Sunday, May 03, 2009

How to buy an electronic Japanese dictionary for studying Japanese

So you have started studying Japanese and hate having to flick through a kanji dictionary every time you want to look a kanji's meaning. Help is at hand. You may want to consider buying an electronic dictionary to help with your study.

But where do you start?What brands are best, what features do I need and what is a good price.

1. First thing to do is set your budget.

How much can you afford to spend for a dictionary. Japanese study books are not cheap and when you add up how many books you are going to need price becomes an important factor.
Do you want a dictionary to suit your level of learning, eg, beginner, intermediate or advanced?Do you want to buy a new dictionary or are you happy to pay less for a secondhand dictionary you bought online at Ebay?

2. Remember that electronic dictionaries are not perfect and do not contain all the words, phrases & explanations you will need in your study
So knowing this remember it is a study tool & not the total answer to your study needs. Don't get fooled into thinking that a higher priced dictionary is going to make study easier as it has more words and features in it.Some cheaper models do just as good as the high priced models. Remember they do not contain everything you need. Most dictionaries require you to be able to read hiragana, katakana, know basic kanji and grammar to be able to use them.

3. What will you use the dictionary for?
I know it seems such an obvious question. Will you be looking up words in hiragana, katakana, finding the meaning to chinese characters (kanji), looking for a sentence on how to use the word or looking up if the word s a noun, verb or adjective? The functions you need should drive your purchase.Remember that most dictionaries are made for Japanese learners of English and not English learners of Japanese.

4. Does the dictionary have a detailed English manual or just a brief guide?
When you invest big money in a dictionary you want to be sure that you have as much information as you can on how to use it, what it can do and how it works .So that you can get maximum use from it. You want the dictionary to aid and benefit your study and not give you more reasons to pull your hair out.

5. Do free online resources better meet your needs?
Have you had a chance to check out all the world wide web has to offer in terms of Japanese dictionaries?

Jim Breens site allows you to translate words, kanji look up, multi radical kanji & more

J Gram has Japanese grammar in English

These are just two of thousands of amazing sites that other Japanese learners have built to help you.

6. Ask around, sit with a friend who has a dictionary and quiz them about the features and benefits, read online reviews of dictionaries, visit stores and ask salespeople to help with all your questions (what does it do, what cant it do?
Try and be fully up to date with models, features, prices and limitations before you start to get serious with spending your hard earned money. Do price checks online, look for second models with manuals, check school notice boards for people upgrading, check retailers when they discount old models. Give yourself plenty of time to research and find the product you like. The more time you have the better the deal you will get and you will be an expert on dictionaries

Good Luck!

Have any experiences with a good dictionary, or bad experiences? What brands do you prefer? Any advice for those about to buy a dictionary? Leave a comment below.

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