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Lesson Transcript

Peter: Top five tools for learning Japanese. Hi everybody! Welcome back to Japanesepod101.com. I'm Peter.
Jessi: And I'm Jessi.
Peter: Jessi, this is your first All About Japanese series lesson.
Jessi: Yes, that's right, I'm really happy to be here.
Peter: It's great to have you here. So, Jessi, can we have a quick introduction?
Jessi: Sure! I've been studying Japanese for about eight years, and I currently host the Lower Intermediate series at Japanesepod101.com
Peter: Well, it's great to have you with us. Today, we have a great list of tools to help your Japanese studies.
Jessi: Yes we do.
Peter: Now, these are tools that when put together are going to do wonders for your Japanese.
Jessi: And some of them will really save you a lot of time too, which is great.
Peter: And what's even better, is that they're all free. Free of charge, and easily found on the internet.
Jessi: Yeah. What could be better?
Peter: Okay, so let's get started.
Jessi: And before we get started, you can find all the links to the resources we'll be mentioning in the PDF, so make sure to check that out.
Peter: Jessi, what's the first one?
Jessi: The first one is called Rikaichan.
Peter: Now, Rikaichan is amazing. Imagine being able to read Japanese web pages, blogs, articles, before you can actually read or speak Japanese.
Jessi: Rikaichan makes this possible.
Peter: Every time you hover your cursor over a word in Japanese, you get a pop-up window that has the reading, and the translation.
Jessi: And it's really fast, so it comes up instantly.
Peter: You can probably imagine how helpful this is when you're trying to decipher your way through a page filled with Japanese.
Jessi: There's also another cool feature to it.
Peter: Yes, and it's so good that it actually comes next in our list.
Jessi: So let us explain a little bit -- when you use Rikaichan, by default it will look up entire words.
Peter: But if you're wondering about one Kanji character in particular, you can look it up in the Rikaichan Kanji Dictionary. Once you have your cursor over a word, you can press the shift or enter key to switch between the word dictionary, and the Kanji dictionary.
Jessi: And so this makes it possible to look up just the Kanji information.
Peter: And it gives you a lot of good information, too. The meaning of the kanji, all the readings, the stroke order, the number of strokes, the radicals that make up the Kanji, and more.
Jessi: So, this is a really good tool for picking up a lot of Kanji.
Peter: You definitely want to get Rikaichan. By the way, Jessi, what does Rikaichan mean?
Jessi: Rikai is a word that means comprehension, or understanding. And what they did was they added the name suffix, chan, to it.
Peter: Which gives it kind of a cute sound to it.
Jessi: Right, right, like a term of affection. The next one is an English-Japanese Japanese-English dictionary called Eijiro.
Peter: Eijiro is a dictionary that was put together by a group of translators, so the database is huge. There are so many specialized words and phrases in there that you'd have a difficult time finding elsewhere. It's really quite amazing. The stuff you can find in there? Unreal.
Jessi: Yeah, I agree, you can find a lot of colloquialisms in there, for example.
Peter: Another great thing about it is the amount of sample sentences.
Jessi: Definitely, there are tons of them in the Eijiro database.
Peter: If you want to get a feel for how a word is really used, then you can check out all the sample sentences.
Jessi: Now, you can either buy Eijiro in CDR format, or as a downloadable dictionary, or you can use it for free at the spaceALC website.
Peter: That's right, you can use this awesome dictionary for free.
Jessi: So definitely give it a try.
Peter: Put it in your bookmarks, probably be using it often.
Jessi: And next we have...
Peter: Anki, which is a flash card program. Anki means?
Jessi: Memorization.
Peter: In Japanese.
Jessi: Yeah, this one has gotten really popular lately. We hear our listeners talking about it all the time.
Peter: That's right. Anki is not just your regular flash card program. It's based on a method called spaced repetition. Now, this is based on research that tells us, when we learn new information, of course, it's important to repeat it over and over. But, the intervals at which we repeat the information also makes a big difference.
Jessi: The intervals that the flash cards come up at are carefully calculated based on this research.
Peter: So, you'll learn and retain new information effectively by using Anki.
Jessi: It's really easy to add words and Kanji that you want to study to Anki.
Peter: Yes. There are flash card decks that you can easily download and load into Anki. There are a lot of premade ones available. Some of them are grouped by JLPT -- Japanese Language Proficiency Test level. So, if you're studying for the test, this is an excellent tool.
Jessi: Or, what's great is that you can also make your own.
Peter: It's really customizable, making this a great tool. Okay, what do we have next?
Jessi: Lang-8.
Peter: Yes, I knew you were going to put this one in here.
Jessi: I really like this one.
Peter: No, Lang-8 is a really nice service. When you're studying a language, what's really important for improving?
Jessi: Practice.
Peter: That's right, actually using the language. This is what is really going to help you improve.
Jessi: Definitely, and that's where Lang-8 comes in.
Peter: What it is is a social network service that is centered around language learning.
Jessi: Right, the concept is really neat, I think.
Peter: It's really interesting. People who are studying a foreign language can sign up and start a journal in the language they're studying. So, for example, let's say I sign up and start keeping a journal in Japanese.
Jessi: Then, other users who are native speakers in that language you're studying can correct your journal entries.
Peter: So for example, Naomi-sensei, Natsuko-san, Sakura-san, can correct the journal that I wrote in Japanese.
Jessi: And then in return, Peter could correct entries that they will try and write in English.
Peter: So you have a native speaker looking over what you've written, and giving you feedback. So for me, I have a native Japanese speaker looking over my material and giving me feedback, and me as a native English speaker, I can look over foreigners writing English and give them feedback. And the service is free.
Jessi: And there are also communities that you can join to talk about language, culture, interests, and more.
Peter: What's great is that it works for any level. So even if you're just getting started in Japanese, it would be great practice.
Jessi: Definitely. And also, the feedback you receive is really valuable too. So we recommend signing up, writing something in Japanese, and seeing what kind of feedback you get.
Peter: Alright, so we hope you'll take advantage of these great tools and all they have to offer.
Jessi: We've tried them, and so we know how good they are, and that's why we're passing them on to you.
Peter: Remember that the links for all these sites and programs can be found in the accompanying PDF file.
Jessi: So let us know what you think of them too.
Peter: If you have some other resources you'd like to share, you can always stop by Japanesepod101.com and share them with the community.
Jessi: Okay, and that wraps up this lesson. See you next time!