Posts Tagged ‘kanji’

How to write Japanese kanji – free instructional videos for the iPhone

January 20, 2009

If you have an iPhone (or video-capable iPod), and you want to learn how to write Japanese kanji characters, have a look at this series of free videos from Emory University that are available in the iTunes store. Just search for “kanji” and you’ll find them.

Emory University's Kanji Videos in iTunes

I’ve downloaded them all to my iPhone and they’re very good. My only gripe is that I can’t watch them at the same time as listening to music.

Side rant: in iTunes why isn’t it possible to 1) select a batch of videos and download them all at once, or 2) select a batch of videos at once to synch to the iPhone? For 100-odd videos it was a pretty tedious procedure. Grrr.

Learning Japanese kanji

January 20, 2009

Here are a few links that I found to help me learn Japanese kanji:

Denshi Jisho is the best Japanese-English dictionary I’ve found on the internet. Actually, it’s the only one. Once I found it I didn’t need to look for another. Particularly useful is the “find kanji by radicals” search, where you can select the various components that make up the kanji you’re looking for, and it gradually narrows down a list of potential candidates. Which is much easier than trying to draw the kanji with the IME Pad, specially for the more complicated ones where you have no idea what the correct stroke order is.

Wiktionary is good for looking up Kanji characters or phrases. It doesn’t give as much information as Denshi Jisho but the kanji pages often have a nice animated GIF showing how to draw them.

Read The Kanji and Kanji Box are both good for kanji training. At the moment I’m finding Read The Kanji more useful for building up vocabulary rather than actually remembering the kanji characters. Both allow you to select your skill level, and keep track of your progress so you can see how well (or badly) you’re doing.

Read The Kanji

For the iPhone and iPod Touch there are a couple of pretty good free dictionary applications: Kotoba! and WA. Both include built-in dictionary data, so they work even when there’s no internet connection. I tend to use Kotoba! more often, and only revert to WA when I want to look up a kanji using the SKIP method. It’s also worth mentioning that Denshi Jisho has a fully featured iPhone optimised version (which requires internet connectivity, obviously).

The iPhone and iPod Touch don’t (as yet) support Japanese handwriting recognition, but you can get around that by enabling the Chinese Traditional handwriting in the keyboard options. It’s not a perfect solution because there are differences between the Chinese & Japanese, but it’s recognised nearly everything I’ve tried to write.

Finally, this Bimoji (beautiful handwriting) training software (and others like it) could be a good reason to invest in a Nintendo DS (or the newer DSi). On the other hand they are all aimed at Japanese people, so they might be a little too advanced for my abilities and I’d probably only end up being able to write beautiful characters but not know what they mean.

Japanese homework

October 20, 2008

Japanese Homework

Nearly five months in Japan and I’ve just about managed to get my head around the the simple Hiragana and Katakana alphabets. Learning the Kanji seems quite daunting at this point. There are 80 of them in the first grade alone.

It’s quite frustrating to go about your everyday life being effectively illiterate.