Updated in August, 2017.
- Name & Website: http://www.japanesepod101.com
- Type of Resource: Complete Japanese Learning Program with Audio/Video Lessons, Study Tools, Apps and 1-on-1 Teacher Access
- Who is it for? For brand new beginners and experienced learners alike (levels – Absolute Beginner to Advanced). Meant for anyone of any age who’s interested in learning the language.
- Accounts: Free, Basic, Premium, Premium PLUS
- Price: Free, $4/month and up to $47/month. Includes 60-Day Refund Policy and customer support. There are also discounts.
JapanesePod101 Review – The Site Basics
What is JapanesePod101? What do you need to know?
Why should you care? They’re a Japanese learning program. Their goal is to get you speaking, reading, writing and understanding Japanese. They’ve been around since 2005 and are a pretty popular resource.
The site has these membership options….
- FREE Lifetime Account: This is their free account. Don’t be confused. When you sign up, you also get a 7-day “Premium Plan” trial to try everything on the site. So when it expires, that’s just the Premium membership ending. As a free member, you get:
- Word of the Day
- New Audio & Video Lessons every Week
- Vocab Lists
- Top 100 Must Know Words
- Daily Dose Lessons
- Their App
- Basic Member: All audio/video lessons, lesson notes, progress tracking and app access.
- Premium Member: Unlimited access to the site. All lessons, lesson notes, premium study tools, app access, progress tracking, voice recording, line by line audio & more.
- Premium PLUS: This is Premium access plus an on-site Japanese teacher that will help you with any questions you may have.
How You Learn Japanese & What You Get
So, JapanesePod101’s program revolves around these 4 attractions.
- The Audio/Video Lesson Library: They have over 2,900+ lessons in total from Beginner level to Advanced. Your lessons are organized by (1) Learning Level and (2) Learning Focus such as reading, writing, speaking, culture, pronunciation and whatever else you want to learn. The lessons are 3-15 minutes long so they’re not overwhelming.
- These lessons are the bread and butter of their Learning Program.
- All lessons come with read-along Lesson Notes & Transcripts so you can read along and get your lessons in writing.
- The Premium Study Tools: This includes Spaced Repetition Flashcards, Line-by-Line Conversation Breakdowns, Slowed-down Japanese, Voice Recorder, WordBank and Translations.
- These study tools help you master what you learn in the lessons.
- Mobile App Access to Learn Wherever: You can access your lessons and study tools on the App. So, if you’re commuting, cleaning the house or walking somewhere, you can squeeze in a 15 minute lesson.
- 1-on-1 Learning with a Teacher: You can learn with a teacher on their site. More specifically, this includes an assessment test, a personalized study plan, assignments from a teacher and you can exchange messages and send them audio recordings.
If you’re learning with them, you get the following features…
- New lessons published weekly
- Over 2,900 Audio & Video Lessons from Beginner level to Advanced
- Smart Dashboard to guide through their lessons
- Progress Tracking Tools to see how much you’ve learned
- Lesson Notes to read with
- Line-by-Line Dialogues so you can hear/read conversations one line at a time
- Apps and… more. Find out for yourself. Too much to write.
My goal is to understand & speak the conversation I hear in each and every one of these lessons.
First, lets look at the Lessons. Take a look below. That’s how most lessons are designed. You have the main audio or video, then there’s a download option and a PDF downloads option.
You press play and listen to the lesson which is presented by 2 teachers – one is a native Japanese speaker and the other is American. They give you a conversation. Then, they slow down and explain every word, grammar rule and phrase. On top of that, they’re entertaining so it’s fun and far from a boring way to learn. By the end, you should master a whole dialog.
As you listen (or watch a video lesson), just scroll down where you also get the:
Dialogue section: here, you get the line-by-line breakdown of the lesson conversation. This includes English translations, romanization and audio so you can listen to each line again and again. This is very handy for catching hard-to-hear words and mastering conversations.
Vocabulary: This is the review section with key phrases and words from the lesson. You can also quiz yourself or send the words to your Flashcard Deck or WordBank.
- Lesson Notes: These are additional review notes for that lesson and include some more grammar tutorials and explanations. You can download these as PDF files and review at a later time. That’s what I usually.
Transcript: You can use this to read along as you take the lesson and never miss a word. Quite handy, in my opinion. Audio/video + text is the best combination for learning.
