So, how can you learn Japanese with JapanesePod101?
This review will give you the overview of JapanesePod101 — all the facts and features in a straight forward, no B.S. manner so that you can see if this program is for you.
How JapanesePod101 Teaches You
JapanesePod101 offers audio and video courses made by real teachers.
So, the audio/video lessons are the meat and potatoes (main focus) of the site.
When you sign up for a free account… they’ll ask you for your learning level (Absolute Beginner to Advanced).
Based on the level, you will get a pathway of lessons to start learning with. For example, below is the Level 1 (Absolute Beginner) pathway of 92+ lessons – a starting point for all brand new learners. So, there’s a clear path of lessons to follow from 1 to 2 to 3, until you’re done. The good thing here is, you always know where to start and where to go next.
Now, what about the lessons themselves?
Most programs and apps nowadays have you play matching games, read word lists, and other vocabulary quizzes…
But, JapanesePo101 lessons are focused on Japanese conversations. So, if you’re listening to an audio lesson or watching a video lesson, you’ll be hearing real Japanese and the flow of the language from lesson #1. One strong point here is the conversations and voices are real, and not robotic AI voices used in apps.
So, for example, the first lesson covers how to say hello in Japanese.
How Do Lessons Work?
You press play and listen to an audio lesson or watch a video lesson.
First, you’ll hear a practical conversation. Whether it’s two people introducing themselves. Or talking about what they’re doing. Then, you’ll hear it again with translations. And then, the teachers explain the grammar, the key vocabulary, and cultural nuances in that conversation. Finally, you hear the conversation one last time (3rd time) — at which point you should understand it.
The lessons usually cover practical, everyday conversations like greetings, talking about the weather, shopping, family… while weaving in grammar into the conversation.
So, in those 3-15 minutes…
- You learn a simple conversation
- You learn all kinds of vocabulary
- You master a grammar rule or two
- And you can start speaking (if you repeat what you hear)
Once you finish the lesson, mark it complete. Your progress is recorded.
And, the pathway will send you to the next lesson in line.
So, that’s how the lessons work in a nutshell.
But, JapanesePod101 also weaves in more to help you learn better. This includes extra features and study tools which I’ll mention below.
You Can Follow Along & Learn Faster
As you might already know…
Listening Japanese is not always easy.
If you’re a beginner, it’s can be hard to pick up on new words… or know when one starts and when one ends.
So, if you’ve ever listened to real Japanese, at some point, you probably wished you had a transcript of a conversation… to understand it.
Well… with the JapanesePod101 lessons, you get lesson notes and transcripts. When you follow along with text, you can pick up on every word that’s said and improve your listening. Then, if you listen again, you won’t need to follow along because your brain already knows what’s what.
Japanese Conversations Broken Down for You
Aside from reading along…
You can also have the Japanese conversation broken down line by line… and listen to each line one at a time.
This is another good way to follow along as well as train your ear.
And you get this with the Dialogue tool which you get in every lesson. The dialogue includes the conversation in 1) Japanese, 2) English, and 3) Romanized Japanese (romaji), so that the translations are there in front of you.
In my opinion, this is one of the most worthwhile JapanesePod101 Premium features.
If you can break down and slow down the conversations, you can pick them up quite quickly and learn Japanese much easier.
Also, if you notice the microphone icons above — that’s their Pronunciation/Speaking Practice Tool.
If you click on it, you’ll get to practice saying that line… by recording yourself AND it will also compare your speech to the native speaker. So, you can practice both speaking and pronunciation..
How to use the Dialogue (summary):
- Listen to the audio of each line one at a time
- Get the translation for each line (click/tap on English)
- Practice saying each line and compare it against native speakers with the voice recording option
- You can also download the Dialogue track, which is just the conversation with no English to review
Japanese Vocabulary Acquisition
After the Voice Recorder…
There’s also the Vocabulary section. This gives you the key words from that lesson.
You can read through the words, listen to the pronunciation, or slow it down (which is nice). You can also 1) create a Flashcard deck for the words you learn, 2) send them to your WordBank, 3) play a slideshow on loop, or take a quiz.
