Trying to master Japanese kanji characters, vocabulary, and pronunciation might seem like a never-ending quest. With 2,100 characters to learn to be considered fluent, it’s no wonder! Don’t worry, though; there are plenty of apps to learn Japanese out there to help. Especially combined with a Japanese class and pronunciation tools like Speechling, using a flashcard app can shoot your retention of kanji radicals and vocabulary skyward.
If you’re reading this article, you probably don't know the best flashcard tools to use. There are an overwhelming number of choices in the iOS and Android app stores, so it might take a lot of work to find something decent. The good news? I did the work for you! This article covers the top five flashcard apps to learn Japanese writing.
The Best 6 Flashcard Tools for Learn Japanese Writing
If you need to use flashcard apps to learn Japanese writing, you deserve to use the best ones. Here are some of the best flashcards that are available to android and iOS users. They are appropriate for learning Japanese for beginners or as advanced students.
I want to start with the most popular language-learning flashcard app, Anki. Anki has gained its reputation due to its functionality. It is customizable and has several add-on features, and it can be used for practically any subject (not just Japanese). It is popular among Japanese learners, though, and its database is stocked with various resources.
Anki has a variety of premade decks to help you learn Japanese writing, and you can also choose to customize your decks. Apart from its vast library of Japanese materials, you can customize your decks by adding images, videos, audio, and markups to get the best from the app.
You can use Anki as an app, desktop version, and even on your phone’s browser. Although Anki’s browser version is free, you will have to pay a one-time $25 fee to download the iOS device.
Wanikani, which translates to “crocodile crab,” is one of the most fun and effective apps for learning Japanese as a beginner or bolstering your vocabulary later on. I learned about this app from my sister, who got a college degree in Japanese. It’s popular among college students struggling to memorize a lot of kanji really fast.
Wanikani teaches its users over 2,000 kanji radicals with its flashcards. Its flashcard website has several features designed for people hoping to learn Japanese writing and vocabulary from scratch. Moreover, Wanikani's flashcards break down various kanji characters into simpler, understandable chunks and use funny mnemonics and explanations to help characters stick in your head. The site also includes a space to take notes and after-lesson quizzes. Overall, the website ensures you learn kanji at a decent clip.
Wanikani only has a website, so it isn’t technically one of the apps to learn Japanese writing with flashcards, but it still deserves a spot here. You can access the website using your phone or computer. Wanikani costs $9/month, $89 annually, or $299-lifetime membership. There is also a free trial if you’d rather try before you buy. It may seem like a lot, but compared to Japanese class fees and reams of textbooks, it can be worth the price tag.
I personally use Feyn to create my kanji flashcards (yep, I’m still working on this too). This iOS app is very simple, with no pre-made decks or study materials. Instead, it’s essentially a blank deck of flashcards.,
I like Feyn because:
- The flashcards are oriented vertically, which works well with Japanese writing (Japanese is written top to bottom)
- I can choose my own kanji and write down my own memory tricks. This works well for me because I speak Japanese and read some Japanese, so my memory tricks are often bilingual or in Japanese. If you find that your brain doesn’t work well to existing apps to learn Japanese writing, this may be a good tactic for you as well.
- Feyn allows you to organize cards into folders and move cards from one folder to the other. I move cards to a “Review” folder as I master them.
With Feyn, you can take notes from classes or/and your materials and make them into custom cards. You can then repeatedly study these cards on the app to make the new kanji stick!
Feyn is completely free. However, it is limited to iOS users, and all its features are optimized for their experience. For now, you wouldn't find Feyn on your Android play store…sorry.
Although the DuoCards is new to the flashcard world, it does just as well as other top apps to learn Japanese writing with flashcards—it steps up personalized learning. Like with Feyn, you can make cards from articles and any material of your choice.
This app's functionality is limitless! Inputting text and speech recognition is allowed, so you can work on both spoken and written Japanese. It’s a flexible companion for seasoned and novice learners alike.
DuoCards allows you to log in so you can sync your progress with any device to study Japanese writing. It is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. This app is free, but it comes with in-app purchases for certain features.
Last, but by no means the least, is StickyStudy. StickyStudy uses stock-order animations and extensive kanji decks for people hoping to learn Japanese writing. A Japanese learner made this app, so it has many handy learning features.
StickyStudy has over 6,000 kanji and an extensive library. On StickyStudy, you can translate articles and materials and turn them into cards. StickyStudy also includes several other features, including examples of the kanji used in compound words. Its stroke-open animation is really helpful if you’re looking for apps to learn Japanese writing by hand.
StickyStudy is currently limited to iOS users, as with Feyn. It costs a very reasonable one-time $10 fee.
Although flashcards are invaluable, they are most helpful for learning how to read and write. That's why I want to give Speechling a shoutout here.
Speechling is an incredible tool for bolstering your ability to speak fluidly. I’ve met many a Japanese student who, despite being very invested in learning radicals, have a very thick accent and struggle to speak at a conversational speed. This can be especially challenging because Japanese grammar and word order are so different than English.
Speechling combats this by offering free language coaching and myriad speaking exercises. I really like that Speechling uses proven scientific methods called Speechling Method to ensure users understand what they learn. You learn at your own pace, and if you want to opt for the Speechling package, you can access the app, website, and unlimited tutoring for $19.99 a month.
Using Top Tools and Apps to Learn Japanese Writing and Speaking
There are other ways to get better at kanji radicals besides apps. You can opt for online or offline Japanese classes or start reading manga with the help of furigana. But remember: Japanese is more than just writing kanji radicals and piling up vocabulary. You also need to learn how to speak Japanese with a decent accent.
I've found that when it comes to tackling a new language, mixing and matching resources leads to the most success. With top apps to learn Japanese writing with flashcards and Speechling to help you master pronunciation, you can’t go wrong. So pick the right app for you, practice every day, and enjoy your newfound Japanese skills.