Kanji Alive was created under the direction of Professor Harumi Hibino Lory of the University of Chicago. It was partially funded by US Department of Education Title IV funds as well as by various programs from the University of Chicago. This site offers reference materials for over 1235 Kanji characters. It features a search engine (searches are possible by textbook, pronunciation, Kanji English meaning, Kanji Radicals, Kanji stroke number, and grade level), video showing an actual character being drawn stroke by stroke in hand written style, pronunciation examples of words using characters in both “on” and “kun” readings, translations of the examples in English, and an image of Radical used in kanji and more. It is free to use and currently runs with in beta version.
The resource provides many avenues for searching for characters, including: by textbook and lesson number (10 textbooks covered), pronunciation (both onyomi and kunyomi), English meanings, radical, total stroke count, and grade level. The screen for each character provides a Flash-based animation of the character being written, demonstration appropriate stroke order and direction. Also provided on each character screen are: English meaning(s), onyomi, kunyomi, total stroke count, grade level, and the numbers for both the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary and Nelson's Modern Reader's Japanese-English character dictionary. In addition, each character page provides information about the applicable radical, and also a number of vocabulary words containing the character. The kanji compound is displayed next to the hiragana reading in parentheses, and on rollover of the mouse the English meaning is given. Next to each compound is a button which will provide the pronunciation. Two multimedia (PDF) materials are also linked from this resource. One is the "Introduction to Kanji," which traces the history of kanji, including development of radicals and rules for writing characters. The second material is "The 214 Traditional Radicals and their Meanings," which covers radicals and can be printed and used as a reference.
Type of Material:
Reference Material, Tutorial
This resource would most likely be used by students who are reviewing characters which have already been presented in class. As a reference source, it would help students review the material and expand their knowledge of kanji, learn about radicals, and practice pronunciation.
This resource could also be used in a classroom setting when introducing characters.
Worked very well in Firefox 3.0.14.
Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari browser, Quicktime, Adobe Flash, East Asian Language support, Java and Java Script.
Windows 2000/XP/Vista; Mac OS X
Adobe Flash and Apple Quicktime enabled browser (Firefox 3.0 or higher recommended)
Apple Quicktime Player 7.2 or higher
Adobe Flash Player 7 or higher
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The learner will be able to search, recognize and write Kanji using the correct stroke orders, develop vocabulary and reading skills, and enhance listening skills through examples in both the “on” and “kun” readings. The learner will be able to express deeper understanding of characters though the association of radical meaning.
Target Student Population:
Beginning, intermediate and advanced learners of Japanese.1235 characters are covered.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
One semester of Beginning Japanese. Must be able to read Hiragana and Katakana.
Kanji alive is well organized and designed to aid learners of Kanji at any level. 6 different types of searches make it easier for a learner to locate a Kanji character. By clicking the button, a learner can see clear, accurate and extensive information, such as examples through audio, stroke order and historical development of characters through video, printed styles through images and translation in text on each Kanji character as well as “kun” and “on” reading within the same page. The audio provides up to 12 examples per kanji and is very clear.
As reference material, this resource is amazing. The connections of each character with not only onyomi/kunyomi readings and English meanings, but also to pronunciations, radicals, dictionary entry numbers, animated stroke order demonstration, and major Japanese language textbooks makes this very easy to use. The information about each character is thorough and complete. The examples of compounds also show how pronunciation changes in variant settings.
Aside from providing compounds in which the character appears, the characters are not presented in context. Sample sentences would provide needed context and help students understand appropriate usage.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Kanji alive will enhance learners’ understanding of Kanji through gradual learning steps with the effective use of video, audio, images and text. It is engaging, complete, and can be readily integrated into the curriculum. The usage of male and female voices for sound as well as presentation of Kanji in two different writing styles is a big plus.The resource contains a great deal of information about learning objectives, and thoroughly explains how to use each aspect.
The resource's potential as a kanji learning tool would be enhanced if some or all of each character's page could be printed, perhaps for review in flashcard format. It would also be enhanced by improving interactivity.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Kanji alive is very clean and is designed well. It is very easy to navigate and self contained. The smart usage of mouth over and alternative text keep the information from overcrowding the page. The “User Guide”, “ Troubleshooting” and “Notes for instructors” provide extensive information on how to use the site, including how to customize the list of the characters. They also offer related information in pdf files, such as “Introduction to Kanji”, “The 214 Traditional Radicals and Their Meaning” and “Typing in Romaji note”. Links are provided to easily access required plug-ins (Quicktime, Flash, Adobe reader ). Search engine works very well and it does not seem to take excessive time to download at all.
Aside from the ability to search for characters and to view animations of stroke-order demonstrations, the site is not very interactive. Students would need to be motivated (assigned) to use it.
Other Issues and Comments:
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