MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 26, 2013

MPL the place to learn languages

By Gerran Coppin
Books and More

— This year, I only chose one resolution: To keep studying Japanese. I’ve always wanted to learn a new language, but it takes time. So, I decided to devote my next year to learning Japanese. I have spent quite a bit of time researching and preparing for this year. So, I am going to share with you all some of the websites, books, computer programs and other resources that I have used and will continue to use!

First up, is tofugu.com. The creators of the site not only provide pages dedicated to resource reviews and general “how-tos,” but they also have created a great program called “Textfugu.” You can check out the first season for free, and you can e-mail the creators directly if you have any questions or need help! Speaking of great programs, the library offers (for free) Mango Languages for all of our patrons. This program runs completely in your browser, meaning you can sign-in and continue your lessons no matter what computer you are using. It is designed to help you learn basic phrases and sentence structure very quickly, and would best be used to prepare for a trip. It also has portable audio lessons and an iPhone app to help you learn on the go. This program is best used with a faster Internet connection and a faster computer.

After you’ve learned a bit of Japanese, the next step would be to try and translate some sentences! While we don’t have very many Japanese books in our system, we do offer an amazing program called Inter-Library Loan. In this program, all the libraries in our system can request practically any book in the whole world. A great bilingual picture book I just received through this program is “Sora and the Cloud” by Felicia Hoshino. It provides Japanese and English text side by side. So, you can check your work to make sure you’re not too far off mark. To help with my translation, I use Jisho.org. This is a free Japanese dictionary that allows you to look up the definition(s) of words, find kanji via radicals, and even translate sentences. It also has a mobile app and works great with slower computers or Internet connections.

Last, but certainly not least, I feel that, in order to really understand a language, you must understand the culture that created that language. I know that many people (including myself) became interested in the Japanese culture and language through anime, manga, and J-Dramas, but focusing on just those aspects of the culture would be like trying to understand American culture through superhero comics, Saturday morning cartoons, and soap operas. While all of those are entertaining, there is way more to culture than just pop-culture! The library also provides (for free again) Universal Classes which has a Japanese Culture 101 class that covers the arts, religion, etiquette, and traditions in Japan. We have a whole section in the Dewey Decimal System devoted to Japan: the 952s. In this section, three books that I love are “Fodor's Exploring Japan,” “Opposing Viewpoints: Japan” (most articles written by Japanese people), and “Gentle Ways in Japan.” We will also be providing a program for teens about Japanese culture at the beginning of February. For more details on this program, or if you want to learn about all the other resources I couldn’t fit in this article, call the Muskogee Public Library.

Gerran Coppin works for the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657 or copping@eok.

lib.ok.us.