Apple’s iPad announcement has (finally) arrived blessed itself upon me, and of course, my first thoughts (besides when can I spend my money on this) are “How will this make Japanese learning better?”
Of course, the iPad is poised to change the way we learn in a lot of ways (textbooks, learning games, etc), but since Japanese is one of the most popular languages to learn out there, and because those that learn Japanese tend to be a lot more tech savvy than, say, those who learn Spanish (take that, Spanish!), there’s going to be a huge amount of Japanese + iPad potential as soon as it comes out in March (or April, if you want the 3G enabled one).
iPad Applications for Japanese Learning
One of the coolest things about the iPad is that you can use any iPhone / iPod Touch app and scale it up to fit the iPad (and apparently it looks pretty good). That means you have access to every Japanese learning app that’s already on there, not to mention any new apps that take advantage of the iPad.
The application that I’m most excited for (pictured on the right, above) is a Smart.fm (or Anki) application. Right now, I don’t feel like the apps will translate as is to an iPad version very effectively. They’ll work, but everything’s going to be HUGE. Too huge. There is, however, so much potential for an iPad-only version of the Smart.fm app. Especially if you get the 3G version of the iPad, a Smart.fm app would be perfect for vocab study on the go – much more usable than the iPhone / web versions.
Besides this, though, I’d love to see more (and I’m sure I will) in this space, including apps that let you practice writing kanji right on the screen, and more. What apps would you like to see specifically for the iPad? I could see some good potential for language exchange applications, though they couldn’t be too “typing” intensive.
After the iPad goes mainstream, nobody will ever pick up a regular, old textbook again. Why? Not because you can read text on the iPad. That’s dumb (even with the ability to swipe pages around on screen). Although it won’t happen immediately, Textbooks on the iPad are going to be way more than textbooks. I don’t know what exactly publishers can do with their books for the iPad right now, but here is how I imagine it (and if this isn’t the way it works, then there will be apps!).
Imagine, you open your textbook, but it isn’t just a textbook. You touch a word in Japanese, and you can hear the audio of someone speaking it. You want to see the stroke order for something, and you can just click on it (and even practice writing it right on the screen). Better yet, there are interactive question / answer section, which allow you to write in your answers, take notes, and more. How freakin’ cool would that be. Beyond just text, you have audio, video, interactive activities, and much much more. Learning via textbook will no longer be so boring and one-sided. It will be dynamic, and there will (actually) be potential for people to use Textbooks to self teach themselves something.
Of course, one of the reasons I’m really excited about the iPad is because I feel like it could be a perfect vessel for my own Japanese teaching / learning site, TextFugu. In terms of Japanese Textbooks, TextFugu already has a lot of the features I’ve listed above, though the iPad would give it so much more sexy! So, anyone know how one would / should learn how to make iPad applications / where someone amazing could be hired?
Writing Kanji On The iPad
Right now, you can write kanji into your iPhone / iPod touch. But it sucks. It kind of sort of works, but it’s too small and writing with your finger is a bit tough. With the iPad, I feel like there’s a lot of potential for applications that are just for practicing kanji writing. Now, I’m not sure about the differences in learning with your fingers and learning with a pen, but if the iPad was coupled with a stylus (like the Pogo for example), I could see a lot of good things happening in regards to being able to write in Japanese on the iPad. Various applications could help you practice writing kanji, tell you if you’re right or wrong, and help you write more beautifully (unlike the above example on my iPhone). Not to mention, with a pressure sensitive screen, you could practice you calligraphy as well.
If There Was A Camera…
Who knows, maybe there will be… there is, apparently, a spot for one (though my bet goes on iPad version 2 having a camera). If there was a camera, think of how easy it would be to talk to someone in Japan and practice your Japanese? Of course, you can do this with your laptop, but the reality is that most mainstream computer users still have trouble (or are just afraid with) using a camera on their laptop. With a device like the iPad, all this gets streamlined (software, hardware, etc) and therefor everything just works better. The mystery would be removed, and applications / websites could be made just for the iPad to help make culture and language exchanges happen. When things are made really easy and convenient, a lot of people use them, and I think there’s a lot of potential there for the iPad making this work.
Also imagine taking classes on the iPad. Lots of advancement has been made in this field, and the iPad is the perfect place to take advantage of this. Of course, most online classrooms run in Flash, and we all know that Apple doesn’t really like those lazy bums at Adobe.
What Would You Like To See?
I know I’m missing some things, but that’s where you come in. What Japanese learning tools would you like to see on the iPad? There’s so much that can be done with a product like this, especially if when it goes mainstream with the public. I’m super excited for what the iPad can do for Japanese learning (and education in general, really). What about you?
P.S. Have you seen the original Japanese iPad?
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