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Santa Barbara, Ca

I'm a full-time rambler and contract designer with as many skill sets in my quiver as there are plane tickets in my passbook. I've worked in ornamental iron, jigsaw puzzle design, bookmaking, glass engraving, and a variety of other mediums. I'm currently living out of a backpack as I trek my way around the world.


Language Learning with Human Japanese

Zak Erving

Learning a language is tough work. On top of that, you've got every opportunity to utterly fail and make a complete ass of yourself while doing it. High school Spanish was tedious at best, but "fun" wouldn't be a way I'd describe it…which is exactly why Human Japanese from Brak Software was such a breath of fresh air in the language-learning realm.

Plus, it looks gorgeous on your smartphone homescreen

Plus, it looks gorgeous on your smartphone homescreen

HJ skips the faux-conversation-and-vocab-list approach to language learning and breaks the Japanese language down into its most basic form, and it does so with warm overtones I've yet to see present in any other approach to learning a language. While other programs might feel stilted or forced, HJ makes its customers want to learn Japanese.

While not a comprehensive survey of the Japanese language (it doesn't pretend to be one), HJ still offers a plethora of resources and tools to help enthusiasts to a comfortable, working foundation of Japanese upon which further study and proficiency can be built: there are 40 chapters of top-notch material, animated walkthroughs of each character's rendering, and over 1,800 native-speaker recordings of words and phrases—there are even recordings of common pronunciation errors that non-native speakers are prone to. Throw in a few cultural/historical vignettes, matching games, and cross-platform support for a variety of devices (including Android and iPhone), and HJ is easily a top competitor for the best Japanese language-learning suite.

The bottom line is this: even if you've only considered learning Japanese, HJ is a wonderful treat and will inspire you to pursue the language further. Going through the Human Japanese suite without sharing Mr. Rak's love of this beautiful language would be like listening to to a symphony and feeling cold at the end.