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Setting up a High-Tech Language School?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the effective-use-of-technology-to-enhance dept.

Communications 332

Bakerybob writes "My wife and I are currently setting up a small Japanese language school, and I am in charge of all of the technical aspects, with a small but not tiny budget. What would Slashdot recommend as technologies we could use to improve the student experience (and hopefully to interest more students in the school!)? We have the easy bases (free Wifi access for students, a stunningly poorly designed homepage, and a few cheap computers lying around for them to play on between classes) covered, but I'm sure there are a lot of better ideas out there. Has anyone used Moogle? What about online lessons via webcam? Give it your best shot, revolutionary thinkers!"

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Ask.Slashdot: We'll do your work for you! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120115)

BakeryBob [mailto] writes "My wife and I are currently setting up a small Japanese language school, and I am in charge of all of the technical aspects. I haven't done a lick of homework so I thought to ask all you slashdotters to do my work for me. What would Slashdot recommend as technologies we could use to improve the student experience? Has anyone used Moogle? What about online lessons via webcam? Give it your best shot, revolutionary thinkers!" There, that last bit of brown nosing will get some answers. I hate work!

Re:Ask.Slashdot: We'll do your work for you! (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120241)

Maybe use some of the money to hire a consultant that might actually know something. I mean seriously, you have read slashdot before haven't you?

Re:Ask.Slashdot: We'll do your work for you! (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120322)

1. Come up with a very basic idea with no details.
2. Ask Slashdot for opinions.
3. ???
4. Profit!

Seriously, does he want us to write his business plan for him?

Re:Ask.Slashdot: We'll do your work for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120376)

I'm thinking about constructing a device with wheels and an internal combustion engine which will serve to convey people to and from places. I'm thinking about calling it an automobile. Does anyone have any ideas, feedback, suggestions, donations?

PDAs (2, Insightful)

b0lt (729408) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120122)

Give/rent the students iPaqs running Linux. They have a huge "awesome" factor, and are useful too :)

Re:PDAs (1)

Sewer Panda (812292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120159)

Even just having PDAs loaded with eBooks on topics that are relevant to your material would be a huge help. By having the course material with them all the time (without the back breaking weight of most backpacks filled with books), they will appreciate their classes more.

No Brainer, you need to check out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120484)

Rosetta Stone., they have online delivery or CD-ROM. Their product will likely serve you perfectly.

Nothing to see here... move along (0, Offtopic)

Dejohn (164452) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120123)

Offtopic I know, but why do I seem to be getting the message "Nothing to see here... move along" on the newer articles at first these days?

Re:Nothing to see here... move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120145)

You need to clear your cache.

Re:Nothing to see here... move along (1)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120300)

First of all parent is right. And no, it has nothing to do with cache. Second of all, if this is 'off-topic' here, then where the fuck is it on-topic? This is not a fucking forum, you know. He has to post it somewhere!

How about a disappointment booth? (2, Insightful)

greenmars (685118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120126)

How about a big disappointment booth for your students after they spend all that time and money learning Japanese and then they find out that Japanese companies don't want to hire them (they hire Japanese) and non-Japanese companies don't want to hire them (they'll hire Japanese)? (from bitter, bitter experience and many wasted years in college)

Re:How about a disappointment booth? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120147)

I thought "Japanese language school" meant a school that was taught in Japanese, for non-english speaking Japanese living over here.

I guess it could be a school for teaching the Japanese language.

I'd recommend the submitter first take a few courses in effective communication skills.

But then, those who can, do.. Those who cant, teach.

Re:How about a disappointment booth? (1)

TheHonestTruth (759975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120408)

And those that can't teach, teach gym.

Shamelessly biting School of Rock,

Re:How about a disappointment booth? (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120181)

Hey, greenmars. I don't mean to rub salt in a wound, but there will always be companies out there that hire american japanese speakers. You're right that they'll probably give preference to native speakers, but nobody said your PRIMARY function would be speaking japanese. That could just be a nice secondary thing that might encourage the company to pay you a lot of money to be overseas for them.

Re:How about a disappointment booth? (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120249)

Right. You could be a secretary for the actual translator. Then your primary function would be to get coffee, collate, and if your boss isn't good, to convert Engrish [] into English.

How's this for a "rest of the story"? (3, Interesting)

greenmars (685118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120327)

When I moved to the Big City after graduation, and I started sending my resume to places looking for Japanese language proficiency, I got a call from a lady who worked for a Japanese airline's local office. She asked if she could take me out to lunch. I was suprised and happy. Then she spent the entire hour telling me why I should look for some other kind of job because of how badly the Japanese bosses were going to treat me and how almost no American could take it. Then she paid for the lunch and left. I took her advice and got into the computer biz with no looking back. Still, I do think about all that time and energy I spent learning Japanese, living in Japan for a year, and I wonder if I could have spent it taking classes that would have been more useful for my present life.

Oh sure (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120217)

Everyone knows the only reason to learn any language is to make money. I'm sure they're fleecing every one of their dedicated and greedily idealistic young pupils.

Are you insane? You opened up the door to an entire world of culture, literature, games, movies, and people, and you're saying you wasted your years? Also, I mean, come on, how much of those years did you actually spend studying japanese? About a fifth of each, right? One class out of five.

The "in" language is Mandarin (ugh). (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120248)

Like you, I much prefer Japanese society over Chinese society [] . However, the "in" language these days is Mandarin. China is exploding in growth, and Japan is still stagnant.

If you want to build a profitable language school, then I suggest that you build one that teaches Mandarin. Also, teach the mainland version of Mandarin. The version in Taiwan [] is outdated.

By the way, please do visit the web site (for Taiwan) that I listed above. It has been updated with new information from "The New York Times". 4.3% of the Taiwanese have permanently moved to mainland China. (No. I'm not "inventing" this statistics. Just visit the web link.)

One of the largest employers of Mandarin-language-speaking Americans is the U.S. State Department. It cannot trust Taiwanese immigrants but will trust native Americans (i.e. anyone born in the US and considering herself to be an unhyphenated American). The State Department needs Mandarin speakers to catalogue relevant information that is gleaned from Beijing's press and Taipei's press. Beijing is a foe, and Taipei is a foe pretending to be a friend.

Re:The "in" language is Mandarin (ugh). (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120343)

Unlike you, some of us make decisions about what we want to learn based on what we like and prefer, not based on how it will fit with world equilibrium. Also unlike you, some of us don't spend every waking hour thinking in terms of friends and enemies, and good versus evil. Do you ever think you'll grow out of this, or is it in you for life?

Re:The "in" language is Mandarin (ugh). (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120404)

I, too, prefer Japanese society. How can anything Beijing has done compare with the Nanking massacre or the biological experiments of Unit 731? Don't forget the "comfort women" while you're at it.

Re:The "in" language is Mandarin (ugh). (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120461)

equivalent of Nanjing massacre = 228 Massacre (February 28, 1947)

The 228 Massacre was a rampage in Taiwan by Chinese soldiers, arbitrarily shooting, raping, castrating, and decapitating the natives of Taiwan. 30,000 people died.

Re:How about a disappointment booth? (1)

FesterDaFelcher (651853) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120332)

The school is IN JAPAN, so these people are already working over there. The school teaches language and culture, so that the Razy Amelicans can learn to fit in better.

Re:How about a disappointment booth? (1)

greenmars (685118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120366)

Yeah, that'll work. (Again, from long bitter experience.)

You assume they want gaijin to fit in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120410)

Why the hell would you make that assumption? Japanese society can be about the most racist on earth.

But since they're not caucasian, we give them a pass.

Easy (1, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120128)

Make sure you instar rinux on arr the computars, kekekekekekeke

Re:Easy (0)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120364)

That is hilarious. I'm trying not to smile - but I can't stop myself.

Re:Easy (1)

JoeNiner (758431) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120448)

Specifically Berry Linux, and give out the live CD's for the students to use at home, AND... Show them how to use Japanese language email.

