Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nintendo DS

I bought a Nintendo DS awhile ago. This is, hands down, one of the most versatile tools for a student of Japanese. I was initially going to buy an electronic dictionary, but the DS was a superior alternative. The DS is like most game systems, where only a tiny fraction of the available software gets released in the States. However, in Japan, there is an extensive library of kanji-centered learning/study software. There is software for everything from simple quiz programs, to software for practicing brush strokes/order, to dictionaries, to software specifically setup for practicing for the dreaded Kanken exam. Electronic kanji dictionaries in Japan start at about $80, and ones with a touchpad/stylus like the DS start at about 3x that cost. The DS itself is a little more expensive here, but a used DS Lite plus kanji software would run about $100. Compared to the actual dictionary, this is way cheaper, plus it can do stuff dictionaries can’t—like play games. The only downside to the DS as a dictionary is that it doesn’t have an actual keyboard, but that’s quite minor since after about 40 minutes of practice, the stylus can be used just as quickly. There is similar software for Chinese and Korean, although not as much.

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