Top 7 best apps for learning Japanese

Why invest in language courses when free mobile apps can teach you to speak fluent Japanese?

Have you always been drawn to Japan? Are you fascinated by its thousand-year-old culture? But you don’t speak Japanese, so you want to learn it step by step. Or maybe you know a few kanji and have already started the long process of learning the language, so you’d like to revise and perfect your skills?

There’s no need to spend a fortune on Japanese lessons, we’ve selected 7 apps to help you learn Japanese. All you need is your smartphone or tablet to embark on your Japanese adventure! So you don’t have to lug around a 500-page textbook on public transport or when traveling. With an app, you can work on your Japanese in any situation!

1. Mondly


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Our top/flop:

👍: its very intuitive chatbot

👎 : its repetitive side

Mondly offers you its free Japanese language learning application. In just a few minutes a day, you can learn the basics of this language through games and quizzes. They’ll help you learn Japanese vocabulary and grammar, so you’ll be sure to use the right words and expressions in future discussions, with the right pronunciation.

The many Japanese exercises are accompanied by a dictionary, an online translator and a conjugator, so you’ll feel right at home as you learn. This application for learning Japanese also uses a voice recognition system to help you achieve the perfect accent!

Prices range from €9. 99 for a month to €47. 99 for a year. The application also offers numerous deals throughout the year. Alternatively, you can opt for the « lifetime subscription » version, at €60, so you never have to spend another cent.

2. FluentU


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Our top/flop:

👍: podcasts and innovation

👎 : its exacerbated price

FluentU is the most up-to-the-minute application in our ranking. Indeed, it breaks with learning codes by simply offering to learn Japanese through podcasts and other digital information formats. This makes it the most original application in our ranking.

FluentU offers a wide range of tools, from videos on lighter subjects such as music videos, to more complex topics such as news and advertising. This type of training addresses one of the problems of language learning. Indeed, after days and days of learning with FluentU, when you’re put into a real-life situation, you rarely have any gaps during the conversation phases.

To help you go step by step, each video has a detailed script, so you’ll know what each term means. The only downside is that, in keeping with the times, the application comes at a price: only the first two weeks of use are free, after which you’ll have to pay €15 a month or €120 a year to continue using it.

3. Busuu


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Our top/flop:

👍: perfect for learning vocabulary

👎: the false hope of freemium

Busuu is one of the best language learning applications around. It offers an interesting free version and a premium version that takes learning even further.

To help you learn Japanese, Busuu offers more than 50 lessons in grammar, vocabulary and writing exercises. Thanks to its visual support cards, it’s easy to memorize the main words and expressions of everyday language, for use once you’ve arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The premium version gives you access to interactive dialogues, recorded by native Japanese speakers, so you can try out newly-learned words and expressions in real-life situations. You’ll discover how to use them properly, to avoid blunders and misunderstandings when you travel to Japan.

In each lesson, you’ll learn more about Japanese culture and acquire the necessary vocabulary. The application adapts to your level, from beginner (A1) to advanced intermediate (B2). You can start from scratch, or use it to brush up on the basics and go further!

The application is quite economical, costing just €34.99 per year for the premium version! For the premium plus version, you’ll have to pay around €6.50 a month. But don’t worry, the application often offers attractive deals…

4. Memrise


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Our top/flop:

👍: its user community

👎: its lack of diversity

Summer is just around the corner, and vacations are the perfect time to travel, visit new countries, learn new languages and make new friends and acquaintances. Memrise is an application that will help you learn Japanese with ease. In fact, Memrise is a learning tool based on vocabulary cards, which you’ll need to memorize little by little by repeating them at certain intervals.

These maps are created and enriched by the user community. If you’d like to take your training to the next level, a range of paid subscriptions is also available.

A basic version is free. For advanced use, three subscriptions are available: monthly($8.99), quarterly($18.99) and annual($45.99).

5. Obenkyo


Photo credit: Playstore

Our top/flop:

👍: vast learning field

👎: some exercises don’t allow you to pick up where you left off

This French application is recognized as one of the best for mastering Japanese. Like JA Sensei, it offers a wide range of learning options. It can also help you prepare for the JLPT Japanese language test (equivalent to TOEIC in Japanese). Kanji are arranged from level 1 to level 5 of this test.

It lets you study and revise these kanji, as well as katakana and hiragana, thanks to multiple-choice questions to which you must answer either by writing the character or by giving an answer with different choices.

The application also shows you how to write each kanji with stroke-by-stroke animations. For the spoken part, there are exercises on the particles to use in Japanese. These will help you fluidify your language and express yourself more clearly. Ideal for making sure you’re understood by your interlocutors on your next trip to Japan!

This application for learning Japanese is free and ad-free.

6. JA Sensei

JA Sensei

Photo credit: Playstore

Our top/flop:

👍: superb value for money

👎: lacks some features like a vocabulary quiz

The most complete application for learning Japanese on your mobile or tablet! With it, you can immerse yourself in the study of vocabulary, verbs, adjectives and the alphabet with kanji and kana (hiragana katakana), as well as learning how to write them.

This application for learning Japanese allows you to work on both oral and written aspects. You’ll find detailed modules for revising or learning kanas and their pronunciations.

She also offers 34 Japanese lessons to help you master Japanese grammar and sentence structure. In addition, there are grammar review sheets, and anecdotes on Japanese civilization, culture, traditions and local customs. The application also boasts a 2,500-word dictionary and lets you create your own list.

The application comes in two versions: a less comprehensive free version and a paid version.

7. JED Japanese dictionary (Android) / Imiwa (IOS)

JED Dictionnaire japonais

Photo credit: Playstore

Our top/flop:

👍: interesting application for those who already have some basics

👎: A little limited in French, but very complete in English

These two apps for learning Japanese are similar: they’ll help you learn kanji, improve your pronunciation through exercises and example sentences.

The JED application allows you to translate quickly: if you already have some knowledge of Japanese, it can help you improve the meaning of your words and better understand a dialogue.

For both these applications, kanji learning is very solid and broken down stroke by stroke. These applications should be used in conjunction with other Japanese language learning applications to achieve perfection in this wonderful language.