Berlitz for Business Japanese (Bright Star Technology, Berlitz Publishing Co.)

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 (optional)
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