Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

by Ryan Meinzer


Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

I mentioned in this post why we've chosen Nuance as our linchpin voice technology partner for PlaySay. Although it's against common practice, let's expose some of Nuance's and PlaySay's magic with a walk-through of how we enable English and Spanish learners to have real conversations with pronunciation feedback. 

Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Assuming English is your native language, you'll say the phrase in English first.

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Great job! Your English better be good, that's what your Spanish partner (learning English) will hear. The cool thing for you is that you now unlocked its Spanish counterpart! We knew that your English pronunciation was awesome via Nuance's speech recognition technology. We're beginning to integrate proprietary adaptive voice recognition algorithms atop Nuance's already state-of-the-art voice recognition. We can't expose all of our magic but can say that we're constantly improving our adaptive algorithms that take into consideration your unique voice, gender and accent. 

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Play its Spanish counterpart as many times as you need to for it to sink in to your memory. You're hearing Nuance's text to speech (TTS) here. Soon, we'll be replacing TTS with the highest ranked real native Spanish PlaySayer's voices. 'Parrot' the Spanish phrase that you're hearing with as much pronunciation accuracy as possible.

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!
Oops, we know your pronunciation wasn't great via Nuance's speech recognition technology. Please try again!

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!
Don't be shy, we've removed the embarrassment problem by letting you know exactly what to say and how to say it. Your Spanish partner isn't directly in front of you. Take it easy, take your time. Say it as many times as it takes to get it correct. 

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Are you a native Spanish speaker? It sounded like you were, awesome! Play back your sweet Spanish voice, sulk up the glory. You rock. Now send it along to that Spanish partner of yours.

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Sweet! They'll get back to you shortly by doing the same process in reverse. 

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

"Nudge" your partner if they don't get back to you as soon as you'd like. 

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Just by speaking, you're helping each other learn a language!

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Nuance + PlaySay = Voilà!

Check out your phrase book to reference all the phrases you're mastering!

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Join the fun, PlaySay today!


Ok, is PlaySay TOO Engaging?!

by Ryan Meinzer


Ok, is PlaySay TOO Engaging?!

Sorry Aaron, we didn't foresee you receiving 143 Spanish voice messages in the last 24 hours. We're glad you're being a great sport about it!

Ok, is PlaySay TOO Engaging?!

I have to admit, I didn't realize he was talking about messages in our app at first. I think his comment is so funny, "I can't keep up but I'll surely learn some damn Spanish." This made our day in the office. Actually, Aaron, your comment epitomizes our company commandment of, "Engagement 1st, Learning 2nd". Hoooohahahahhaha (evil laugh). Our masterplan is working quite nicely. It's only the first week, however, so by no means are we getting ahead of ourselves. We have a hard road ahead to maintain users' long-term engagement and lots to improve upon!

Ok, is PlaySay TOO Engaging?!

Speaking of improvements, we didn't account for these red notification bubbles (shown above) to have triple digits. #humblebrag

Ok, is PlaySay TOO Engaging?!
In full transparency, these two users are probably getting "blown up" because their first names are at the top of the "matches" list of the app which is in alphabetical order. We're addressing this issue with many others in our next app update that we're submitting to Apple tomorrow. Stay tuned and Happy PlaySaying!

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Download PlaySay to start speaking Spanish like a pro


How we Launched and How we Did

by Ryan Meinzer


How we Launched and How we Did

We had a blast releasing our baby into the world yesterday and continue to have a blast watching it grow!

We targeted two markets in our launch, Spain and the hyper-competitive USA. PlaySay is now #2 in Spain and #74 in the USA for Education. Awesome!

Below you'll find how we ranked in other country's Education Category of the their respective App Stores along with screenshots of our marketing, advertising and public relation ToDo's for launch day. 

How we Did

#1 Argentina

#1 Uruguay

#2 Spain

#2 Peru

#2 Paraguay

#4 Mexico

#4 El Salvador

#4 Venezuela

#4 Ecuador

#4 Venezuela

#6 Columbia

#13 Chile

[ --- Top 100 in other countries, not mentioned --- ]

#74 USA

How we Launched

HUGE shout out to Jeremy of Tapity who hooked me up with some killer advice on how to successfully promote, launch and gain market share for PlaySay. Jeremy is an Apple Design Reward winner for his Grades application, shown below. 

