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Japanese Resources

Anki
Price: Free
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It is the go-to app for free (except on iOS) Spaced Repetition System (SRS) flashcards. It has a simple user interface with various features that more hard-core users can dive into if they choose.

Your flashcards will appear according to your natural forgetting curve; the app will test you in increasingly spaced out intervals, with more difficult cards appearing more than once in a session, while easier cards spacing out over weeks — or even months and years. An SRS system is the most effective way to drive information into your long-term memory.

The cards can sync between the web, desktop app, and mobile versions to keep your flashcards updated and with you at all times. You can add images and audio clips to your cards and change the text formatting (if you use it on your computer). One feature unique to Anki, as opposed to other SRS flashcard apps, is the “Cloze deletion” function, which allows you to block out parts of your card and create a “fill-in-the-blanks” type card format.

If you want a resource for how to make effective flashcards, check out the book, FluentForever. The author leaves a whole section dedicated to understanding how to use your Anki deck to advance your skills quickly.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

LangCorrect
Price: Free
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LangCorrect is a free community-driven writing site where users can both contribute to editing others’ work and receive feedback on their own writing.

After writing your piece, you may submit it to receive feedback from other site users. In order to ensure accurate feedback, multiple users can cross-check the corrections that were made and add comments.

Volunteers and Patrons have access to writing in up to 10 languages, but typical users can write in a maximum of two languages at a time. Everyone is encouraged to both write and correct others’ work on the site.

If you are looking to improve your writing skills in one of the over 100 languages available, trying out this resource is a must! However, if you’re studying a less common language and not finding many users to give you corrections, consider trying the exercise section in italki’s community features.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Forvo
4.8 
Price: Free
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Forvo’s mission is to improve spoken communication across cultures. Anyone can explore pronunciations of millions of words in over 390 languages with maps displaying where each speaker is from. The site also organizes popular categories and essential phrases for when you don’t have a specific word in mind.

As a registered user, you can contribute to the site by pronouncing words or phrases in your native language or by requesting pronunciations in a specific language. You are also encouraged to vote on audio files in your native language to help others identify the best pronunciation. For those of you who enjoy using Anki, Forvo allows you to download mp3 files to use in your learning endeavours.

Forvo also has an e-learning course for French, Spanish, and English; you will find three levels and a group of topics with sets of the most common words in your target language. Using an SRS flashcard system, you will be able to learn the pronunciation of these words and view an example of how to use them in a sentence.

If you are looking for a pronunciation reference guide, look no further than Forvo’s extensive database!

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

kanshudo
4.8 
Price: Freemium, Premium subscriptions start at $6/mo
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Kanshudo is unique, diverse, thorough, and an overall fantastic resource for anyone wanting to train their reading skills in Japanese. This mini-review can only brush the surface of Kanshudo’s many features.

The program teaches beginner to advanced levels; there are a variety of activities to engage in, such as lessons, SRS flashcards, challenges, games, and reading. One of the many neat features of Kandusho is that the more you study, the more coupons you can earn to receive free Pro access.

Beginner lessons will introduce you to 5 new kanji, then reinforce your understanding of each kanji through several engaging activities. After completing 20 beginner lessons, you can tackle the next 1000 kanji and more complex vocabulary and grammar. You can take a kanji quiz whenever you like to determine roughly how many you have learned; the site will change its study recommendations based on your score. You can also use Kanshudo with your current textbook — many of the most common textbooks are supported.

In the Reading Corner you can find reading practice organized by level. In each text you can click the sentences to receive audio pronunciations, translations, grammar explanations, vocabulary explanations, and a breakdown of each of the kanji (including the radicals within the kanji and mnemonics to remember them).

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Tandem
4.7 
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Tandem is a popular language exchange app with over one million active users. It’s available for iOS and Android and aims to bring language learners from all over the world together. It’s largely centered around its chat capabilities and language tools that facilitate communication, but there is also a tutoring service offered in the app.

Japanese With Noriko
4.6 
Price: Free
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Noriko is a qualified Japanese teacher with an education degree who provides podcasts, YouTube videos, and Italki classes for Japanese learners. On her website, you can find transcripts of her podcasts and videos with translations of difficult vocabulary words. Her resources seem most appropriate for upper beginner to intermediate learners.