Comments: And, the comments section. You can leave a comment, question, practice some phrases and the teachers will respond to you with feedback.
When you’re done, mark it as complete and move onto the next lesson. How do you know which lesson to take? Whichever pathway (course) you take, just go to the next one. Also, you can see what lessons you have to do next on your Dashboard.
So, those are the Audio/Video lessons in a nutshell. And there are tons. They cover all aspects of the language. Just keep going until you progress and improve.
- Culture, Conversation, Grammar
- Reading, Writing, Alphabet,
- JLPT & much more.
- All levels from Absolute Beginner to Advanced
Do they actually work? Yes. The Audio/Video and text combination is a very powerful way to learn. All you have to do is listen/watch and read along. If you can listen and repeat, you can easily learn Japanese.
It’s almost like listening to a radio show at times… except they break down Japanese conversations. Listen for yourself. Here are some examples.
- Absolute Beginner – Lesson #1 – Say Hello in Japanese No Matter What the Time of Day
- Survival Phrases – Lesson #1 – Thank You!
Now, will you learn to read and write? Yes. These are video lessons, eBooks and PDF worksheets devoted to teaching you how to write out characters and read short stories.
Now, aside from the lessons, you get study tools too.
The Premium Study Tools.
The point of these tools is to help you master what you learned in the lessons. Let’s take a look.
Line by Line Dialogue & Voice Recording
- Dialogue: I already mentioned this earlier but since it’s a Premium study tool, it goes into this section. It breaks down the lesson conversation into single lines that you can 1) read and 2) hear again and again.
- Voice Recorder: This is also inside the Dialogue too. Look for the microphone icon. This helps you practice speaking and pronunciation by recording yourself and comparing yourself with a native. Quite a clever tool. Recording yourself is a method used by public speakers and anyone that wants to improve their speaking skills so it’s interesting to see it here.
2,000 Most Common Word List
This is their giant database of the most commonly used words and phrases. Each word includes the translation, the audio pronunciation, a picture and example sentences. This is a good feature to have. Generally, if you want to speak more of ANY language, you need to know MORE words. And you get them all in one place.
Now, how in the world you learn them all? That’s where the next study tool comes in.
Spaced Repetition Flashcards
Experienced language learners love spaced repetition flashcards. Why? Well, here’s what these flashcards do for you:
- They quiz you on words
- They sort the words on how well you know them
- you’ll see the hard words more often
- you’ll see the easier words less and less
- As you slowly master the current words, they introduce new ones
- They re-quiz you on older words every now and then to keep your memory sharp
- They don’t force you to cram 4000 words at once. You only study a small chunk at a time.
It’s a guaranteed way to get words stuck in your long-term memory. All you have to do is fiddle with them for a few minutes a day. So, you can learn the 2,000 word lists or the vocab from Japanese lessons with this tool.
The Word Bank
Then there’s the Word Bank. This is your personal word list where you can save words and phrases of interest. So, if you’re like me, you have a hard time remembering words if you only see them once. The solution?
Save them to the Word Bank and review them later with Flashcards. You can even print it out.
Vocabulary & Phrase Lists
This is a library of word and phrase lessons. And the words you learn here are not typical textbook words.
You’ll learn timely words for things like Summer, Winter, Halloween, Christmas as well as useful phrases like Complaints, Common Questions, Compliments, how to say How Are You and much more.
As you can see, you get a lot at JapanesePod101.
Even their Free Account gives you a lot: word of the day, new weekly lessons, vocabulary lists, mobile app, and PDF lessons.
- Update** Secret Lifetime Membership: They don’t advertise this (they probably lose money on it but I found the link during a Christmas sale) but you can buy lifetime access to their entire learning system. I think this would be useful for serious learners (ONLY) that don’t want to “try” Japanese but are in it for the long term. Click here to check it out.
What’s my conclusion? Do I Recommend The Site?
Personally, I liked the site. Why?
- 1) TONS of lessons,
- 2) You get new lessons non-stop,
- 3) You can take and retake lessons as many times as you want
- 4) You can learn on any device
The lessons alone can take you to a high Japanese level. The line-by-line dialogue is priceless in helping break down conversations. It’s great for listening and speaking skills and learning overall Japanese conversation. So I don’t have much bad things to say.
My advice is to have a “growth mindset” (meaning: you believe intelligence can be developed, that the brain is like a muscle that can be trained) and thus, use the site it for it’s value.