Though I completely agree with Benny Lewis that HB 2.0 is the best “app” for learning a language, there are some pretty darn ninjetic smartphone apps that can help you improve your Japanese listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills from the convenience of the mobile device right in your pocket. A search of the Apple App Store or Google Play store reveals an overwhelming number of Japanese language apps, but sadly (or perhaps, fortunately) the vast majority are not very useful. To save you time and help you focus on actually acquiring Japanese instead of wasting time searching for tools, I have tried dozens and dozens of apps over the years and have narrowed down my list to just my top five favorites.
Today’s Japanese learner is but a click or tap away from a dizzying array of digital Japanese dictionaries. But which should you choose? The plethora of options available can lead to what author Barry Schwartz calls the “paradox of choice”. To help you avoid the anxiety, paralysis by analysis, and decision fatigue associated with so many choices, I have waded through dozens of Japanese dicitionary sites and apps for you and selected just the essential few that I think are best suited to mastering the Japanese language. Here now are the top eight Japanese dictionaries available online and on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.
We have been conditioned by well-intentioned mothers to believe that television will “destroy our brains”. This might well be true if one spends their time watching “reality” TV shows that don’t actually reflect reality, the sensationalist 24-hour news cycle, and tasteless drivel that neither entertains nor educates. But if you watch television in Japanese, this otherwise time and brain-waisting activity can become a constructive form of language learning that even mommy should be able to get behind! To that end, here are my top ten favorite tools for streaming Japanese drama and anime series online:
Spaced Repetition Systems (or “SRS” for short) are flashcard programs designed to help you systematically learn new information—and retain old information—through intelligent review scheduling. Instead of wasting precious study time on information you already know, SRS apps like Anki allow you to focus most on new words, phrases, kanji, etc., or previously studied information that you have yet to commit to long-term memory. Read on to see how spaced repetition apps work and which SRS tools I recommend.
If you are learning Japanese and/or Mandarin Chinese and have an Android device, I highly recommend checking out Skritter’s new public beta app. As I mention in my review of Skritter, they offer one of the best tools for learning Chinese characters. Instead of traditional flashcards that just test passive recognition, the Skritter site and apps require that you actually write out the characters on the screen or using your mouse/trackpad. This “active recall” approach is far more effective than the self-gradings used in other spaced repetition apps. And best of all, in cases when you have no idea how to write a character, Skritter provides nifty stroke by stroke hints to help you along. If you haven’t tried Skritter yet, now would be a good time as you can get a 3-week trial instead of the 1 week they usually offer. The offer is valid for new accounts activated before August 31, 2014.
In this guest post, website developer, language tutor, and language enthusiast Teddy Nee shares how you can learn a foreign language better by immersing yourself via social media networks, plus some powerful little features that you might not know about.