Japanese is a fun language to learn and isn't really all that hard - it just looks that way sometimes. However, one of the most difficult aspects for beginners is how to look up kanji (Chinese characters) in a dictionary - it's not like you can just go to a page of words all starting with the same letter, after all.

Fortunately, Casio 's new Ex-wordXD-SW4800 electronic dictionary uses a touch-sensitive panel to make the process a piece of cake.

It's all pretty obvious really - just use the stylus to copy the new kanji you don't understand and the dictionary will let you know what it means in English and Japanese, how to pronounce it and, very importantly, how to draw the strokes in the correct order.

Although the SW4800 is pricey at JPY52,000 (£224), it's pretty much guaranteed to improve anyone's written Japanese. In fact, the company sells it within Japan as an ideal way for native speakers of the language to boost their own writing skills, which is quite a boast in a nation that has almost 100 per cent literacy. J Mark Lytle