J-blogger buddy Thomas from Nihonhacks has recently told me about his latest venture, which is sure to excite Japanese (or any language) learners out there. Traditionally, if you wanted to get audio for something, either it would be there or it wouldn't (and then you'd be out of luck unless you found someone to record something for you, which doesn't sound like much fun to me). Enter stage right: RhinoSpike.
The idea behind RhinoSpike is pretty simple and unique (nobody that I've seen has ever done this before).
- You submit text that you want to be read (theoretically by someone who knows what they're doing with the particular language, like a native speaker).
- Someone Records the audio for your text and uploads it to the site.
- You can then listen to the audio, download it, and use it for practice.
Pretty neat idea, right?
How To Use RhinoSpike To Learn Japanese
Although the service is brand new (at the time of writing this), there's definitely a lot of potential for using it to practice your Japanese. I'm sure the service will grow and change over the next couple months, but there are a few things that probably won't change for a long time.
- RhinoSpike Will Be Great For Longer Texts: No doubt about it, RhinoSpike's main talent will be longer texts, like blog posts, newspaper articles, paragraphs from novels, etc. There's no point in asking people to read single vocabulary words (you can get single words read on Smart.fm or something like that), not to mention it would be a big waste of time. Go for the longer (but not too long) texts. Newspaper articles will be pretty popular, I imagine. You'll get a lot more out of things like that, especially if you have to wait in line for someone to get to your text.
- Use It With Lang-8: RhinoSpike is pretty much just the audio version of Lang-8 (one of my favorite Japanese learning resources). Put your text into Lang-8, get it corrected over there, and then add it to RhinoSpike to get it read out loud. That way, you're getting the reading/writing practice and the speaking/listening on top of it. That's a pretty whole picture right there.
- Use It With Smart.fm or Anki: If you're getting something recorded that's full of words you don't know, put those words into Smart.fm and study the words separately. Then, when you come back to the RhinoSpike recording, you'll be able to get a lot more out of it.
- Make Friends: Although the social aspect of RhinoSpike is pretty clunky right now, there's a lot of potential to make friends and find language partners through the service (you can do the same thing over at Lang-8, too). Help a lot of people by recording English text for them, and I'm sure karma will be good to you.
- Look Forward To Archived Content: This is going to be one of the most valuable aspects (and perhaps the most costly for RhinoSpike in the long run) of RhinoSpike. There's going to be thousands upon thousands of archived recordings to study with. Why submit something new when you could study with a thousand other recordings that are already done? This is going to be the best part of RhinoSpike, though it will be a while before these build up. I also imagine that displaying these recordings in a simple, consumable way will be another challenge that RhinoSpike will run into, so enjoy things while they're still small and organizable!
RhinoSpike is new, and has a long way to go, but the longer it takes for people to use it, the longer it will take to develop, I'm sure (so go give it a try!). I've tried the service out a bit, and it works well, getting the job done. I may even see if I can get some recordings for my Japanese Textbook TextFugu and see how that goes. As you use it, I'm sure the developers would love to get some feedback too (and I'm curious what you think!)