Lately I’ve felt that my reading needs to improve. So I’ve decided to use the tools at my disposal (meaning iPhone, computer and books) to get better.
iPhone: A few apps contained in my 日本語 folder include, imi wa (previously known as kotoba), KanjiBox, i-sokki and wakaru.
imi wa is one the most useful Japanese dictionaries on the iPhone (from what I’ve seen so far). You can type in either English or Japanese and it will find the meaning for you, as well as give you example sentences. And in the latest version of the app, you can now listen to the pronunciation of words. But what I find really useful about imi wa is that you can search for the meaning of a kanji. There are different methods available, such as the SKIP method or multi-radical method. I often find that taking the time and looking up the kanji is a good way to remember it. And best of all… it’s free!
It’s taken me a while to find a kanji app that fulfills all my requirements, and I think I finally have! KanjiBox is an app as well as a game in the game centre. You can study kanji according to your JLPT level with flash cards, doing drills and taking quizzes. And when you think you’re ready, you can challenge anyone in the game center to a kanji shoubu (contest)! And another great feature of KanjiBox: you can practice drawing the kanji.
i-sokki is an app I use to test my vocabulary. The vocabulary lists are divided according to JLPT levels, with over 500 words just in N5. The app, essentially, is a quiz master. There is a Japanese mode, which tests general vocabulary, and a kanji mode. During the quiz you will get scored on how well you know the word. The less familiar you are with the word,the more often it will appear, until you’ve completely mastered it!
And finally, wakaru. wakaru has a list of books you can read in Japanese, like I am a Cat by Natsume Soseki. When there is a word you do not understand, simply highlight it and get a definition. You can then add words to your study list to look at later. The study list will also tell you how many times you have looked up a particular word. It’s a great way to increase your Japanese vocabulary and practice reading.
Books: Now aside from the iPhone, I’ve also been practicing to read using mangas. At the moment I am reading マイガール (My girl). Although a lot of the language is very easy to understand, I still need to look up kanjis from time to time. I’ve found that The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary is (for me) the best (tangible) Kanji dictionary.
Internet: And finally, here is an online Japanese class, conveniently named Japanese Class. What I like about this website is its reading section, which has short articles of Japan’s current affairs. Each short excerpt gives you a list of vocabulary, and once you have mastered the article, you can quiz yourself.
Of course there are many more studying tools out there in all shapes and sizes. If you have any recommendations, let me know 😉