Harvey is the Webmaster of the 5+-year-old JapanNewbie.com. He lived in Japan from 2001 to 2007 and passed JLPT level 1 in 2003. He is now a Japanese to English translator and maintains JapanNewbie.com to share tidbits on Japanese language and culture.
The JLPT exam is just around the corner, and if you need one last learning tool to really solidify your understanding of Japanese particles for the JLPT level 4, a new iPhone App I created called “Japanese 101: Particles” just might do the trick. (A future update will include JLPT level 3 content.)
“Japanese 101: Particles” was just released on Nov. 25, so it’s really hot off the press. The application trains users in the correct use of Japanese particles. It takes an audio-visual approach and uses native-speaker audio and large fonts to really drive home the examples sentences.
I’m a real believer in developing a “gut” feeling for Japanese, and especially for the particles. It’s important to first read the “rules” for particle usage, but unless you’re some sort of idiot savant with a flawless memory and super grammar processing mind, the rules alone are probably not going to do it. Native Japanese speakers usually cannot explain the usage of the particles because they’re just used to it – just like native English speakers usually cannot explain article usage. Advanced Japanese speakers immersed in the language will also eventually reach a point when they can hardly explain them either, but they know what just “sounds right.” To develop this gut feeling for the particles you’ll need to hear, read, and speak, plenty of example sentences. It also helps to hear a sentence without the particle inserted so that you can use your intuition to figure out which particle should be there. This app lets you do all that.
Indeed, after studying with this application enough you should be able to say which particle should fill in the blank before the app is even finished reading the sentence. Not necessarily because you have memorized the answer, but because your intuition is starting to kick in. Currently the app has 50+ sentences, but 50 more are in the works for the JLPT 3 level and they will be added to the app for free as an update before the end of the year.
In the “Study Mode” you can see and hear each sentence with the particle omitted. You can then flip the card over to see the correct answer, the romaji, and a translation. If you’re the type who enjoys the nitty gritty grammar explanations you can check the “Notes” section to see that as well. The grammar notes were put together by a professional Japanese teacher, so they’re accurate and to the point.
The “Quiz” mode will have you listening to the audio of the spoken Japanese, and have you attempt to touch the correct particle that should fill the gap. After the quiz, you can see what you missed and study those cards again. This quiz format will improve your listening comprehension as well as develop that important gut feeling for the particles.
That’s all we’ve got time for here – but enjoy. Particles are one of the most frustrating aspects about learning Japanese at first, but they can be conquered! A Japanese teacher told me once, “Mastering Japanese is mastering the particles.” I think that’s about right. Hope this application is of some help!
You might also be interested in the other Japanese 101-series applications. See a big list of them here:
Application Information Page on JapanNewbie.com:
Direct link to iTunes Store for App Purchase and Download: