Android/iOS: Learning to read, write, and speak languages with their own character sets can be challenging to those of us used to Roman lettering, but Word Fireworks turns it into a game that's not just easy to get into, but compelling enough to stick with. You can see how the app works in the video above — you learn how to identify common words, speak them, and if there are special characters involved, the right way to draw them as well. Words and characters appear on screen as fireworks, and as you draw them correctly, say them, or match them with their meanings, you generate fireworks and put on your own display. You even unlock additional fireworks as you progress through the game.
Different languages have different focuses. For example, the Mandarin lessons focus on learning the right tones, while the Korean lessons focus on teaching you how hangul combine. The Japanese lessons walk you through katakana and hiragana to kanji, and the Hebrew lessons show you how to read print and handwritten characters.
By the time you're through with each lesson — or game, depending on how you look at it — you won't be fluent or anything, but you'll understand common characters and words, and be able to speak a few words and phrases. Consider it an initiation, but one with lessons that are easy enough to follow and gameplay that's just challenging and fun enough that you'll actually want to play.
Each language — Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Hebrew — will set you back $2.99 for your preferred platform, and there are apps available for iOS and Android at iTunes, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store. Best of all, once you have the app, that's it — no ads, no in-app purchases to unlock anything. Hit the link below to visit the homepage, and individual download links are here.