Nintendo DS – My Japanese Coach

Nintendo DS – My Japanese Coach

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  1. The My Japanese Coach game for Nintendo DS is designed to teach absolute beginners Japanese in a quick, fun, and relatively easy manner. Japanese for centuries has been thought to be one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn for non-native speakers. With two syllabaries (Hiragana and Katakana) plus nearly 2,000 Kanji (Chinese Characters), the writing system alone takes many a long time to master and requires consistent review to maintain, especially with the Kanji.

    My Japanese Coach begins by presenting simple Japanese, with an explanation, in Romaji (the Roman alphabet used in English). As the user moves up in levels, Hiragana and Katakana are used, and so forth.

    Through a series of games, designed to force repetition without losing momentum or fun, the user can build vocabulary and accurate usage quite quickly, but this game may not be hugely beneficial for those who are currently in classes for Japanese.

    The game tries to explain the difference, in a very simplified way, between the use of casual (informal) and polite (formal) Japanese. It actually specifies that in most circumstances you will use formal Japanese, which is great for adults but may make forming friendships a bit awkward for children and teens. Additionally, without a means of understanding casual Japanese more completely, the user will have difficulty applying what they learn from My Japanese Coach to understanding anime and manga; both of which are full of colloquialisms as well as casual Japanese.

    Users who already have the basics down will be pleased when they first turn on the game. The user is presented with a type of quiz that assesses their current understanding. Users that get through the quiz quickly and accurately will be skipped ahead to a more difficult level, so they are not forced to go through the basics as with some other learning programs (i.e. Rosetta Stone). Using earbuds or headphones while listening will help improve pronunciation as well, since some Japanese sounds are difficult for non-native speakers to hear clearly and then reproduce.

    The grammar and usage explanations seem a bit simplified, so users should take care not to consider these explanations as the only true uses of the grammatical structures and vocabulary. However, overall, for a true beginner or someone who does not have access to Japanese classes or native speakers, My Japanese Coach would be a great tool to help build vocabulary and improve listening and speaking skills.

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