Speaking as a teacher of the Japanese language to overseas students, I am delighted at the release of the Electronic Edition of the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary (KALD). What makes KALD exceptional for learners is the accurate presentation of the semantic function of each kanji and examples of actual usage. In particular, the features that distinguish KALD from other dictionaries are the core meaning of each kanji and the kanji compounds. In addition, not only Chinese-derived words but also many examples of native Japanese words are given. This illustrates how well well thought-out design concept of this dictionary is.
Every student of the Japanese language course for beginners which I coordinate have purchased KALD; immediately after learning hiragana and katakana, the SKIP lookup method enabled them to practice reading skills by looking up the meaning and readings of kanji that surround them in everyday life; signs around town, food ingredients lists, newspaper headlines etc. Previously, kanji practice has been a passive activity for learners as they simply tried to memorize the characters, but with this tool learners can read and understand written information for themselves, turning it into a task based activity. This kind of activity used to be limited to intermediate level or above but with the introduction of this innovative dictionary even at the beginner stages this is possible.
In recent years, the electronic dictionary has become an essential tool for language learners. With the readily available electronic edition of KALD, learners can easily access all manner of information written in kanji; making the learning of kanji fun and effective, and something that can be done continuously. I recommend the electronic edition of KALD to learners of Japanese studying kanji and to teachers of the Japanese language.
29th March 2007
Associate Professor, Hokkaido University