Speaking pen helps speed up language learning

Easier than hunting through dictionaries, the Onpitsu simplifies language learning

Learning a new language isn't always the most fun activity for many people. Especially during the endless hours of repetitive listening to tapes or CDs needed to learn how to understand the spoken word. Fortunately, a novel study aid from Japanese firm Imajinsha aims to make the time-consuming donkeywork a little easier with its new polyglot pen.

The ¥12,000 (£48) Onpitsu looks rather like a fat magic marker but the built-in speaker gives it away for the sophisticated audio player it really is. Learners of, for example, Japanese with its complex character system, get an audio readout of the printed word by pointing the Onpitsu at text in a specially formatted book.

Time saver

It might sound like a minor aid. But the ability to touch the Onpitsu's scanner-equipped tip to a page and hear the correct pronunciation of text in a strange script can save hours of hunting through dictionaries.

Books and their accompanying audio files on proprietary memory cards for Onpitsu (a combination of the Japanese words for 'sound' and 'pencil') are already available from several major publishing firms.

The device also has 256MB of onboard memory and can connect to a PC by USB to receive the free audio downloads supplied by some more innovative magazines. Given the popular Japanese-learning method preferred by some Tech.co.uk team members of spending endless nights in Tokyo bars, perhaps Imajinsha's next product will be an audio-equipped sake cup.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.