Learning Japanese the easy way with smart.fm!

The iknow interface @ smart.fm

The iknow interface @ smart.fm

I’m planning a trip to Japan, so have been brushing up on my Japanese. It’s been nine years since I’ve been to Japan, so I’ve need to brush up on both hirigana, and katakana. I haven’t even started thinking about kanji.

smart.fm (formally iknow.co.jp) uses the concept of spaced repetition. This is a method of reminding you about about something just before you forget it. While this sounds sort of weird, it’s a proven concept in memory.

While you can learn Japanese at smart.fm, it’s actually a learning platform for any sort of lists you’d like to learn. I’m learning the countries that exist in Asia and the Pacific (such as Azerbaijan and British Indian Ocean Territories), a little bit of Norwegian, and body parts of the human body, in Japanese!

In the spirit of body parts, here are some of my hints:

  • Associate a word with something you know, preferably the more outrageous the better. For instance, the word for body is karada or 体. Karada sounds a lot like “Canada” so perhaps think about a Canada flag tattoo’d across your body. Now when you see body, you see the “Canada” flag, and think Karada.
  • Teach someone. Even someone who doesn’t care. Or is imaginary. Teaching someone is a powerful method of remembering something. Try making a youtube video!

Here’s another screenshot of the iknow interface…

The word for run, with the hirigana and kanji of the word.

The word for run, with the hirigana and kanji of the word.

JD Edwards vs. Siebel vs. Sun Access Manager vs. Oracle Identity Manager

What to specialise in. Young IT professionals are spoiled for choice. There are a hundred and one different IT applications out there from Identity Management, to Enterprise Resource Planning, to Customer Relationship Management, and a thousand and one other categories in between.

However, I doubt there’s enough time in the day to specialise in *all* these applications, let alone get experience to implement them successfully. And so, what to pick?

I think over-specialising in a particular application makes you like a peak athlete – great at what you do, not so great at anything else. If you’ve spent five years becoming the master in JD Edwards ERP, you’re probably not going to know too much about Siebel CRM, let alone Sun’s Identity Management Suite.

Perhaps it’s better to focus on specialising in a particular area of interest, whether that’s horizontally by knowing all about all the different Customer Relationship Management products, whether from Oracle, or Microsoft, or SugarCRM – or specialising vertically by knowing the chain of software used in a particular industry say a Telecommunications-specific version of Siebel, and Telecommunications-specific versions of Integration software, of Radio Frequency software etc.

One great thing is, most of this software is freely available for you to download and learn from. Sun’s Identity Management Suite is free (as in beer), Oracle’s Identity Management Suite is free (as in development license), and this is an increasing trend which is positive for students. So now there’s no excuse (apart from hardware) to go out, learn these products, and become paid one of these highly paid consultants!