How we Launched and How we Did

Above is Jeremy's award-winning Grades application next to PlaySay today, as we were 'charting' up in the Education category of the USA App Store. Thanks again Jeremy, let's both get to the Top 5! We were meant to be...neighbors, at least!

For those interested, below are the marketing, advertising and public relations ToDo's that lead up to our big launch day yesterday. 

To successfully 'chart' in the App Store, it's critical to have a concentrated launch. If done correctly, you'll have a snowball effect of getting more and more downloads, reviews, etc. Apple ranks apps in their respective categories on a weighted average over the past few days, most heavily weighted on the current day. Even though PlaySay launched yesterday, we're still hustling hard on marketing. 

So PLEASE download PlaySay and give it a rating today!

You'll learn some Spanish, we'll get PlaySay higher in the ranks. That's a win-win, right?!


PlaySay is Now Live in the App Store, Launched by TechCrunch!

by Ryan Meinzer


PlaySay is Now Live in the App Store, Launched by TechCrunch!

4 years 4 this - our flagship PlaySay app is now available in the app store. We couldn't be more excited. Check out our official release on TechCrunch!

We have had so much fun building this app and are more proud of it than anything else we've ever built. It truly culminates our four years of business in the language learning space. So, without further ado...

Presenting PlaySay, an iPhone game that connects language learners so they can have real conversations with pronunciation feedback. 

The fun, social way to learn Spanish.

PlaySay is a first-of-its-kind game that connects language learners so they can have real conversations with pronunciation feedback.

★ "Making learning a language fun" - The Wall Street Journal

★ TechCrunch Disrupt Finalist - TechCrunch

It’s the best way to learn useful Spanish phrases, practice them with a real Spanish partner, and improve your pronunciation!

Great for all skill levels!

PlaySay features:

✔ Practical language: Each conversation that you have will center on real-life scenarios, like introducing yourself, ordering food, and even FLIRTING!

✔ Real native speakers: We’ll match you with native Spanish speakers and you’ll learn from their pronunciation.

✔ Pronunciation feedback: PlaySay uses speech-recognition technology to evaluate your Spanish pronunciation. We’ll tell you if you’re saying it correctly!

✔ Thousands of useful phrases: Each conversation you have will expose you to new phrases that you would actually use if you were visiting Spain.

✔ Phrase mastery: PlaySay keeps track of the phrases you use and even lets you know when you’ve mastered them. Master phrases to level up and earn rewards! You could even win a trip to Spain!

✔ Play with friends: Have a friend who’s also learning Spanish? Match up and have a conversation together! Listen to each other’s Spanish pronunciation!

Please don't forget to review us in the App Store after downloading PlaySay!

About PlaySay:

PlaySay is an iPhone game that connects language learners so they can have real conversations with pronunciation feedback. PlaySay is a 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt Finalist backed by the most active venture capitalists in the education space of the USA (Novak Biddle Venture Partners). PlaySay has closed premium content deals with the one of the largest publishers of language learning books and materials (McGraw-Hill) along with the largest foreign language learning dictionary publisher of the world (HarperCollins). For more information, please visit http://playsay.com.

Official Press Kit (English)

Official Press Kit (Español)


Confession #2 - My Mother Got me my Job in Japan

by Ryan Meinzer


Confession #2 - My Mother Got me my Job in Japan

I get asked all the time how I got my job in Japan immediately out of college. Truth is, my Mother's conversation about me at a salon in the USA with a stranger eventually led to an offer for me to head the international business for a Japanese marketing company in Tokyo called IMP, Inc. In this post, I'll share the story.

Why Japan?

I mentioned in a former post that I decided since high school that I wanted to start my business career in Japan. To get a job there, I strategically took my last college semester at Temple University's campus in Tokyo, Japan. It turned out that getting a business job in Japan was the hardest thing I had ever accomplished at that time. I must have gone through 25+ interviews with Japanese companies. My extremely limited knowledge of Japanese was an immediate killer for most employers. I always say that most of my success is due to my persistence, but some luck along the way surely helps!

The Dream Job I Accepted

With my degrees in Entrepreneurship and International Business, I was searching for something 'startupish'. That's precisely what I found with IMP, Inc.

