Creating Independent Learner of Japanese via the Internet

The ACIE Newsletter, May 2004, Vol. 7, No. 3

By Michael Bacon, Immersion Education Coordinator, Portland (OR) Public Schools
Atsuko Ando, 4th Grade Teacher, Richmond Elementary Japanese Magnet Program, Portland, OR

As students gleefully run out the door at the end of the school year, a small voice in my head sadly reminds me that most of them will probably not use their Japanese language skills until I see them again in September. Subsequently, I know I will need to spend the first three months of the next school year bringing the students’ proficiency back up to the level they were at when they left in June.

Many teachers look for ways to motivate students to use their language skills outside of school. Until recently my list included hosting exchange students, writing letters to Japanese friends, and dancing in the obon festival at the local Buddhist church, but using the internet, a motivation for many students, did not seem reasonable. First, most families do not have a computer with Japanese capabilities. Even if they do, most internet sites in Japanese are difficult given the heavy use of kanji (Chinese characters). Fortunately, the fourth grade teacher in our program, Atsuko Ando, has developed an extensive list of family-friendly websites. These sites appeal to young learners of Japanese and help families download software which enables a computer to read and input Japanese. In order to explore Japanese Internet sites, your computer has to have Japanese capabilities. You can make your computer Japanese-capable by downloading free software or simply going to a certain site.

To view Japanese pages

To write in Japanese
For Windows Users:

  • Make your PC (Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 and XP) Japanese capable with Nihongo-OK at

For Mac Users:

Japanese Characters


Fun and Educational Games

Japanese Music MIDI

Origami Sites


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