Electronics for Learning
More non-Region Coded Devices
As discussed before there are a handful of devices like the NDS that doesn’t have region codes, however there are a lot that does. Movies and players are the big contenders that you might be interested in that may be hard for you as a beginner to obtain. I remember being told to Amazon.jp when I couldn’t figure out the process or told to Google.jp when I didn’t recognize anything. It can seem frustrating when you don’t know at least some keywords to get you closer to your goal.
DVD Players: Luckily there are a lot of people out there who realized this and started to make cool sites like Flutterscape where you can purchase items like this dvd player to play all your Japanese discs. To boot you can also buy a lot of shows and movies too, all in English if you’re a bit worried when money comes to play. Ebay also can sometimes have items, but as with both, it can sometimes cost you a pretty penny. While all in all you could befriend someone in Japan (native or non) who could buy and ship you what you want, using paypal. Being resourceful at this stage in your learning can have a huge impact in the end.
The great thing is, you really don’t have to buy a dvd player from Japan to play Japanese movies. Luckily people like Sony have realized this (and only me now! haha) and have quite a few number of models to play any region. Here is some information taken from the buyer’s guide for Bargain Offer‘s website for their dvds.
Region 1: USA and Canada
Region 2: Europe, Japan, The Middle East, North Africa Egypt, Hong Kong
Region 3: Taiwan, The Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong
Region 4: Mexico, South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Caribbean
Region 5: Russia, Eastern Europe, India, North Korea, East & West Africa
Region 6: China
While they have a great number of dvd players to choose from, you can go the extra mile and choose region only coded dvd players. Though in this case, I don’t see why. If you plan to buy Blue Ray, well, expect to pay a pretty penny as that technology is still new.
PC Games: While the games themselves are not really region coded, meaning you can buy a game from Japan and you can play it on your computer, simply buying the game from your target country is really all you have to do. Some MMO’s don’t even require that. Downloading the game and changing the ui is very simple, like with Eve Online and Second Life. Both of those MMO’s have a large Japanese player base.
A great way to tackle your non native pronunciation is recording yourself. This is just one way to use handy recording devices. Lost at what to get? Well, though you could get an old fogy cassette player/recorder and blank cassettes, this is really a much slower process.
A great device to work with is your PC. You already have the recording software built into it, I’m sure. MS’s “Sound Recorder” comes standard with all the major MS OSes, and though I don’t own a Mac, I’m sure they have a simple recorder too. There are great programs like Audacity as well, that makes recording a lot more fun (more on Audacity later)
A lot of phones out there today also have recording abilities, as well as niffty little digital recorders that you can buy as cheep as 20 or so bucks from Wal-Mart.
In the end, you simply want to record yourself and compare it to a native saying the same thing. Its nice if you can replay both audio multiple times to you can hear what you need to improve on. A lot of people may even be surprised to find they don’t sound all that wrong, just little things here and there that make the difference in sounding Japanese or sounding foreign.
A great tip on comparison recording is to lead into what you want to say. For instance, if you’re wanting to check how you say a word like “元気” you might want to do a whole sentences or words before and after like “こんにちは。元気ですか？”. It’s the same with English. When we separate words, often times we will say them differently than when they’re stringed together in a sentence. If you’re focusing to hard on one word, you could be doing it differently anyways than if you were doing a whole sentence.
Luckily you don’t have to have a special anything to play mp3s from Japan on your English mp3 player. There are so many ways to get mp3s cheap and easy that I wont even go into it. Here are some tips though on using your mp3 player.
- don’t buy something expensive when you can buy something cheap that does exactly what you need. (Ipods are awesome, but if you’re needing something basic, iPods are just too expensive and often filled with a lot of features you’ll never use.)
- gauge how long you’ll be away from your computer and base your size on that. (I’m never away for more than 3 hour stints usually with the occasional two-day trip to relatives, so I have a very small size mp3 player with the option to add in an sd card.)
- headphones can make or break your mp3 time, so make sure they’re comfortable and wont easily fall off (ear buds can be especially difficult for some of us. They now make around the ear ones that are still small.)
Headphones and other Devices
If you’re one who has to constantly have headphones on while at the computer, I’m sure you can understand that the excessive usage can really start to hurt you if you don’t have something nice. Here is where I support the splurge idea. Of course, my splurge was only 50 bucks when I got an awesome set a month ago. Plantronics makes a few really nice and inexpensive headphones that come with mics. This is really nice for those long hours skyping/recording your audio/listening to your music/videos, ect.
If you’re suddenly finding yourself needing them and have never worn them before you can work yourself up to longer hours. It’s like wearing hats for the first time, they can sometimes cause headaches, make your head feel a little weird where the pressure was, and sometimes if they’re crappy enough actually pinch and rub you raw. Start by just putting them on for short bursts like 10-15 mins, and taking equally long breaks from them. Soon you can find yourself working up to longer hauls.
Tablets: If you’ve never heard of this wonderful device you might be happy to know about it. While it can be used in many applications for learning Japanese, its 100% frivolous and unnecessary. But we all know how we like to have those kinds of things! Tablets are expensive. There are a few cheaper ones though if you’re really itching to have one. I just happened to have one beforehand due to drawing and such on photoshop and mine cost me roughly 100 bucks.
For sites like Scritter using a tablet can make it really nice. For a lot of kanji recognition software out there it is also very useful, as using a mouse can sometimes be a little awkward and wouldn’t represent how your hand would move exactly anyways. But I definitely wouldn’t recommend this expensive item until you’ve proven to yourself you’re going to stick with it in the long haul.
I personally recommend Wacom’s tablets as they’re awesome (and I have one ). They have a sleek awesome line out now that does all sorts of things and you might even find yourself never using a mouse again anyways.
Keyboard: I often hear people asking me how in the world I type in Japanese with my English computer and keyboard and why I don’t have a Japanese one. Well, honestly you don’t need to go out and get a Japanese keyboard when Mac and PC’s already have the ability to use inputting methods to produce that lovely Japanese text.
Going all out and getting one that is English/Japanese isn’t too hard either. They sell them on Amazon as well as all over the place. If you’re feeling particularly tinkerish, you can always set your current keyboard up too and buy stickers or use whiteout/marker to mark them.