The 10 Best Free Apps to Help You Learn Japanese

Everyone wants to learn a new language but sometimes expensive textbooks just aren’t enough – even if they feature the fan favorite teacher Ellen Baker.


Embrace technology that gives you instant feedback and is there to practice whenever you have a free 5 minutes. You don’t have to drop obscene amounts of cash on a class or textbooks with these free apps that can help you on your language journey!

 

1Anki

Flashcards are a fantastic way to learn new vocabulary, and Anki makes it super easy with their app. You have access to thousands of kanji and vocab decks from textbooks and JLPT sources (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test). Users can also create their own decks, which can add even more diversity to your learning regimen.

 

2Dr. Moku’s Hiragana & Katakana

Dr. Moku’s Hiragana & Katakana uses mnemonics, which uses acronyms or images to make learning easier. A lot of cute humor and animals are used to make memorization a breeze when compared to old-school books and flashcards.

 

3HiNative

HiNative is a question board dedicated to learning a new language. You can explore the nuances of when you should or shouldn’t use honorifics, or ask a native speaker if a written phrase seems natural. The app adds a human touch to your learning style.

 

4Imiwa?

Imiwa? is a comprehensive dictionary app that can be used offline. The dictionary is loaded with sample sentences, English-to-Japanese translations, kanji stroke order, and allows for customized vocab lists. Kanji are categorized into grade-school and JLPT levels so you’ll get a feeling of your newfound mastery.

 

5Kanji Recognizer

We’ve all been there: staring at a wall of unknown kanji and hoping the meaning will fall into your lap. You can use Kanji Recognizer for those situations! Draw the kanji on your screen and the app will give you definitions, readings, stroke orders, as well as the katakana and hiragana.

6Kanjiryoku shindan

Kanjiryoku shindan is more for advanced learners since everything is in Japanese. Use it to test your kanji skills, which involves reading and writing the characters.

 

7Kotoba: Advanced Japanese

This app uses nearly 20,000 common words from the Mainichi Shimbun, which is one of Japan’s most read newspapers. Not only will you learn useful words, but you can study common expressions for different JLPT levels.

 

8Learn Japanese by MindSnacks

MindSnacks adds gamification to your studies and can be great for beginners! Over 800 words and phrases can be learned, with different games teaching romaji, kanji, and kana. Lessons are broken down into 20-word chunks to prevent burn-out.

 

9Obenkyo

This is a quiz app that’ll really test your knowledge! Written and multiple choice answers are required, giving you different ways to apply your studies. The app also has kanji lists sorted by JLPT levels, kanji readings, and katakana and hiragana writing practice.

 

10Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese

Tae Kim’s Guide is a great way to learn Japanese grammar if you can’t afford a textbook. Grammar is split into elementary to advanced topics, allowing for progressive learning. Simply grammatical explanations and full translations are also provided.

 

What are your favorite Japanese learning apps?

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Majored in Music @Duke, but realized that being a Jazz singer wasn't a real job. Now I spend my days watching anime and writing about the music industry. Glad to be in the new round of GB hires. Look forward to my coverage.
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