Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Announcing www.readalongkanji.com

I haven't made a post here for a while so I thought I'd make an update on my latest creation - readalongkanji.com. The site is still in its early stages but as you can see from the screen shot its still quite functional.

My overall aim is to end up with a site through which you can get custom made news reports on topics you like at your reading level with prompts and tools on hand to get you over the occasional reading "speed bumps" you come across.



Still not what I want it to be but its getting there!

This started as a private study tool that I wrote because I wanted to read the news in Japanese but there were often kanji I couldn't understand. Of course I could look up words in a dictionary or surf news sites with rikaichan but I found both of these slowed me down and while I could understand the article, I lost my flow and it didn't really feel like reading.

I've been using tools like tagainijisho, smart.fm and readthekanji.com for a while now but none of these tools allowed me to read news and current affairs so I built read along kanji as a simple way for me to filter news feeds from various sites like the Yomiuri Shinbun, Asahi Shinbun and CNET Japan.

The filtering engine started out simply selecting articles with the minimum number of kanji I didn't know.  I quickly realised though that just because you know a kanji you don't know all its compounds so both reading and comprehension can still be difficult.  My development version  now makes use of a Japanese a word segmenter (a program that can guess with around 95% accuracy where words start and end in a sentence) to identify compound words made of 2 or more kanji and/or okurigana and will soon start marking down your kanji knowledge if you have to look up the meaning of a word or kanji whilst reading (by clicking on it).

These are early days but I've got lots of great things planned for the site.  Feel free to drop by and test it out. I'd love to hear some feedback or ideas.