• Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps in 2020 (Duolingo, HelloTalk, and More) 1
  • Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps in 2020 (Duolingo, HelloTalk, and More) 2
  • Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps in 2020 (Duolingo, HelloTalk, and More) 3
  • Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps in 2020 (Duolingo, HelloTalk, and More) 4
  • Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps in 2020 (Duolingo, HelloTalk, and More) 5

Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps in 2020 (Duolingo, HelloTalk, and More)

Studying Japanese can be a drag and it can sometimes require a ton of books. But with the invention of the mobile phone, studying with textbooks is no longer an issue. Now, you can use phone apps instead for a more immersive, interactive learning experience.

There are thousands of apps available, so choosing the right study aid might seem a bit daunting at first. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll go over a few key things to look for when choosing an app to help you study Japanese. We also have a list of our ten favorite apps to help you get started, with our favorite being Renzo's Japanese app.
  • Last updated: 10-06-2020
  • 1,552 views
Table of Contents

Top 10 Japanese Learning Apps

Here’s a list of our ten favorites to get you started on your search.

1
Size260 MB
Best forTravel, studying
In-app purchasesNo
2
Size259.6 MB
Best forStudying
In-app purchasesYes
3
Size145.6 MB
Best forStudying
In-app purchasesYes
4
Size275.5 MB
Best forSpeaking
In-app purchasesYes
5
Size68 MB
Best forStudying (JLPT)
In-app purchasesYes
6

John A EhlkeManabi Reader - Read Japanese

$0.00

Size382.2 MB
Best forStudying (JLPT)
In-app purchasesYes
7

Adam CritchleyLearning Japanese with Tae Kim

$0.00

Size20.8 MB
Best forStudying
In-app purchasesNo
8
Size220.2 MB
Best forSpeaking
In-app purchasesYes
9
Size30.4 MB
Best forStudying (flashcards)
In-app purchasesNo
10

Pocketglow LLCSpeakEasy Japanese

$3.99

Size62.5 MB
Best forTravel
In-app purchasesYes

Compare the Best Japanese Learning Apps

Image
1
Renzo Inc. Japanese 1

Renzo Inc.

2
LingoDeer Co, Ltd. Learn Languages 1

LingoDeer Co, Ltd.

3
Duolingo Language Lessons 1

Duolingo

4
Memrise Learn Languages Fast 1

Memrise

5
ThinkMac Software iKanji 1

ThinkMac Software

6
John A Ehlke Manabi Reader - Read Japanese 1

John A Ehlke

7
Adam Critchley Learning Japanese with Tae Kim 1

Adam Critchley

8
HelloTalk Language Learning 1

HelloTalk

9
Ankitects Pty Ltd AnkiMobile Flashcards 1

Ankitects Pty Ltd

10
Pocketglow LLC SpeakEasy Japanese 1

Pocketglow LLC

Name

Japanese

Learn Languages

Language Lessons

Learn Languages Fast

iKanji

Manabi Reader - Read Japanese

Learning Japanese with Tae Kim

Language Learning

AnkiMobile Flashcards

SpeakEasy Japanese

Features

The Dictionary That Does It All

Well-Rounded Study and Pronunciation Practice

Comprehensive Learning for Beginners and Intermediate Learners

Spaced Repetition With Great Quiz Options

Kanji Practice Great for JLPT Prep

Learn Through Reading the News

A Grammar Textbook in App Form

Chat With Native Speakers

The Original Spaced Repetition App

For Travelers Who Just Need Phrases

Price$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$5.99$0.00$0.00$0.00$24.99$3.99
Size260 MB259.6 MB145.6 MB275.5 MB68 MB382.2 MB20.8 MB220.2 MB30.4 MB62.5 MB
Best forTravel, studyingStudyingStudyingSpeakingStudying (JLPT)Studying (JLPT)StudyingSpeakingStudying (flashcards)Travel
In-app purchasesNoYesYesYesYesYesNoYesNoYes
Link

How to Choose a Japanese Learning App – Buying Guide

There are hundreds of apps aimed at teaching you Japanese, and not all of them are great. Here’s a guide to help you figure out what to download and what to skip.

Choose an App Based on Your Goals

By narrowing your search to apps that meet your needs, you can save yourself hours of time and energy.

Going on Vacation? Look for an App That Teaches Useful Phrases

Going on Vacation? Look for an App That Teaches Useful Phrases
If your main goal is to be able to get around during a trip to Japan, you want to focus on useful phrases rather than a more in-depth study of the language. Look for an app that specifically caters to tourists or one that has a section for tourist-friendly phrases.
It might also be helpful for you to learn to recognize hiragana and katakana. While many signs in Japan are written in the English alphabet, it’ll be extra insurance to learn the Japanese phonetic alphabet—as many place names and station stops out in the boonies are written in kanji and hiragana but not in Roman letters.

Studying for the JLPT? Choose an App That Covers Test-Specific Material

Studying for the JLPT? Choose an App That Covers Test-Specific Material
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is seen as the gold standard in Japanese language testing for foreigners. So it’s not surprising that many (if not most) Japanese learning apps at least give you the option to break things down by JLPT level.

