There are lots of great ways to teach yourself Japanese through interactive, fun games. While it’s best to learn to speak conversational Japanese with one-on-one tutoring, you can start learning basic words and phrases with video-based games and puzzles.
It will take time and dedication (plus a really great teacher) to learn the Japanese language, but you can have fun playing Japanese learning games to get started.
Video game designers have created several versions of Japanese learning games. Mostly, though, they’re made to help you gain an understanding of basic grammar and vocabulary. They provide excellent introductory skills that will come in handy as you continue your Japanese language-learning journey.
Here are five Japanese learning games we recommend for Japanese language students.
1. My Japanese Coach
My Japanese Coach is a puzzle-based game that was introduced in 2008 for the Nintendo DS. When you get started with My Japanese Coach, you’ll be given a placement test that will determine your starting point. The game contains about a hundred lessons covering basic grammar, katakana, hiragana, and more.
When you’re playing this game, be aware that some kanji are presented with the wrong stroke order. The stroke order for each kanji character is important in understanding its meaning.
My Japanese Coach is also not a video game in the traditional sense. There’s no game play; instead, there are a variety of word games and puzzles designed to introduce you to the basics of the language.
Don’t have a Nintendo DS? Play My Japanese Coach online.
2. Slime Forest Adventure
This is an old school game for your computer. The graphics aren’t super complex, but it’s one of the few Japanese learning games that is actually a game.
Slime Forest Adventure offers the tried-and-true formula of fighting monsters and rescuing a princess, but with a bit of a twist. In order to fight the monsters, you have to decipher hiragana, kanji, and/or katakana.
The game comes in three versions, and there is also a free demo version. With a simple emphasis on recognizing various hiragana, katakana, and kanji, Slime Forest Adventure is a great game to start building your knowledge of the Japanese language.
3. Learn Japanese (MindSnacks Games)
MindSnacks offers games for a variety of languages. Learn Japanese is a popular app for your smartphone, and will help you learn Japanese words and sounds. It’s not really a game, but rather a “learn-by-rote” option that can be very effective.
Use this app through Google Play. You can download flashcards which feature Japanese words for clothing and animals. This app will also help you learn hiragana.
5. Dr. Moku’s Hiragana Mnemonic
While Dr. Moku’s system of teaching hiragana is admittedly corny, it’s also very effective. The app uses mnemonic devices to teach you the various sounds made in the Japanese alphabet. It’s one of the best Japanese learning games for beginners.
Making a Simple Change
Japanese learning games are everywhere, but you don’t necessarily need any new games to start learning Japanese. Many of the games you already own probably have Japanese soundtracks, and these can allow you to listen and learn. Set the audible language to Japanese, and turn on the English in-game captions. This way, you will be able to associate the spoken words with the English captions.
Some games also offer Japanese subtitles, which will allow you to see and hear the language simultaneously. This option works best for games you’ve played before since you’re already familiar with the in-game dialogue.
Getting Serious About Learning
If you’re really serious about learning to speak Japanese, one-on-one language lessons can help you more than any game. Games are great for practice and to get a basic overview of the language, but really learning Japanese is a task best accomplished through careful instruction with a qualified teacher.
Find a Japanese teacher today, search here for a Japanese tutor in your area.
Photo by Pixel Fantasy