If you want to learn Japanese, French, Spanish, or Chinese and you're a gamer, chances are you'd like learning the "My Coach" way.
These edutainment titles by UBI Soft are great for someone that wants to learn a new language, especially if they have time to sit like on the bus, subway, train, couch, library, etc. If you have a trip planned to a foreign country, and you want an excellent learning and translation tool to bring with you on the trip, this is it!
So, let's just pretend that you're going on a trip to China. We all know that you're going to bring your DS with you. I mean, that's what it's for, right? You've got plenty of time in the plane, so start going through the "My Chinese Coach" lessons.
The in-game teacher will educate you about the words and phrases for the lesson. You can hear her speak each of them. If you want to, you can enter a mode where you speak into the microphone and try to match her pronunciation. Though, that's probably going to annoy the people around you on the plane.
Then, you have to "master" each of the words and phrases from the current lesson. To do this, you play mini-games that help you memorize them. Early games include a Whack-A-Mole style game and a multiple-choice quiz. When you progress to new lessons, you unlock new mini-games.
Once you arrive in China, you can start using your new phrases. Oh, you don't remember them all? Do you need to use a word or phrase that you didn't learn yet? That's no problem. There's a dictionary built in to the game. You can use it like a portable phrase book or English to Chinese dictionary. Though, it's way better than that, because you can hear the pronunciation of each word. With a tonal language like Chinese, that can be very important. In the worst case, you could just show the DS to someone and ask them to listen to the phrase so they know what you're trying to say.
I am using My Chinese Coach to try to learn some Chinese. I am also listening to a Chinese language instructional audio book when I drive my car. It's just too hard to play DS while driving. The audio book requires you to speak along with the lessons, which isn't ideal for learning on mass transit. It's also not much of a game, and I assume that readers of this blog are mainly gamers. To me, the language "tapes" are the traditional way to learn, but the DS games are the new cool way to learn and also get a portable translator.
If you have a DS (or a PSP in some cases), try one of UBI Soft's My _____ Coach titles. I have also tried "My Spanish Coach" for the DS. It is the same game, but of course it is teaching Spanish instead of the aforementioned Chinese. If you're trying to learn a language, I feel like you can't go wrong with one of these titles. Even if you're taking a class in school, I think it would be a great tool to aide your progress!
My Japanese Coach
My French Coach
My Spanish Coach
My Chinese Coach