For Beginner and Advanced Beginner students:
Drops uses pictures to associate words and their meanings. It’s simple, straightforward and super easy to use. I love this app for beginners, because it’s great for quickly and efficiently building vocabulary. My favourite thing about this app though, is that there aren’t any ‘levels’, and you aren’t stuck to a strange order, while being forced to learn words that you already know (or don’t want to learn). You can choose vocabulary by category, and Drops will ask you which words out of the set that you’d like to learn. Brill.
Kana – Hiragana and Katakana
A simple, effective app that shows you the hiragana and katakana to learn. It shows you how to both read and write the kana, which is fantastic, but it also rewards you for streaks, and logs your statistics (which is always fun to see!).
For Intermediate students:
Easy Japanese News
My favourite app on this entire list. Hands down. I truly believe in learning from real materials, and this is as real as it gets. This feature packed app delivers everything you need to get a real feel for digesting Japanese. Firstly, there are news articles separated into ‘easy’ and ‘hard’. From here, every kanji in the article is annotated with furigana, meaning that you don’t have to spend an hour googling varieties of a word to try and find the English version. Vocabulary in the app is also categorised into N levels, and conveniently listed at the bottom. In a seperate tab, you’ll also find real news videos that are transcribed below in Japanese and romaji. This app is incredible for listening, reading, and understanding real and up-to-date Japanese!
For High Intermediate & Advanced students:
At an advanced level of Japanese, apps are kinda tricky. You definitely don’t want to be tracing your hiraganas and flashcarding 水. There really aren’t many apps made for advanced students, and that’s a pain. My recommendation here, is that if you’ve ticked off the grammar, learnt the hundreds of kanji, and passed your N-levels, the best thing you can do is… use your Japanese! HelloTalk is an app that connects you to native speakers in Japan, and it’s built around encouraging chatty, natural dialogue. As an advanced student, it’s time to put all of your hard work, to work, and spend time having the conversations that you spent so long learning Japanese for. Oftentimes, people use HelloTalk to language swap, so you might find yourself correcting someone’s English, but they’ll correct your Japanese text too. You can make a profile, and read others before starting up a conversation, and you’ll be shown profiles that list similar interests as you. You can also have audio conversations on HelloTalk, and it has a dictionary & translation software built into the app for on-the-go chatting. It’s perfect for developing your conversation skills, and getting real-time feedback on your naturalness.
No frills, uncomplicated and purposeful. I love Anki for it’s simplicity. Where it lacks in features, games and flashing lights, it’s data-driven algorithm seriously picks up the slack. Anki is a simple flash carding app, with a powerful SRS behind it. SRS stands for spaced repetition system. This means that the flash carding app will mould to you and your results. It will cleverly show you the exact words that you need. Built to help you memorise words, kanji, and anything in between. Because the software is open source, you can very quickly find & download 1000’s of decks made by other students with a quick search on Google.
You might have noticed that none of these apps are going to make you fluent in Japanese by themselves. That’s kind of an impossible feat for an app to do by itself. But these apps are going to help you practice your Japanese, and supplement your learning at each and every level.