My Mother (Mary Jo) was getting her hair cut in her friend's (Gloriana) salon and was talking about how I was searching for such a position with a Japanese company. Another lady (Nancy) overhead my mother. Nancy's daughter (Krista) lived in Japan and was friends with the wife (Bess) of IMP, Inc.'s CEO (Tetsuo). Nancy told my mother this. I connected with Nancy (through my Mom), then connected with Krista, then connected with Bess, and finally connected with Tetsuo. Nearly a month later, I was in my dream job leading the international business of IMP, Inc. (Testuo's company). I convinced Tetsuo to pay me the lowest salary of the company ($24,000/year) and promised him that I'd be sufficiently proficient in Japanese within three months. 

Lucky? Yep! Although I do firmly believe we create our own luck and that, "The harder I work the luckier I get."

The Other Offer

If it wasn't for my Mother (pictured above), I'd have accepted another offer to work for Clara Online (a Japanese company in Tokyo) to head their Taiwan-Japan operations. This offer was extremely attractive, making double what I would be making at IMP, Inc. I knew IMP, Inc. was the right fit, however. I often wonder how different my life would be and if PlaySay would exist if I'd have accepted this other offer. 

How'd I Interview without Japanese?

When there's a will there's a way. In my interviews with Japanese companies, I'd ask if there was a human translator available and if not, if I could bring one. I'd make sure to have the translator give me the interview question in English. Before-hand, I prepared many pre-scripted answers and memorized them in Japanese, which is exactly what I did after hearing the interview question in English. My pronunciation must have been horrible! Regardless, this showed my commitment to their language and culture. I also paid to have my entire online resume and personal website (pics of me skating are on it!) translated into Japanese.

Confession #2 - My Mother Got me my Job in Japan

Above is one of the pages of the pre-scripted responses I had prepared and memorized for my interviews. 

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Sign up for beta access to PlaySay's biggest product yet! http://signup.playsay.com


Confession #1 - I was a Functional Illiterate in Japan

by Ryan Meinzer


Confession #1 - I was a Functional Illiterate in Japan

If dropped in Spain, would you rather be able to speak and comprehend Spanish or be able to read and write it? I preemptively chose the former during my 2+ year tenure in Tokyo, Japan...and no one even knew!

Our best product yet will focus on advancing your speaking and comprehension ability in a foreign language. My first-hand experience asserts that this is more important than learning how to read and write in a foreign language.

Particularly for survival in a foreign country, speaking and comprehending the language is imperative. In my 2+ years in Tokyo, Japan, I can genuinely say that the only time I needed to read and write was for emails in business. With guidance software, however, it was a piece of cake. I could essentially type in the English alphabet what I wanted to write in Japanese, and it would turn it into the respective Japanese characters. For example, if I wanted to write, "house" in Japanese, which is pronounced "uchi", I'd write out "uchi" and the Japanese character would come up for me, "家". 

Confession #1 - I was a Functional Illiterate in Japan

Above is a letter I wrote to my neighbors in Japanese on my 25th birthday. There are quite a few characters that if presented to me without context, I'd have no ability to read them. Typing them out on a computer, however, wasn't nearly as challenging. I could type the word phonetically and be presented with a finite set of character options to appropriately match/select to replace such phonetic writing with its respective character(s). 

Confession #1 - I was a Functional Illiterate in Japan

Above is a better representation of my writing ability (few characters). In Japanese, there are three writing systems - Hiragana (phonetic), Katakana (phonetic) and Kanji (characters from Chinese).

Aside from emails, the only time that not being able to read and write was an issue was when I was at the restaurant with a menu full of Japanese characters. Ordering was trivial, however. If I had a preference of the type of food I wanted, I'd ask for their recommendations for such. If I didn't have a preference of what I wanted, I'd simply ask for their recommendations or for their most popular item. Discovering new foods was great and the most popular items were always awesome.

Instead of spending countless hours learning characters, I'd converse in Japanese with others to build my own character. My friends that were in full-time Japanese school were quick to show off their Japanese writing and reading skills. They weren't quick to start or become involved in conversation, however. They were passing their classes but failing in conversations. I, on the other hand, was a functional illiterate and nothing could stop me. 

