Drill Japanese numbers and particles on your iPhone


Are you an iPhone owner? And a learner of Japanese? Then this one’s for you. Harvey over at JapanNewbie has created some new iPhone Apps that he believes will be useful to help Japanese learners study Japanese numbers and particles.

Introducing two recently updated iPhone Apps to help you in your Japanese studies, Japanese 101: Numbers and Japanese 101: Particles.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re at a store in Japan having just made a big purchase. You managed to talk to the staff all in Japanese and are feeling pretty proud of yourself. The cashier rings it up and says, “yon man sanzen gojyuu ichi en ni narimasu!” in that rapid speech that only comes with years of repeating prices from behind the register. You sheepishly peek around to get a look at the display, because embarrassingly, you couldn’t quite catch the number that she said. Listening comprehension fail!

We’ve all been in this situation at one time or another. Numbers are tough in foreign languages. Big numbers are tougher. And in Japan, big numbers come up all the time!

Since 1,000 yen is the equivalent of just about 10 U.S. dollars, any big purchase or discussion about prices will quickly have you dealing with numbers beyond 100,000. The fact that number groupings in Japanese are different from English makes things extra tricky as well. For all of these reasons, accurate listening comprehension of large numbers often comes relatively late for Japanese learners.

Japanese 101: Numbers is built to train your listening comprehension muscles by challenging you to listen to and identify a large number spoken by a native Japanese speaker. There are two test modes available. In one mode you simply have to identify the number in a multiple choice quiz format. In the more difficult fill-in-the-blank quiz mode you have to actually type in the number that was said.

You can also browse the study cards to study a large range of numbers, currently spanning 1 to beyond 16,000. Future updates will continue to expand the range, including numbers beyond 1,000,000. Every audio file is recorded by a native speaker. You won’t find any robot-generated speech here. Check out Japanese 101: Numbers if you want to pump up your listening comprehension skills for big numbers.

The Japanese 101: Particles App is similar in structure to the Numbers App.

However, this time instead of identifying numbers you are challenged to listen to a sentence read in Japanese without the particle, and then identify the particle that should have been in the gap. The app has a fill-in-the-blank study mode where you must type in the missing particle using hiragana, and a more simple multiple choice mode.

This is sort of like hearing…. “I went __ the store and ate __ apple.” Without the “to” and “an” the sentence is understandable, but obviously incorrect and wrong. Messing up Particles in Japanese will have you sounding like that to Japanese people. Particles often give students of Japanese trouble at first, but frequent practice and lots of listening will eventually make the particles second nature.

The questions in the Particles App are modeled after those that appear in the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) levels N5 and N4 (previously JLPT 4 and 3). Appropriate kanji are used in the questions, and in the Study Mode you can touch to flip the card over and see the romaji, so even beginners shouldn’t shy away from this app.

Like in Numbers, the focus of Japanese 101: Particles is on listening comprehension, so you’ll hear a native speaker read each of the 160+ sentences included in the application. With enough use you’ll eventually be able to naturally “feel” what particle is missing from each sentence.

These are both solid applications that drill very specific aspects of Japanese. The thing that sets these apps apart from all of the other apps out there is the huge amount of native audio. If you like the other apps in the Japanese 101 series, you’re sure to enjoy these as well!


— Harvey

Related Links:

Particles App reviewed by Yonasu.com.