Triple Play Plus Japanese is a part of the “Playing With Language” series,appropriately titled enough, since the vehicle for learning here is a seriesof games designed to instill language learning through repetition andosmosis. There are three groups of games–vocab games, phrase games, andconversational games, in increasing order of difficulty. You get started byselecting whether you want to work on reading comprehension or listeningcomprehension, and then by picking an area (foods, numbers, household items,etc.) to focus on. TPP then highlights all the games in all three levelsthat match your criteria. Consequently, there’s not a clear-cut step-by-steplearning process here; you learn at your own pace, and choose your own orderin which to tackle things.
The games range from simple vocabulary Bingo, where you must pronounce aword correctly to fill in the square, to the hilarious comic-stripconversation games (featuring a gigantic Fabio-like guy with long blondehair and purple sunglasses), which can be played in a variety of ways on anumber of levels. In addition to the games, TPP comes with a surprisinglydetailed hypertext summary of Japanese grammar. This is certainly a programfor beginners, though–it’s a fine vehicle for learning basic vocabulary,pronunciation, and elementary sentence construction, but nothing beyondthat. Of course, going beyond that is virtually impossible withoutreal-life exposure to the language, so TPP goes perhaps as far as a computerprogram can reasonably be expected to go–its reach is modest, but appropriate.
All the games make extensive use of speech recognition technology, so amicrophone is required to make any real use out of this program. Mostmanifestations of SRT these days are cumbersome at best and useless atworst, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that speech recognition inTPP actually works. There’s nothing so advanced as a virtual voice-coach oranything, but the program does a fine job of identifying the correct soundsand beeping unpleasantly at the incorrect ones. If anything, the SRT is alittle too lenient, letting minor variations slip by from time to time.
TPP’s interface is elegant, attractive, and intuitive. I was able toexplore every facet of the program easily without even having to consult thehelp menus. The graphics are simple and effective, and the sound (the mostimportant thing for a language program!) is lucid and static-free. You caneven choose from three different Japanese voices during pronunciationexercises. There’s an attention to detail here that makes for a simple,smooth, and pleasant language learning experience.
Triple Play Plus for Japanese
Syracuse Language Systems
386dx/33, Windows 3.1, 4MB RAM, CD-ROM, sound card,microphone