Anki

Anki is an application for your computer or mobile phone that lets you study Japanese (or anything, really) using a spaced repetition system to help you to learn more effectively than regular flashcards. Essentially, Anki will know how often you need to review cards based on your performance the day before, helping you to study the things that need more study and hiding away the things you’ve definitely learned. Anki is incredibly flexible, free to download and use, and has a ton of plugins and decks you can download to tailor the learning experience exactly to your needs.

Download Anki →

Pros

  • Free (iPhone app is $25, though I think it’s worth it)
  • Lots of flexibility and customization available in how you set the application up and your cards up.
  • Able to create your own cards or download other user-created cards from the download section.
  • SRS that will help you to learn way more effectively than regular old flashcards.
  • Available on Mac, PC, Linux, iOS, and Android. That’s pretty much everything, which is pretty crazy awesome if you ask me.
  • Ability to sync your progress to AnkiWeb so that you can start off where you left off on your phone, the web, or computer, no matter where you are.
  • Great support from the community and the creator.

Cons

  • Although I think most people can use the basic features fairly easily, some of the advanced features aren’t as user friendly, making it difficult for non-tech-savvy people.
  • Can be a bit complicated at first. Somewhat steep learning curve — I’d recommend watching the tutorial videos.

Final Word?

Anki’s great. If you’re learning Japanese, it has a huge community building up cards and decks that you can use. TextFugu users use Anki for the vocab on TextFugu, even. It’s flexible and if you use it every day, you’ll learn a lot. Give it some time if you’re having trouble with it at first. It’s a little complicated sometimes, but that also means you can do a lot with it, so be patient! Overall, this is my favorite flashcards application, and I recommend everyone tries it out!