Japanese iPhone spy game turns English study into exciting covert mission


When it comes to English language skills, Japanese people tend to be more book-smart. We learn English as a second language starting in elementary school, but it was only in April of 2011 that English became mandatory for elementary school students. Before that, English study began in middle school. As an island nation, there are a limited number of foreigners in Japan [1], and for the most part, you can pretty much live here without needing any other language except Japanese.

Of course a lack of practice invariably results in a corresponding lack of skills. And to help address Japan’s English problems, a company called Roll & Move is trying to make English learning more fun. How? Its app Choho-Listening E.I.A. (E.I.A. stands for English Intelligence Spying Agency) is encouraging users to become spies on a secret mission!



After starting the app, you’re welcomed by your secret agent boss who helps you jump into the plot. After some preliminary questions about your current English skills, you’re given a passport corresponding to your proficiency level. From there, you’re off on a secret mission to spy on people’s conversations and report back (answering questions about the conversation) to your boss about your findings.

With background noise and buzzing sounds, the audio environment seems very real. The illustrations and design of the app suits the exciting secret mission plot line, and the story settings motivate users to complete and study more. The app is not only fun but the content is very practical, created based on actual TOEIC problems.

Almost half the people I meet lament their lack of English skills. And admittedly, most study methods are pretty boring. But I definitely recommend this neat little app so aspiring students can say ‘Sayonara’ to English study of the coma-inducing variety.

  1. The total number of immigrants was 7.1 million in 2011, minus 2.3 million from previous year.  ↩