I love the Japanese Kanji Study app on Android. I’ve had it for so many years I can’t remember when I started using it!
The UI is smooth, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use. The information available is diverse—you can practice kanji meanings, readings, writing, and even kanji vocabulary!
So when Chase (the founder) announced the release of a spaced repetition software (SRS) expansion I jumped on it!
I’ve been using this new feature for a few weeks now and wanted to share my thoughts.
Note: I am not being sponsored by Japanese Kanji Study app. I just think it’s a really useful language learning tool.
The Base Game and Expansions
First, if you’ve never used Kanji Study app on Android you can find a review of it here: Review of Japanese Kanji Study Android App
The base game is free for JLPT N5 level kanji, and costs $10 for the N4-N1 level kanji. If you want the SRS expansion, Guided Study, it’s about $30 extra (also for anything above N5 kanji). (Note: Prices vary depending on region.)
If you’re a beginner still learning what works best for you, or an advanced learner who want’s to try the app out before committing, you can use all the features for beginner N5 kanji for free!
There are other expansions such as the Graded Reading Sets ($30 for levels 2-10 and $40 for levels 11-23). And the Outlier Kanji Dictionary (for $40 for all kanji and another $40 for more detailed information on kanji entomology). When you consider your average textbooks is $25-$40 for just one JLPT level, these prices aren’t bad!
Even just the base price of $10 is fantastic value for a tool to practice kanji readings, writing, vocabulary, a simple dictionary, and be this customizable for personal study methods. It’s very versatile and customizable and I think completely worth the price!
What is the Japanese Kanji Study App’s Guided Study?
Simply put, Guided Study is Kanji Study’s spaced repetition software (SRS) expansion. It adds a spaced repetition quiz feature which tests you on your understanding of kanji based on their reading and English meaning. The software then judges your understanding of the kanji based whether you got the answer right and how long it took to answer.
The SRS algorithm then lines the kanji up for review at spaced intervals depending on how well you know the kanji. So if you know a kanji really well it will wait a few days or weeks to test you again, but if you struggle to remember the meaning or reading of a kanji it will test you again sooner.
As you use the Guided Study over a longer period of time, you’ll start to be tested on kanji-based vocabulary and kanji writing too! How Guided Study quizzes you can also be adjusted in the settings. So you can turn off the writing, vocabulary, English meaning, etc.
If you’re like me and not a complete beginner, then you can also tell the app to ignore certain kanji levels. This great because it means you don’t have to go over the beginner kanji again in order to get to your level.
How does Guided Study differ from the base Kanji Study app?
If you just use the base features of the app then you’ll quickly notice how you can test yourself on random kanji at a certain level, but you have to cater your own study sessions (which is great for studying at your own pace).
The Guided Study caters what kanji you’ll study every day based on what you’ve already studied. This makes it great for quick bursts of study—it only takes me 5 minutes to get through my daily Guided Study! And, of course, you can customize how many new kanji you learn and review, adjusting the difficulty based on what you’ve been learning.
One thing to be aware of, is this is an expansion for the base app. The daily quizzes are meant to help improve your long-term memory, while the base app is a tool for in-depth kanji study. Because it’s a study tool designed to support your learning, I don’t think you’ll get as much out of it if you only use Guided Study and not the other features Kanji Study has to offer.
So if you’ve never used Kanji Study before, I highly suggest getting the base app and using that for a while before you invest in Guided Study or any of the other expansions.
Things I Like About the Guided Study Expansion
The Guided Study expansion has me studying kanji again! I study vocabulary now and again but at my level I’m able to read Japanese books for fun and work at my company without running into too much trouble. But, just like anything, if you don’t practice you start to stagnate. Using Guided Study has gotten me back into studying kanji on a daily basis and it feel good!
I do my 5-10 minutes of Guided Study in the morning, which gets me in the mood to do more in-depth study. So I’ve started using the base app to review N2 kanji, their vocabulary (with the nifty Anki linking feature), and re-learn how to write them.
It helps that the Guided Study utilizes gamification, so you earn experience with each study session and can level up! The level up system is also designed so you’re levelling up in a logical manner (until some Japanese learning app which just double experience on every level so it can take years to level up when you hit a certain point.)
Just like the base game, the expansion is very customizable. I can adjust how much I review and how many new kanji I’m tested on in a day (I keep mine at the standard setting, though.) I can also toggle if I want the quizzes to impact my overall study ratings, what I’m tested on, and even if I want my study session on other parts of the app to impact my Guided Study sessions. This is particularly useful because it means that my new drive to review N2 kanji is being reflected in my SRS daily study sessions.
When I’ve finished a session I can even choose to study more new kanji or review more (which it does note impacts the effectiveness of the SRS on your long-term memory). Because I’m using this as a way to brush up my knowledge of lower level kanji, I often choose to add a few more new kanji to my session, depending on my mood.
Things I Don’t Like as Much
I am somewhat old-school in how I learned Japanese and kanji (which was, admittedly over 15 years ago!) and I never learned the English meanings for kanji. I never used Heisig, or WaniKani, and mostly ignored the English meanings when studying on the Japanese Kanji Study. Which means being tested on the “meaning” doesn’t always work for me.
I know the meaning of kanji based on how they’re used in vocabulary. There are often times I get answers wrong because the app wants to associate an English word to a kanji that’s different from my own definition of the kanji. If I could change which English word the app tests me on, I think I would have an easier time with this. (This is a personal problem though.)
UPDATE (23/03/12): Turns out there is a feature where you can edit what English term is used to prompt a kanji! (Go to a kanji and use the pencil icon to the right of the definition.)
I can’t think of much else I don’t like about it. It’s a simple add on that has impacted how I study. Although it will be interesting to see how the SRS software handles back-up review sessions if I don’t study for a few days (or weeks).
- Great for quick study sessions.
- Great for daily study.
- Seems effective for long-term kanji memory. (Especially when used in combination with the rest of the app.)
- Can easily adjust levels.
- Customizable study (study workload, kanji prioritization, toggle notes and kanji meaning, etc.).
- No subscription fee.
- An additional cost to the base level. (But I’d argue is worth it.)
Overall I think this is a great expansion to an already great app. It’s pricey but worth it, and I much, much, much prefer this method of compensation over subscriptions. I’ve had this app for years and hope to continue using it for many more. I feel using it on a daily basis is now a lot easier with this new feature.
Learn More About Japanese Kanji Study Here!