Why don't current language learning solutions offer comprehensive speaking and comprehension training?

It's extremely difficult to accomplish through technology. At best, current solution's integration of speaking and comprehension training is for merely discrete vocabulary. No one speaks in or listens to discrete vocabulary in real life. In this post I mention Verbling's and Colingo's solutions for advanced learners to practice speaking and comprehension via face-to-face video chat online. In that post I outline the shortcoming of such solutions (particularly for beginner learners) that we will not have in our next product.

Our next product will be the first product ever to provide comprehensive speaking and comprehension training to beginner learners, who are the majority of the market (vs. advanced learners). 

No one can argue that the best method to learn a foreign language is to be immersed in the foreign language in the foreign country (what I was blessed to have in Japanese/Tokyo). Accomplishing such is merely a dream for most. The next-best method is conversing in-person in the foreign language with a native of the language. It's a shame that finding and meeting tutors is difficult, inconvenient and expensive. We're confident that you'll be surprised how our next product craftily breaks the barriers of these two methods whilst giving you the best of both worlds. Pun intended.

 

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Sign up for beta access to PlaySay's biggest product yet! http://signup.playsay.com

 


So Who are These PlaySay Guys, Anyway?

by Ryan Meinzer


So Who are These PlaySay Guys, Anyway?

Many ask who's behind PlaySay so here we are, exposed! In 2011 I was blessed to raise venture capital (VC) from the most active venture capitalists in the education space of the USA which enabled me to assemble a phenomenal team. We launched as a TechCrunch Disrupt Finalist in September of 2011 and are about to launch our best product yet on May 1st.

Ryan

So Who are These PlaySay Guys, Anyway?

By age 16, I had sold over $20,000 worth of kitchen knives to strangers. By age 21, I managed over 20 employees at a marketing research firm. Within one year of receiving my BBA and by age 24, I led the international business of a Japanese marketing firm in Tokyo, Japan with Fortune 500 and major multinational clientele. My areas of business expertise are sales, business development and management. By age 26, I founded PlaySay Inc. out of my own need to learn Japanese and had raised seed funding from the Director of PayPal, Japan. By age 28, I raised funding from the most active venture capitalists in the education space of the USA and had also closed deals with the largest foreign language learning publisher of the USA as well as the largest foreign language dictionary publisher of the world. I assembled a phenomenal team in 2011 and as a TechCrunch Disrupt Finalist we launched the world’s first method of communicating in a foreign language through pictures.

Ryan - LinkedIn | Personal Website

Bob

So Who are These PlaySay Guys, Anyway?

At PlaySay, Bob Laws unites his artistic, scientific, and academic experience in the development of innovative language-teaching concepts and products, including the visual language construction methodology that he debuted with PlaySay as a TechCrunch Disrupt Finalist in 2011. Bob graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University with degrees in Spanish and Linguistics, earning awards for his academic achievements in those fields. As an undergraduate, he conducted independent linguistic research on stroke patients at the Cognitive Neuropsychology Laboratory at Georgetown University Medical Center. He went on to earn his M.S. in Theoretical Linguistics from Georgetown in 3 semesters, with a 4.0 GPA. As a graduate student, Bob taught web design and development to teens looking for a future in the tech work force. He also created and managed web projects for Georgetown University, which prepared Bob to become the sole web content manager for the Society of Neuroscience. Both experiences held Bob responsible for content viewed by millions of users annually. Bob is fluent in Spanish and is an award-winning oil painter, selling paintings at auctions by age 18.

Bob - LinkedIn | Personal Website

Dan

So Who are These PlaySay Guys, Anyway?

While still a university student, Dan developed software for Lockeed Martin and Kona Blue, and created a new Linux process scheduler which improved overall operating system efficiency by up to 6%. Upon graduation with a BS in Computer and Electrical Engineering in 2010 from Rutgers University, Dan became the Lead Designer for RULost, the award-winning and bestselling iPhone App team from Rutgers University. Under Dan’s direction, RULost’s app usability received praise from students and faculty alike for its intuitive design and ease of use with an overall app rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. In 2011, Dan joined PlaySay and developed three major language-learning products while maintaining existing products from previous engineers. Dan uses PlaySay to maintain and improve upon the the three years of Spanish instruction he received in high school.

