We’ve all seen the teasers for the new Ipad coming out on March 7th. But what does this mean for people who study languages? In particular, Japanese?
1. The Retina display will drastically change reading your consumption.
I said it before on this blog, that i’m not a tablet guy by any means. I saw no real need for it in my day to day life around my phone and my laptop. It didn’t fit any particular need. But once I left Japan, it became glaringly obvious that a tablet is the best possible way for me to consume large volumes of visual Japanese reading material outside Japan.
Since learning Japanese is a balance of reading, writing, speaking and consuming visual media, it goest without saying that if any of these things has a difficultly factor attached (say limited access to manga, etc) then things get a little harder than they need to. I believe that tablets eventually will be the ultimate companion in creating a self sustaining learning environment. But particularly in the area of high reading consumption, this is where the Ipad 3 will be the king. I haven’t had any desire to buy an Ipad 2 for Japanese reading input because the screen has lackluster resolution and I knew the new Ipad would have a beastly screen. On the kindle fire, the 7 inch screen kills me when I try to read. Very small Japanese characters are murder on the eyes, even if you are reading a real life, dead tree manga book. But with the proper tablet, with a super high resolution display, then reading manga, short stories, Asahi Shinbun and so on, will be easier on the eyes and therefore ease people into reading Japanese more comfortably, and by extension assist with the acquisition of new grammar and vocabulary.
I’m a super technical guy who is very, very, VERY cautious about new tech I purchase if it doesn’t do anything I need. This long rant on the new Ipad should give you an idea of that. There is nothing that makes life easier than “ease of use” and after spending the few months to learn some Kanji and start reading, trust me, consuming massive amounts of Japanese data is better mentally if you aren’t squinting to read.
Can you do this with a present day tablet? Of course. is the resolution for reading manga super crappy? Not really. Will the Ipad 3 have super awesome better resolution? Yes really.
I’m hyping this up because my primary issue with Manga consumption and newspaper consumption on a tablet is relative size. I own both a Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle fire (fire was a gift). I tried reading Manga on the Kindle Keyboard but it was waay too small with slow refresh rates to be feasible but I won’t knock it, it’s for books. The Kindle fire has a decent screen, but atrocious software. It is also again, too small. The first time I got it, I said “okay, now I can really test out extensive reading through Manga because I have a device with portability and a decent display”. Wrong. After only a few minutes of reading my eyes started to hurt and I was sorely dissappointed.
So me, Mr. technical, knows that he will need a beastly screen to happily consume loads of manga. In fact, the average person who wants an Ipad 3 doesn’t care about any of my issues. But they exist and are relevant, if you are looking for a one-stop sure fire way to consume loads of accessible Japanese visual input. Do some research on “extensive reading” and you’ll soon find that to do extensive reading, you’ll need to organize your reading content in a way that is : comfortable, easily accessible, convenient and low stress.
A tablet and its mobility allow for that easily (outside of a country with native materials readily available).
So that’s how an Ipad 3 can help you beast even more in Japanese, because you’ll be reading more.