Make more money! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120130)

In Japan, only old people go to school.

Access to Japanese Newsgroup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120138)

Check out alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.asian

They can learn some special japanese there. ;-)

Extreme Language Courses (2, Funny)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120150)

You need to offer Extreme Language Courses.

What you do is give them a few hours of very basic vocabulary training, then drug them and transport them to a part of the world that predominantly speaks that langauge, and only that language (ie if it's Japanese, drop them off somewhere in backwoods Japan). Give them a few yen to get started, and leave them to their own resources.

When they show up at your door (possibly armed), a few months down the line, they will have a far greater command of the language in a short amount of time than they could ever have gotten under direct tutelage. THEN you collect your money, plus the yen you invested in them earlier.

This is BY FAR the best way to learn a language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120186)

Last January, I was travelling through Argentina with a friend of mine who fell ill, and had to go to the hospital and go home.

He was the guy that spoke Spanish. I knew a little, and ended up continuing on with the trip for another week and a half. And guess what - I did fine. I was get around and continue on into Chile. Not that I spoke Spanish 100% of the time; the fact that many people spoke English was very helpful. But I did learn quite a bit of Spanish, never having taken it in school.

fond memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120218)

hehe...that's pretty much how I learned Icelandic

Re:Extreme Language Courses (1)

XPisthenewNT (629743) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120363)

As an English only speaker whose been to Japan, it's amazing how far you can get with no, yes and hand gestures. To make things even easier be able to ask for the bathroom in Japanese (mimeing bathroom antics is a little gross) and of course know how to apologize profusely in Japanese for when you do offend someone or you just fail to communicate with them entirely.

Computers and education (4, Insightful)

bludstone (103539) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120157)

Do yourself a favor. Dont waste your money on computer stuff for a LANGUAGE class. Most of the language programs out there simply wont help the kids do any better.

I know there has been this massive rush to get computers into everything-education, but its simply not needed.

The tech you need is a good language teacher, some dictionaries, and maybe a few textbooks/workbooks.

Maybe a japanese->english english->japanese dictionary could be useful, but even then it could make for some seriously lazy students. But I imagine those kids already know about babelfish.

Maybe I'm being shortsighted, but I feel that, in this specific case, computers would be more of a distraction then a benifit.

Re:Computers and education (1)

deemzzzz_k (826129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120226)

I completely agree. I have tried both in class and software language trainign. The lanugage software can only help in areas such spelling or testing but is not worth it.

I have also participated in corporate training (in english) where 60% of the students were from Asia and the EU. In this case, translation software and/or website were of big help.

When engaging in conversation, students do not have time to open up a paper dictionary and asking for definitions can be both embarrasing and disruptive. A quick online translator allows the student to keep up while making sure they're not missing anything.

If anything, let them use automatic translators during conversation practice and maybe...maybe have some software for them to practice on after class

Re:Computers and education (2, Insightful)

nkh (750837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120320)

Most so-called educational software suck, be it for japanese, polish, chess or cooking. A computer is a fast calculator and to me it should only be used as a very fast electronic dictionnary.

My dream would be a japanese class where I could speak for hours (I'm serious!) with real life people. Speak and practice! that's what I miss the most because in the end, it's always some guy speaking alone (and this guy doesn't really care, he's the teacher, he has nothing to learn...)

Re:Computers and education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120477)

You should look into the University of Pittsburgh. Five days a week, one hour each day of Japanese-language only immersion. Two hours of lecture in English. Great emphasis on spoken fluency and acheiving spontenaity. The course books are a little dated but you'll come out with strong language skills.

I only had two years of study, but when I was in Japan I ended up as the translator for my group of friends (except for reading signs, Pitt's program is a little weak in kanji until the fourth year, when you start reading newspapers) and received honest praise of my skills (Not just the typical "nihongo ga jouzu desu nee").

They have summer intensive courses... ten weeks of six hours a day instruction. It's hell, but it's worth it. I found myself using and thinking in Japanese more than in English during that period of time.

