Many moons ago, in the pre-Google era, I listened to audio cassettes in my car. Specifically the cassettes which accompanied each month's Nihongo Journal. Twice weekly I had a two-hour drive from the small town where I lived to my karate dojo in Matsuyama - prime listening time. I listened, shadowed the conversations and shuffled the tapes for variety. Low-tech but effective - two trips a week was 8 solid hours of listening practice, and repeating phrases helps stave off driver sleepiness.
These days I use an iPod in the car - it takes up less room than a bunch of tapes and digital files are conveniently broken into individual tracks. Very occasionally I will throw a tape in the care and listen to it (yes - my car still has a cassette player).
But I am moving to Tokyo in a couple of weeks and selling my car. I'll be swapping the expressway for the subway. So I decided to digitize the tapes.
This was a simple process. I already own a copy of CD Spin Doctor - it came with my copy of Roxio Toast - so all I had to do was buy a stereo cable to connect the line-in input of my PowerBook to my stereo headphone jack, press play on the stereo and then hit record on the software. CD Spin Doctor gives you the option of listening to the audio as you record it so I have begun the nostalgic process of listening to the contents of tapes from 1998-2000 as I transfer them onto my hard drive.
For example, the tape in the photo contained the following:
食品添加物 Food Additives (6 min)
問い合わせる Keigo for Every Occasion: Making an Enquiry (6 min)
模擬テスト JLPT Practice Test for Level 1 (16 min)
１２月 Japanese Through the Seasons:December (4 min)
最近の若者は Young People These Days (8 min)
「ことしの別れ」幸田文 "This Year's Farewell" by Aya Koda (13 min)
The resultant files are in AIFF format and about 250MB a side but it is a simple matter to squeeze them down to AAC or MP3 using iTunes or similar application. CD Spin Doctor automatically breaks the audio into tracks, but listening to and labelling individual tracks is a fiddly task best left for a rainy day - for the time being I just want a file I can stick on my iPod Shuffle.
And you don't even have to buy software - Audacity is a free, cross platform recording and editing application (Mac, Windows, Linux).
At 50-60 minutes per tape I now have an additional 22 hours of Japanese audio to keep me busy. How many hours of audio do you have hidden away in tape format?