Dan - LinkedIn | Personal Website

Tony

So Who are These PlaySay Guys, Anyway?

Tony received a BS in Computer Science and Information Engineering in Taiwan and an MS in Computer Science and Information Engineering from one of the top three universities of Taiwan. He also received an MS in Very Large Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). His research experience includes speech signal processing, natural language processing, machine translation, and web application systems. Tony’s team won second place at the official 2011 CMU Facebook Hackathon. Tony has been studying EFL/ESL for more than 10 years and he is dedicated to developing software that helps people to learn a second language.

Tony - LinkedIn

Advisors

We work closely with our advisors, Randy Breen (CEO of SGN), Sameer Gulati (Sr. Product Manager at Zynga), Billy Leung (Sr. Producer at Zynga) and Chris Henley (VP of Engineering at Grockit).

Investors

We're angel-backed by the former Director of PayPal, Japan, Kevin Yu and are venture-backed the most active venture capitalists in the education space of the USA, Novak Biddle Venture Partners

Partners

We have partnerships with the largest language learning publisher of the USA, McGraw-Hill, along with another big name publisher to be announced on May 1st. 

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Sign up for beta access to PlaySay's biggest product yet! http://signup.playsay.com

 


The New Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

by Ryan Meinzer


The New Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

Above is a flyer for our company's first flagship product (since phased out), digital audio vocabulary flashcards for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Yes, that's JLPT written on my forehead (any random white guy is good marketing in Japan). In this post I'll thoroughly cover the JLPT and the changes to the test for all of our Japanese-learning users who still consistently ask us.

The (New) Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) 

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験 Nihongo Nōryoku Shiken), or JLPT, is a standardized test to evaluate and certify the Japanese language proficiency of non-native Japanese speakers. In East Asia, the test is offered twice a year on the first Sunday of July and December. In other regions, the test is offered once a year on the first Sunday of December. The test is administered by the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES) in Japan, and by the Japan Foundation outside of Japan. The four main sections of the test are vocabulary, grammar, reading, and listening. To pass the test, one must exceed the minimum acceptable score for both the total as well as each section of the test. The JLPT had a total of four levels until the end of 2009. Since 2010 the JLPT has five levels, with Level N5 the easiest and Level N1 the most difficult.

JLPT Level N1, N2, N3, N4, and N5

The JLPT now has a total of five levels, with Level N5 the easiest and Level N1 the most difficult. The test is designed to test anyone’s Japanese language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The four main sections of the test are vocabulary, grammar, reading, and listening.

JLPT Level N1 (formerly JLPT 1)

According to the JEES, anyone passing JLPT Level N1 has “The ability to understand Japanese used in a variety of circumstances.”

·      One is able to read writings with logical complexity and/or abstract writings on a variety of topics, such as newspaper editorials and critiques, and comprehend both their structures and contents.

·      One is also able to read written materials with profound contents on various topics and follow their narratives as well as understand the intent of the writers comprehensively.

·      One is able to comprehend orally presented materials such as coherent conversations, news reports, and lectures, spoken at natural speed in a broad variety of settings, and is able to follow their ideas and comprehend their contents comprehensively. One is also able to understand the details of the presented materials such as the relationships among the people involved, the logical structures, and the essential points.

JLPT Level N1

Kanji

Vocabulary

Listening

Hours of Study

~2,000

~10,000

Advanced

900 (estimated) 

Test takers are given a total of 110 minutes for the vocabulary, grammar, and reading sections and 60 minutes for the listening section. Historically, the lowest-scoring section of the JLPT is the listening section.

Check out PlaySay's JLPT N1 Vocabulary Companion App

JLPT Level N2 (formerly JLPT 2)

According to the JEES, anyone passing JLPT Level N2 has “The ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations, and in a variety of circumstances to a certain degree.” 

  •  One is able to read materials written clearly on a variety of topics, such as articles and commentaries in newspapers and magazines as well as simple critiques, and comprehend their contents.
  • One is also able to read written materials on general topics and follow their narratives as well as understand the intent of the writers.
  • One is able to comprehend orally presented materials such as coherent conversations and news reports, spoken at nearly natural speed in everyday situations as well as in a variety of settings, and is able to follow their ideas and comprehend their contents. One is also able to understand the relationships among the people involved and the essential points of the presented materials. 

