Hiroshima-ken JET Jonathan Fisher, based in Kure, reviews various tools for learning Japanese, including books, websites, flashcards, podcasts and more. Tools are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the best.
By Jonathan Fisher
Rikaichan may very well change the way you surf the Web, particularly if you are already at an intermediate or higher level of Japanese fluency. Rikaichan is an add-on extension to the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, which, when activated, instantly translates any Japanese word moused over in the browser window into English, including verb tenses, idiomatic expressions, kana and kanji. Rikaichan is completely free to use, and since it relies on Professor Jim Breen’s JMDICT, KANJIDIC, and ENAMDIC dictionary database for its translations, Rikaichan is among the most reliable and comprehensive translators on the Web.
Rikaichan makes it easy to find cheap tickets on that Japanese-only website you’ve been trying to decode. And you’ll find that websites like http://maps.google.co.jp or those pesky seller profiles on http://amazon.co.jp, or even the comment boxes on those obscure Japanese band’s videos you’ve gotten into the habit of searching for on YouTube, are suddenly much more easily comprehensible.
In short, Rikaichan is one of those tools that I’m not sure how I ever went without for so many months in Japan. It’s about convenience, and the instant gratification of not having to thumb through a paper dictionary (or even key something into a search box!). It’s about satisfying your curiosity, when you think you know the meaning of a word, but you just want to double check —instantly. It’s about opening up vast terabytes of Japanese data on the Web and placing them within easy bounds of your comprehension, no matter what level your Japanese proficiency is.
Want to suggest a language learning tool for Jonathan Fisher to share with the JET community? Email him at wideislandview (atto) gmail (dotto) com.