Best Apps And Tech For Learning Japanese by Karol Cook

Posted on February 03, 2019 | genkijacs

Best Apps And Tech For Learning Japanese

Japanese courses with native teachers are the best way to learn Japanese quickly and fluently, but it's even better to complement these classes with the use of language gadgets. The market for language learning apps and translators is full with options for students of all levels, and since Japanese is the eighth most used language on the Internet, the availability and variety of tech gadgets and online resources for Japanese is still increasing. Japan has a very rich culture which reflects in the complexity of its language, so the more resources you can gather to better understand its many layers, the more proficient you will be at Japanese. Let's review the best resources for foreign students who are learning Japanese in situ.

The best apps for learning Japanese

There are three main groups of apps you can download on your mobile devices to have complementary classes on the go or for a quick aid in case of need. First, you have translation apps, such as Google Translate, or downloadable dictionaries like JSho which don't require an Internet connection. These will function as dictionaries, getting you out of tight spots when you are confronted with words you don't know but have a limited utility when it comes to learning lessons. Then you have language learning apps. Some of them, like iTalki and HelloTalk, let you connect with native Japanese speakers and perform language exchange while making friends in Japan which is highly advisable. Many let you perform calls and video calls so you can hear the right pronunciation and tone of a native speaker and practice your own pronunciation.

Then you have automated learning apps like Duolingo and Babbel, which function as replacements for basic classes, and as such don't have much to offer if you are already taking a course with a human teacher. Finally, some apps are not meant specifically for language learning but can work as great complements, such as the flashcard app Anki which has a downloadable set of flashcards for all the 2,000+ kanjis as seen in Remembering Kanji.

What about digital translators?

Before smartphones were all over the place, digital translators were the salvation of many. They come with complete databases of Japanese and other languages, with automated voices that read aloud the translation and process audio input for a relatively fluid conversation with a native Japanese speaker. Models such as the Brookstone Passport became very popular, but its main disadvantage is that it only has a preset list of phrases it can translate, which is detrimental to its versatility. The Pulomi TT will translate conversations almost in real time, but it requires an Internet connection. Overall, language apps have equalled and even surpassed digital translators, so most people choose the former over the later.

Nowadays, you can find apps for virtually everything. So, complement your Japanese classes with the right apps and see your proficiency rise in a matter of weeks.


Karol Cook
Freelance Writer