Everything You Need to Know About Duolingo Japanese [Ultimate Review for 2021]
Duolingo is a great software for learning Spanish, but can it teach a difficult language like Japanese? This review is given from the perspective of a student who has completed Duolingo’s Japanese course at an intermediate level.
When my workplace started offering Japanese classes, I decided to enroll. Despite the fact that the class was quickly canceled due to waning employee interest, I was already enthralled by the language and decided to continue learning on my own. I spent a year in Japan after reaching intermediate proficiency. However, since my trip to Europe eight years ago, I haven’t utilized Japanese. I’d like to resume it now that I’ve freed up some time.
I enjoy utilizing language applications to pass the time while waiting for public transportation, so I chose to try Duolingo and some of the other Japanese language programs on the market today, such as LingoDeer. You may also learn about the warning flags of a terrible language app by visiting this page.
DUOLINGO JAPANESE REVIEW
Duolingo is the world’s most popular language-learning program. It is used by over 120 million people to learn approximately 30 different languages.
They finally launched their long-awaited Japanese version last month!
Japanese appears to be the most frequently requested language on Duolingo. We couldn’t wait to put it to the test and see how it worked.
DUOLINGO TEACHES LANGUAGES IN A DIFFERENT MANNER THAN OTHERS.
These days, there is a profusion of language learning apps available, each with its own approach to training. I decided to give Duolingo a try because it is not only popular but also entirely free.
Duolingo organizes its lessons by subjects, or themes, rather than by grammar or difficulty, to help students make better connections between related words and concepts. This is fantastic!
When words are organized into themes rather than solely based on similar grammatical behavior, there is more context. You may instantly start applying the vocabulary you’ve learned in Duolingo Japanese by following the theme organization.
How Duolingo Teach Languages through Osmosis
Isn’t it straightforward? Osmosis penetrates into your brain while you sleep with a textbook near your pillow.
Osmosis is the process of learning through natural, organic, and indirect exposure. It is the method by which youngsters learn a language. Doesn’t it sound perfect?
Learning by osmosis can be beneficial when you’re studying languages in the same family (German, Italian, etc). Because Japanese belongs to a different linguistic family, learning it via osmosis without explanations is wasteful and perplexing.
Duolingo pushes you to translate a lot and uses osmosis to teach you a language by exposing you to it. It falls well short of the ideal due to the aforementioned issues.
Furthermore, you are unable to easily access things that you are interested in or could utilize right now. Instead, you must either follow the suggested theme-based course sequence or take a placement test to see if you can skip forward. Below is further information on this feature.
The early courses feature a lot of school-themed terminology and phrases, which is perhaps even worse for adult learners (but also a regular problem with textbooks).
DUOLINGO’S GAMIFIED LEARNING MAKES STUDYING FUN
When we are having fun, we learn more effectively. That’s why gamification has become such a popular motivational tool in schools, apps, and even companies. The Duolingo Leveling system incorporates gamification in a variety of ways: spend more time and go through sessions to level up. With gold stars to boot!
• Level up to modify various features of the user interface (such as dressing up the Duolingo owl) and gain access to unique fun lessons.
• Achieve milestones, such as the number of hours spent studying, to earn achievement badges that you can post on your profile.
• Tracking your streak: study for a certain amount of time every day to keep your streak going. You don’t want to be the one to break the chain.
• Select a goal (or track) and the coach owl will inform you whether or not you are on track to reach that objective.
• Leaderboards and leagues: compete on the leaderboards with your friends and the Duolingo community.
All of these are wonderful motivational incentives that Duolingo has carefully implemented to help you feel invested in your study. The ability to track your progress through levels, achievements and the leaderboard is motivating.
Duolingo: Getting Started Duolingo is a free language-learning application that you may download and use. Both the App Store and Google Play have it available for download.
More Duolingo language classes can be found on the company’s website. However, at the moment, Japanese training is only available through the app.
When you first install the program, you’ll be asked how much time you want to devote to Japanese each day. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or 20 minutes are the alternatives. Everything is fantastic and simple to use!
LEARNING JAPANESE WITH DUOLINGO
Duolingo is a gamified, user-friendly language learning platform.
There are no regular ‘lessons’ as in a traditional language learning course.
There are no grammar explanations or new concepts. In reality, hardly any English is spoken.
Instead, you learn Japanese through observing others.
At a time, the app introduces one or two new words. Pictures accompany the introduction of new words. You use these new phrases in a variety of activities and games until they become ingrained in your memory.
There are a few different types of activities. This one requires you to click on word tiles to complete a sentence:
This sentence-building activity is both entertaining and simple to use. It’s also quite addictive!
Then there’s the activity in which you see a sentence in Japanese and must type in the English answer.
And this one, where you touch on tiles to find matching pairs: These types of games are very quick and enjoyable to play. Each lesson or level is only a few minutes long. As a result, it’s very easy to become addicted to language study. You might set a goal to study for five minutes each day to begin with, but once you get started, you’ll find yourself doing “just one more lesson” again and over!
DOES DUOLINGO TEACH YOU JAPANESE READING AND WRITING?
