Wandering Across the Rainbow Chopsticks #9: How I'm Preparing for the JLPT N4 (Apps)

Hopefully this won’t be too much of a rehash of a post I made last year about apps that I’ve been using. However, when I wrote that post I hadn’t purchased my lifetime WaniKani subscription and had only done the first few levels. I’ll also only be talking about my main apps that I’m studying, as in, apps that I’m using daily.
So it won’t be as long-winded as the last app recommendation either.
I also made a similar post about companion apps to use along with Genki.

First up, I’m now in the process of maxing out the last few levels in Duolingo. I expect to be finishing Duolingo in the next few weeks.
While Japanese on Duolingo isn’t as extensive as the other courses like Spanish and German, it’s really helpful for learning sentence structure and drilling a bunch of different ways to use the particles.
However, I wouldn’t want to only use Duolingo for JLPT preparation as it only has bits and pieces from N4 and I don’t think it has all the vocab for even N5.
Next up, I’m a big fan of Memrise. I have a bunch of courses that I do revisions and lessons with each day. I’m up to the fifth Memrise-designed course but I’m still doing reviews of the first four. I also have around ten-or-so user-created reviews, including the two courses each for N5 and N4 from JLPT bootcamp , two which are created using the content from each of the two Genki textbooks, and one created using Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide.
It’s a pretty great app, there are extra features which can be paid for but I’ve never felt the need to use them. I will, however, consider buying a lifetime subscription at the end of the year this year (the only reason I didn’t last time is because I’d just purchased the lifetime subscription of WaniKani).
It’s a great app with a cute space travel theme where you can level up your little alien friend as you gain experience by completing reviews and lessons.
A really useful feature is the ‘ignore’ feature; if you’re going through a lesson and you, for example, already know the vocab item perfectly, you can simply mark it as ‘ignore’ and you don’t have to learn it!
I will always recommend Memrise over Duolingo for learning Japanese because of how extensive the courses are due to the fact they are user submitted as well as created by Memrise.
I also feel like I also mention LingoDeer; it’s cute, fun, and nicer than Duolingo but pretty short. There’s an option to have romaji, kana, furigana, or just Kanji.
It’s shorter than the Duolingo course but it’s pretty great none the less.
However, the reviews are just like Anki flash cards and rely on the user inputting whether they knew, sorta knew, or did not know an answer.
I stopped using it because I was done with the lessons and the review system isn’t too special but I might jump back on to fill in any forgotten info.
I prefer it to Duolingo’s way of teaching though as there are more explanations that Duolingo.
Finally, onto my favourite and the only of my daily review and lesson apps that I’m actually paying for – WaniKani.
WaniKani is 100% worth buying the lifetime subscription when the New Year sale comes along – my vocab has well and truly shot up.
Sure, you can’t ace the JLPT with it alone but it’s really wonderful if you want to start reading Japanese media.
It teaches WaniKani judging by how frequent and useful it is to know as well as how easy it is.
To learn all of the relevant N5 and N4 material on WK, I believe one has to get to level 27, which at a moderate daily (not hourly) speed, may take you around 10 months – I’ve been subscribed for about 8-9 months and I’m level 25. You can definitely get there in less time but you’d need to do every lesson and every review successfully as soon as they’re ready.
If I had to pick one, I’d recommend WaniKani along with a textbook of choice for any grammar points. While I doubt one could ace any JLPT test with just WaniKani, I’m pretty confident one could if they had a texbook like Genki alongside it to cover everything else besides vocab.
Combined with my previous post about textbooks for the JLPT, maybe Nihongo Sou Matome and WaniKani would be a good combination – grammar points, tests and drills, and listening practice in a short but well structured series.
If you’re not big on spending any money on apps, I’d recommend Memrise and completing as many user and Memrise created courses as possible.
As for my own WaniKani progress, as I mentioned, I’m up to level 25 and hopefully will be level 26 after this weekend. Meaning I’ve almost covered all of the N4 material on WaniKani! Exciting!
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What are your thoughts?