By Conner Carey on Mon, 11/23/2015
There are quite a few language learning apps available, especially if you want to learn French or Spanish. But what if you’re interested in learning languages that use written characters? Although I love learning languages, I had previously been unable to find a sufficient app for learning Japanese, Mandarin, Hebrew, or Korean. Then I was introduced to Word Fireworks ($1.99), a learning app that teaches you a language with fun gameplay that I’ve found to be absolutely addicting.
As a S.P.A.R.K cadet in Word Fireworks, it’s your job to learn a language for Human to Alien communication now that they’ve arrived on Earth. The storyline takes a back seat to each level of the game, however, which naturally teaches you characters of a language with pop-able fireworks.
Over the weekend, I finally gave the learning game the time it deserves for a test run. Except I found myself stuck in the app, obsessively learning Japanese and having fun while doing so. Using the Japanese version, the app begins by teaching you the Hiragana alphabet of Japanese. Each level teaches you two new characters with firework spectaculars as review levels every now and again.
Having had a previous interest in learning Japanese, I’d already heard that learning the Japanese alphabet is a great way to begin. This is exactly where Word Fireworks starts, teaching the basic vowels a, e, i, o, u. When you’re playing, not only do you match letters to their corresponding character but you also must write the character with either your finger or a stylus on the screen. I found this aspect to be the most helpful and after a few levels I would stop, pull out my notebook, and write all the characters I had learned with their respective letter and sound. The game also notes which characters you’re proficient in and which need improvement, then focuses on those characters in the Review section of the game.
I’ve played various other language learning app games and mildly enjoyed them, but I had never been pulled into a language app so as to forget the fear of learning a new language. Word Fireworks does exactly this and manages the perfect combination of fun with practice. I will definitely continue to use the app and highly recommend it for learning character languages. Word Fireworks is available for learning Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Hebrew.