There are quite a few ways to start learning languages these days, and many of them are free. Japanese can be tricky to learn, so traditional ways may not always work well for everyone. But that’s where the Dr Moku apps come in! I was very interested in giving the updated versions a whirl, and I’m very pleased to report how effective and fun they make learning the Japanese alphabets!
The heart of the apps is the use of mnemonics, or quirky memory tricks, to help users learn each of the Japanese alphabets. In total, there are 3 apps to cover the Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji alphabets, and each one includes a good variety of activities to help you strengthen and test your knowledge.
Hiragana is the first and easiest alphabet of the language, so that’s what I started with. In learning mode, you’re taken character by character through the entire alphabet, and with each character there are short phrases and cute cartoons to associate with the sound of that character. Most are quite easy (e.g. TA looks like it sounds, and TSU looks like a tsunami wave) while others do require a bit more time to “click,” but never is it a stretch to memorize.
It’s not taken very long for me to feel comfortable with the alphabets, and that’s with minimal spare time for it! I have no doubt that these apps would make it very simple to master hiragana and katana over just a few days. It helps that there are a multitude of ways to test your knowledge, as well as to keep it sharp after you’ve learned it. There are several quiz types in each section to test your reading and listening skills, as well writing and reading practice sections. I’m a sucker for word searches, so that was probably my favorite, and will be an efficient way to keep my memory sharp on a daily basis.
Alphabets are only the first part of learning a new language, however, and the speak section is there to help put this knowledge to use by teaching essential phrases and questions. There are also handy quick reference guides, audio charts and writing practice if you want a break from learning mode.
Once I have the time to perfectly complete the Katakana app, the Kanji app will be what I move on to next. I’ve always been a little intimidated by the idea of learning Kanji, as it is complicated and can take years to master, but I am actually very much looking forward to it with the help of the Dr Moku app.
I am very impressed with the overall high quality of these apps, from the pleasant graphics and thorough content coverage to the fun exercises. While the apps won’t help you learn every single aspect of Japanese, they offer an excellent foundation on which to start and base your language studies. With the aid of these apps, I’m now confident that I will have enough knowledge to comfortably travel with during any future trips to Japan.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the Dr Moku website. All three apps are available for both iOS and Android (the Hiragana/Katakana apps are bundled for Android,) and they offer convenient Lite apps so you can try them out for free before making any purchases. Let us know if you decide to try it out, what you think, and if you have any favorite ways to learn Japanese!
PS. Don’t forget to enter our Dr. Moku giveaway for a chance to win all 3 iOS apps.