You can learn grammar from a book. But only spoken conversation can teach you proper intonation, rhythm, and the general ability to sound _natural_ when speaking. The Pitt program is a little slow; it's not until after completing the 2nd year that you will be able to have good conversations, due to vocabulary and grammar, but either you'll be a rather good speaker or else you will have failed out.

There's a breakthrough point where one finally stops translating in their head and just starts speaking the language. For some unlucky people, that can take a long time. So yes, there's no guarentee. I barely pulled a C- my second semester. Of course, breaking through that barrier came to me from a spoken conversation. My teachers are astounded at the comeback I've made. Don't give up!

Re:Computers and education (1)

SenorPez (840621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120447)

I taught an ESL class for some Hispanic students for a semester, and while I had intially wanted to leverage the school's computer network for resources, I found it wasn't worth the trouble.

Instead, the simple "use" of the language proved to be the most important part of the experience. I had the benefit that the students were immersed in an English-speaking culture, but you can take advantage of that too. During classes, instruct your students that they are not allowed to speak or write in anything but Japanese. Forbid even the use of computers as translators during class discussions. And teach them the Japanese equivalent of "I don't understand" ASAP. By eliminating the translator-crutch, you force them to build logical connections between the English that they know and the Japanese that they don't. Using a computer just teaches them that they can always look up a word they don't know.

If you do want to provide technology, I would suggest only allowing the students to use it while doing homework assignments and projects. Those are instances of students building a vocabulary. But when it comes to using that vocabulary in conversation, technology can hinder the language development.

Good luck!

How i learned english (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120160)

Reader Rabbit

So to learn Japanese... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120260)

... you suggest Leadel Labbit?

Don't ask us (2, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120162)

You're going to need a lot of fancy gadgets. They should be at least 1-2 years ahead of the gadgets you can get in the US.

Set this [] up as the home page.

force them into using it (2, Interesting)

qwp (694253) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120163)

set all of the computers to be their foreign langauge. So that when they go to use a computer it will always require them to use their knowlege.
Computers are only tools, in school we have to learn how to use our mind as a usefull transparent tool By forcing the students to use their foreign language they will understand things better and quicker. ;)

Minor Advice (2, Funny)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120164)

Don't hire a firm with a name like "Poodle Productions" to do your website [] .

Well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120166)

Of course you'll want to install rinux.

ala Austin Powers 3 (1)

paughsw (620959) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120167)


Anime (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120171)

Could probably make it interesting by getting some anime and manga to use for study.

I wonder what the educational value of hetai is..

VoIP to speak with live native Japanese speakers (2, Interesting)

GGardner (97375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120183)

Maybe you could set up Skype or other VoIP systems and find some real, native Japanese speakers to pratice with.

Better yet... (1)

GodBlessTexas (737029) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120228)

Find a school in Japane that teaches English and setup video conferencing or VoIP with them. That way they can practice their English and your students can practice their Japanese. Being able to interact with native speakers is key to learning a language and actually retaining it.

Anime... (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120185)

Set up a nice big TV with a DVD anime collection there. I took Japanese in HS but forgot most of it out of disuse and plain boredom. If I had access to that kind of stuff as a kid I would have been a LOT more motivated.

I'd also layer some artwork on top of various letters and let the kids make up their own stories for them.

ie: (That's Ku I think) drawn sort of like O and calling it a "Ku ku bird" makes the memorizing muuuch easier.

I'd also throw in some songs... my favorite was. Heh...
Hitori, futari, sannin INDIANS.
Yonin, gonin, rokunin INDIANS.
Nananin, hachinin, kiyuunin INDIANS.

(Slightly non-PC) :-)

Re:Anime... (1)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120307)

"Ku" is written as a
Google Images for pictures.

Re:Anime... (1)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120330)

*sigh* Firefox seems to be handling that message with the utmost care...

Ku is written as a "". Check google images for "Hiragana Table".

Re:Anime... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120409)

slashdot does not do anything beyond 7-bit ascii.

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120188)


English school (4, Interesting)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120189)

How about a broadband connection to a computer in Japan where there are people in a similar age-group who are trying to learn English?

