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My Honest Review and Opinion of JapanesePod101

Howdy people, my name is Thomas. I’m a blogger and huge Japanese enthusiast. Today I’m going to review www.JapanesePod101.com and give you guys a 100% honest opinion on it. I am not being paid or otherwise compensated for this, and all opinions are my own. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m brutally honest and blunt, so I won’t pull punches in a review. That said, enjoy.

honest review of japanesepod101.com

My first impression of JapanesePod101.com was that it looked a lot like what I had come to expect from language learning sites, from Rosetta Stone to Duolingo, I knew the drill and the layout of the main page was the same, bare-bones info page that I always see when I go to a site with a landing page that tries to get you to sign up right away. By comparison, ILL’s main site is much more informative about the company and their services, and actually convinced me to try them out in the first place. Perhaps I’m just too jaded to be taken in like many consumers by a simple ad. I want more info than what they share with their marketing spin all over it. I want facts, features, simply stated and without divisive wording so present in marketing pitches.

The negatives pretty much stop there. This service is wonderful! After signing up, you get a straight-talk offer to get a huge upgrade for a dollar of bandwidth. I took the offer, naturally, though I later had an issue with backing out of the $25 a month subscription it signed me up on. I didn’t realize I could just change my settings for the auto-renewal. It is enabled by default, but when I forgot, they were good about refunding me. I had my money back within a week, not bad for communicating across the globe to do it.

japanesepod101 video and audio lessons

The dashboard takes a bit to get used to, but once you figure out what everything does and where it all leads, it is extremely useful and well-designed, though I would prefer if the lesson videos and series videos were organized the same way. I found that I could find some lessons through the actual lessons tab, and others by picking through the series videos. Maybe I just got turned around in the interface but I didn’t feel like I had a good way to get a singular overview of every single lesson to know how much they covered.

Now we come to the best part, and the reason why I truly endorse JapanesePod101.com. The lessons themselves. Oh, my, god. These people know how to teach Japanese. The videos don’t just teach vocabulary and hope you can pick up the pronunciation by imitation like Rosetta Stone tries to. And unlike that same product, which I used before, JPod never talks down to you or treats you like a child. Rosetta Stone seriously showed me juice and milk to teach me how to say the Japanese words ジュース&ぎゅうにゅう one of which is just the same word in katakana, which they don’t explain, and the other is never used anymore, instead they use the katakana’d version of it too! Not JPod, they treat you like an intelligent student right off the bat, explaining the basic structure of the language and rolling it right into vocab.

japanesepod101 vocabulary lists

I loved how Risa explained a lot of the concepts, and much to my pleasant surprise, they didn’t just cover lists of words and pronunciation, though they have tons of word lists and very good pronunciation guides. No, my favorite part is that they covered grammar! You have no idea how much, as a student who learned under tutors and college for all of my Japanese learning journey up to now, how infuriating it is to not have the grammar explained! If you know conjugations of verbs, you can teach yourself so many words just from hearing them and reverse engineering them to dictionary form! Risa does an amazing job of walking you through the grammar points and makes them not feel so scary as grammar was for many people who hated taking English.

One big negative that I have to nick them for though, is the teaching style. Now I’m not talking about the lessons themselves, I mean the overall organization of the lessons. Because you can freely float around between lessons, they don’t build upon each other. I am only in semester 3 of Japanese, and I could hop into Advanced and while I didn’t necessarily find it stuff I already knew, I had no difficulty understanding the lessons and mastering the content. If I tried to do that with a college course, I’d get lost very fast. That sounds like a positive at first, but the problem is that you can’t push your students if you make everything somewhat accessible to people with a good grip on the language already. Perhaps they have more structured or difficult content in other areas, but the lessons from Absolute Beginner through Advanced seemed to have no difficulty curve at all which means they wouldn’t push me to get better.

japanesepod101 resources learn japanese

It’s a delicate balance, trying to appeal to masses while also pushing every one of those people to “git gud”, believe me, I know. But in the business of teaching language, you have to make a decision on whether you’ll push your users or make everything more accessible to them so they can learn more content easier. I feel like if the lessons were more rigidly structured in points and built upon previous lessons it would work better. Perhaps if it was organized more like a game where you progress down a linear path but have branches where you can head off into side paths of learning and explore things that are at the same level as what you’re learning now, it would be more effective.

