Japanese 101: ParticlesPublished on April 29th, 2010.
It’s been quite some time since I last wrote about the Japanese language, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been studying or exploring places for tools to assist me. Although I’ve mostly been on Smart.fm as of late, I’d like to put another app in the spotlight for once. The app I’m talking about is called Japanese 101: Particles and was developed by Harvey from JapanNewbie.
Particles is a very simple app, and as you might have realized, it lets you study and test your knowledge of the Japanese particles (e.g. で, は, に). Particles is probably something most students of Japanese make a lot of mistakes with, and you need a lot of practice to get them right. And for those who own an iPhone or an iPod Touch, that just got a little easier.
If you are studying Japanese in school, you’re probably getting tired of the bazillions of “fill in the blanks quizzes”, but fact is that they work, and with Particles this is basically what you do. However, this app offers more than that. Take a look at the screenshots below.
What you see above is the Study Mode where you can see all the particles you need to know for JLPT level 4 and 3. When you’ve selected the level you want to study you’re immediately greeted with a Japanese sentence with a gap for you to fill in with the appropriate particle. This sentence will also be read out loud by a native Japanese and you can repeat it how many times you want by clicking the icon in the lower right corner.
To check if your answer was right, you just tap on the sentence. You’ll also get to see the sentence in romaji and a translation of it. If you would like to know more about the particle itself, you can click the Notes button in the lower left corner. And to move on to the next sentence you use the arrows at the top right corner.
When you think you’ve got what it takes to clear a level, you go into the Quiz Mode, select it, and click on start. If you want to, you can select multiple levels and whether you want 2 or 4 possible answers.
In Quiz Mode you’ll not only have to show your knowledge in the particles themselves, you’ll also practice your listening comprehension since this time you’ll not be able to see the sentence. The sentence will be read out for you with a gap somewhere, and then you pick the particle you think fits in. Repeat the sentence how many times you want. If you selected the right particle the Japanese girl will say something like “Correct!” or “Well done!” and move on to the next question. If you select the wrong particle she’ll say something like “So close!” or “You gotta be kidding!” and the sentence will show up at the end of the test for you to study again.
And that’s basically all there is to this app, it’s very simple, but very useful for beginners. And while I do think that this app’s content is, to quote Harvey himself, “top notch”, there are a couple of (small) things that could use an update. First off, I’m not happy with the fact that romaji is used in the app, that should definitely be turned into kana since if you’re aiming for any JLPT test, you gotta know your kana. The second thing is the design of the app, this app could be really attractive if it got a design update. I especially think something should be done to the teal-colored header at the index page of the two different modes.
So to sum Particles up in a list of positives and negatives…
- Includes native Japanese audio.
- Simple, straightforward, does what it’s supposed to do well.
- Better than normal paper tests.
- It’s fun!
And finally, we have the price of the app of course, which is $5.99. Some might consider that expensive, personally I think that’s a fair price for an app like this that takes a lot of effort to make. And after all, $5.99 is probably less than what you spent on that Japanese pocket dictionary that probably just ended up somewhere in your drawer collecting dust. If you’re a beginner and especially if you’re self-studying, I think you’ll definitely find this app useful!
But of course, being the cool guy that I am, I managed to get a deal just for you guys. So this weekend (Friday to Sunday, Beijing time), the app will be $3.99 instead of $5.99! Click the icon below to see the app in the AppStore.