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Japanese Learning App Review: iKnow

in Study Resources, Study Resources Review

What is iKnow?

iKnow is a supercharged flash card system to learn new vocabulary on iOS, Android and the web. It uses a smart spaced recognition system to determine when a new word appears or learned word reappears in your next study session. It also comes with audio recordings to help you pronounce the word and to hear how it’s used in a sentence.

Right now, there are courses for Japanese, Chinese (both Traditional and Simplified) and English vocab. There are about 6000 words for Japanese, over 2000 for Chinese and over 500 SAT or higher level words for English.

For power users, you can also create your own flash cards with the iKnow system.

The Good

It’s been about a year since I used iKnow. It’s my go-to app during my 20-minute morning commutes. I just plug in my headphones, choose “learn 10 words”, do what it says. It’s quick and pain-free.

I’ve definitely learned new words but surprisingly what I learned most is good pronunciation. I went to Japan last month and my language partner commented that my Japanese has improved a lot since he last met me a year ago. This whole time, I had not taken any formal classes and not done much studying outside of iKnow, so I must credit much of it to the app. A few shopkeepers have also commented that they mistook me for a Japanese person because my 「発音がいい」(pronunciation is good).

The Bad

With that said, I found the categorization of the vocabulary iffy. There were words in the beginner level that I’ve never seen before and words in the intermediate level that I learned within my first 2 months of Japanese class. It makes learning a bit painful as I have to curate each level before I start.

For those whose hoping this to be an all-round study – it’s not. There is no way to test your writing, since you type your answers. So while you’ll be able to recognize, read and pronounce the words well, you’re going to have to do your own due diligence when it comes to writing.

The Verdict


At a yearly subscription rate of ¥9,360 (approx 75 USD / 100 SGD), it’s a cheaper alternative than language schools. While it is not as comprehensive as a full-fledged class, it makes language learning more convenient since you can access it anytime, anywhere.

I would recommend it to busy people who want a quick and easy way to keep in touch with the language. I would also highly recommend iKnow for those of you who want to work on your vocab and/or pronunciation.

Screenshots of iKnow

iKnow Android Screenshot
Android Screenshot

iOS / iPad Mini Screenshot

Web Screenshot

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