In our digitally-connected era, language learning has transcended beyond the conventional classroom lessons and textbooks. It is now more personalized, flexible, and engaging than ever before. This transformation owes much to the various language learning apps available in the App Store, specifically designed to turn your Japanese learning journey into a more accessible and enjoyable experience.
If you’re looking to learn Japanese on your iPhone, but are overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps available, we’ve got you covered. We’ve sifted through the multitude and handpicked the 10 best apps to help you learn Japanese in the most effective and engaging ways possible.
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With its unique blend of addictive games and comprehensive content, this app turns Japanese learning into a thrilling adventure, leaving behind the monotony of traditional flashcards. The app boasts a set of eight varied games aimed at honing your reading, writing, and conversation skills in Japanese. It offers a rich repository of over 800 Japanese words and phrases, giving you a robust vocabulary base. What sets this app apart is its ability to let you practice in three Japanese writing systems — Kana, Kanji, and Romaji — enhancing your grasp of the language’s written forms.
The app stands out with its top-notch, pedagogical features. Each lesson is furnished with audio clips from a professional native speaking samurai, which aids in perfecting your pronunciation. A hand-illustrated image library serves as a helpful tool for memorizing words and symbols. The app also includes a set of 50 expertly-designed Japanese lessons (accessible with an upgrade) and utilizes personalized learning algorithms to boost memorization, retention, and contextual usage of the language. An enhanced review mode allows you to revisit previously mastered lessons, and the addition of extra quests and challenges maintains motivation levels.
imiwa? is a multilingual Japanese dictionary app that works offline, making it a dependable companion for learners and travelers alike. It leverages the esteemed JMdict files from the Electronic Dictionary Research and Development Group, a project originally based on Jim Breen’s EDICT initiative. You can initiate a search in English, French, Russian, and German, as well as in Japanese or Romaji, and Imiwa? will provide the results. While translations in all four languages are available for some definitions, the app guarantees English translations for all entries in the JMDict dictionary, making it an indispensable tool for English speakers learning Japanese.
Imiwa? goes beyond being a simple dictionary; it’s also packed with a wealth of useful resources for Japanese learners. The app features a comprehensive database of Kanji (KanjiDic), practical examples from tatoeba.org, and conjugation tools, making it particularly beneficial for beginners. It even incorporates the traditional Chinese character recognition keyboard included in the iOS system, enabling users to draw kanji directly on the screen.
Human Japanese is a comprehensive language learning app that goes beyond traditional teaching methods to offer a more immersive and thorough understanding of Japanese. It sets itself apart by adopting a warm, engaging tone and a holistic approach to language learning. Rather than focusing solely on canned phrases and vocabulary, it provides an integrated experience with discussions, recordings, animations, illustrations, and photos. The key ethos of Human Japanese is to elucidate how every aspect of the language works, ensuring learners never feel expected to grasp concepts that haven’t been thoroughly explained.
The app does a remarkable job of keeping learners engaged and motivated by presenting key concepts with warmth and humor. It’s designed to guide learners from one “light bulb moment” to the next, maintaining a sense of energy and excitement throughout the learning journey. Human Japanese offers more than 500 pages of interactive content, animations of every Hiragana and Katakana character, over 1800 recordings of vocabulary words and phrases by native speakers, and more than 800 example sentences. The depth and breadth of the material, coupled with the engaging teaching style, make Human Japanese a highly effective and enjoyable tool for learning the language.
Duolingo has earned its spot as one of the most popular language learning apps globally, and for a good reason. It leverages a gamified approach to learning that engages learners and motivates them to stay on track with their lessons. Duolingo’s Japanese course covers a variety of topics, including basic phrases, food, time, adjectives, and much more. Its unique blend of speaking, listening, translation, and multiple-choice challenges offers a comprehensive yet enjoyable method of mastering the Japanese language.
The Rosetta Stone app champions the immersion method of language learning, where learners are directly exposed to the language without translations. This method helps learners to think in Japanese and gradually gain a natural feel for the language’s structure and grammar. It offers ten-minute, bite-sized lessons that are easy to fit into a busy schedule. It also includes a speech recognition feature that provides real-time feedback on your pronunciation, ensuring that you’re speaking Japanese accurately.
Memrise is an innovative app that uses mnemonics and spaced repetition to boost vocabulary retention and recall. This app shines in its use of video clips of native speakers, giving learners a taste of real-world Japanese conversations. The app’s clever use of memes and other engaging content transforms language learning into a delightful experience rather than a tedious task.
HelloTalk stands out by connecting learners with native Japanese speakers. It’s a language exchange platform where users can teach their language to others while learning a new one themselves. You can text, voice chat, or even video call your language partners, offering invaluable real-time practice with native speakers. This exposure to colloquial language and cultural nuances can significantly enhance your overall Japanese learning experience.
Tandem is a platform that connects you with language tutors and conversation partners. What sets Tandem apart is the ability to hire professional tutors for personalized lessons. You can tailor your learning experience to your specific needs and objectives. Furthermore, the app encourages language and cultural exchanges, offering an excellent opportunity to practice your conversational skills and learn more about Japanese culture directly from locals.
FluentU takes an out-of-the-box approach to language learning by using authentic Japanese videos — such as music videos, movie trailers, news, and inspiring talks — and turning them into personalized language learning lessons. FluentU includes interactive subtitles so you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples. With quizzes and spaced repetition, it helps you learn new words and phrases effectively and enjoyably.
Anki is a versatile flashcard app that employs spaced repetition to help you remember new vocabulary and grammar rules. What sets Anki apart is its customizability; you can create your own flashcards or download decks shared by other users. It’s perfect for learning kanji and vocabulary, and you can study at your own pace, making it a valuable tool for any Japanese learner.
JapanesePod101 offers a vast library of audio and video lessons that help you learn Japanese in a fun and engaging way. The lessons are structured by proficiency levels and various topics, making it easy to find what suits your needs best. This app is not only about language; it provides insights into Japanese culture, making your learning experience holistic.
Busuu‘s standout feature is its large community of native speakers who can provide feedback on your writing and speaking exercises. It offers a well-rounded curriculum, covering vocabulary, grammar, speaking, and writing. Busuu also offers an excellent feature, ‘Study Plan,’ allowing you to set your goals and timeline, keeping you motivated and on track.
Lingodeer excels in its thorough grammar explanations, making it a top choice for serious Japanese learners. Its courses are designed by professional teachers and linguists, ensuring high-quality content. It offers lessons from the alphabet to advanced grammar, making it ideal for all levels. Its interactive exercises and review sessions will reinforce your language skills and ensure a solid foundation.