Sunday, 30 March 2008

Better Late Than Never

Ok, I've just about stumbled over the ten month mark of living, working and breathing in Japan.

I had an epiphany today and I thought it might be an interesting idea to learn a bit of Japanese. You know, seeing that I'm living here and stuff.

While the gf drops a few choice words into my vocabulary (no, not swearing at me, although those are the ones I'm most open to learning), my retention of words doesn't quite sink in all the time. I can understand how those kids feel learning from a scary monster foreigner like myself.

One of the cool things about a DS in Japan is that it's quite possible to run educational programs as well as games on the machines. Crazy I know.

In Australia, a DS is just for kids, but here you wouldn't be surprised if some elderly person was busting some moves on one. Maybe that isn't THAT surprising, since it's also quite common to see adults reading manga comics on the train, some quite explicit.

The range of software here is pretty amazing. Not only can you get Mario Kart, but there are Kanji training, english learning, cooking and exercise ones too.

While the kanji ones are geared towards japanese speakers, I feel like these are totally out of my league.

For now I'm motivated to learn the japanese alphabets, Hiragana, Katakana and maybe a few of the 2000 most common Kanji.

I found a cool, free application that runs on the DS called Project JDS 1.30. The original website was down when I tried, but you can try downloading directly from here.

Another program worth looking into is Kana DS. At the moment, it's still in alpha release, so it's not a complete application but it looks promising and has a nice interface.

Finally if a commercial application is desired and you're at the say, "infant" level of japanese like me, Ojaru-Maru DS: Ojaru to Okeiko Aiueo looks interesting and simple enough.

The original site (in japanese) has a demonstration video here. Just click on the orange box that looks like it has a propeller on top, at the top left hand side of the site.

It looks like a very steep learning curve attempting japanese, but I hope I can stick with this.