Microphones and webcams are pretty cheap. Yahoo Instant Messenger is probably more than adequate for your communication needs.

Have the Japanese-speaking people speak as much English as they can, and have the English-speaking people speak as much Japanese as they can.

Nothing beats talking to a real human.

Re:English school (1)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120273)

By the way, I'm in Minnesota and it's about 4:00 PM Friday here, and it's about 7:00 AM Saturday in Tokyo.

So it might be slightly difficult to coordinate schedules for an hour of conversation - but not impossible.

Japan discussion listings. (1)

Chatmag (646500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120190)

Good luck with your project.

You could check our Japan [] discussion and chat listings for some online help.

My suggestion (2, Funny)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120191)

Robots. Tiny, round robots that brew coffee in their chests while teaching you Japanese. Get them started in on the culture early.

Question to the submitter (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120198)

Are you going to be offering graduate level courses in tentacle rape or only the standard undergrad curriculum?

Tech-Oriented Faculty (1)

NotTheEgg (839387) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120199)

In order for this kind of venture to pull through, I'd suggest making sure that any faculty you hire in the future have lots of experience with the kind of technology required to keep the whole operation running. Specifically in the type of telecommunications you're talking about, because I'm sure that teaching classes via webcam would be much different than teaching in a traditional classroom. Too many things like this fail miserably due to teachers and staff that havn't the slightest clue how to use the tech given to them to it's full potential.

More details, please (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120201)

setting up a small Japanese language school

Is that a school in Japan, or a Japanese language school in the US (or elsewhere), or a school where all the classes are taught in Japanese?
I 'think' youre talking about a school where Japanese is taught as a second language (spoken? written?), but it's not entirely clear.
Define 'small'. 10 students? 50, 100?

small but not tiny budget

Define 'small' budget. $500, $500, $50,000?

What about online lessons via webcam?

What kind of classes? Some types work better, some don't. Teaching Japanese might fit into the "don't" category (resolution and frame rate).

It's not entirely clear what you are trying to teach, or what problem the 'high tech' solution is supposed to fix.

Re:More details, please (0, Flamebait)

Liquiddarknessvi (758831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120482)

You are a moron

Technology not always the answer (1)

Staplerh (806722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120203)

Sounds very interesting. I've been through a period of intensive language school before, albeit for French. In my personal experience, especially for beginners, your money would be best spent on small class-sized personal instruction. We did some technology work and it was not as effective - perhaps for an intermediate learner once the bases are covered, but I found it could really lead to problems. I did enjoy parts of the computer-based portion, but found other parts to be useless. My French accent was truly horrible, and that was partially a result of me speaking to a computer and checking my results myself - sounded fine to me, but apparently makes a native French-speaker cringe.

That being said, there are a few things that a good language program can have:
(1) If speaking, have an ability to hear your own voice to ensure that you have the right tone.
(2) If speaking, make sure the teacher can hear the tone, to ensure it is correct.
(3) If typing, make sure the computer isn't overly sensitive.

Not sure how you type in Japanse, but it could be hard with all the various characters - I have a friend taking Japanese right now and it is effective. Spent a while reading to him from his reader book, which was fun but probably could be a good use for a computer - preparing for a test. But once again, you really need a human being to pick up on the accent if your trying to produce fluid speakers.

Just my opinion. Good luck with your language school!

Re:Technology not always the answer (1)

masukomi (229249) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120371)

you type japanese just like you type english, except that it's phonetic, you use roman characters which the computer converterts into the corresponding hirigana, katakana, or Kanji. They do NOT have keyboards with 3000+ keys or anything else equally insane. Typing it is damn simple. Now writing it, as in with pen and paper, that's a different matter alltogether.

Re:Technology not always the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120390)

My French accent was truly horrible

Ooohhh, mais ça peut s'arranger ! c'est pas si difficile que ça en fait... (en plus, nous avons pleins de comic shops à Paris, Spiderman chaque semaine reçu en même temps que les américains !)

