Best free apps to learn Japanese: 小学生手書き漢字ドリル1006 

Best Free Japanese Apps
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One of the hurdles you bump into with Japanese is that, unless you constantly make time for it, you start forgetting how to write kanji by hand. Generally speaking, if you are above an intermediate level (and are not enrolled in a Japanese class/ working in a Japanese environment) that may be totally fine, as long as you can recognize them and type them correctly. In the worst case, hiragana is there to help you 😀 (I wish Chinese had that, too).

However, you might still need or want to write stuff in Japanese by hand, so making sure you know how to write at least the most common kanji is a good idea. One of the apps I use for this is 小学生手書き漢字ドリル1006 (Play StoreApp Store).

Here’s a screenshot from the Store:

1006 - - Google Play - Google Chrome

As you can see, you have all the 6 grades of Japanese elementary school, and simple phrases with a missing kanji: you have to write the kanji that matches the furigana above the circle.

What I like

  • You have context, which is always useful when trying to memorize kanji
  • Kanji are divided in chunks of 5, so it fits a busy schedule 
  • If you get it wrong, it shows the stroke order
  • Handwriting recognition is quite good

What I don’t like

  • Some kanji are difficult to retrieve, even tracing over the “answer”, e.g. 希
  • There’s no dictionary, so if you happen not to know a word, you need to use another app

All in all, it serves the purpose. Moreover, since your learning order was probably different, it helps you double check you didn’t miss any kanji along the way.

Of course, it doesn’t help you write beautiful kanji (which would be difficult with your fingers), I recommend Bimoji Training on Nintendo DS for that.

Final remarks

If you are struggling with handwriting or you are enrolled in some kind of Japanese class, a stricter approach might be needed. My safest bet would be to input the kanji you need to know in Anki or any other SRS app you like, set them on hiragana and actually write them by hand (random order works best).

Stay tuned for more reviews!

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