become stuck.

Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese

If you’re seeking structure or are having difficulty deciphering meaning from context, Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese is the book for you. 

This program is jam-packed with courses that are logically organized, with beautifully clear explanations and conjugation tables. The first chapter includes exercises on fundamental grammar as well.

Lessons include an English glossary and vocabulary list, along with kanji readings and definitions. You do not need a dictionary since all kanji are clickable even without consulting this list. 

It enables you to acquire new vocabulary while simultaneously observing how the grammar works in context.

Because this is not a game, it is not intended to be enjoyable or to aid in memorizing, but Tae Kim is your sensei if you want to comprehend something.

Obenkyo

This famous Japanese language learning app assists students in studying and mastering the written element of the language. 

The software also has a useful grammar portion, but it truly excels in written Japanese. Obenkyo instructs students in kanji, katakana, and hiragana.

Obenkyo is not organized in the manner of a conventional course. It is more geared toward self-directed learners. You are free to study Japanese and explore the entire app’s material at once rather than following a step-by-step lesson approach.

The true power of Obenkyo is that it enables you to study and practice using multiple-choice and written responses. On the app, you can practice writing kanji. Additionally, the app is completely free to use, which is fantastic.

The Community: Lang-8’s HiNative-Language Learning

HiNative-Language Learning is a community where native speakers can edit entries made by language learners. The content can be whatever you want and can be as lengthy or as short as you wish.

It’s a society founded on reciprocity, which means that if you’re not stingy, you’re certain to receive excellent reviews and suggestions (and maybe even some friendships). 

HiNative is produced by the same team that created Lang-8, a hugely successful language learning website, so if you’re more at ease with a full keyboard, you might also want to check out the group’s full browser version.

Italki

With Italki, students can take one-on-one Japanese language lessons through video or audio chat with language teachers.

You may connect with Japanese teachers worldwide for genuine one-on-one Japanese classes or tutoring sessions.

There are also numerous free services, such as a forum for asking native speakers about language-related concerns and a public notebook for writing in Japanese and having your words corrected by the community.

Additionally, a free language partner search feature connects you with Japanese speakers who are learning English so you can help each other in your respective target languages. 

After all, one of the most effective ways to practice a language is to converse with a native speaker!

The Dictionaries: imiwa?

Imiwa, one of the most popular foreigner-oriented apps, is an offline dictionary with various search ways. 

While you may search using romaji and Japanese letters, you can also search for kanji using SKIP (System of Kanji Indexing by Patterns), multi-radical, or Chinese radical. 

Its simple interface enables quick construction of lists and favorites and basic copy to clipboard/email functions.

It includes many definitions in many languages so that it might appeal to those not fluent in English.

The other outstanding feature is the automatic lookup of any text copied to the clipboard. Are you browsing a website and unable to grasp a single word? Simply copy it, open Imiwa, and the results will appear quickly.

Duolingo Japanese

Duolingo Japanese is among the most renowned language learning apps, with lessons available in various languages, not just Asian ones.

Since its launch in 2007, Duolingo has long been one of the most desirable apps for learning languages with more close ties to English, such as Romance, Germanic, and West Germanic.

Many Japanese students, on the other hand, have conflicting opinions about Duolingo. Japanese is a grammatical realm apart from English. 

Thus, a program that works well for Spanish or French will not necessarily work well for Japanese.

Numerous grammatical intricacies are not adequately explained in the app, if at all.

While the program does introduce the reader to hiragana and subsequently kanji, it also begins spitting out kanji at a rate that most novices cannot handle. 

Additionally, learners report that the app’s multiple-choice questions for kanji are too easy to guess, which results in the content not sticking.

The app operates on a freemium basis, which means that you may access a large amount of content for free (with advertisements), but you must pay to unlock all of the app’s features and remove the ads.

While the app is worth exploring if you’re interested in learning Japanese, it’s unlikely to be your primary tool, particularly if you’re a novice. If you’re interested in learning more about Duolingo Japanese, you can read our in-depth review.

Japanese by Renzo Inc.

Japanese by Renzo Inc. receives first place for design. It includes a beautiful, clean design, and it understands how a user thinks. 

On opening, it gives you a search bar to enter in quickly and handwriting, kanji component, and SKIP search option, all on the same page.

It features an audio clip for all entries and has the most accurate arrangement, for example, with hiragana above the kanji used and each kanji presented underneath with their meanings. The program also offers a built-in study system, but it’s not as good as Anki.

Kanji Recognizer

This small application may be straightforward, but that is precisely its strength. Every one of us has been there. Staring at an unfamiliar character, as if our eyes can extract its meaning. 

Kanji Recognizer was created specifically for those occasions, allowing you to quickly handwrite kanji and receive its readings, radicals, strokes, and fundamental meanings. 

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You may then export it to Anki or immediately look up the compound and examples of its use in your dictionary.

It’s the greatest software I’ve discovered for identifying handwritten kanji. 

As a result, I utilize it whenever my dictionary app cannot translate my kanji squiggles or simply want a reading of the kanji rather than a full explanation of its meaning. Additionally, its straightforward interface and layout make it quite easy to use.

WaniKani

WaniKani contains about 2,000 kanji and 6,000 phrases from the Japanese Ministry of Education’s official joyo kanji handbook. 

As you go through the various stages, you learn to rely on memory recall through spaced repetition. However, it is advised that you have a firm command of both hiragana and katakana before beginning. 

While this is not a grammar-teaching service, there are sample sentences for everything you learn beneficial for syntactic exposure or review.

If life intervenes and you become overburdened, you might halt your development. If enough time has passed and you’ve forgotten or become overwhelmed, you can also reset your level permanently. 

The items can be mastered or “burned” within a year, although the typical completion rate is two years. WaniKani’s first three levels are completely free to try. Following that, there is a minor monthly cost.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous Japanese language learning apps available, and you can test them all. Hopefully, this essay has assisted you in determining which Japanese app is perfect for you, allowing you to plunge into the language and begin leaving immediately.

Each program on our list has a free version or portion of its content. If you’re considering an app or are unsure which one would be the best fit for your learning needs, it’s a good idea to give it a try before making a purchase.

Language learners approaching Japanese do so in a variety of methods and for a variety of reasons. Which applications are the finest frequently relies on the individual’s needs when learning a language. Be prepared to have a preference for one app over another.

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While apps are fantastic and can significantly impact your Japanese study, don’t overlook the most critical component of your language learning: you. It is ultimately your passion and commitment to determine your success, regardless of which app you use!

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