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iPod Touch - General Information and Recommended Tools/Applications for the Language Learner

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Aug 8, 2009 1:56 PM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
iPod Touch
Recommended Tools/Applications for the Language Learner

So, lately there's been a bit of talk in the club between a few members, myself included, about the iPod Touch and some of the things it can be useful for. Well, instead of sending out a mass message that might get deleted (which I did with the message I sent out months ago on this same topic). I decided a forum thread would be more useful, and more easily accessible to new members that weren't here for the mass message. Plus, the forum does a better job at preserving information.

iPod Touch
- ~$240
The iPod is, as you may know, an Apple product that has been the leader in portable music. After several advances, we now how the ability to play music, videos, games, view images, use the web, and use applications designed for the iPod Touch.

The ability to run applications has given us learners of Japanese (and English) a rather useful tool. Not only can we listen to our Japanese music, watch Japanese videos, and browse the web entirely in Japanese, but now we have the ability to practice and learn Japanese using a few specific applications.

iDic - EPWING Dictionary Reader - $5

In the iTunes App store, there is an application (details in the image). It's purpose is to read EPWING format dictionary files. Some of the most informational dictionaries for Japanese learners are in EPWING format.

This application can search accross multiple dictionaries to find what you're looking for. This makes this application similar to some of the rather expensive Denshi Jisho minus a few features, but because it is on the iPod Touch you gain the ability to play media, and there's the potential to add even more dictionaries to your iPod Touch, including Encyclopedias and character dictionaries. Not to mention there are applications available for converting other dictionary formats to EPWING.

iAnki - Free
For those of you who do use Anki on your PC or Mac, you now have the option of taking it with you anywhere you need! So all those moment through the day where you're just waiting and wasting time can now be put to use getting those reviews in for the day, releasing that time you would normally spend at home for other things like watching anime and reading manga.

I don't know about you, but I definitely feel that it's easier to do reviews in smaller chunks periodically during the day. For example, my classes are four hours long, and we get typically two 10 to 15 minute breaks. Normally I just sit there because I don't really have anything to do during the breaks. This to me an a perfect opportunity for reviewing. I'm sure there are moments like this during your day. Bus rides, waiting in line, elevators, etc. This is really taking advantage of every little moment, and I'd be so bold as to say that these are the only times you'd really need to spend reviewing to stay on top of it.

I should also mention that the portability of the iPod Touch combined with iAnki makes it significantly easier to practice your reviews with paper and pencil.

Overview and Final Notes
So, now that you've gotten an idea on how useful this device is specifically for Japanese learners, I'd like to draw a comparison for you. If you were to drop a chunk of change for a a Denshi Jisho, you'd be spending at the very least, $230 for a decent one with a fixed amount of dictionaries on it, and without the media and internet capabilitie that the iPod Touch has (for around the same price).

I should mention that you would have to either invest some money in buying software dictionaries with the EPWING format, or just invest some time looking for other's already converted EPWING format dictionaries. (Please contact me if you are interested).

That's all for now. Please let me know what you think of this article, and do let me know what you think of the device and these applications if you've had experience with them. :)
Sep 21, 2009 9:45 PM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
I think this thread needs more attention :D. Now there's 2 separate way of doing it. One is the jailbroken way, the other is the normal one.

Yes, I know. Jailbreaking an Ipod is not dangerous at all, but some people (like me) are totally against it. Jailbreaking means allowing third parties applications to be installed in your itouch or iphone. It is of course viewed very negatively from Apple, but it does allow you much more features and freedom. With a Jailbroken itouch/iphone, you can get all the dictionaries you want (that Zealous will of course explain himself ;P) and ankimini, a much more powerful anki application than the one on a normal Itouch/Iphone (iAnki).

But if you want to stay with a normal itouch, you get stuck with iAnki. It still does its job and it is still extremely useful. Also, you cannot get a good monodic from the app store, especially if you're outside of Japan. So you're kinda stuck with a bidic. Aside from some people, most of us will not mind a bidic. So I think it's ok.

P.S: buy a film protector (anti-scratch) and a case for your Itouch/Iphone. Trust me, having scratches on the screen is no fun at all. Also, buy an USB power adapter if you can. You'll be freaking out when you'll run out of batteries and also stuck somewhere for 5 hours.
Sep 23, 2009 12:31 AM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 627
Well, instead of copying and pasting it all and trying to reformat, you can also check this out if you're interested in dictionaries. I actually like this particular application for the dictionaries because they have a free version (which works just fine, minus a few features).

Basically, you really should be jailbreaking the device if you plan to use it like an electronic dictionary. There are options for Anki, but I really do prefer the AnkiMini. AnkiMini is a bit better in that it lets you have entire decks, including their media. So, if you're like me and you use pictures periodically, then it's better to have AnkiMini. Not to mention that decks no longer rely on the online syncing that's required of iAnki. Though, I still use this because it's convenient. But, the alternative would be to use an FTP client and upload the deck.

And, one other thing to add is that, AnkiMini can be downloaded straight to your iPod through Cydia (if you have a Jailbroken device, then you know what this is).

If you can, as firebound12 said, get a film protector. Anti-glare and Anti-scratch if you can. That screen is way to.. hmm, jelly-like to leave unprotected. Likewise a case is always nice for devices you've spent a good $200-500 on. Commonsense?
Jan 24, 2010 8:22 PM

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 239
A tip for those who are uneasy about jailbreaking.

Get a friend who knows how to jailbreak. Done.

Jailbreak ftw. Its not much of a groundbreaking overhaul of ianki, but ankimini is much closer to the computer version of anki than ianki.

Also, you can sync everywhere with internet, and the options are well preserved, unlike ianki (which does only default interval and such).

Plus u will enjoy how free jailbroken itouch/iphone are.