Learning Written Japanese with Interactive Multimedia Assistance

David Inman


The Japanese Education Ministry has funded a project, described here, to assist non-Japanese in learning to read and write Japanese. The aspects of the project which relate to the use and effectiveness of interactive multimedia are described here.

The hypothesis we have been testing is that computer assistance can significantly enhance the ability to learn complex scripts such as Japanese. Even for native Japanese to learn the writing system takes about a decade, and non native adult learners report this being a major problem area. To test this hypothesis software has been built that allows students and teachers to interact electronically using proprietary multimedia enhanced email. Whilst such communication takes place, we record quantitative aspects of the interactions. Questionnaires have provided qualitative feedback.

Any language learner needs considerable context in which to situate their learning. Multimedia can provide context, and interactivity allows a more active learning role to be taken. By adding these elements to the immediacy and cost effectiveness of electronic communication, we believe the language learner can derive considerable benefit. The system is described here, together with some results of our trials.


Computer-assisted language learning, email, Japanese, multimedia, distance learning.

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