What might a family of three choose to do for fun? Play board games? Travel? No, that’s far too routine! How about using technology to learn a foreign language which has no apparent similarity to their native language? Now we’re talking! :)
In my recent past, I was employed by a Japanese-based company for nearly a decade. During that time I engaged in self-study of the Japanese language using various tools which were then available. I gained enough proficiency to be able to communicate in a basic way with the Japanese-speaking persons at the company. Since I’ve moved on from that company however, those skills I worked so hard to hone have fallen into disrepair. The old adage is true: ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it.’
Recently, however, my family and I have decided to take it upon ourselves to learn the Japanese language to the point of fluency. While this is indeed a daunting task in itself for a family of three to undertake, there are many more resources available now for someone interested in learning this language. Additionally, I already have a foundation of knowledge both in the language, and in knowing how to learn a language. So, how hard could it be? :)
In the past, the majority of the learning tools available were written material, sometimes accompanied by audio discs or cassettes. Now, digital media has brought much value to the realm of language learning. With so much to choose from, the first step was to slice through the sea of materials, apps, and methodologies in order to determine which of these tools we would choose to employ.
During our search, we discovered an Android app called “Human Japanese.” The app itself seems to be styled as an interactive textbook: there are chapters and reviews, but also audio clips, hi-res photos, and ‘ingredient’ lists which break down every sample sentence in great detail. Upon inspection, it turned out that they also had an iOS app and a classic Windows program (now also and a Windows 8–a.k.a. ‘Metro’–app). Coincidentally, at the time of our search the producers of “Human Japanese” happened to be looking for individuals who would be interested in reviewing their software. We signed up right away and earned a spot (or three) to review their “Human Japanese Intro” program as a family!
From time to time we’ll post our observations, our current level of knowledge, and how the program either meets or falls shout of our individual needs. In the meantime, here are some sample images of the classic Windows desktop program to whet your appetite.