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Viewing Japanese Text
Many of the links in the Bristol Japan Club web site are to sites written in Japanese. If you are using a computer with an English language operating system (without Japanese language support) you will be able to view the text displayed in a graphical format but not the ordinary text which will appear as meaningless symbols. Of course, if you haven't mastered kana (the Japanese phonetic script) and kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japanese), the Japanese characters will be meaningless symbols anyway but that's another story...

In order to view Japanese text properly your computer's browser software (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator) will need to be able to handle Japanese characters. There are links on this site to web pages which deal with this subject in detail (for example Jim Breen's Japanese Page) but if you are using an old version of Windows you will need Microsoft Global IME:

Microsoft Global IME (for older versions of Windows)
The Japanese Input Method Editor for Windows 95, 98 and Me, together with the necessary Japanese Language Support, can be downloaded free from the Microsoft Internet Explorer web site. There are also free downloads for other Asian languages. This will enable later versions of Internet Explorer to handle Japanese characters so that you can read all the text properly on Japanese web sites. You may need to download the latest version of Internet Explorer (also free) before you start.

The Japanese IME software will also allow you to send and receive e-mail in Japanese in Outlook and Outlook Express and to type in Japanese in Microsoft Word 2000 or later. 

If you have Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP or Windows Vista as your operating system the IME download is unnecessary as there is built-in Asian language support. The Japanese IME can be accessed and installed easily from your hard drive or the Windows CD. Open the Control Panel from the Start menu and go to Regional and Language settings to make the necessary adjustments. The newer versions of Windows (XP and Vista) and Office (2003 and 2007) have much better support for Japanese than the older versions.


Learning Japanese - Useful Links
Here are some web sites which could be helpful to anyone learning Japanese. Some provide online Japanese lessons, others contain (or give links to) resources such as dictionaries, software and other material.

JapanesePod 101
Free daily podcasts for learning Japanese to listen to online or download to your computer or mp3 player. There are lessons at beginner and intermediate levels as well as culture classes and survival phrases. The lessons are free but for a small monthly charge you can also download written notes and transcripts of the lessons and gain access to the Learning Centre. Highly recommended.

Jim Breen's Japanese Page
Jim Breen is a professor at Monash University in Australia and has a keen interest in things Japanese. This page lists many links to computer software, translation, dictionaries and educational resources. There are also some Japanese culture links. An essential site for those wanting to learn Japanese with help from a computer.

Jim Breen's WWWJDIC
This is Jim Breen's excellent Japanese-English dictionary server, a huge and growing dictionary and kanji database. Allows you to search by English or Japanese keywords, search kanji by radicals and type or paste Japanese text to translate.

An online Japanese-English dictionary with a different approach. This is more specialized - for example, it includes a long list of Japanese baseball terms - and contains detailed definitions, examples of usage and illustrations. 

Hiragana Times
The paper publication promotes itself as a "cross-culture communication magazine from Tokyo" and contains articles of general and topical interest in English and in Japanese with furigana. The bilingual format makes it a useful learning aid for both English speakers learning Japanese and Japanese speakers learning English. The web site is unfortunately not an online version of the magazine but lists the contents of the current month's issue, details of parties and events and subscription information.

This site is an extremely good kanji-learning resource. It includes very versatile kanji flashcards with the ability to keep track of the kanji you have learnt and those you don't know as well as a Kanji Map, in which you can choose a kanji (or let the program choose it for you) and see its compounds. Best of all is the mediator - this lets you paste Japanese text or view a Japanese web page and have a pop-up reading and English translation for all the kanji when you place the mouse pointer over them.

Kanji SITE
Another very good kanji-learning site, particularly for levels 4, 3 and 2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, as the kanji are grouped with complete lists for each level  and examples of readings and compounds.

Japanese Online
Free online Japanese lessons from Pacific Software. This site teaches beginners Japanese language and culture through the everyday experiences of an American family living in Japan. The dialogues are in romaji for the first 5 lessons, then in kana with downloadable sound files. English translations, grammar notes and vocabulary lists.

