I'm heading off to japan soon for two months. And knowing that not so many japanese speak english i decided to make an effort to learn what i could before I go. I found a great little book called Japanese Made Easy and i'm also using some flashcards to help me start learning some of the scripts which i thought might be useful for map reading, although that may not be the case.Both of these tools, i came upon via Amazon. I also bought a third book which i am less enamoured of (instant japanese) and a dictionary (by random house) which is fine.
Anyway as a consequence, i came upon a wonderful language learning website called MEMRISE. Its very easy to use and it makes learning much quicker and its fun.
Now i am writing my own course targeted towards cycling tourists to help others get a few basics of japanese under their belt in preparation for their trips.
This site and opportunity has so much potential for the bike touring community. We should make the most of it and i am trying to promote it. But note, i have no connections with the site beyond this and living in Australia, do not know the people or anything about them behind this site.
On the site you can write your own courses and i want to encourage people who can speak a language already to write courses for others to use, targeted to cycle tourers. Such people should see how i've done mine and compare it with other introductory courses on the site.
But you don't need to be a native speaker if you have some language learning aids such as i have. What you do need to do is run through at least one of the existing courses so that you understand how the programs work as well as take a look at what i've done with my japanese course. And then you can see how to improve a course for our needs specifically.
You also need a basic bit of common sense so that you can pick phrases and vocab that will be useful. And to pace the course so that its easier to acquire. But of course you can receive feedback and change things around as you go along if needs be.
The course i'm in the process of writing is called JAPANESE FOR CYCLE TOURERS. I'd like to change the title but don't seem to have that option. I suppose i could write to the web masters and ask to change it to Japanese for cycle tourists but anyway…
So far i've written only 4 levels and there is a fair bit more to do. But i am combining my own language learning with writing these levels so it will grow fairly quickly.
The main limitation i've found with the site is pronunciation. If you are a native speaker, you can make your own audio files and upload them. If you are not a native speaker, you will need to spell out the pronunciation and special care should be taken when doing this so as not to teach people the wrong thing.
In my books and flashcards, i have good explanations of how pronunciation in Japanese works so i can apply these fairly confidently into spelling, partly because japanese pronounciation is fairly easy. And also because i've already learnt a second language (french) already and have a fair feel for the issues. So what i'd suggest if pronunciation is not your strong point, is that you don't try to spell out pronunciation at all but leave it for others to do later. Because, on these courses, you can have contributing editors who can do that sort of thing for you.
For my part, if i was trying to learn another language i would use the site in conjunction with a standard book so that i could learn the pronounciation myself anyway and listen to the audio files on other introductory courses. So i do not think this should hold people back from trying to write courses.
Anyway, its an excellent tool which is also free so i strongly encourage people to start using the site and building courses for the touring cycling community.