I wrote this for TheJapanshop.com’s January newsletter, but I thought it would be nice here too.
I was recently contacted by a company called PlaySay. They make MP3 files for studying for the JLPT vocabulary section. Each vocabulary word is spoken in English in one ear and Japanese in the other. The voices sound professional and are pleasant to hear. Each vocabulary word gives plenty of time to repeat verbally or if you don’t want to appear odd in public, to yourself. The best thing about these files is each track is named for that vocabulary word. Using your MP3 player or iPod, you can listen, repeat AND see the word in Japanese.
To enable showing the word on your iPod, you may have to temporarily set Japanese as the language for non-Unicode Programs on your Windows computer. If you don’t, the Japanese names will be gobblygook. The sound will work, but you won’t get the visual. To do this:
Before you unzip the folder and/or import the files into your mp3 player program and/or mp3 player device, click: Start > Control Panel > Language, and Regional Options > Regional and Language Options > Advanced > Language for non-Unicode Programs > (select) “Japanese”
If you have a Mac, you may want to borrow someone’s PC just long enough to install the MP3s to your player. After unzipping the files, you can switch the ‘Language for non-Unicode Programs’ back to English if you want. I installed it on my computer and it works great.
Since there are so many words, it would be best to make playlists to study 25-50 words at a time. As you learn words you can move them out of the playlist to make room for adding more. Using shuffle is a great way to mix up your audio flashcards.
For the amount of time put into this project (thousands of MP3s per level), the vocabulary files are very inexpensive (JLPT 4 is only $9.95; JLPT 1 is only $19.95). For those living outside Japan, these files will not only prepare you for the vocabulary part of the test, but it will also train your ears to get used to Japanese.
I suppose the only downside is the lack of context since the vocabulary words are given as is. But for vocabulary you are unsure of, this would make a good excuse to crack open your dictionary or do a Google search for example sentences, right? Please see the product page for example sound files.
At the moment, the PlaySay audio files can only be bought using PayPal. This enables the buyer to instantly download the files. To save a little you can buy two or more sets for discounted bundles here.
I’m pretty excited about these audio files. I can see how this would be a good resource not only for those preparing for the test, but for those wanting to build their vocabulary on the go.
To learn more and hear an example, click here.