Learning Japanese vocab with ease - Prototype Feedback

Hey there,
I am currently working on a new app that should help making learning vocabulary easier. The motivation is that typing in custom vocab on the go on mobile and also with all the needed information is quite a pain with current solutions.
I started designing an app that should be only for Japanese and the learners for the language:
And all that as simple and easy to understand as possible so you don’t need to think about much using the interface:

So far, I implemented the creation of the vocab process which includes setting up one word with:

  • Kanji
  • Meaning
  • reading
    Example: 日本 + にほん + Japan is one vocab

Here is the prototype for the creation process:
It is not completely polished as the Japanese font is still too small & I renamed lesson to chapter
Here is a video of it in action: https://vimeo.com/381148218 (password: japan)

I am a learner of Japanese myself and I try to solve issues I encounter myself and I thought there might be other people out there who share them.

I didn’t design yet the learning process (will be SRS) as it depends on the information that is setup for the vocabulary.
But I think structuring the vocabulary like that allows learning of:

  • Show the Kanji & ask for the meaning
  • Show the Reading & ask for the meaning
  • Show the meaning & ask for the Kanji
  • Show the Kanji & ask for the reading

Cause currently I have the issue that with current apps you either have to type in everything at least two times (Kanji + reading, Kanji + meaning) or you are asked for both at the same time and I felt that one part is often ignored.

So my questions to you are:

  • Do you struggle currently with any issues in current solutions
  • What do you think of Setting up the vocabulary how I designed it (also if you think sth is frustrating)
  • What do you expect from the learning process (How do you learn best: Typing in with keyboard, Choosing from letters, Multiple-Choice, Flashcard itself and you just press Knew it/Didn’t knew it)
  • Any feature you miss in apps you use for learning Japanese

Thank you so much in advance. I want to design something that people love to use and help them in their journey :slight_smile: And to do that, I need feedback.

I decided to ask publicly because so far I didn’t get enough feedback and the more feedback, the better :slight_smile: I am working on it alone - so finishing it might need some time


Nice work!

I like that the GUI is easy to understand and use (and cute).

I don’t know much about these kinds of apps as I have only used a few, but it is a lot less intimidating than Anki which is nice.

I think people would probably say there needs to be some form of listening section, or a way to import audio/readings. Obviously this would be a feature much further down the line, but I mention it as I noticed it as a common selling point people made for apps such as Anki.

All in all if you are targeting an audience of people who want to learn but are turned off by size and effort of Anki; you are doing a good job.

Looks like you have a good start though, keep it up!

In relation to some of your questions here is my opinion:

  1. I have struggled to motivate myself to make my own Anki deck because of the time taken to make cards. I think anything that allows macro creation of cards in a much more timely manor would be of great benefit.
  2. I like your setup a little more, but it still feels like there could be a way to make it faster. For example, this might just be a dumb idea, but an autocomplete option, like typing in 日本 and getting the hiragana にほん auto-filled for you.
  3. I personally think typing in allows you to retain the learning better, but of course multiple choice allows for much higher speeds.
  4. Community made user scripts are very handy and extends the usefulness and lifespan of apps in my opinion.

Thank you so much for your response :blush: It makes me happy to hear that you like that.

Listening is a good point - it is certainly a feature that won’t make it into the initial release but I believe it is important. I think for a start it is too much effort (as I have to evaluate which kind of voice should be used and legal wise of which voice can I use, etc).

Thanks also for your opinion on the questions:

  1. Regarding the time-consuming creation: What do you mean by macro creation of cards? Does it mean that you can import cards you created somewhere else or that you can start creating and then resume later? Could you give an example please?
  2. Thanks for the idea with the auto-completion of the reading. Now that you mention it - I think it will certainly save time. I will look into it of course to see of how to achieve that implementation-wise but I will try^^
  3. Good point - In that case I think I might think about a good mixture of both - maybe to even include the option to choose e.g. multiple-choice only if the user does not have that much time, etc.
  4. I think that user scripts will be hard to support in the beginning (as I am building it without backend so everything is stored on the device itself - so the vocabulary can be learnt even in the mountains or tunnels) but I do think they give value though. I think sth that is manageable is to support services like Shortcuts on iOS (there you can include scripts that influence the app). I will take a look as well what is possible.

Thank you so much again - you helped me a lot already :blush:

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Hey eszter,

No problem, happy to give feedback.

In regards to your question it refers mostly to the time element of creating a deck.

Right now to make your own deck in anki it is a real time investment, so much so that it is more efficient to use a pre-built deck if you are studying a textbook like Genki (but this has multiple shortcomings as well).

I really think there should be a way to capitalize on this. Like I suggested: auto-completion, or even using an already built API for image based text recognition (point your camera at a book and select the text you want). Sorry I like to get ahead of myself :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

There are many solutions ranging from simple to complex in this area. I’d say it’s worth having a think about how you can really optimize deck creation.

I’d take a stab at it myself but R&D is my full-time job so I try not to do too much outside of work.

On a final note in regards to listening; the voice samples used for anki decks is pulled from a website. I don’t know what one but you can probably google it, so it might just be a case of writing an api that can pull samples from a database when online and store them locally. Also there is the option of recording them yourself.

Anyways, you got a really good start already and I like where you are going with it. Excited to see how it progresses, glad you are also being strict about building a robust initial system of core features. Will make your life simpler in the future.

– Sam :blush:

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Ah, now I get what you mean^^
Thank you for your suggestions - the point of the image-based text recognition is also something that multiple people I talked to desired already.
I didn’t work with it yet but I had a look into some technologies and I try some of them and see what is the best feasible and also reliable solution.
Thanks so much again for your proposals again.

I think the best option here is to try out several solutions and then see what works best (based on user feedback).
But as you said, the pain of creating new cards needs to be reduced as much as possible. Also good to know, that I am on the way to get there and that I am not there yet (but hopefully I will be at one point).

I will try my best and keep you (all) updated :slight_smile: I am working on it currently beside my part-time job and university so I am not as fast as I wish but still this means a lot for me so I will try my best to make this happen (though there is still a long way to go from development to release^^) :blush:

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