Look for apps that focus on the same kinds of questions and material that you’d find on the test—focusing on reading, grammar, vocabulary, and listening rather than writing, for example. And because the JLPT is set up as a multiple-choice test, the best way to practice is by using an app that mimics that sort of quizzing style.

Just Want to Make Japanese Friends? Pick an App That’ll Help You Find Penpals

Just Want to Make Japanese Friends? Pick an App That’ll Help You Find Penpals
Aside from just flashcards and drills, there are also apps that connect you with people around the world. Some allow you to video chat with each other, while others are focused more on written message exchange.
Since many of these apps aren’t only for finding Japanese language partners, look for one that has a relatively large Japanese user base.

Make Sure the App Suits Your Level

Make Sure the App Suits Your Level
While most apps do cater to a wide range of levels, there are apps that are suited for specific levels. For example, general language learning apps, as good as they might be, really only take you through the lower intermediate levels of language.
It might also be helpful to look for an app that can accommodate your needs as they evolve. For example, it may switch from asking you questions in hiragana to kanji as you improve, present problems to you in more difficult language, or offer different sets of activities suited for different levels.

Find an App That Will Help You Practice Your Weak Points

It’s easy to study things that you’re good at, but in order to round out your knowledge, it’s important to also study the things that are a little harder for you. That being said, there are different factors to look for to make sure that your study is as effective as possible.

To Practice Vocabulary, Look for Spaced Repetition Flashcard Apps

To Practice Vocabulary, Look for Spaced Repetition Flashcard Apps
Spaced repetition is a technique that ensures you’re reviewing vocabulary as often as you need to in order to commit it to memory. When a flashcard shows up, instead of just flipping it around, you’ll let the app know if you got it correct or incorrect. The more you get a certain card right, the less it’ll show up.
If you have problems remembering a card, it’ll come up more often. This way you’re not studying things you already know well and are instead focusing on the words or points that are harder for you.

Find an App That Will Teach You Word Combinations to Practice Kanji

Find an App That Will Teach You Word Combinations to Practice Kanji

If you’ve studied Japanese enough, then you know that when it comes to kanji, just knowing the character isn’t enough—you need to know how to use it with other characters. Knowing just the meaning of a single character is almost useless if you can’t affix it to other characters or hiragana to make different words and constructions.

So, instead of apps that just have you match the character to the meaning, look for apps that force you to place characters within words, figure out how each character changes depending on how it’s combined, and choose between similar characters to find the correct answer.

Search for Apps with Audio Content for Practicing Speaking and Pronunciation

Search for Apps with Audio Content for Practicing Speaking and Pronunciation
Did you know that, in Japanese, the intonation for a word changes depending on whether you’re pronouncing it by itself or in a phrase? That’s why the best way to practice pronunciation is to listen to native speakers as much as possible—and listen to them speak in sentences, not single words.
Look for an app with lots of audio content meant for shadowing—repeating and continuing to repeat just a heartbeat after the audio so you’re basically a sound shadow.

To Practice Reading, Look for Apps That Can Adjust to Your Level

To Practice Reading, Look for Apps That Can Adjust to Your Level
If you’re an intermediate learner, it might be more detrimental than helpful to try to read a paragraph full of kanji you don’t know. So, when looking for a reading-focused app, look for one that can provide you with the furigana or definitions for the vocabulary above your level.
This way, you’ll save yourself the frustration of constantly having to stop reading to look things up in the dictionary, which is a huge demotivator and may turn you off learning a foreign language forever. You’ll also know exactly what you’re supposed to know and not get them confused with the things you needn’t have learned yet.

Make Sure the App Caters to Your Learning Style

Make Sure the App Caters to Your Learning Style
Smartphones are interactive in a way textbooks are not, and developers have taken advantage of this to help you learn Japanese in a variety of unconventional ways.
Some utilize Japanese videos and articles taken from the internet to help you learn Japanese as it’s spoken in the real world, in different contexts. Some turn their quizzes into a bunch of different games, which is great if you get bored quickly. So whether or not you think you’re good at languages, it should be easy to find an app that appeals to your learning style.

Looking For More Apps?

Looking For More Apps?

Are you looking to get the most out of your phone? There are plenty of applications out there that are useful for things such as enhancing your camera, helping you budget, or managing your health. Since there are a lot out there, we've prepared other buying guides to help you find the best ones!

Summary

There are many facets to learning a language—vocabulary, grammar, reading, speaking, listening, and communication. Communication, of course, isn’t the same as speaking; it involves everything we’ve mentioned, as well as cultural knowledge and a willingness to understand.

We’ve introduced many apps to you, each of which helps you hone in on a specific method of learning. Hopefully, one of them will help you patch up your most obvious weaknesses quickly. But, as with learning every foreign language, remember that open-mindedness, respect, and a willingness to be wrong and be corrected, is perhaps the most important learning tool of all.

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