School of Science and Technology 科技學院
Computing Programmes 電腦學系

Hello Japanese: An Adaptive Mobile Learning Application for Beginners to Learn Fundamental Japanese Language

WONG Yuen Kiu

ProgrammeBachelor of Science with Honours in Computing
SupervisorDr. Vanessa Ng
AreasMobile Learning
Year of Completion2014


The aim of this project is to develop an adaptive mobile e-learning application for beginners to acquire basic knowledge of Japanese language in order to gain the self-learning proficiency in Japanese. This application focuses on helping users to learn fundamental Japanese language topics, such as Japanese alphabet (Hiragana and Katakana), phonology or words (adjective, verb and noun). Besides, adaptability of the application is another important issue. Adaptability allows the application to adjust the learning process depending on the learning performance of individual learners. For example, supplementary exercises are provided to learners adaptively based on individual situations. Here are some objectives to achieve the aim of the project:

  • Design and create learning materials for beginners to learn basic Japanese knowledge, like alphabets, phonology or simple vocabulary
  • Develop educational exercises for learners to practice what they have learnt
  • Develop practicing tools with recognition function for learners to enhance the pronunciation or the handwriting of Japanese characters
  • Develop an assessment system for learners to know their performance of different aspects so as to improve his/her weakness
  • Develop an adaptive learning system to generate suitable supplementary exercises for learners based on their own learning performance
  • Evaluate if users can acquire the knowledge of fundamental Japanese topics after using this application

Background and Methodology

The application of this project will be developed in the Android operating system for touch screen mobile devices. The application will have the following components:

The following diagram shows how the exercise generating system generates exercises:

The followings are the user interface design of the main page and the menu page of the application:

Learner can do exercises to review what they have learnt after studying learning materials. The exercises are categorized according to their types and ordered in different pull-down-menu. In the application, there are three kinds of exercise for learner to do, including kana exercises, vocabulary exercises and listening exercises.

There are different kinds of listening exercises for learner to train their listening skill of Japanese, like listening Japanese number, date or time. The learner is required to listen to a recording and answer the question based on the content of the recording. As most of the users of the application are beginner, the recording can be played multiple times until learner gets the answer. After answering the question, the correct answer of the question will be displayed in a dialog box.

The handwriting practicing tool allows learner to practice writing different Japanese characters and check whether the written character is correct or not. A writing box will appear with a mold which displays the strokes of the character. Learners need to follow the mold to write the character. After finishing writing, learner needs to click the finish button to request for checking. The following are the situations which user writes the character in different ways:

The learning log book is used to keep track of the learner’s learning process. At the beginning of learning Japanese, beginners may feel lost as they have no direction what should be learnt or done. Therefore, the learning log book suggests a standard learning process for learner to follow. It directs learner to study or finish the correct materials and exercises. The log book shows the learning process in a float chart. The buttons on the float chart also act as a navigator to bring the learner to the page he/she wants directly.


To evaluate whether learner can acquire the knowledge of fundamental Japanese topics and be able to read, write, speak and listen some basic Japanese after using this application, 15 people were invited to use Hello Japanese application for a week. They are required to learn the twenty Japanese characters using the application in a week.

After finishing learning, they were requested to take a test which contains fundamental Japanese questions of what they have learnt to see if they can acquire basic knowledge of Japanese. Besides, a questionnaire was designed to obtain comments and evaluate the usefulness, satisfactory or usability of different components in the application.

The following shows the Japanese language proficiency level of the learners who participate to conduct the survey and evaluation. 83% of the learners have never learnt Japanese before using Hello Japanese application and 13% of learners has learnt Japanese at the elementary level before using the application.

Learners have taken a Japanese test after using the application to evaluate if they can acquire the knowledge of fundamental Japanese topics. All the learners were required to close the application during the test. The Fig. 54 is the result of the test. 63% of the learner gets 80-100 marks and 37% of the learner gets 60-79 marks. No one gets fail in the test, which is a very outstanding result.

Conclusion and Future Development

Hello Japanese is a more all-rounded and personalized Japanese self-learning applications for beginners when comparing with the current available Japanese learning applications in the market as it provides an all-in-one and adaptive learning experiences to learners. For example, Hello Japanese provides learning materials, exercises, learning tools, assessment system to learners inside one application. Besides, adaptive system is provided in Hello Japanese, which allows different learners to have the most suitable individual self-learning process even there is no teacher to teach them. Therefore, Hello Japanese provides a new learning style for beginner to learn Japanese by self-learning.

