Japanese Phrases & Lessons ($9.99) by TheJapanesePage.com makes learning Japanese manageable. This comprehensive app achieves its two main goals by addressing the spoken and written language, offering the user lessons crafted into 15 minute segments, as well as customizable study aids.
This program is much more than a simple phrasebook. If a user were to follow the prescribed lessons and quizzes, they should be able to learn a significant amount of Japanese.
The app's creators suggest that users tackle the hiragana lessons before moving on to the katakana. As the first lesson begins, a banner cuts across the screen which reads, "And so begins your journey! Be sure to write each character many times." Notes such as this one stress to the user that learning Japanese will require work outside of the application as well.
Hint: In order to advance through the lessons without returning to the main menu it is necessary to hold one's finger over the bottom section of the screen. A yellow bar with arrows will appear. This allows the user to advance from one lesson to the next.
The application is geared toward native English speakers. English is always used as a point of comparison. For example, mnemonics are offered for many of the characters. The character that corresponds to "a" is described as a sideways nine, and the student is told to remember the phrase, "ah... number nine."
The flashcard section can be customized to the user's needs. For example, the auto read can be toggled on and off, the English translation can be removed, and the manner in which the flash cards are presented can be adjusted in a number of ways. Flash card sets can also be emailed or used to generate a quiz.
The app includes a section specifically dedicated to video learning. The app states that an Internet connection is required to take advantage of these clips. The app was tested with an iDevice with a working Wi-Fi connection, yet all of the video links were broken. This is a major flaw in an app that is otherwise solidly constructed.
Curious users can tryout the free version of the app. It should offer more than enough information for the casual user to test their commitment to learning Japanese.
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