This project speculates that critical app design has enormous potential benefit to contemporary language education. By combining sight, sound and touch, apps can provide an interactive and engaging learning experience. The target language chosen as a case-study for this investigation is Japanese, with the area of focus being onomatope, one of the most challenging aspects of Japanese. Onomatope refers to Japanese onomatopoeia and mimetic expressions. These words may depict sound, feelings, movement and physical conditions, and are frequently used in casual speech and manga (Japanese comics). They are especially difficult to learn because many of them are not directly translatable.
Onomatopet offers a playful approach to learning onomatope. Users discover onomatope in manga-style scenarios with a pet character. The scenarios are based on settings in Japan to ground the language in cultural context. By interacting with elements in the scenario by touch, onomatope appear together with audible pronunciation. The full experience with sound is demonstrated in the accompanying promotional video.