Space ALC
Home Page of the ALC company who publish language-learning books. This site includes information on learning Japanese and English, Mini Lessons, extracts from the Nihongo Journal magazine (a very useful aid to learning Japanese, especially at intermediate level) and an easy-to-use Japanese-English/English-Japanese online dictionary. There is also an English Language section.

Joyo 96
Online lessons in the Japanese kana and kanji scripts and book recommendations for further study - the web site is heavily plugged. This site is still being developed but although it has been operating since 1996 only the Grade 1 and some Grade 2 kanji are covered.

Teach Yourself Japanese
A very thorough introduction to the Japanese language for beginners with helpful grammatical explanations, tuition on hiragana and katakana, vocabulary in categories such as numbers and dates and exercises to help it all stick in your memory. The approach is slightly more academic than that of most web sites at this level so you are more likely to feel you are gaining some real knowledge instead of just learning lists of words.

Kanji Class
Links to online dictionaries (including Jim Breen's), translations, chat boards, career information.

Japanese Val Balloon
Free online Japanese lessons from Val, who apparently came from Andromeda to research the earth, landed in Tokyo and lived as a Japanese woman. A strange creature indeed and sometimes Val's English is equally bizarre. However, the Japanese dialogues with grammar lessons and exercises are more reliable and the site is fun. You can even submit your answers to the test questions by e-mail.

Java Kanji Flashcards 500
The 500 most commonly occurring kanji in flashcard format. Includes stroke order, on/kun readings, compounds and English meanings. The cards are both viewable and printable.

Chiron's Survival Japanese Course
Free lessons in conversational Japanese for beginners with animations of kana and basic kanji.

Pera Pera Penguin's 5 Minute Japanese Class
Free lessons for beginners from the Daily Yomiuri. Lively presentation and helpful explanations of grammatical points. It is downloadable in Adobe PDF format with an attractive layout. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader 4 (or later) and the Japanese font from the Asian Fonts Pack, both available as free downloads on the Adobe web site.

CosCom Japanese Language
Publishers of text books and CD ROMs on Japanese including Essential Japanese Verbs and Japanese At Once. The lessons here are generous extracts from the books comprising grammar, vocabulary, dialogues and verb tables, complete with audio.

The Japanese Page
Still being developed but already useful for beginners and intermediate Japanese language students, this site has basic grammar and vocabulary lists, a pronunciation guide with sound, a "word of the week" with suggested usage, hiragana lessons and a Japanese Culture section. There is also a list of 1000 kanji with a guide to which kanji are necessary for each of the 4 levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

Pop Jisyo
This site offers something similar to Rikai's Mediator facility but in some ways even better. Like Rikai, you hover your mouse pointer over a Japanese word to see its definition in English together with other information such as stroke count and on/kun readings. There is also a downloadable shareware program for offline use (you have to be using Windows 2000 or XP with the .NET framework for this) and the option to purchase the full (more versatile) software for 15 US dollars. Very impressive, even though it sometimes assumes the wrong word to translate.

Kanji Step
Free Japanese language teaching material including pronunciation guide with sound files, practice tests for levels 4 and 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and 10 lessons teaching 100 basic kanji.

The Association for Japanese-Language Teaching produces the popular Japanese For Busy People series of textbooks. This site includes useful online supplements to the JFBP books with practice dialogues at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels including sound and pictures. There is a Doki Doki Dokkaan game for vocabulary-building, online crosswords in hiragana and sections on Survival Japanese and Learning Japanese Through Kanji. Well thought out and well executed - all in all an excellent site.

Kanji Gold
This is a download site for Dr Denton Hewgill's excellent (and free!) kanji flashcard program, which is organized by grades as used in Japanese schools.

Kanji-learning site with reading passages at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Click on the kanji for readings and explanations. There is also a list of grammar points for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and advice on study techniques for the test.




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