10 Best Apps to Learn Japanese Like a Boss in 2021 – Teacher’s Choice

What a great time to be learning Japanese! As long as you’re connected to the internet, you have plenty of platforms to learn Japanese – podcasts, Youtube channels, music, and many more. Above all, a language learning app is a wonderful tool for getting acquainted with Japanese.

But you might be thinking, which one should you start with? In this blog, we polled Coto’s teachers for suggestions of the best apps to learn Japanese in 2021. Let’s dive straight in.

Coto Academy
Learn Japanese JLPT by Coto

  • Learn Japanese JLPT by Coto
    Developed by: Coto World Inc.
    Price: Free
    Best for: Absolute beginners or intermediate Japanese learners. Highly recommended for those preparing for the upcoming JLPT N3, N4, N5 tests. Flashcard contents include JLPT grammar/vocabulary/reading quizzes, Katakana and Hiragana quizzes. Detailed analysis after quiz completion.

    JLPT flashcards include relevant questions provided by the official board of JLPT that appeared on previous editions of the test.

    Quiz completion comes with detailed analysis – helping you spot your weakness and improve further.

    Quiz completions show a detailed analysis of each question and its correct answer, allowing you to review your sticking points. Get your app from Learn Japanese JLPT by Coto

  • Mondly
    Developed by: ATi Studios
    Price: Free・Premium plan $9.99/month or $47.99/year
    Best for: Beginners just getting started. Mondly covers over 40 languages. Daily Japanese lesson, chatbot conversations, audio guides, and tests. It also features speech recognition and virtual reality experience.

    Are you looking for a Japanese learning app catered for non-English speakers? Mondly is what you’re looking for – what’s unique about Mondly is that you can learn Japanese from any language.

    If your first language is not English, looking for complimentary lessons with a focus on vocabulary building, Mondly is for you.

  • Lingodeer
    Developed by: LingoDeer Co, Ltd.
    Price: $11.99/month $55.99/year
    Best for: Beginners or intermidiate Japanese learners. Lingodeer offers flashcard content for vocabulary and grammar. Reading lessons come with audio clips that help with correcting pronunciations. The Learning Tips feature explains Japanese grammar nuances in different contexts.

    Lingodeer has a great reputation as a Japanese learning app in the market. Japanese is one of the first languages Lingodeer focused on developing. With the contextual learning style, users can learn practical vocabulary and grammars used in everyday life.

    If you’re a beginner or intermediate learner expecting a contextual lesson with a variety of exercises, LingoDeer is for you.

  • Duolingo
    Developed by: Duolingo
    Pricing: Free
    Best for: Fun gamified learning, beginner to intermediate Japanese learners. Duolingo focuses on Japanese vocabulary, Hiragana, and Kanji. It does not offer grammar lessons. Gamified lesson contents take less than 5 minutes a day.

    Alongside Mondly, Duolingo offers Japanese lessons from multiple languages. Duolingo keeps you motivated by offering bite-size lessons and interactive methods of learning.

    If you’re busy, looking for short minutes of study, and get easily, Duolingo is for you.

  • Yomiwa
    Developed by: Nomad AI OU
    Price: Free
    Best for: Japanese translation and dictionary. Particularly useful for learning Kanji. Yomiwa is a handy app for those who want to strengthen their Japanese reading ability. Includes multilingual feature where users can translate Japanese into multiple languages.

    Simply take a picture of the Kanji in question and Yomiwa will automatically translate the letter into the language of your setting. In addition to understanding the meaning and pronunciation, Yomiwa lets you learn the nuances of the term. You can even draw the term in question using your finger on the screen.

    If you’re a curious Japanese learner who wants a handy book to learn interesting Japanese terms, Yomiwa is for you.


  • FluentU
    Developed by: Enux Education Limited
    Price: Starting at $20/month
    Best for: Intermidiate or advanced Japanese learners. FluentU offers fun Japanese learning through real-life Japanese videos. Media includes Japanese music videos, commercials, movie trailers, news, etc.

    All of the videos are beginner-friendly, they include subtitles in Japanese with an English translation. If you need help understanding a Japanese vocabulary, you can simply do so by clicking definitions and examples.

    If you thrive as an audiovisual learner and prefer contextual learning styles, FluentU is for you.

  • Pimsleur
    Developed by: Paul Pimsleur
    Price: $150 per level (16 hours each)
    Best for: Beginners who want to learn practical Japanese vocabulary and grammar lessons for everyday use. The app is developed by a qualified linguist and educator with knowledge in language learning.

    What’s great about Pimsleur is that they offer reading lessons on Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. The course starts with learning basic Japanese phrases, vocabulary, and grammar lessons.

    If you don’t have a particular budget and want to strengthen your listening and speaking skills, Pimsleur is for you.

  • Busuu
    Developed by: Busuu Limited
    Price: Free・Premium plan starts at $12/month
    Best for: Japanese speaking practice and learning practical Japanese. The lessons progress from beginner level to advanced levels. Includes Conversations feature where you can speak to native Japanese speakers. The app also focuses on how to read and write Hiragana and Katakana, vocabulary, and grammar.

    Busuu is a user-friendly app where lessons are structured and personalized into custom study plans. Users can personalize when to study Japanese on the app and for how long. The app will keep you on track during your busy schedule.

    If you’re looking for systematic, structured, and efficient Japanese lessons, with a focus on speaking, Busuu is for you.
Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese

  • Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese
    Developed by: Adam Critchley
    Price: Free
    Best for: Japanese grammar guide, beginners, or more advanced level Japanese learners. The guide is parted into different lessons that introduce you to new grammar, structures, and vocabulary.

    Absolute beginners can start by learning a basic understanding of Japanese writing structure. Then move on to learning essential grammar involving verb and adjective conjugation. More advanced learners can look into topics that cover native Japanese expressions.

    If you’re looking for a handy guide to learn, review or strengthen your grammar and vocabulary, Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese is for you.

  • Renshuu
    Developed by: Michael Hominick
    Price: Free
    Best for: Gamified learning, in-depth explanations on vocabulary, grammar, and Kanji. Users can test their learning progress by taking personalized quizzes. Renshuu offers customizable flashcards.

    You can submit your own Japanese sentences and receive feedback from your fellow Japanese learners.

    If you’re motivated by gamified learning and cute rewards, Renshuu is for you.

In 2021, with bilingualism on the rise, 1 in 3 people is either bilingual or multilingual. With the latest apps, make your breaks and commutes more productive!

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