It certainly does. The Japanese course on Duolingo teaches you how to read hiragana, katakana, and roughly 90 key kanji. If you finish the Duolingo Japanese course, you should know enough kanji to pass the JLPT N5 test.
The hiragana is the first item you’ll study in the Duolingo course. Then, during the course of the rest of the course, they gradually teach katakana and kanji.
There is no use of English or romaji in the course. Until you learn the kanji for a new term, it will be written in hiragana. This indicates that you’ve had a lot of reading practice!
The Duolingo approach has a flaw in that it does not explain the difference between hiragana and katakana.
This is consistent with Duolingo’s policy of providing no explanations. However, I’m not convinced it’s appropriate for a complex language like Japanese. If you are unfamiliar with Japanese scripts, you will be completely perplexed when you are taught the character め, which is pronounced as me, and then メ- another character for me – in the next session.
The first character is, of course, hiragana, and the second is katakana. It’s likely that the creators presume you’re aware of this. However, not all students will.
This is not a learning approach for everyone. It’s possible that learning hiragana and katakana on your own, or at the very least supplementing Duolingo with your own reading, is a better option.
Another problem is that you’ll only be able to recognize Japanese characters. You will not be able to learn to write (either by hand or by computer or phone). It’s critical to master the correct stroke order while learning a new character if you wish to write Japanese by hand. Unfortunately, Duolingo does not teach this.
ISSUES WITH DUOLINGO
Duolingo, unfortunately, has a few bugs and other difficulties. The sound is the most obvious. When you tap most of the tiles, they recite their word aloud. However, many of them are ineffective. This is a problem because you can’t hear the entire sentence being spoken.
More significantly, the pronunciations are occasionally incorrect. In Japanese, a word or character may have more than one pronunciation. Duolingo appears to be limited to only one pronunciation per word or character.
It can’t detect when a word’s purpose in a phrase requires a different sound. As a result, はis always pronounced ‘ha’ rather than ‘wa.’人 is always referred to as ‘jin,’ never as ‘hito’ (or ‘nin’).
There’s no reason for how words can be pronounced differently at times. If you’re a complete beginner learning Japanese solely through Duolingo, you’ll undoubtedly pick up some wrong phrases.
Keep in mind that Duolingo Japanese is still in its infancy. Hopefully, some of these difficulties will be addressed in future releases!
It’s also worth noting that the sound cannot be turned off. When I realized there were so many faults, the sound became unbearable, but I couldn’t do anything about it. If you wish to use Duolingo in a public area, don’t forget to bring your earphones.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF DUOLINGO?
Duolingo is a fantastic app in general.
It makes learning enjoyable. It’s attractively designed. It’s both addictive and simple to use.
Features like a streak meter and daily reminders push you to study every day – and learning a language this way is incredibly successful! There are a few additional entertaining features, such as the opportunity to form a language learning club with friends (or strangers!) to keep each other motivated and talk about Japanese.
On a range of themes, you will learn Japanese vocabulary. To keep you interested, the topics change frequently. There are even lessons on anime and manga language, as well as terms necessary for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Furthermore, it is entirely free. It’s free because it’s supported by advertisements that appear at the end of each lesson. In-app purchases such as becoming ad-free or halting your streak for a day are also available.
DETAILS ABOUT THE APP
On the App Store and Google Play, you may download the app for free. For those without a smartphone, you will soon be able to view it online (from your laptop).
To Duolingo’s credit, teaching Japanese to native English speakers via an app is no easy task. However, there are many grammar points in Japanese that aren’t clearly explained in the program, and are occasionally not covered at all.
Particles and sentence structure elements are frequently included in these grammar gaps. Many Japanese words have no direct equivalent in the English language, making vocabulary a challenge at times.
Having said that, Duolingo does provide some grammar assistance before each session. Before taking a session, you have the option of reading a quick summary and explanation of the grammar.
In addition, each exercise in a class gets its own forum. You can read and discuss the lesson material with other course participants here. Students frequently assist one another in explaining the many complexities of the Japanese language and terminology.
Even so, occasionally the lesson explanations and student conversations fall short, and you’re left confused about what you’ve learned at the end of a course.
IS THERE A COST TO USE DUOLINGO?
No. The app is quite clear about its premium features and cost. The freemium approach is used to monetize Duolingo. This means that if users are willing to watch adverts, the program is free to use.
If a user loses all of their lives as a result of incorrect answers, they can pay to have fresh ones sent to them. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait 5 hours to resume their studies.
A premium monthly subscription to Duolingo is also available for $9.99. This subscription removes the advertisements, provides unlimited lives, and allows users to use the program offline.
OUR THOUGHTS ON USING DUOLINGO TO LEARN JAPANESE
Duolingo’s Japanese isn’t flawless. It is, however, a pleasant and practical method of learning some fundamental Japanese.
Duolingo is undoubtedly one of the most productive methods to spend your time if you only have five minutes to study per day.
However, if you have more time, I would recommend using other learning materials instead of (or in addition to) Duolingo.
At the very least, familiarize yourself with the various Japanese writing systems so that you aren’t baffled by hiragana and katakana!
Because the Duolingo Japanese audio is problematic, I also recommend acquiring a lot of audio input from somewhere else.