The game that teaches you to read Japanese

Speaking of gamification, which can help motivate people to do boring things, it’s a useful way to learn a language. Learning Japanese kanji, especially, requires a lot of memorization. Koichi and Viet, who are associated with the Japanese culture blog Tofugu, are developing a kanji-learning website called WaniKani where users level up based on how many kanji they know and how well they know them. 

Their approach to teaching kanji is new too. Instead of starting with common and often complicated kanji, WaniKani first teaches radicals, or the the small parts of kanji that make up other kanji. It’s a little like studying common root words in Russian, where five words might come from the same root.

WaniKani also uses concepts from cognitive psychology and spaced repetition systems to ensure that you actually know a kanji. It’s not enough to know the right answer once; true memorization comes from giving the correct answer multiple times over time. 

The site is still in beta, but if you’ve ever tried learning kanji, it’s worth getting on the wait list for.