Everyone needs to practice. I suppose that is what makes it hard to learn a language. Most of us in today’s age are looking for a quick return and with a language like Japanese, you usually can’t get that. It takes many times going over things again and again until finally it’s built into you. That is where NihongoUp, for an extremely cheap and reasonable price, steps in.
NihongoUp is an Adobe AIR application that can literally be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux, and even the iPhone! The whole point of NihongoUp is to make repetitive practice a little bit easier on us by spicing it up into a sort of game. What is the price of such an amazing program you ask? . . . . $5 . . . Yes, that’s right! For only $5 you can buy this program and make learning a bit more fun. NihongoUp isn’t a one stop shop that plans to serve all your needs and it never pretends to be. All it puts out there is that it can make practicing/learning some material you may have problems with, a little bit more entertaining(aka easier).
If you start up NihongoUp, you’ll see a few menu options and if you click “Games”, you’ll get to the screen that shows you all of the games available. The first is the Kana game which is one I use every so often and absolutely love! Now, I’m not very far into Japanese, so my Kana aren’t perfect. Rather, I can read and write(well, type.. 😉 ) all Kana but the combo’s(such as bya / びゃ) when going at a faster pace can get me a bit confused. That’s where the Kana game steps in and takes things away! The idea is that balloons drop down from above carrying Kana characters(you can set to just do Hiragana or Katakana also), and you have to try to type them out before they reach the bottom. It makes it a sort of speed typing game, except in Japanese!
The Kana game is actually what got my reading ability higher to begin with. I was taking a class on Hiragana and Katakana “Perfection” and needed a way to also practice these characters in the meantime.
On to the next game, the Kanji game! This game here is wonderful, but I’ll be honest, I’m not able to utilize it as much as I’d love to right now because of my lack of Kanji knowledge. But one day I will get there! And as I learn more, I am sure that this is the tool I’ll be turning to, to help me study my Kanji and how they fit into sentences. You see, the idea is that four balloons come down at the same time while a sentence at the bottom of the game screen shows up. One portion of the sentence is highlighted and you need to know which Kanji can be of use in that situation. To get a better understanding, just take a look at the screen shot provided. The word in pink was actually かわ(kawa) before I answered correctly. And yes, that one I actually got right! Yatta!(やった)！
So basically, you just click on the right balloon and if it shows up green like kawa(かわ/川) then you’ve got it right, otherwise it will turn red in the same fashion as the green.
The idea of the Vocabulary game is simply to expand your vocabulary to be able to better express yourself. It has the options to “quiz” yourself over the JLPT4, JLPT3, JLPT2, or even JLPT1! This allows you to more easily select which level you’re at and not get to far ahead of yourself. I suppose it’s probably also a good tool to use if you’re planning on taking one of the JLPT tests any time soon. Either way, it most likely has some vocabulary in which you don’t know, if you’re still learning Japanese that is.
The final game is the Grammar game. This game covers two areas that often need covering: particles and counters. Counters are just annoying because there are so many of them whereas particles are annoying because… well.. they’re particles. 😉 I’ve just recently started doing counters and they’re a pain(at least for me), but this game helps to make reviewing more un-tedious, if you know what I mean.
After all that, can you honestly say NihongoUp isn’t worth the measly $5 it asks for? Hell, if you are still unconvinced, they have a trial for the application so go check it out yourself! Unless you speak relatively good/fluent Japanese, I doubt that this can’t be at least helpful in one way or another. It should at least be a review for you. For me, it’s all new material so I hit the jackpot!
By the way, check out NihongoUp’s blog for an article on Japanese Resources and a contest! Also, be on the look out for a contest coming from yours truly sometime soon in the future! 🙂