Suitable learning materials are created for beginners to learn basic Japanese knowledge, like alphabets, phonology or simple vocabulary. Besides, educational exercises are developed for learners to practice what they have learnt in the materials. Three kinds of exercise are developed, including kana exercise, vocabulary exercise and listening exercise. Kana exercise and vocabulary exercise are in the form of multiple choice question. Listening exercise requires the learner to listen to some recording and fill in the answer, like number, date or time. For the practicing tools, fifty sounds table with handwriting practicing tool, vocabulary list with the voice recording tool and Japanese pronunciation enquiring tool are developed for learners to enhance the pronunciation or the handwriting of Japanese characters. The handwriting practicing tool is associated with recognition function to check whether learner writes the Japanese character correctly. Most importantly, an assessment system and an adaptive learning system are developed to assess the learning performance of learners so as to generate suitable comments and supplementary exercises for learners to improve their weakness. Finally, an evaluation is carried out to see if beginner can acquire the knowledge of fundamental Japanese topics as well as read, write, speak and listen simple Japanese after using this application. The result is satisfiable because Japanese text result and the feedback of the questionnaire are very outstanding and positive.

Copyright Wong Yuen Kiu and Vanessa Ng 2014

Jonathan Chiu
Marketing Director
3DP Technology Limited

Jonathan handles all external affairs include business development, patents write up and public relations. He is frequently interviewed by media and is considered a pioneer in 3D printing products.

Krutz Cheuk
Biomedical Engineer
Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital

After graduating from OUHK, Krutz obtained an M.Sc. in Engineering Management from CityU. He is now completing his second master degree, M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering, at CUHK. Krutz has a wide range of working experience. He has been with Siemens, VTech, and PCCW.

Hugo Leung
Software and Hardware Engineer
Innovation Team Company Limited

Hugo Leung Wai-yin, who graduated from his four-year programme in 2015, won the Best Paper Award for his ‘intelligent pill-dispenser’ design at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering’s International Conference on Consumer Electronics – China 2015.

The pill-dispenser alerts patients via sound and LED flashes to pre-set dosage and time intervals. Unlike units currently on the market, Hugo’s design connects to any mobile phone globally. In explaining how it works, he said: ‘There are three layers in the portable pillbox. The lowest level is a controller with various devices which can be connected to mobile phones in remote locations. Patients are alerted by a sound alarm and flashes. Should they fail to follow their prescribed regime, data can be sent via SMS to relatives and friends for follow up.’ The pill-dispenser has four medicine slots, plus a back-up with a LED alert, topped by a 500ml water bottle. It took Hugo three months of research and coding to complete his design, but he feels it was worth all his time and effort.

Hugo’s public examination results were disappointing and he was at a loss about his future before enrolling at the OUHK, which he now realizes was a major turning point in his life. He is grateful for the OUHK’s learning environment, its industry links and the positive guidance and encouragement from his teachers. The University is now exploring the commercial potential of his design with a pharmaceutical company. He hopes that this will benefit the elderly and chronically ill, as well as the society at large.

Soon after completing his studies, Hugo joined an automation technology company as an assistant engineer. He is responsible for the design and development of automation devices. The target is to minimize human labor and increase the quality of products. He is developing products which are used in various sections, including healthcare, manufacturing and consumer electronics.

Course CodeTitleCredits
 COMP S321FAdvanced Database and Data Warehousing5
 COMP S333FAdvanced Programming and AI Algorithms5
 COMP S351FSoftware Project Management5
 COMP S362FConcurrent and Network Programming5
 COMP S363FDistributed Systems and Parallel Computing5
 COMP S382FData Mining and Analytics5
 COMP S390FCreative Programming for Games5
 COMP S492FMachine Learning5
 ELEC S305FComputer Networking5
 ELEC S348FIOT Security5
 ELEC S371FDigital Forensics5
 ELEC S431FBlockchain Technologies5
 ELEC S425FComputer and Network Security5
 Course CodeTitleCredits
 ELEC S201FBasic Electronics5
 IT S290FHuman Computer Interaction & User Experience Design5
 STAT S251FStatistical Data Analysis5
 Course CodeTitleCredits
 COMPS333FAdvanced Programming and AI Algorithms5
 COMPS362FConcurrent and Network Programming5
 COMPS363FDistributed Systems and Parallel Computing5
 COMPS380FWeb Applications: Design and Development5
 COMPS381FServer-side Technologies and Cloud Computing5
 COMPS382FData Mining and Analytics5
 COMPS390FCreative Programming for Games5
 COMPS413FApplication Design and Development for Mobile Devices5
 COMPS492FMachine Learning5
 ELECS305FComputer Networking5
 ELECS363FAdvanced Computer Design5
 ELECS425FComputer and Network Security5