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Reviews of Japanese Instructional Sites - 03-17-2010, 02:38 AM

MMM and Nyororin had a great idea for a thread, and it builds off (in a more productive and positive way) from the last thread on a similar topic.

Let's have a thread where we review sites that purport to teach Japanese! This way, if people have questions about what sites to use to supplement their learning, they can come check here for the good, middling, and bad.

Ground Rule(s)/Guideline(s):
1. DO say why you think a site is good or bad.
2. DO NOT just say "this site rawks" or "turrible site."
(more to be added as we think of them)

Remember, the goal here is to be honest and unbiased in our reviews.

I'll start off in the next day with a review of 123japanese.com and try to make amends for my incendiary comments about it by being a bit more fair and constructive in my criticism. I may do a review of Tae Kim after that unless someone else does it first. I think it's only fitting that our #1 go-to site gets reviewed soon.

Even if you don't want to review a site, perhaps suggest it in the thread, and I can add it to the list of sites to review!

REVIEWED SITES (click to go to review)
KanaQuest.com (thanks, MMM!)
Renshuu.org (thanks, Columbine and BenBullock!) and see Nyororin's followup
Core 6000: Mastering Intermediate Japanese (thanks, DriXnaK!)

Sites to Review
123japanese dot com
Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese

Last edited by KyleGoetz : 03-18-2010 at 05:10 PM.
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03-17-2010, 08:21 AM

One of our members has this site in his/her signature:

kanaquest.com

I am finding the simplified explanations on this site turning what would be a chapter in a textbook or an hour in a classroom into three or four sentences more negative than positive for new learners (or for veterans like me, really).

A fourth Japanese writing system is romaji, which as you might guess, is Japanese script in Latin characters. This is used as a step to Hiragana, or just for understanding written Japanese without having to know Japanese characters.

Romaji is not a Japanese writing system. Yes, many Japanese companies write their names using the alphabet. However that does not mean that the alphabet is a major player in communicating in Japanese.
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Reviews of Japanese Instructional Sites - 03-17-2010, 05:51 PM

An excellent idea - I look forward to future posts in this thread. Thanks everyone for sharing
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03-18-2010, 04:17 AM

I'd be interested in what people make of renshuu.org - personalized studying for Japanese vocabulary, kanji, grammar, and more!.
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03-18-2010, 12:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenBullock View Post
It looks interesting. For me I find the kanji review sections a bit crowded and too much like trying to read a dictionary but they do provide a lot of information. Some of the vocab lists look a bit funny; not sure I'd put しゅうへんas the first word to learn at beginner's level, and nor would I translate it as "grove, small woods" so that makes me suspicious of the accuracy. However the example sentences all seem to use it correctly.

Which brings me to a navigational glitch- plenty of words are listed with "No example sentences are available at this grammar level," but there are if you figure out to click the 1,2,3 page buttons to the right. I like that you can rate the examples and that they have a hover over function for the kanji in them.

It's quite clever how you can set up the testing options to suit yourself, but it's a bit annoying that if you don't first specify all the kanji you know you can't jump to filling in the blanks, and it'll give you things like 間ちがえる instead of 間違える.

Interesting how it follows a text book. I think it could overall be a good support for people using the textbooks, but I do wonder a little about copyright. On the other hand, it's not got clear, explicit grammar lessons.

Overall I like the look of it, but it might be overwhelming for a beginner to use. Certainly you need a bit of experience with Japanese and some nouce at using websites to get the best out of it and the support of a textbook would be recommended.
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03-18-2010, 03:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Columbine View Post
It looks interesting. For me I find the kanji review sections a bit crowded and too much like trying to read a dictionary but they do provide a lot of information. Some of the vocab lists look a bit funny; not sure I'd put しゅうへんas the first word to learn at beginner's level, and nor would I translate it as "grove, small woods" so that makes me suspicious of the accuracy. However the example sentences all seem to use it correctly.
After seeing the comment about しゅうへん, I just had to go and see what sort of definitions they were giving for things.

Just in the first lesson, there were quite a few very very strange "definitions" for words that I find it quite hard to believe should be introduced to a beginner.
For example, the しゅうへん(周辺) Columbine pointed out...
もっと being defined as gold, money, metal.
きょうきゅう(供給) being defined as day/sun.
いりょう(医療) as birth.
ほしい(欲しい) as cooperation...

And it goes on and on. I have NO idea where they are coming up with these definitions, and would suggest avoiding at least that part of the site.

A site for studying that defines 勉強 as "attendant" has some serious problems.

ETA; I really can`t stop laughing at it. 釣る is "child" and 車 is "go down"! Please look at the list for some great raised eyebrow and head shaking fun. One or two mistakes is one things, but this is almost 1 out of every 5.


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Last edited by Nyororin : 03-18-2010 at 03:25 PM.
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03-18-2010, 11:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyororin View Post
もっと being defined as gold, money, metal.
きょうきゅう(供給) being defined as day/sun.
いりょう(医療) as birth.
ほしい(欲しい) as cooperation...

And it goes on and on. I have NO idea where they are coming up with these definitions, and would suggest avoiding at least that part of the site.

A site for studying that defines 勉強 as "attendant" has some serious problems.

ETA; I really can`t stop laughing at it. 釣る is "child" and 車 is "go down"! Please look at the list for some great raised eyebrow and head shaking fun. One or two mistakes is one things, but this is almost 1 out of every 5.
I almost think someone's used a double translation. Maybe Japanese to chinese to English or something. Or else someone's abused the open edit system. Certainly flags that not enough native speakers are policing the content.

As far as I can tell (I didn't spend that long looking), however, the Genki lists and Minna no Nihongo lists are correct.
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03-18-2010, 11:25 PM

kantango

This is a resource more than a lesson site. The main section is a search engine/dictionary. If you sign up (it's free) you can create word lists and access other people's by clicking on 'provider'. I recommend "Brookes" which is a university and has plenty of lists from the Basic Kanji series and Minna no Nihongo plus some poetry for interest. I mostly use it as my go-to quick stop for looking up kanji. It's about 95% accurate, but occasionally i need to double-check for nuance.

GOOD POINTS:

You can input romaji if you don't know the hiragana or kanji
It holds the majority of common Japanese names, which is useful, although it does give you EVERY name option, so in cases where you've no hiragana and no idea how it's pronounced it can come up with 20 options.
You can create flash cards and custom quizzes
You can access other people's word lists and quizzes.
No ads; it's clean and easy to navigate

BAD POINTS:

You cannot look up the kanji if you only know the english word.
You cannot search by radical
Sometimes the definitions are a bit abstract.
It can be time-consuming to make lists.
Not a great teaching tool, but a good support for learners with other materials.
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04-29-2010, 09:41 AM

I posted a link to an "ilegal" site so I deleted it! Sorry

Last edited by poputpsa : 04-29-2010 at 05:20 PM.
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04-29-2010, 01:43 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by poputpsa View Post
There is this site with a lot of stuff to download that have anything to do with japanese. E-books, CDs, Movies, language learning programs...
hope it's helpfull...
This thread is for reviews, not generic links.

And while that link looks good, it's also rife with illegal stuff. I don't think JF wants to link to illegal stuff. I suggest a mod delete your post.
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