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NTT Communications Turns to the Cloud for Japanese Language Study

July 21, 2015

Learning Japanese is regarded as one of the most difficult linguistic endeavors, seconded perhaps only by Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), Korean or Arabic. Together, these languages form a list that Effective Language Learning describes as “languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers.” But NTT Communications wants to make learning Japanese a bit easier, and has turned to the cloud to do so with its new Visual Learning .Japanese (VLJ) system.

VLJ was developed for the foreign-based employees of Japanese firms, and allows said employees to access the system from not only personal computers, but also from mobile devices, meaning that it's available pretty much anywhere the employee is. NTT isn't just offering VLJ by itself; it's said to have been partnered with the Shinjuku Japanese Language school since October of 2013, and the result is a blend of online and offline training methods that should push fluency in Japanese. Since it's available on largely a self-study basis, it allows language training to be better fit into the various holes in a student's life, meaning that there doesn't have to be a routine appointment made to attend language classes.

The VLJ Basic course is said to take 96 lessons over a period of six months, and upon completion, should yield Japanese mastery sufficient to match the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N5. It focuses on business language, including the correct honorifics and means of introducing oneself as well as responding to phone queries. The lessons last about 15 minutes each, and can be taken at a rate of more than one at a time for those with more time available. One of the biggest problems with such a system, however, is that sometimes students can fall behind. That's a point VLJ actually addresses, with means available for managers to check on students' progress.

The course uses the Ezoe Method, developed by SNG Principal Takahide Ezoe. The Ezoe method involves the uses of color-coded cards to indicate the various parts of speech involved, as well as the regular use of gestures to help achieve mastery.

Image via Shutterstock 

While some here might respond that we need foreign language studies less than ever now as real time communications methods have given us a variety of translation measures available at minimal costs, it's worth noting that the mere act of language study has beneficial effects of its own. Some studies have found links between language studies and improved cognitive abilities, even going so far as to suggest that age-related cognitive losses can be offset with studying foreign languages. These are worthwhile goals for individuals, but perhaps even more so for companies, as more baby boomers, unable to retire, remain in current positions.

For those looking to learn Japanese, there are a variety of means out there to accomplish this task covering a wide variety of use cases from books to in-person classes. But VLJ, with its cloud-based technology focus, might have the necessary mix of ease of use and flexibility to make for the most effective means around.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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