I was always interested in traveling to Japan. The culture, people, and natural beauty of the country were what drew me in. I knew that it was definitely a place that I wanted to visit in the future and something that would be on my bucket list. But for one reason or another, I had never really had the opportunity to travel across the Pacific. I was either too broke or too busy. That changed last summer when I decided to put an end to my procrastination and fulfill my dream. I purchased my ticket to Japan online and celebrated with a triumphant cheer. However, I soon came to a realization. I did not speak one word of Japanese.
I had one month until I embarked on my adventure and I wanted to learn as much Japanese as I could, so I decided to look into my options. While perusing the internet in search of a Japanese language program that would fit my needs, I kept finding myself at JapanesePod101.com. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first as I had tried similar language programs in the past with no success, but with hundreds of positive reviews as my reference, I decided to give them a shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that JapanesePod101 not only offered affordable prices, but also a free 7-day trial of their Premium plan. With nothing to lose and a whole new world to gain, I signed up for the Premium plan. The sign-up process was quick and simple. It may have taken me 2 minutes at most to submit my information and receive my confirmation email. After that, I was immediately able to log-in and start my studying.
The layout of the site was beautiful and I was able to use it on my Macbook, iPad, and iPhone without any trouble whatsoever. Due to the fact that I had no previous knowledge of Japanese language, I started my journey at the “Absolute Beginner” level. Instantly, I found myself eyeing over a curriculum that I knew would be beneficial to my trip. Topics such as survival phrases, introductions, shopping, and ordering food each had their own individual lessons. I began my studying that night with the goal of learning basic travel Japanese before I left. JapanesePod101 made it easy to track my progress and that helped me stay committed to my studies. I studied every single night for one whole month.
Here are some of the features of JapanesePod101 that I found the most helpful:
Lessons by Native-Speaking Instructors
Throughout my years, I’ve noticed that those who do not learn a language from a native-speaker tend to pick up an accent that derives from the teacher’s mother tongue. That’s why I think that this is one of the best things about JapanesePod101. Why learn from someone whose native-language is something other than Japanese when you could just as easily learn from someone who has been speaking it from birth? JapanesePod101 offers real dialogue from real Japanese speakers.
Printable Notes Available to Download
For me, this was a deal-breaker. Though I love the convenience of being able to study online from any of my devices, sometimes I just like to keep it old school and have my notes on a piece of paper that I can physically touch and write on. Fortunately for me, JapanesePod101 offers easy to print PDF notes and transcripts for each of the lessons in the curriculum. Printing them out only takes a few seconds!
Japanese Word of the Day
I think that this is helpful for those lazy days when you may not feel like studying. JapanesePod101 will send you one word per day from their Japanese Core Word List. This ensures that even on your days off, you’re still getting a healthy and relevant intake of Japanese language!
JLPT Practice Tests
As someone who is thinking about learning Japanese language seriously in the future, this feature really stood out to me. JapanesePod101 offers a large number of practice exams for the N4 and N5 JLPT tests, exams which test your proficiency in Japanese and are required by many employers who look to hire foreigners. This struck me as extremely valuable for someone who might want to find work and live in Japan.
Last but not least, JapanesePod101 offers flashcards that make learning Japanese fun and easy. Users can select the set of flashcards that matches their current lesson in order to enhance their studies!
Other Things to Think About When Considering JapanesePod101:
JapanesePod101 offers a high-quality product at a fraction of the price of its competitors. For what you get, JapanesePod101 is a complete bargain.
Different Levels for Different Learners
I think that this allows the student to grow and mature as a learner. Students can advance from one level to the next as they improve. On the other side, if you already have some knowledge of Japanese, you can easily start at a higher level without having to re-learn things you already know.
Available on Any Media Device
This was a really big plus for me! I was able to use JapanesePod101 on my cell phone, tablet, and laptop. They even have their own apps!
Study When You Want, Where You Want
JapanesePod101 gives you the best of both worlds. Rather than taking a scheduled class, why not get the same benefit while studying in the comfort of your own home on your own time?
In the End:
I used JapanesePod101 to study for one month and then left for Japan. I stayed in Tokyo for 2 months and had the time of my life. There were definitely tons of things I couldn’t understand, but I was really surprised at how much I had learned! I was able to order food, go grocery shopping, and even order drinks at a local bar! I had become very comfortable with both hiragana and katakana and could actually read a lot of the signs and posters I saw. I can honestly say that I would have had a completely different experience without JapanesePod101. Without my studies, I wouldn’t have known how to ask for directions, get food by myself, or even thank someone for opening door for me! My time in Tokyo was one of the best times of my life…and I owe a large part of that to JapanesePod101.