Mikan, Version 1.0.1 (Sentius)

System Requirements: 68020 processor or better, System 7.1 or higher, JLK or KanjiTalk 7.1 or higher, 1MB free RAM (2MB recommended for opening multiple books and a dictionary), 6.2MB of hard disk space.
Price: $149
Review by Atsushi Fukada, Purdue University (IN)

Mikan is a computer-assisted reading comprehension program with a powerful word database function. It comes with two electronic books, "A Primer on the Japanese Economics" (ten chapters) by Yasuo Hirata, Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha and five short stories by Takashi Atoda, both of which are written for native readers. The first book is semi-technical and can only be recommended to the most advanced students. The second book is much lighter although, being an authentic material, it is by no means easy. When a book is opened, the text is presented in a scrollable window, much like a word processing environment. When you encounter an unfamiliar word or phrase, you can click on it to call up Mikan's on-line annotation feature, which provides (1) meaning in English, (2) dictionary form, (3) reading (in the case of kanji), and (4) notes on grammar and idioms (when available). Not every word is annotated, but most content words are. The manufacturer claims that this instant dictionary look-up takes away the painful and agonizing hours of looking up words and kanji in a dictionary, allowing the user to concentrate on the content of the book. If there were hundreds of books covering all levels and various interests, this system would be very valuable. There are no comprehension exercises supplied with the books.

Another component of the program is a personal word list which comes with 500 basic words pre-installed. When you encounter an unknown word, you have the option of adding it to the list for future study. There is a "jump to text" feature which allows the user to go back to the portion of the text in which the word was found, presumably to see how it is used. There is also a flashcard function which turns vocabulary cards at a specified interval, but with the full word information displayed at all times, it is of limited utility. When you are NOT in the flashcard mode, it is possible to show/hide the translation and notes.

Mikan is a self-study tool with future potential and useful for highly advanced and motivated students.

Most appropriate venues for use: RscRm (for enrichment) SlfSt