With my lessons, I send lesson vocabulary to the Flashcards (Spaced Repetition System) where I can drill them later. If you don’t know about Spaced Repetition, it just means that the Flashcards 1) track your progress, 2) space out the words that you get right so that you see them later (in 2 days, then 4 days, 8 days, and so on.) This 3) improves your memory. And, if you get the words wrong, 4) the flashcards keep showing the words to you until you get them right. Long story short, spaced repetition is a science-backed learning method for improving memory.
The WordBank is more so a “second brain” or a “bank” (duh) where you can save words of interest. It’s up to you if you want to use it— as it ends up just being a list of words. But, the upside is, the WordBank allows you to print the words so that you have your own physical vocabulary sheets, which I like.
Recap of how to use & features involved:
- Listen to the Audio pronunciation
- Listen to the slowed-down version
- Practice saying each word with the voice recording option
- Review words with the Slideshow
- Review with the Quiz
- Send the words to the 1) Word Bank or 2) Flashcards for further study
How JapanesePod101 Keeps You Going
As any structured course would, JapanesePod101 feeds you the next lessons (down the pathway).
When you finish a lesson (mark it as complete), the system will update your progress.
You’ll see your progress updated on the Dashboard (which also feeds you your next lessons.)
For me, this is another important feature.
With language learning, it’s easy to get lost and overloaded since there’s so much to do.
But, the beauty in the Dashboard is that it keeps you on track and keeps the process simple. Done with lesson #1? You get lesson #2. Then #3. And so on.
You Get Tested & Practice Your Japanese
Now, it’s one thing to “learn” some Japanese…
You can take a lesson or 2… and think you’re good. But you’re not.
Taking in new information is only 1/2 the battle of successful learning. (And the reason why we forget a lot what we hear, read and learn.)
The second half of the battle is using and practicing the Japanese that you learn. That’s where the Japanese really sets in.
So, after every few lessons, JapanesePod101 gives you “Assessments.” You’ll find these peppered throughout the Recommended Pathway.
There are Multiple-choice Assessments and Hand-graded Assessments. Assessments are there to test you what you’ve learned in the last few lessons, and help you practice some Japanese. Below is what a multiple-choice assessment looks like.
And the Hand-graded Assessments test you on speaking and writing… so you get to practice speaking out loud. These ones are graded by real teachers — which is a nice touch.
Study Tools & Features Laid Out
So now you know how JapanesePod101 pretty much works.
Here’s an overview of the study tools they offer.
- Recommended Pathway: Your official starting point and pathway of lessons to take.
- Lesson Library: This is where you’ll find their 100s of lessons and learning paths to take
- Audio/Video Lessons: 3-15 minute long lessons created by Japanese teachers
- 2000 Core Word List (2000 most common Japanese Words)
- Flashcards to help you learn words fast
- Word Bank to save words and create study sheets
- Voice Recorder to record yourself and compare with native speakers
- Premium PLUS My Teacher – this gives you an on-site teacher via their Premium PLUS messenger
- Assessments: Test you on the Japanese you’ve learned every few lessons.
Conclusion: Is it Worth it?
Now, let’s finish up this JapanesePod101 review.
Is JapanesePod101 worth it?
My opinion? I’d say yes. I’m a big fan of learning from conversations.
The testing is a nice touch.
They have literally 100s of lessons to expose you to real Japanese and level you up from beginner to advanced. The lessons alone can take you to a high Japanese level. Overall, it’s great for listening and speaking skills and learning overall Japanese conversation.
But, that doesn’t mean that JapanesePod101 might be useful for everyone.
Secret Lifetime Premium Membership: Although Japanese offers subscriptions, there is a lifetime option if you’re interested. Their Lifetime Premium plan isn’t really advertised much (I found it only during their Holiday sale), but you can check it out here. If you’re a lifelong learner and want to have the Japanese language with you for life, I recommend checking it out. Click here to check it out.
Hopefully this helped you understand how JapanesePod101 works.
– Lingua Junkie