JLPT Level N2

Kanji

Vocabulary

Listening

Hours of Study

~1,000

~6,000

Intermediate

600 (estimated)

Test takers are given a total of 105 minutes for the vocabulary, grammar, and reading sections and 50 minutes for the listening section. Historically, the lowest-scoring section of the JLPT is the listening section.

Check out PlaySay's JLPT N2 Vocabulary Companion App

JLPT Level N3 

According to the JEES, anyone passing JLPT Level N3 has “The ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations to a certain degree.” 

  • One is able to read and understand written materials with specific contents concerning everyday topics.
  • One is also able to grasp summary information such as newspaper headlines.
  • In addition, one is also able to read slightly difficult writings encountered in everyday situations and understand the main points of the content if some alternative phrases are available to aid one’s understanding.
  • One is able to listen and comprehend coherent conversations in everyday situations, spoken at near - natural speed, and is generally able to follow their contents as well as grasp the relationships among the people involved.

JLPT Level N3

Kanji

Vocabulary

Listening

Hours of Study

~650

~3,750

Lower Intermediate

450 (estimated)

Test takers are given 30 minutes for the vocabulary section, a total of 70 minutes for the grammar and reading sections, and 40 minutes for the listening section. Historically, the lowest-scoring section of the JLPT is the listening section.

Check out PlaySay's JLPT N3 Vocabulary Companion App

JLPT Level N4 (formerly JLPT 3)

According to the JEES, anyone passing JLPT Level N4 has “The ability to understand basic Japanese.”

  • One is able to read and understand passages on familiar daily topics written in basic vocabulary and kanji .
  • One is able to listen and comprehend conversations encountered in daily life and generally follow their contents, provided that they are spoken slowly.

JLPT Level N4

Kanji

Vocabulary

Listening

Hours of Study

~300

~1,500

Basic

300 (estimated)

Test takers are given 30 minutes for the vocabulary section, a total of 60 minutes for the grammar and reading sections, and 35 minutes for the listening section. Historically, the lowest-scoring section of the JLPT is the listening section.

Check out PlaySay's JLPT N4 Vocabulary Companion App

JLPT Level N5 (formerly JLPT 4)

According to the JEES, anyone passing JLPT Level N1 has “The ability to understand some basic Japanese.”

  • One is able to read and understand typical expressions and sentences written in hiragana, katakana, and basic kanji.
  • One is able to listen and comprehend conversations about topics regularly encountered in daily life and classroom situations, and is able to pick up necessary information from short conversations spoken slowly.

JLPT Level N5

Kanji

Vocabulary

Listening

Hours of Study

~100

~800

Beginner

150 (estimated)

Test takers are given 25 minutes for the vocabulary section, a total of 50 minutes for the grammar and reading section, and 30 minutes for the listening section. Historically, the lowest-scoring section of the JLPT is the listening section. 

Check out PlaySay's JLPT N5 Vocabulary Companion App

JLPT Revision as of 2010

The JLPT was revised since the beginning of 2010 to increases the number of test levels from 4 (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4) to 5 (N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5). Level N5 is the easiest level and Level N1 is the most difficult level.

JLPT Level N1

Approximately the same level as the current Level 1 test, but designed to measure slightly more advanced abilities.

JLPT Level N2

Approximately the same level as the current Level 2 test.

JLPT Level N3

Positioned at a level bridging the current Level 2 and Level 3 tests. (Newly established)

JLPT Level N4

Approximately the same level as the current Level 3 test.

JLPT Level N5

Approximately the same level as the current Level 4 test. 

The New Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

Level

Kanji

Vocabulary

Listening

Hours of Study

N1 (former level 1)

~2,000

~10,000

Advanced

900 (estimated)

N2 (former level 2)

~1,000

~6,000

Intermediate

600 (estimated)

N3 (new)

~650

~3,750

Lower Intermediate

450 (estimated)

N4 (former level 3)

~300

~1,500

Basic

300 (estimated

N5 (former level 4)

~100

~800

Beginner

150 (estimated) 

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Sign up for beta access to PlaySay's biggest product yet! http://signup.playsay.com

PlaySay in/for The Land of Opportunity

by Ryan Meinzer


PlaySay in/for The Land of Opportunity

PlaySay's vision is to enhance cultural awareness and international fellowship through language. In this post I'll share the inspiring stories of three of my great now-American friends who are living the American Dream. They have shaped who I am as a founder of a company that empowers people with what what these three friends of mine all acquired to accomplish their dreams - English.

