I first looked into iKnow over a month ago, as I’d heard it was a great tool to learn vocabulary. At first glance, the website interface looks great – that is important to me if I’m going to spend any time on it. The soothing sky blue (it literally is a sky background) helps me focus during drills. But it is not a free service. I had to decide if it’s worth it for me. I could, after all, just import these decks into Anki for free.
Interface clean and easy to understand, attractive colors
My current iKnow Courses
This service offers several Japanese courses to get you well on your way to mastering Japanese, up to Japanese Core 6000. Right off the bat, you should take a placement test to determine which course you should take. At my beginner level, I was sent to the very beginning courses – kana and Core 1000.
Highlighted in yellow below are the three courses I’m currently working on. Two courses in Master Hiragana and Katakana (easy review for me), and a more challenging course of Japanese Core 1000 – the top 1,000 most commonly used words in Japanese.
iKnow’s Japanese course offerings
I immediately starting using these to solidify my kana skills. Before using this service, I’d estimate I was instantly accurate with ~97% hiragana, and ~90% katakana. I just needed exposure to the ones I don’t see a lot. My goal is to instantly recognize and be able to type kana accurately, as I do in words in English, so the iKnow! Master Hiragana and Master Katakana courses are just what I needed.
I usually just do the basic iKnow training drills, first one in the option below. They call their drill types “Apps”. In the first drill type (I am not comfortable calling them apps), they show you a character, you hear it, then you type it. You also get a drills where you choose it from a list of answers. Sometimes you don’t get the audio. I do these very fast, as my goal here isn’t learning them, it’s more as a review to improve speed and accuracy.
Drill App choices
It uses spaced repetition drills, like most of the services I use. I have to admit I am a bit confused when today it said “Course Completed” with my Hiragana course. I haven’t spent enough time to master anything at all, much less move all terms to “Strong”. It was moved to a different “Review” tab, I’m not sure why. My Study Progress in Hiragana is 100% though, so I guess I studied them enough so they assume I know my Hiragana. I’ll soon reach that in Katakana too, I purposely was going a bit slower with that one.
Master Hiragana and Katakana courses going well
Out of this Core 1000, they introduce 100 at a time, so I’m on Step 1. My first exposure was over a month ago with these and it was just too overwhelming for me, I couldn’t continue. So much kanji and grammar I just didn’t know, I thought I’d come back when I knew more.
I revisited this week and it is now much more manageable. I’m going to take it very slow though! I’ll do five at a time for now, until my grammar gets more advanced. I am required to be able to put whole sentences together, and there are tenses I’m barely familiar with (haven’t officially learned yet).
At WaniKani Level 10, I do know all the kanji and vocabulary they’ve given me so far, you can see samples below.
Japanese Core 1000 – sampling of some of the first words
As for using them in sentences, I can just barely figure it all out, lol. I know all this will be super easy for me in a few months worth of study, but I’m only on Month 3 of learning Japanese right now.
Here’s some sample sentences I am to put together, thanks to both NihongoMaster and WaniKani, I can tackle these, but it’s all so very new to me! Putting it all together is a little daunting, but I know this is great exposure for me.
わたし は え を みる の が すき です。
I like looking at pictures.
わたし は ともだち の ところ に とまった。
I stayed at my friend’s place for the night.
なつやすみ に おばあちゃん の うち へ いきました。
I went to my grandma’s house during summer vacation.
Sentence Trainer App
When choosing their Sentence Trainer app, they quiz you on various things, listening, reading, and writing sentences. In one example, you hear the entire sentence, then fill in the missing blank. Well that’s easy enough for me! They offer up to three hints if you have trouble.
Fill in the blank
My next drill was a bit more challenging, I hear a sentence and have to type it all out myself!
Listen and type!
I needed to use one hint – they gave me “まいあさ” – every morning. I should’ve known that, but just haven’t been exposed to the actual word yet in my studies.
I drink coffee every morning.
Next drill type, they give me the English translation and I have to sort out the Japanese sentence. This is a simple one!
Translate into Japanese
So for these first five exercises, I got them all right, and used one hint. Time was inflated because I took screenshots and came back here to blog about it!
Yay, I love Sentence Trainer!
Here are the sentences I worked with for my first attempt with Sentence Trainer app.
Sentences I worked with
Motivating with Progress tracking and achievements!
I am definitely enjoying the service, it’s getting me exposure and practice to so much. I love how it motivates you by keeping a calendar and tracking your “Study Streak”. Right now my Study Streak is 19 days! You also earn Achievements.
I will need more work with the Core courses before I can give a better description on how it’s really working for me, but I signed up for a Pro account and am going to give it a few months.
If you register for a 12 month Pro account and use this link, you’ll get three months free. I’m already on a plan and don’t get any months free, but at least it could help you!
Are you already using iKnow or have you tried it in the past? What are your experiences?