- Japan (07, 09-10, 13), Denmark (08, 11, 16-19, 21), Korea (13), Poland (21), Mexico (14, 15, 19), Iceland (17, 19), Hawaii (14, 17, 22), Czech Republic (16, 17, 19, 21)
The above will search
Concerts - Landscapes - Sports


My Japanese Coach screenshots, flaws

After making it through the 100 “lessons” offered in My Japanese Coach the user is presented with the above screen. Apparently there are another 900+ “open plan” lessons which consist of either 10 new words or 10 new kanji. The new words are no longer grouped into any sort of category and are very random. Based on the first few open plan lessons I’ve gone through the groupings have consisted of elementary words right alongside advanced words.

All of the remaining 2,000+ jōyō kanji (常用漢字) are supposed to be covered in the open plan. In the first 100 lessons the user goes through only the first and second grade kanji (even though the user is given the title of High School Sophomore by the time they finish the first 100 lessons). Unfortunately, almost 10% of the kanji, I would guess, are taught with an incorrect stroke order. Even those with correct stroke order look pretty bad at times.

After 100 lessons the user will have covered a little over 1,000 words in My Japanese Coach. Less than five of those were ones I didn’t already know. Again, this game isn’t really of much use to intermediate or advanced students of the Japanese language. However, after the open plan begins, every Japanese language student will likely encounter some new words. Unfortunately, with only one-word definitions and no example sentences provided you’ll have to turn to a better dictionary to figure out what the new words really mean, when they are used, and how to use them correctly.

Unfortunately, when a new word comes up, you can’t see the kanji for it. This makes things difficult for those who already know the kanji the word is made up of to quickly understand the meaning. For instance, on the screen that looks like the one shown here the word namaikina showed up. I wanted to see the kanji for namaiki (the na is a particle which My Japanese Coach annoyingly throws in sometimes, even though it isn’t part of the word namaiki). So I click on Write and then なまいきな. The above screen and the screen below appear.

Notice that the Kanji button on the screen below is not green. That means you can’t see the kanji for the word. Yuck. Instead you can only see the hiragana–in this case a な with incorrect stroke order. Blah. How useless and frustrating.

I then went out of the open plan lesson and after a half dozen or so clicks through the menus moved into the dictionary. In the dictionary I typed in namaiki and the screen below was the result.

Here I can at least see the kanji, but notice that a somewhat different, one-word definition is provided. The programmer was too lazy to connect the dictionary to the Write screen so users are forced to waste time clicking through numerous menus to get to the dictionary instead of just clicking on the Kanji button when the new word is being learned.

My Japanese Coach could have been so much better with just a few minor tweaks.

The best program for those learning Japanese on the DS is KankenDS3.

5 Responses to “My Japanese Coach screenshots, flaws”

  1. 1

    Unless drawing calligraphy with a pen and ink, stroke order is completely pointless. Printing characters with a normal pen or pencil will result in nearly identical characters regardless of the order the strokes are drawn in. The importance people put on stroke order is very worrisome.

  2. 2

    Actually there are many other important reasons to stroke order. For instance, if I can’t come up with a word when speaking to a Japanese person, but I know a kanji that means what I’m trying to say, I can air write it on my hand and the Japanese person will understand me. If I use the wrong stroke order they won’t. Learning radicals (which help you learn more kanji, faster) is also dependent on proper stroke order to a large extent. Also, one of the reasons why the characters in My Japanese Coach frequently look so bad is because the correct stroke order isn’t used. When kanji are written quickly, “nearly identical characters” are seldom produced with random stroke order.

  3. 3

    I held off for a loooong while on buying My Japanese Coach for DS, since I’ve been learning Japanese for nine years now (though I only had two years of formal teaching within that time), and I was so afraid that I’d buy it only to take the placement test and be told that I’d beaten the game or whatever.

    Very soon after purchasing the game two days ago (used for 20 bucks), I realized that that fear was completely unfounded, but I was very right to assume that I’d become frustrated with the game. The only reason I finally bought it was because I needed to brush up on kanji for the JLPT next month, and thought that it might help me practice. It’s very much testing my patience though – I’ve been trying to just breeze through the lessons, quickly building up my mastery points by hurriedly scribbling in the Write Cards minigame, but of course I’m often marked as wrong due to a lovely combination of bugs and my use of correct stroke order! Sigh. I’ve made it to level 55, and still have yet to learn anything new, save for a few vocab that I’ve forgotten over the years due to not needing to use them (or due to advanced vocab being in beginner levels? I honestly can’t remember if I ever learned them, it’s been years since my college classes!).

    I suppose I do have an advantage in that I won’t get TOO confused by the various goofups (that ridiculous “go to the store” mistake!), but honestly I’m not really reading the lessons in the first place. I can’t help but feel that the game wouldn’t benefit complete beginners much, either. As a (self-taught) student of Japanese AND a student of video game development, this game just makes me want to chuck my DS against a wall.

    I guess basically what I’m trying to say is: great reviews, you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Also, in your opinion, would it be worth it for me to keep the game for JLPT kanji practice (level 3), or should I look for a different alternative? I have five days to return it to GameStop for “not liking it” and get a full refund.

    I think I’ll try to dig up my old Genki workbooks either way. After this game, I need to re-teach myself correct stroke order.

  4. 4

    I wouldn’t bother with My Japanese Coach for JLPT. You will be better off with Kanken DS 3 Deluxe.

  5. 5

    Wow, that one looks really nice! Thanks for the recommendation – I’m not sure if I have the money to spare for it, but I’ll most certainly consider it! 🙂