Yasmine

PlaySay in/for The Land of Opportunity

Photo Credit: Colin Lenton, Philly photographer

After 22 years of living in the USA, Yasmine finally became a US Citizen last week. She arrived from Kuwait to the US when she was eight years old. Although she couldn't speak any English in 4th grade, she learned enough to assist her parent's in running their 7-11 store. In high school she added a few under-the-table waitress jobs to her repertoire to make ends meet for herself and family that was then without a Father. She continued working full-time to put herself through college. I met Yasmine in her 3rd hear of college at Temple University. She and I were studying Entrepreneurship and soon became great friends. I remember joking with her through college when she didn't know certain English words, grammar, spelling, etc. Fast-forward a few years. Yasmine just sold her first company, 123LinkIt. She's now a US Citizen and wrote about her journey today on her blog. Wow. I'm not going to comment on 'glass ceilings' but I can assure you I've witnessed her shatter through many. 

Nich

PlaySay in/for The Land of Opportunity

Nich moved to the USA from Kenya with his mother and brother in 1999. I remember befriending Nich in high school and understanding little of what he said. That didn't stop us from becoming great friends and laughing hysterically when we hung out (quite often). To pay his Mom's mortgage, in high school Nich worked 60-hour weeks at a nursery home. He would fold laundry for 10 hours straight throughout the night and come to school the next morning. When his Mom's health condition took a turn for the worse, Nich increased his hours to make up for the hours she couldn't put in. I'll never forget the imagery of Nich folding mounds of white laundry in the dark basement of the nursery home - where we'd pick him up in the morning (to go to school) or at night (to go to the club). By college Nich's English was superb and he began studying to become an anesthesiologist. Nich never stopped paying his Mother's mortgage and even put his little brother through high school. Nich attended college part time in the semesters that he needed to work 80+ hours/week to pay for himself, his brother and his Mother. In college, Nich was blessed with a child that he's been supporting. I was always in awe of how Nich managed the responsibility of someone more than twice his age. Fast forward a few years, Nich's graduated, a US Citizen, and happily practicing anesthesia. He goes home to the house he owns every night to meet his beautiful new wife. 

Adin

PlaySay in/for The Land of Opportunity

Adin was raised in Taiwan and eventually settled in the USA after his early childhood. Since becoming best friends in middle school, Adin became my first true window to outside the USA. Hearing him communicate in Mandarin Chinese with his Taiwanese mother intrigued me. Tasting her asian cuisine was equally rewarding. Hearing his father's business stories about Asia fascinated me. In high school, Adin and I decided to live in Taiwan for a summer to teach English. That was the best summer of my life. We taught English in Taiwan for another summer immediately after we graduated high school. In college, Adin proactively honed his bilingual asset and his incredible gift for industrial design. After graduating college, he started his career in Shenzhen, China as an industrial designer. Fast forward a few years. He's an award-winning designer. Adin is an incredible asset to the famous company he works for (Umbra) by managing the bulk of the manufacturing, production and distribution between the company's English-speaking headquarters in Canada and Mandarin-speaking factories in China. 

Other foreign friends of mine that have found success in English: Gunter (sold his tech company for millions), Peniel (PhD at Yale), Photis (CTO at a successful startup),  Tony (PlaySay's Backend Developer!), Yuki, Yuka, Pitchada, Kozue, Nao, Emiko, ...so many more!...

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App Successfully Submitted to Apple!

by Ryan Meinzer


App Successfully Submitted to Apple!
We made our deadline to successfully submit to Apple our latest and greatest app, PlaySay Survival! Congrats to the team (Dan, Bob, Tony, CollegeMobile), we must have each put in 100+ hours this week. 

In celebration of our successful submission, here's a leaked screenshot that somehow managed to get itself here.

App Successfully Submitted to Apple!

Can you guess what aspects of our product design principles (FRIES) and language learning methodology principles (PIES) this map implies?

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