Do you like games? Some people learn well with games, and, if you’re one of them, Mind Snacks just may be your cup of お茶. I have the app on my tablet (and, by the way, anyone who takes even a cursory glance at that thing would know I’m studying Japanese!) and have played it a fair amount.
Basically, each lessons consists of related vocabulary terms: fashion, greetings, question words, weather, family, numbers, etc. so it’s good for beginners. You get tested on the vocabulary until you master each term in the group.
Sounds like a zillion other apps, right?
The difference with this one is how you get tested. This is done by having you play a series of games, most of which are timed, so speed of recognition counts. I haven’t unlocked all the games yet, but here are the ones I have played:
Swell – a word appears, either in Japanese or English, and two choices in the opposite language appear. Tap the correct choice. (By the way, sometimes the correct choice is “none of the above” which is a little odd, since you only have two choices…) You get ever smaller and smaller amounts of time to make your choice. Water starts at the top of the screen and the level drops more and more rapidly. A correct choice refills the water level and a wrong choice doesn’t. If the water falls all the way to the bottom, a poor little goldfish dies.
Chipper – a word appears and then you have to spell it in romaji or kana (you can set the game up either way) by clicking on tiles. Squirrels sitting on a branch scatter when you get it right and make rude noises at you when you get it wrong. Get as many correct as you can in the time allowed.
Belly – you see a group of pictures. A vocabulary word pops up. Select the appropriate picture. If you get it right a frog eats it. Not timed.
Totem – a totem pole with four figures appears. Each figure is a rotating block. The top one is Japanese, the next is English, the next is a picture, the next is audio. Each block has four sides. You have to line them up. Timed.
Bloon – Balloons rise to the top of the screen. The blue ones are in English, the orange ones are in Japanese. Tap a matching pair to make them pop. Some balloons contain power ups – ice to slow things down, arrows to shoot other balloons, etc. If you get a mismatch, the balloons swell up. If the screen fills with balloons, which, of course, rise faster and faster, game over.
Stacks – 12 pictures appears. Three cats on top of each other at the bottom of the screen appear, each with a word on it. Tap a picture that matches a word on one of the cats. (Yes, this is weird, and it gets weirder.) The longer a cat sits there, the more it swells up. If you hit a picture that isn’t represented by one of the three words, the cats swell up. If the cats swell up too much, everything collapses and the game ends.
Bubbler – Bubbles rise from the bottom of the screen to the top at increasing rates of speed. Each bubble has a Japanese word or phrase. If the word or phrase is spelled correctly, tap it to pop the bubble before it reaches the top of the screen. If the word or phrase is spelled incorrectly, leave it alone. If three correctly spelled words make it to the top of the screen, game over.
There is at least one other game that I haven’t seen yet. There are also challenges to earn experience points.
Does it sound likes it’s just for kids? Maybe, but I’m having fun with it, and it is driving vocabulary words into my brain, so that’s all good. Now, it is vocabulary only, and it isn’t really high level vocabulary either, but it good help a beginner form a good base of words to work with.