Noriko speaks at a relatively natural speed but articulates clearly in her bite-sized episodes. She speaks almost entirely in Japanese, except to occasionally translate one word here and there (although some YouTube videos have full-sentence translations). She also repeats new vocabulary words multiple times throughout the episodes to help with retention. Although she only started her episodes in February 2020, there are already hundreds of podcasts for your listening enjoyment.

Her YouTube videos have various focuses: sometimes she will publish a short story with subtitles, other times you may listen to her talk about vocabulary words specific to everyday contexts. For example, you may learn what to say when you are sick, how to talk about your work, or how to describe the textures of food or drink.

Listening to one of Noriko’s episodes can fit into anyone’s schedule; you will surely feel accomplished even after a 5-minute lesson.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Shirabe Jisho
4.5 
Price: Free
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Shirabe Jisho is a Japanese Dictionary app for Apple users. You can search over 170,000 dictionary entries in both Japanese and English using handwriting, radicals, and romaji.

Each entry is comprehensive, with stroke order diagrams for several thousand Kanji and example sentences from the Tatoeba project. It also provides positive, negative, and masu conjugations when relevant. You can customize your own word list or choose from the pre-made lists that include common words, expressions, slang terms, colloquialisms, JLPT levels, and parts of speech. Unfortunately, the app uses text-to-speech pronunciation, but you can use Forvo on your desktop browser to listen to native speaker pronunciations for free.

The lists of similar kanji under each kanji entry are especially helpful to identify potential mix-ups. Although Shirabe Jisho’s breakdown of kanji components is not as comprehensive as in Kanji Study for Android, it still provides a helpful list of the basic components.

If you have both an Android and an Apple product, Kanji Study for Android is still your best bet. However, for Apple users, Shirabe Jisho is a 100% free and ad-free dictionary option that is well worth your time.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

Linguee
4.5 
Price: Free
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Linguee was developed by over 400 lexicographers. It is unique in that it does not use machine-translation to provide examples of words in context — instead, it sources words from articles and research papers in the original language. As a result, it is an excellent dictionary app to find translations for specialized terminology.

You will learn the subtleties of various translations by reading paired paragraphs of text that have each been professionally translated, not translated by a machine. In some languages, you can listen to pronunciations by native speakers and read multiple translations of your chosen word or phrase.

Although translations are highlighted in each paragraph so you can compare how to use them in each language, they can be difficult to navigate quickly. If you are looking for a website with simple and professional translations, you can check out WordReference for several different languages. SpanishDict is also an excellent option for Spanish, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

Wordreference
4.5 
Price: Free
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WordReference is one of the best websites for single-word translations. It uses a combination of its own dictionaries and Collins’, depending on the language, and relies on professional translations rather than machine-translations. With each word you look up, you will receive multiple examples of how to use it, nuances of each meaning, and a list of how to incorporate it into multiple phrases. Whereas sites like Bab.la seem to have machine-translated examples that sound quite random at times, WordReference’s examples can be applied directly to your everyday conversation.

You can also find conjugation tables and the Collins COBUILD English Usage dictionary, which shows you how to use individual English words correctly — through its explanations, English learners will be able to differentiate between words that are easily confused (such as ‘current’ and ‘currant’). If the explanations don’t make sense, you can ask questions in the WordReference Language Forum — there you will find an active community of language learners discussing language learning topics.

Unfortunately, not all words have audio pronunciation, but those that do can be played back at different speeds and with different accents (depending on the language).

Although WordReference is a thorough resource, SpanishDict is probably a better option for Spanish learners, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese. Linguee is also similar to WordReference but specializes in formal language, and Forvo has millions of words pronounced by native speakers in hundreds of languages.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

italki
4.5 
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italki is the most flexible and affordable place to find a tutor for the language you’re learning. They have a huge number of teachers offering classes to students of over 100 different languages. As a learner, you’ll be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style, schedule, and personality. Teachers are able to set their own prices and make their own schedule.