Home Previous Columns Book Reviews Other Articles Reader Response Links






Kanji Clinic #43, The Japan Times, September 18, 2003
gA trove of kanji-learning treasure in cyberspaceh


Vacation is over and kanji learners at schools around the planet are once again cracking the books. Increasingly, they and their teachers--as well as self-directed English-speaking kanji learners of all ages--are supplementing paper-based publications with online learning resources. Today, Kanji Clinic invites you to join its Third Annual Cyberspace Treasure Hunt, a quest for kanji-learning gems on the Web.

Many of you who have gone hunting with us in the past may now be regular visitors to gold favoriteh sites we dug up then. Two of these help foster a passionate habit that is shared by most successful kanji learners: daily reading of their target language. At gRikaih (www.rikai.com) you enter the URL for any Japanese language homepage and zap! --the pronunciations and meanings for every kanji in the text pop up on your screen. gFuriganizerh(www.furiganizer.com) returns your desired Japanese URL with furigana (mini-hiragana written above kanji to indicate pronunciation). Talk about convenient. Tedious kanji look-up in paper dictionaries while reading for pleasure is becoming a thing of the past.

Daily reading of Japanese online is an ideal way to help prepare for the upper levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), to be held this year on December 7. (Test takers in Japan have until tomorrow, September 19, to postmark their application. Deadlines at international sites are also fast approaching. For details see www.jees.or.jp/jlpt/en/index.htm).

The gKanji Siteh (www.kanjisite.com) is a popular meeting place for JLPT test takers on levels 2-4. Sadly, for those of you preparing to sweat through the Level 1 test, the online pickings are slim. But gThe Internet TESL Journalh(http://iteslj.org/v/j/), which has multiple-choice vocabulary games featuring advanced level Japanese vocabulary, is a valuable resource. A list of the 114 nongeneral-use characters that may come flying at you on your Level 1 exam is available at www.kanjiclinic.com/extra114.htm

Slime Forest Adventure (www.lrnj.com), downloadable freeware, should appeal to anime and video game fans who aim to master kanji and kana. In this fun game, you need to learn the shapes and English keywords for 250 characters in order to successfully complete a princess-rescuing adventure.

If it turns out your kanji penmanship is not up to snuff, proceed to gGahohh (http://gahoh.marinebat.com). At this cyber-classroom, you can watch nearly 2,000 characters being drawn (not all at the same time, however) in correct stroke order in QuickTime movie format. Gahoh also provides a handy Romanized list of the Japanese names for the traditional 214 radicals used in kanji dictionaries.

Joining the old-timer gJAVA Kanji Flashcards 500h (www.nuthatch.com) is the new gKanjiLearnh (www2.gol.com/users/jpc/Japan/Kanji/KanjiLearn), offering what appears to be the largest stack of free online English kanji flashcards available--2,135.

For some high-octane kanji-learning inspiration, take a peek at the online writings of an American-born naturalized Japanese citizen Arudou Debito (aka David Aldwinckle), at www.debito.org. This man publishes in Japanese on a variety of topics and gives us a glimpse of what the payoff can be for dedicated kanji study.

In case you have never done so, now is the time to consume the 12-page introduction to James Heisigfs best seller, gRemembering the Kanji Ih (Japan Publications Trading), at nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RK4/RK%201_sample.pdf. Whether you love his ideas or loathe them, attempting to punch some holes in Heisigfs reasoning will force you to take a hard look at the ways you are currently spending your kanji-learning time and money.

Finally, mark gKanjiClinic.comh (www.kanjiclinic.com) on your cyber-kanji treasure hunting map. Recent additions include: reviews of electronic kanji dictionaries, information in English on the Kanji Proficiency Exam (Kanken), and new, thought-provoking responses from kanji learners worldwide. There you may also read any of the previous 42 Kanji Clinic columns you have missed over the past two and a half years, including the first two annual reports on Internet kanji learning. See you at the Clinic!

To view the first two annual reports on Internet kanji learning, go here and here.