I have mentioned several times that studying Japanese should be fun. If it’s not fun then it is going to be much harder and take you longer to learn. An ideal method would be one that makes you feel like you aren’t studying at all. Over the last few weeks I have been playing with a Japanese learning tool called NihongoUP. And I say “playing” in the literal form, because NihongoUp turns Japanese study into an addictive game.
NihongoUp is made up of 4 different games (kana, kanji, words, and grammar). In the kana game, little balloons with kana fall from the top of the screen and you have to type them before they hit the bottom of the screen. With the other three games you are given a sentence and must click the falling balloon containing the correct answer before it hits the bottom of the screen. The balloons fall faster and faster with each correct answer and slow down again after you miss one. The advantage to this method is that you will constantly be challenged to read and answer quicker each time.
The game is designed in Adobe air which means it can be played on on any Operating System. The game itself is beautifully designed and runs fast. I didn’t care much for the music, but luckily there is an option to turn it off. Rather than music, I would prefer readings of the sentences or characters. I think that would be much more helpful.
NihongoUp isn’t a full Japanese language suite and the author of the program is the first to mention this. For instance, the kana feature doesn’t tell you how to type the characters you get wrong. Kanji and words that you missed are only shown briefly. And by that time you are already working on the next word or character. Adding a review or a report showing the correct answers would be a very helpful addition.
Having said that, what it is designed to do, and what I think it accomplishes very well, is to help you study material you already know in a fun way. It gets you to focus on getting the next high score and in doing so makes you forget you are studying. Though you will definitely learn some new words and kanji along the way.
The program costs a total of $4.99. I think this is pretty cheap for the amount of study you will get out of it. There is also a trial version available.
You can find NihongoUp at the link below: