Noriko Nagata

Robo-Sensei is an interactive software program for learning and practicing grammar principles that are essential to mastery of Japanese. Using artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and an enjoyable one-on-one method, Robo-Sensei provides detailed feedback to students as they work through a fun series of 24 modules-from beginning to advanced levels.

Within Robo-Sensei's colorful program, you'll be taken through a series of practice drills, such as fill-in-the-blank, sentence composition, dictation, and reading short letters and passages, that mimic real-life communicative situations. As you compose your own sentences in response to each new situation, Robo-Sensei uses artificial intelligence technology to interpret your responses, correct your mistakes, and provide feedback on the nature of your errors. Robo-Sensei provides learners with the opportunity to practice Japanese anywhere—at home, while traveling, or in a school language lab—and receive specific feedback to help improve their particular weaknesses.

Minimum Requirements

Windows: Windows 2000 or higher (Japanese Windows 98/ME is also supported); 90 MB free hard drive space; an additional 230 MB is required to install supplemental language support; Microsoft Internet Explorer 6+, Netscape 7.1+, or Mozilla Firefox 2+ with JavaScript enabled, the freely downloadable Adobe Acrobat Reader. Windows Vista is supported.

Mac: OS X; 120 MB free hard drive space; Internet browser with JavaScript enabled, the freely downloadable Adobe Acrobat Reader. Robo-Sensei runs on Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. In Safari and Firefox on OS 10.3.9 or below, Robo-Sensei's text areas scroll from bottom to top. This is a global feature of the browser's Java plug-in on Mac, over which Robo-Sensei has no control. If you prefer to see the text scroll from top to bottom, please use Internet Explorer. Robo-Sensei's package includes Internet Explorer for you to install into your computer.

In this Series


The strength of Robo-Sensei is clearly evident in its answer-judging capability. It gives remarkably flexible feedback by analyzing the student's input, and not by predicted incorrect answers.

— Kazumi Hatasa (Purdue University) in Oshirase, the newsletter of the National Council of Japanese Language Teachers (NCJLT)

Robo-Sensei can help develop overall linguistic accuracy, sociocultural awareness, and typing accuracy. Robo-Sensei can profitably supplement most commonly used elementary and intermediate-level Japanese textbooks as a personal tutor that provides detailed and individualized feedback. The quality of the digital photos (which the author took in Japan) and computer-created animation used in the program is excellent and exceptionally effective in holding users' interests during exercises.

— Eiko Ushida, Lecturer of Japanese, University of California, San Diego (in The CALICO Journal)

Robo-Sensei's great strength is that it parses the learner's input and gives very specific feedback, providing explanations of grammatical errors present. Further, Robo-Sensei can process input of complete sentences, unlike most programs that allow only fill-in-the-blank phrases or multiple-choice responses. This is a tremendous advance in language teaching technology, even more impressive considering the complexity of the Japanese writing system.

— Bernard Susser, Professor, Doshisha Women's College, Japan

This software is cutting-edge. I am unaware of any such innovative language software (certainly not in ESL) that incorporates artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology. The software program allows users to generate language and provides meaningful feedback on individual errors. Not only are the lessons pedagogically sound, but they also contain engaging cultural content. Lessons center on various cities in Japan and common places. Students not only learn and practice the Japanese language while using Robo-Sensei, but also they learn about Japan, gaining valuable cultural insights.

— Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, Professor and ESL Program Coordinator, the University of San Francisco

Robo-Sensei is a sophisticated program that incorporates interactivity to a great degree and re-enforces students' learning effectively by providing useful, immediate, and individualized grammatical explanations pertinent to each grammatical error made by the user.

— Midori McKeon, Professor of Japanese, San Francisco State University
The makers of this program have provided another step in the evolution of computer-assisted language learning software, and users will benefit from its flexible tutoring aspect.
— Gary Whitby, The Ohio State University (in Modern Language Journal)

Immediate and individualized feedback based on analysis of the user's input allows users to learn from the mistakes that they make.  Step-by-step grammar exercises (first filling in the blank and then inputting a whole sentence followed by listening comprehension) also helps users to gradually build up their grammar knowledge and confidence as they go through the lesson. Each lesson develops a story, and with its pictures and cultural notes users can simultaneously learn about Japanese culture and history while practicing their language skills.  This technology may be the future format of all language textbooks

— Reiko Itoh, Lecturer of Japanese, University of Canterbury, New Zealand