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The Japanese Speaking Community
iOS app for learning to read in Japanese - Webu 
3rd-Apr-2017 10:51 pm
GoForIt
I've been using a (mostly) free iOS app called Webu to practice my reading skills, and I've found it immensely helpful. It's basically a web browser, but when you click on a word it quickly brings up a the Japanese-English dictionary entry and plays the audio out loud. You can also quickly make a flash card for the word for later study. The flash card contains the example sentence you initially saw the word in, and it also lets you go back to the website where you originally saw the word. There are other features too, but I'd say the web browsing and the flash cards are the main ones.

It's a new app, so it's still got some bugs here and there, but when I emailed the developer he was super nice and implemented some of my suggestions. For example, I asked him to make new types of flash cards and he did! I'm pretty amazed at how kind and responsive he's been. The developer is looking for more users, of course, so I'm promoting the app here now :) Not being paid, I promise! Just want to spread the word.

Note: the free version of Webu has some limitations on how many words you can look up per hour and how many flash cards you can save (100). The limitations aren't too bad though--if I weren't studying for the JLPT this year, I would have probably just kept using the free version. In a way the limitations are sometimes good: it's helpful sometimes to force yourself to not look up too many words (so you learn to figure things out more from context). But when you're cramming for the JLPT you do things a little differently :D Anyway, the paid features are only a couple dollars each, at least in the Canadian app store, so if you want them they don't break the bank.

Link to Webu on the App Store

User Guide for Webu

One more thing: the developer also has another app called Sabu, which is similar to Webu except that it's for videos. Mind you, I haven't tried out Sabu yet because there's no free trial version and I have no room for video files on my phone. But it sounds very useful. You can play a video on your iPhone with two sets of subtitltes, and when you encounter a word you want to learn you can click on it to look it up, hear it, and add it to flash cards. The rewinding and forwarding and such also seem to be really tailored for language learning.

Link to Sabu on the App Store

Sabu website

Sabu feature description

Hope some of this is helpful!
Comments 
5th-Apr-2017 07:26 am (UTC)
Oh sounds cool! Sadly most of my reading is manga though...
5th-Apr-2017 03:13 pm (UTC)
I usually read manga too! But since I'm practicing for the JLPT, I have to read more articles and learn more boring vocab instead of "yaarrrghhh I kill you くらえ!!" kind of vocab :)
6th-Apr-2017 07:03 pm (UTC)
Ahh, I'm following different Japanese weirdos on Twitter, some of them are into political stuff, others are into linguistics and visual novels and bodybuilding and things so if I actually wanted to read everything they write I'm sure I'd learn a lot, but my general plan is "when I want to learn political words I'll go read political BL or something" lol.

Do you use Mondo too? It's a similar app but only for news articles.

Edited at 2017-04-06 07:04 pm (UTC)
8th-Apr-2017 04:22 am (UTC)
Ooh, Mondo is very cool, thank you! Will definitely use it sometimes. I do like Webu better overall, simply because the lookup is faster, but mondo has lots of features that webu doesn't.

I wish I were more interested in following social media...it seems like a good way to read a mix of more conversational and more formal language. I don't even much follow social media much in English, though (I completely ignore all my friends and family on Facebook lol)....so I'd need to stumble across someone really interesting to want to follow it.

10th-Apr-2017 12:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I made a lot of Japanese friends via Esperanto so I got to know them (more or less) first via a language we both speak decently, THEN also along with that came all their Japanese posts that I try to read because it's like, we're already "friends" so I want to see what my "friend" is doing.... Then through them I make more "friends".

On Twitter at least, you can't post long stuff so you know that you "can" read this guy's Japanese post with not so much effort/time wasted. They also know that you "can't" respond with long stuff so if you only reply with 1 sentence or something that's totally fine and expected, too. For me that's the big difference between it and some other places — when the reading/writing practice seems easier you're going to do more of it.

Honestly I still think manga is the best practice though!!
8th-Apr-2017 04:27 am (UTC)
Btw, do you know happen to know where to find good fanfic in Japanese? The big sites like Pixiv and https://syosetu.org have lots, but the quality is quite...variable. I guess that's always going to be the case with fanworks though, in any language.
10th-Apr-2017 11:58 am (UTC)
I haven't actually tried looking! I've been so busy with stuff for class that I've actually gone on a way-too-long fandom hiatus ;_;; The few Japanese fandom friends I have don't write fic so they probably don't read it either...
11th-Apr-2017 05:47 am (UTC)
Yep, that's pretty normal! Ah well, I read too much fanfic anyway...should probably read more real stuff XD
(Deleted comment)
8th-Apr-2017 04:23 am (UTC)
I don't have an android phone, so I have no idea, sorry! Will let you know if I hear of one.
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