Berlitz for Business Japanese (Bright Star Technology, Berlitz Publishing
System Requirements: Mac II or better, 256-color monitor, System
6.0.7 or newer, CD-ROM drive, 4MB of free RAM, 20MB hard disk space, microphone
Price: $75 from Stone Bridge Press (Also available from Lingo Fun)
Review by Atsushi Fukada, Purdue University (IN)
As its subtitle "Survival Software for the Business Traveler"
suggests, Berlitz for Business Japanese is a neatly packaged crash course
in Japanese for business people. As you start the program, you are greeted
by your personal tutor "Sensei", a samurai character clad in a
kimono with a topknot. In fact, with its extensive use of beautiful animation
and crisp audio (stereo), it makes you feel as if a real person is tutoring
you one-on-one. The animation is very well-done; in fact, the package claims
that you can learn from watching the accurate lip movements of the characters.
The structure of the program is much like that of a language book for travelers.
It begins with language essentials which cover basic sounds and writing
systems. Here you not only listen to Sensei's lectures, but also get to
practice pronouncing sounds and recognizing kana. If you have a microphone,
you can record your own pronunciation and compare it with Sensei's. (Although
his pronunciation is fairly good, Sensei is not a native speaker.) The second
part presents basic words, greetings, useful expressions, and a few basic
grammar points. The section on expressions is much like a phrase book, containing
sentences like "This is my first trip to Japan", "I have
an appointment with Mr. Ogawa", and "Send me the contracts, please."
Of course, the grammar necessary to produce such sentences is not presented.
The main part of the program deals with typical situations business travelers
may encounter; arriving at an airport, checking into a hotel, conducting
business in person and on the phone, dining, traveling around, and shopping.
Each of these sections has one main dialog where you can participate in
place of one of the characters. They also contain a lot of related words,
phrases, and additional expressions. The last three sections talk about
entertainment and leisure, geography, history, etc. Also, every time you
leave a section for another, the program presents you with a small window
giving you a bit of Japanese culture or a traveling tip with a couple of
sentences. Also included in the package is a game called "Tokyo subway
game," which provides you a good way to familiarize yourself to the
Tokyo subway system and the names of stations while at the same time reviewing
material from the various sections.
This program is obviously not intended for high school students, but its
cultural component may be useful in a resource room context.
Most appropriate venues for use: RscRm, SlfSt