Yay for cartoons! (1)

llvllatrix (839969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120207)

Let them watch many japanese cartoons. I've been watching a Naruto fansub and I can already construct basic sentances...really fast way to learn a language (this also works with computer programming languages - ie lots of practical exposure).

You could use some English cartoons too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120310)

1) "Sentances" should be "sentences."
2) "Really fast way to learn a language" is a sentence fragment.
3) "(this also works with computer programming languages)" should be outside parentheses, and capitalized, as it is a complete sentence.
4) "ie" is an abbreviation, spelled "i.e."
5) "Lots of practical exposure" is a sentence fragment.

Check out the Hippo Family Club (2, Insightful)

idealord (460644) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120221)

Check out the Hippo Family Club! No kidding... they're a radical group from Japan who learn 11-17 languages simultaneously. Their books on FFT and Quantum Mechanics are outstanding also.

Transnational College of LEX - Hippo Family Club []

Re:Check out the Hippo Family Club (1)

kenniget (841364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120463)

I stayed with a Hippo family during my last visit to Japan, and had the pleasure of participating in their group activities. They really seem like a great group with some intriguing and effective methods for learning foreign languages.

Make everything accessible via the web. (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120242)

That means course materials, enrollment, billing, grades, everything. Seriously, the more they can do self-service via a web portal, the easier it will be on you.

And you'll be able to do it all with OSS, if you like - PHP and Postgres or MySQL will get you most of what you need right there. Serve your study documents in someting everybody can read - PDFs of you don't want people changing things.

Re:Make everything accessible via the web. (1)

llvllatrix (839969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120309)

I think this depends on the type of school you're trying to setup. Be advised though that if you do this, very few people will attend class (happens a lot at UWaterloo). However, that might not be a bad thing; students could be required to study on their own time and come to classes for practical experience and testing (again, depends on how you setup your school).

Get Inspiration (1)

JBoelke (523928) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120246)

I use this program to successfuly teach history. The students can use this to develope their vocububaly skills and create mind maps of Japenese culture. But no program is a cure all, no method is a cure all, and anyone who tells you that they have the one and only one solution is a liar.

I thought that Moogles were only in Final Fantasy? (1)

advance512 (730411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120250)

DAMN! Better go capture myself a Chocobo.

Re:I thought that Moogles were only in Final Fanta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120362)

Try [] as an example of a moodle.

It's a wacked-out name, probably invented by crazy koreans, but I guess it's what he was on about.

Blessing and curse... (1)

downward dog (634625) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120254)

I've found that online discussion forums can help to supplement (but not replace) in-class education. Some people learn better when they are allowed to read, think, and write at their own pace. This could be especially useful in a language class -- just tell the students to talk about movies or sports or politics in the discussion forum.

On the other hand, if students use laptops during class, I'd be wary of offering free WiFi. The internet is great for a lot of things - but it is also a remarkable time-waster and distraction. (And I'm Exhibit A: reading Slashdot at work.)

Older technology (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120257)

Don't forget simple things like TV's and overhead projectors. Many of the language instruction stuff I've seen is still on VHS/DVD/CD, not computers.

Movies.... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120270)

Well, here is one thing that might have been not thought of. I am making the assumption that "Japanese language school", means you are teaching the Japanese language to people who speak English.

If that is the case, have you thought about getting some movies in which are in Japanese. I don't know your class demographics, but many may enjoy Japanese Anime, or classical Japanese theater, or the many, many other Japanese movies that are out there. I have had four friends learn Japanese so they could better understand anime (no joke, most are very poorly translated, only the major films do a half decent job, but still lose a LOT of the context as well as censoring for cultural differences).

k12ltsp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120271)

Your best bang for your buck is the k12 Linux Terminal Server Project at

Full educational application range with only a need for one well equiped server (less than $3k) and you can plug in 486's without harddrives that will run as if they are brand new dell workstations.

What is the technology for? (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120282)

One of the most effective uses I've seen of technology in similar situations is marketing. If people see flash webcams and the like, they may well be tempted to come even though you are making very little use of them in teaching. From this perspective, you should be looking for technology that has a real 'wow' factor about it. For instance, 'free' ipods with lessons and the like.

An alternative goal is technology that actually helps with education. There's plenty in this regard to. For instance, my lab is developing a talking head where you can chat in the language being learned. Mistakes are automatically detected and personal profiles are developed. The system starts with a lesson plan and develops dialogues around it. This is for a fairly obscure language (Maori) and I would expect major languages to already have such tools out of the research labs.

But my point is that if you're looking for the technologies that are useful, then you need to start with a clear goal (improve pronunciation, improve grammar, improve lexicon, ...) and from there software and hardware will naturally follow. However, if your goal is marketing then you'll end up with a totally different set of solutions.

Moogle? (2, Informative)

The Andersor (703031) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120289)

Has anyone used Moogle?

Don't you mean Moodle [] , the online educational tool similar to Blackboard or WebCT? Moodle can be a great tool to assist the classroom experience; we're testing it out in my department and will hopefully deploy it throughout our private prep school for the next academic year.

Mac (1)

haskins_sam (653585) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120290)

Give the all cheap iBooks. Great multilanguage support, awesome OS, and made by Apple, an education leader.

Make Absolutely Sure (1)

jstrain (648252) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120293)

to lock down all your bases. You don't want them being belonged to them.

foreign lang lab (2, Informative)

kraj321 (841360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120297)

Besides computers(hardware) you need to be looking into software as well to help students learn the language/s with the help of current technology. I have been trying to emulate, "state of the art" lab over @ Rice University, Houston, TX. Link :

Past Experience (3, Informative)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120304)

I worked for the largest language school in the world for 5 years, during which we rolled out a series of e-learning applications. I can tell you the following things:

1) Technology should be used to supplement langauge lessons - never teach them. Distance learning can be done via webcam if absolutely necessary, and you can take advantage of existing technologies for that. Look into Placeware or more likely WebEx.

2) You can license existing e-learning platforms from companies like Auralog, they sell on a sliding scale.

3) Students love to be able to see schedules and homework assignments online. Computer software applications also make great supplements for at-home practice. Also consider setting up a community bulletin board for students to communicate with eachother in their non-native tongue.

I know none of this is revolutionary thinking - but it is sage advice for teaching language with technology. My company tried to teach through technology alone and it failed - the lesson learned was even eLearning needed to be a supplement - not the basis for learning.

Best Luck!

Bodes ill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120321)

If you're soliciting Slashdot for ways to spend this small budget you've acquired you're approaching things ass-backwards. Dreaming up ways to spend your money on technological gimmicks is asinine when you haven't even tested a business model or recruited any students. The fact that the money in question is your capital is all the more worrying. You really have nothing better to spend it on, that you have to solicit ideas from here - ideas which you will not even bother to frame within reasonable requirements? If that's the case, your business is fucked from the get-go, because you obviously haven't clue one. My earnest recommendation as to what to invest your money in is a college fund for your kids; and if you don't have kids, make some. It's your only chance for success in the long term as far as I can see.

software for foreign lang lab (1)

kraj321 (841360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120329)

Try the "TELL ME MORE" software by Auralog for foreign languages. I am aware thy offer ESL, french, SPanish, German, Arabic.

Two words (1)

SiW (10570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120334)

Streaming hentai

Nothing beats the low-tech approach (1)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120336)

Having just the past four months learning a new language (six weeks of intensive Spanish course, then normal computer engineering college studies, all in Spain), I honestly can't think of anything that would beat the low-tech approach with small groups, many teachers, and lots of plain old-fashioned *speaking*. Of course some of this might not translate perfectly to a language like Japanese where the normal western student will have very few "hooks" in the form of similarities to their native language, but I don't see how these differences could mean there would be any *less* of a need for actual human communication in every part of the learning experience.

Really, if you have a tech budget, consider spending it on some basic internet-enabled terminals for your students to use in the breaks. The language schools I've seen are sorely underequipped in this area, leading to everyone spending their breaks queuing up just to get a chance to check their email for two minutes.

How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120339)

not having the school. We need to divert all funding to the Iraq effort. We don't have the time nor money for pesky operations like "education"

Gaijin lessons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120367)

Teach them what the Japs think of foreign subhumans

any good stuff on DVD? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120377)

I'd presume that short video and audio clips would help teach language. That would make a more vivid impression than audio alone. I figured I learned a fair amount of English from TV as an infant (though not as fast as the Splash mermaid).

Have students use iPods (1)

mhollis (727905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120381)

The New York Times had a recent article about how one foreign language department was using Apple's music player to record and play back language lab materials. I have found a grant proposal [] while looking for a link to the article. The Times article suggested the use of iPod voice recorders as well.

Of course you are looking for specific technology and technologies, as opposed to curriculum and methodologies but I have a dear friend who teaches the more advanced courses using a mix of history and the country's literature. I found his methods very good.

Suggestion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120391)

You could try simple games like Slime Forest [] . Students who use it should probably know their Hiragana and Katakana first, though.

Some form of Jeopardy is also always a good learning format for me. And use candy for prizes because they have too much and it needs to be disposed of. Ganbatte kudasai.

-Anonimasu Kawaadu

Just got back from Japan in July (2, Informative)

toreupfeet (841359) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120402)

I spent a year at Waseda, and I studied Japanese for 4 years at a university prior to my year abroad. One thing is vital: watch movies in class. You should have students study text for only a year or two, but from there, go straight to media. By watching drama, you get to watch, listen, and read simultaneously (because they display captions on the screen). For Japanese, culture is just a part of the language as the vocabulary and grammar. So, when the students have grasped the fundamentals of Japanese, throw them in front of the screen. It's the closest they can get to being in Japan without going...and it will give them a glimpse of what they're in for if they go. This is important because westerners have NO idea what it's like to live alongside the Japanese. None. --My third-year professor would type out the scripts and we would go over about 20-second intervals of the film at a time. Great class. And let's not turn this into a Japan-bashing post everyone. I mean, hey, I'd love to leash out a little myself, but this isn't the place. This guy obviously wants to improve western relations with Japan. I say more power to him. There you go. Bash away on their forum.

Tora Tora Tora, Child Porn and Nanking Massacre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120422)

At least give them an honest view of Japanese morals

Moogles! (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120435)

Has anyone used Moogle?


Don't use common stuff! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120441)

Try to use the latest stuff from research: augmented paper (paper++), interactive everyday objects, visualisation techniques, etc.

But as important as technology: use the latest from learning research: don't assume they know how to learn stuff. Talk about speed reading, to get enough sleep, etc. etc. Maybe combine this with technology to help them in their individual learning phases. Maybe get them a pda which surveils their learning results, and gives the students feedback on how to alter their learning techniques, right during their learning sessions.

No need for fancy gadgets (1)

ChibiOne (716763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120445)

To learn Japanese, you need books, a good teacher and a link to Japanese culture. No need for worthless software, PDAs, all that fancy stuff. Just have Japanese enabled computers connected to the Internet and a list of core links (read: Japanese news sites and such).

Your main concern would be to promote the cultural aspects of learning the language: arrange for some kind of e-mail exchange program with Japanese speakers, have som native guests once in a while come to the school, organize Bunka no Hi events (Culture Day)...

Oh, I like the idea of having a common media room for DVD movies and such... but don't restrain yourself to anime. Instead, show some live action movies (and I don't mean anime based live action!), "real" movies.

Discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11120454)

How about a robot who snap your hands with a ruler when you don't look to the front?

Broadcast classes using Shoutcast (1)

idgrad (137342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120458)

I've tried this out a bit here, beaming lectures to friends unable to attend classes (ie. still in their PJ's on a monday morning). It works remarkably well, and most importantly is free. The downside is that a few (16+) students connecting to one shoutcast server can start to hit the old bandwidth meter pretty hard.
Good luck,

Suicide? (1)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11120471)

Making the worst students ritually disembowel themselves could be a powerful motivational aid
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