Japanese is notorious for being one of the hardest foreign languages to learn as an English speaker (alongside Arabic, Chinese and Korean). Not only it is radically different to English, with very little similarities to our own mother tongue, but the entirely different writing system can make it a real nightmare to learn. Yet the question, “how do I learn a foreign language?”, has, unfortunately, a multitude of different answers and there isn’t one simple way of learning a tongue from far-away lands. You could, of course, by just a textbook and learn it yourself, but in this day and age, with our modern technology, there must surely be a more effective and exciting way of learning some conversational Spanish before your trip to the Costa del Sol or, in this case, some Japanese before that big business trip to Japan.
Human Japanese, which has been featured on the front of the App Store, believes that it can help you learn Japanese in a new and intuitive way. At a mere $9.99, it’s certainly less expensive than the options out there (such as Rosetta Stone, which starts at $179 a level) but does a bargain price equate to quality?
There are a huge number of ways to learn languages out there, from $500 software to classes to free translators. You can find software for any language you want, from Spanish to Urdu. It’s really a matter of personal preference how you choose to learn, but chances are that no matter what your learning style is, there’s something out there for you.
Today we’ve got a roundup of a variety of apps (from $5 – $500) as well as some utilities and little tips and tricks. I’ve tried to include software that is available in a variety of languages, so be sure to investigate further if a particular app seems like a good fit.
Our sponsor this week is Translate Tab, an awesome way to access Google Translate right from your menu bar.
Translate Tab is a super slick menu bar implementation of the popular Google Translate service. You can translate words, phrases, paragraphs or even entire sites into 57 different languages without leaving your desktop.
If you frequently work with or communicate in several languages, you simply can’t beat the speed and convenience of having one of the most popular translation services right in your menu bar. It’s really nice to be able to open Translate Tab quickly from any other app, grab your translation and get back to what you were doing without even messing with a browser.
Go Get It!
Language learning has traditionally been quite a mundane task involving dense, boring textbooks and pointless grammar and vocabulary exercises. People only really learnt a language simply because they either had to at school, or because it was required by their employer.
However, last week I went into my local bookstore and I thought to myself that the demand for language learning must be there. There was a whole corner of the bookstore devoted to language learning, from Afrikaans to Zulu and the more popular languages such as French, German and Spanish often had whole bookcases to themselves – there must have been at least 5 different kinds of courses for each language.
People must obviously want to learn languages; otherwise bookshops wouldn’t be filling up their shelves with courses. But is learning a language out of a book now history? Can a computer really help us with some conversational Spanish before that trip to Madrid? Or maybe that big meeting with those investors from Germany?
Well, Rosetta Stone believes it can. It uses a technique called dynamic immersion, which is an intuitive new way of learning a foreign language and one that is radically different from all other programs.
It has certainly got a loyal fan base: NASA and the European Union both use it to teach foreign languages and the company offers a six-month risk-free guarantee on all their products, meaning you can return them within six months of purchase without any problems if you’re not completely satisfied with the results.
Rosetta Stone teaches a foreign language in the way babies start to learn talking: by listening to their parents and repeating every word they say and by relating words to pictures, much like during infant development. This method may seem a bit dumbed down for us adults, but I gave the Russian version of Rosetta Stone (a language which I had prior to this write-up absolutely no idea about) a go to see what the results were like. Read on for my full review.
Learning a foreign language is never an easy task. Especially for someone that has grown up speaking English his entire life (with the exception of a few Spanish classes in high school). Besides taking classes in school there are some other ways to learn another language. Books and software are the most common methods now days.
Human Japanese is one of those software methods. It is, however, much more immersive than the standard memorization method you may find in some books and other software applications. It does teach you terms and phrases but really aims to help you actually understand the language. For a language like Japanese this is no easy task, but it is essential.
I’ve taken Human Japanese for a spin to see how this application works.