Japanese is a difficult language. However, it’s growing in popularity among non-native speakers because of media, anime, and a general uptick in interest about the culture. The relatively newer wave of Japanese learners means that most traditional means don’t have apps for learning Japanese yet. However, there are some great ones to get your started. Here are the best Japanese learning apps for Android! Of course, Duolingo is our first choice for anyone learning Japanese!
Drops: Learn Japanese is one of the newer Japanese learning apps. It tries to liven up the learning experience. You only get five minutes per day to learn Japanese. Additionally, the app includes games, simple controls, and more. It puts a much lower emphasis on grammar in favor of vocabulary and phrases. You learn a great deal about the language this way. The app gives you 1,700 words across 99 topics. That should be enough for beginners at least. There is a subscription for all of the features or you can pay for the whole thing at once. It’s your choice.
Google Translate is the most popular and powerful translation app. You can translate between basically any two languages. It supports 103 languages with support for 59 of those languages offline. It also comes with an OCR feature. You point your camera at a sign or a menu and the app translates it for you. It even supports live translation as you talk. We already recommend this one to travelers. However, it’s also good for practice when learning a new language. It won’t be your main source of information, but it’s a great extra tool to have handy.
HelloTalk is an excellent app for learners. The app hooks you up with fellow language learners. You teach them your language and they teach you theirs. This progressive premise uses community and cultural exchange as the main vehicle for learning. We thought that was neat. The app supports over 100 languages, including Japanese, as well as audio and video calls, text messages, and more. We might not recommend this as a sole source of learning. However, this with a phrasebook or a free app like LingoDeer is an excellent and potent combination.
Learn Japanese Offline is another helpful tool for learners. It’s basically a phrasebook. The app contains over 1,000 words and phrases in Japanese across over a dozen categories. It works best for independent study for immediate need. However, we still recommend a course style app for the bulk of your learning. Nevertheless, this app is cheap, accessible, and makes a handy tool for learners and travelers. It is missing a few phrases. However, active learners should have multiple apps to help fill in the gaps.
LingoDeer is a one of the better free Japanese learning apps. It uses bite-size lessons with simple vocabulary and works its way up from there. It shows things in writing as well as audio clips with proper pronunciation. The app also features offline downloads, support for Kana, Kanji, and Romaji, 2,000 words and phrases, and over 150 lessons. It’s also completely free. There are optional donations in case you want to support development. The donations can range up to $9.99. This is a good one for learners on a budget.
Memrise is one of the most popular language learning apps on mobile. It supports dozens of languages, including Japanese. Its approach is rather broad. You learn vocabulary and grammar through a variety of exercises, games, lessons, and quizzes. It also includes offline support, daily goals, a pronunciation guide, reading games, and a bot that teaches you proper grammar. The subscription is a bit expensive. However, this app is for serious learners. We highly recommend at least trying it.
Mondly is another popular and powerful language learning app. This one supports dozens of languages including Japanese. It uses conversational Japanese to teach. You’re thrown into a conversation where you learn core words. The app expands from there. It’s a lot better than memorizing hundreds of words right off the bat and we appreciated its progressive system. The app also features audio pronunciations, speech recognition (for your own practice), quick sessions, and more. It’s one the most expensive in terms of monthly subscriptions costs. However, it is a serious app for serious learners, much like Memrise.
Rosetta Stone is one of the bigger names in language learning. It’s also among the most expensive. The company uses a proprietary learning method. It seems to work fairly well. Rosetta Stone isn’t exactly new in this space. There are 24 languages to choose from, including Japanese. It uses a method where it teaches basic words and phrases first and then expands from there. It gets rather expensive. Subscriptions range from $49.99 every three months to $94.99 every 12 months. However, we recommend the one-time $199.99 fee so that you get it all for good.
Simply Learn Japanese is, well, a simple app for Japanese learners. It works best as a study aid rather than a full set of courses. The app includes flashcards, a phrasebook with over 1,200 phrases, audio pronunciations, and even some quizzes. It uses a spaced repetition system. It’s not the most effective in our experience, but it’s better than nothing, especially for its price. This one is cheap and pairs well with other learning apps for a fuller, faster experience.
Tandem is a lot like HelloTalk. The app links you with other language learners around the world. You teach them your language and they teach you theirs. This one also includes video, voice, and text chats along with audio and picture messages. It also supports over 150 languages as well as over 2,500 language combinations. We’re sure that whatever language you speak and Japanese are linked up. We recommend this one as a study aid much like we do with HelloTalk. In fact, the two apps are basically interchangeable. It’s just a matter of finding the one you like better. Speaky is another app in this space that isn’t half bad.
If we missed any great Japanese learning apps, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists!