Dr. Lingua Kana Games (Review)

dr-lingua

I’ve got someone I’d like introduce to parents, home educators, and teachers of children interested in learning Japanese. Say konnichiwa こんにちは to Dr. Lingua.

One of the challenges I’ve had when finding Japanese learning resources for my kids was finding interactive kana (hiragana and katakana) games that were well designed, in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. The resources at Dr.Lingua.com pass the test for both.

These games were created by a game designer and father from Australia for his two young children who study Japanese at school.   His children enjoyed the game so much they got their teachers to share the games with other students, and even others schools in Australia. And after playing the games myself and sharing them with my kids, I can see why they’re such a hit.

The first game we tried it out was Kana Grid.

kana grid

Kana grid works best on tablets and computers.

Here’s brief explanation of the game per the website:

 “The user is shown a screen listing games ‘focus’ in a familiar script – starting with a / あ / ア, and a grid of hiragana or katakana kanas, six matching the ‘focus’. Once the player has selected the six matching kana, the round ends, and the game moves onto the next kana. Each game has either 5 or 3 rounds consisting of kanas from a row of the hiragana/katakana chart.” (source Dr.Lingua.com)

The little puffer fish dudes on the right-hand side indicate the number of kana hidden in the grid so you know how many you’ll have to find. For each one you get, a puffer fish puffs up. Incorrect results in a slide whistle sound effect (much better than having to endure a horrible buzzer every time your child makes a mistake, amiright?) and a sad face on or plump little lucky cat friend.

In the above image, the game is Romaji mode (just a regular letter ‘a’), but you can also select hiragana and katakana modes — a super helpful feature to target specific learning areas.

 

The other game we tried was: Kana Bento.

Kana Bento can run on mobiles, tablets, and computers. It can played in a few different modes. Again, I seriously love being able to have both options from a single resource. I cannot stress what an awesome help it is for teaching and learning.

You can pick a romaji chart with hiragana or katakana.

 

You can also pick all hiragana, all katakana, or all romaji. Or just mix it however you’d like.


There is a timer at the bottom to track the completion time, but it’s also easy to ignore if you or your child just want to practice your kana recollection skills without it.

Final Thoughts

The Dr. Lingua resources are excellent tools to add to your Japanese learning toolbox. You can learn more about the Dr. Lingua by clicking HERE. You can also follow them on: Facebook and Twitter.

 

Happy Learning,

Shiga Shar

 

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*I was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own.*

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Memrise Japanese 1 Vocabulary Worksheet {Levels 1-7}

I’m a proud nerd.

steve urkel
I love you, Steve Urkel.

So making worksheets, flashcards, and other study materials most definitely puts me in my happy place.

These worksheets are specifically for the vocabulary words/phrases in the first 7 levels of Japanese 1 on Memrise. There is a total of 15 vocabulary words/phrases. For each word, you’ll need to write down the meaning of the word and write down the word in hiragana.

For example:

konnichiwa: ko / n / ni / chi / wa                   Meaning:

Write in hiragana

The answer:

konnichiwa: ko / n / ni / chi / wa                            Meaning: Hello, Good Afternoon

Write in hiragana: こんにちは

Writing practice* is easy to overlook when using apps, so hopefully this helps prevent that problem. These worksheets are inspired by the way I did my handwriting practice while learning Memrise Japanese 1. Hopefully someone else will find this practice as helpful as I did. 🙂

*You can also check out THIS free printable worksheet from Japanese-lesson.com for hiragana writing practice .

Just click on the link below for the downloadable .pdf file of the worksheets, print them out, and get studying. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Japanese 1 Memrise Level 1 – 7 Practice Sheet

 

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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DuoLingo Japanese is Here!

pickachu dance

わーい!!!

Yay!!!

Duolingo Japanese is here! (iOS only for now)

If you’re not new to learning Japanese, there is an option to test your skills to determine your learning level. Every level has an option for testing out, actually.

I was able to test out of all of the hiragana levels and a few others, which made me feel pretty good about my learning progress so far. 🙂

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My Thoughts So Far

The Duolingo app is another free option for learning Japanese that’s worth giving a try. It has around 40 levels total, covering a wide variety of topics. So far, it’s okay. I’m a bit of a Memrise junkie, though, so that will most likely be my go-to learning application.

If you’ve never used Duolingo for learning, it does take a little getting used to. For example, sometimes words/phrases are introduced without an introduction. To figure out what they are, just tap the colored/underlined section and an explanation should pop up.

I’d never seen the phrase: といいます until I saw it today.  As you can see, it roughly means I am called/it is called/my name is/etc. So when introducing yourself you can say:

はじめまして,(your name)といいます。

hajimemashite,(your name), toiimasu.

Nice to meet you, my name is (your name).

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Have you tried it yet? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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Usagi’s Hiragana & Katakana Drag-n-Drop Game

usagi chan

Usgai’s Hiragana Drag-n-Drop Game is a simple way to quiz yourself on your hiragana knowledge. Simply click on the hiragana with your mouse and drag it into the correct sound space. There’s also a timer at the bottom of the game square, if you fancy that sort of thing.

I memorized hiragana and katakana using the Memrise app, but enjoyed using these on the side to help reinforce what I’ve learned.

Using multiple learning tools is a great way to strengthen your learning, and keeps you from getting a rut with just one study method or resource. 

There’s also a Katakana version HERE.

Technology Required: PC with Flash Player

Price: FREE

Language Level: Absolute Beginner

Link to the hiragana game here: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/sheaa/projects/genki/hiragana-timer.html

 

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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APP REVIEW: Hiragana Touch Robo Free

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Hiragana Touch Robo

JAPANESE LANGUAGE SKILL LEVEL REQUIRED: Beginner

AGE: Any Age (family friendly)

COST: Free

(Do be aware that there are ads with free apps, including this one, which may occasionally not be suitable for very young children. We played this several times and did not see any inappropriate ads, though.)

Description From the Developer:

“Hiragana. It’s a Japanese curvy letter. Let’s study these letters with fun! Find a ball with Hiragana shown by Robo. (10 letters in all 46 letters will be on the test) When you correct, Robo’s power reduced. Now the time to beat the Robo!”

Review:

Hiragan Touch Robo is a super simple way to familiarize yourself with the hiragana characters. The only problem I had with this app is that the hiragana characters are difficult to read when they’re bouncing and changing directions. Obviously this is part of the challenge, but young players may struggle to identify the characters when they’re wafting about in strange directions. Overall, it’s an entertaining app, but not one we’ll probably delete after a week when the novelty wears off.

 

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See you later! またね! (matane!)

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう/Arigatou/Thank you!

 

How to Begin Learning Japanese

I’m not going to lie, at first glance, Japanese looked super intimidating. None of the characters seem to resemble familiar letters or make any sort of sense. I wasn’t really sure it was something I could teach myself, let alone teach my children, especially since I had no idea where to even begin learning. After about three days scouring the web, I came up with a handful of resources that are great for newbies, free, and fun to use. Hopefully, this post will prevent the newbie overload I faced when beginning my Japanese learning journey.

Before you start learning Japanese, you should know that the Japanese language is called, Nihongo. It’s made up of two main parts of the Japanese language: Kana  and Kanji.

Japanese Language MemeKana consists of Hiragana and Katakana. These are called, syllabaries, which are like alphabets made up of sounds. These should be learned BEFORE learning Kanji. They each have 48 characters, and are rather similar, but I’ll show you more about that in a moment.

 Kanji are the thousands of symbolic characters. You know, the ones you always see tattoo’d on the biceps of 20-year-olds.

And sometimes, you’ll also see Romaji, which is the English spelling/pronunciation of Japanese words, such as konnichiwa.

Here’s an example of the ‘A’ Kana.

Japanese A (1)

The A sounds like the “ah” sound you’d make when the doctor tells you to open wide to look at your tonsils.

If you look closely, you can see hidden letter A’s in the hiragana and katakana. Little tricks like this are incredibly helpful tricks for memorizing the kana.

I recommend learning both hiragana and katakana together. It helps you see similarities between characters and get through the memorization process quicker. I’d say that the average adult should be able to memorize the kana in about a month if you practice for at least 15 minutes or so a day.

Now on to the resources….

MY FAVORITE FREE JAPANESE LEARNING RESOURCES

Memrise App – The app is free, but you can upgrade the service to access other features. My 13-year-old and I both love this app!

Miraii Japanese App – The first 20 lessons are free, and super helpful for learning some basic grammar and vocab.

Puni Puni Japan – Cute videos of colorful little blob aliens who want to learn Japanese. I think it’s aimed toward younger children (my youngest adores these videos), but they’re fun for all ages. They also offer a set of free e-books to learn Kana and Kanji when you sign up for their newsletter.

Tofugu.com – This is a link to Japanese language learning resource page, which includes some of their own resources. Their Ultimate Hiragana Guide is awesome!!! Tofugu offers hilarious (sometimes a bit vulgar) articles and makes learning Japanese language and culture a lot of fun.

Japanese From Zero – I just signed my 13-year-old up for this a few days ago, but he hasn’t done a lesson yet. It’s basically a free virtual Japanese classroom, and looks pretty awesome. I’ll have to report back once my son gives it a whirl.

YouTube – There are far too many videos for me to list, but you can find a TON of helpful language learning videos on YouTube. You can check out my Resource page for a few specific channels I’ve tried and liked so far.

Have fun learning Japanese and don’t forget to

Ganbatte! Do your best! 頑張って! (がんばって!) 

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal. Arigato/Thank you!

 

How to Count to Five in Japanese & Two Free Worksheets

Count to Five

 

A few years ago I found these cool dry erase marker boards pictured above, and they are one of my favorite homeschool tools. They allow you to put traceable worksheets underneath a clear dry erase board to save you paper and make learning easier on the go. If you don’t have these boards, a simple plastic pocket page  works just as well.

Another fun way to use these worksheets is to simply print them up and use watercolors to trace the kanji. This is also a good small motor exercise for children. Of course, you can always just use markers or crayons if you’d like, too. And adults are free to use these too, I’m just sharing how I use them as a part of homeschooling my children.

How to Count to Five in Japanese 

Here’s quick phonetic run-down of the pronunciation of 1 through 5 in Japanese.

ONE: ichi (ee chee)

TWO: ni (knee

THREE: san (sahn)

FOUR: yon (yone)

FIVE: go (go)

For the worksheets, just click and it will open up a .pdf for you to print and save. If you have any problems or questions, feel free to post them in the comments section.

1-5 number writing practice sheet

kanji 1-5

Thanks for reading,

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal. Arigato/Thank you!