Honestly, I would love to see JPod get into Tangential Learning and “gamify” their content a bit. This IS on the internet after all, most people are used to games from their phones and tablets by now, so they won’t be unfamiliar to basic game UI. That said, this is getting a bit more into “I wish” territory.

All in all, I would highly recommend JPod for anyone interested in learning a language from the ground up or as preparation to get into college courses. It is far better than most of the other kinds of software and websites I have been to, mostly because the videos are very well organized and presented, with comprehensive learning material teaching the basic workings of the language as well as the grammar structures along with vocabulary.

Like Thomas, give it a try and create a Free Lifetime Account, get started learning Japanese and share your review with us!

Concentration - 神経衰弱

Hi everyone!

Previously I introduced a game called “Fukuwarai” in my last blog. Has anyone tried it?
Today, I want to introduce another useful game that you can play with your friend.
I am sure that many of you have played this game with cards. It is a language version of “Concentration” (Shinkei suijaku). This is also known as memory, in which all of the cards are laid face down on a surface and two cards are flipped face up over each turn. The object of the game is to turn over pairs of matching cards.

If you have the chance to play this game with your classmates, make your own cards and try with Japanese. To remember Katakana and Hiragana, for example, you can make cards with Hiragana and Katakana which can be matched together. You can also play this game to memorize vocabulary – you can write matched words in English and Japanese.
This game is actually quite fun and can help you remember character/words in a fun and easy way!

Another good thing is that you can start with small number of cards, and then you can add more and more cards later on. So why not make your own cards and play with your friends!

See you next week!

Your Turn to Interview a Sensei!!

Mina-sama, here at JPod World Headquarters we’re always trying to think of more and more ways to help you learn Japanese! And now we have something very special for you!

In April, we will have a very special guest with us. His name is 矢野先生 (Yano sensei) and he has nearly 20 years of experience teaching Japanese! His resume includes not only university classroom instruction, but also private and corporate instruction. He also founded the 矢野アカデミー which specializes in training Japanese teachers how to teach Japanese. It goes without saying; Mr. Yano will bring to us a wealth of expertise and wisdom about the process of learning this amazing language!

But it gets better!
Rather than merely introduce him to our staff, we thought it would be much more fun if we could bring Yano sensei directly to you! So, that’s what we’re going to do.

Now is your chance to ask this seasoned sensei for advice about effective study methods, avoiding pitfalls, breaking bad habits and picking up good ones. If you have a question about studying Japanese, we’ll ask Yano sensei during a very special podcast whose contents are totally determined entirely by YOU!

How cool is that?

The entire interview will be conducted in Japanese, so if you wanna try to ask your question in Japanese, go for it. (Of course, if you don’t want to, that’s OK, we’ll be translating everything!)

Let’s get a big ol’ list of questions for the sensei!!!
Post your questions here in the blog or send them to marky @ japanesepod101.com!

宜しくお願いします

Marky and Yuki and everyone at JapanesePod101.com

Fun with “Fukuwarai”

Hi everyone!

One of the most fun ways to learn a language is to play a game. Some of you might find it easy to learn language when you use your body and learn visually. If you are kinesthetic or visual learner, you should try “Fukuwarai”!
Fukuwarai is a Japanese traditional game which is usually played as a New Years game. “Fukuwarai” can help you to learn directions and parts of the face.

How do you play Fukuwarai? You have an outline of a blank face and paper cutouts in the shape of the eyes, a nose, and a mouth. The blindfolded player will place the cutouts of the eyes, mouth, etc., while other people give him or her directions by saying “うえ (up), した (down), みぎ (right), ひだり (left)”. When you give the parts of the face to the blindfolded player, you may tell the person what it is, for example, you can say “これは目です.” (This is an eye.)
You can find more details on the game at the website called “Kids Web Japan”. You may find other games as well!

How to Play “Fukuwarai”:
Here is a typical way to play fukuwarai with friends when you have the actual game set. You can also make one by hand out of paper.
• First, the players place a piece of paper with the outline of a face on it.
• Then one player is blindfolded with a handkerchief or some other type of cloth.
• The blindfolded player tries to place cutouts of the eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and nose on the face, while the other players shout instructions–for example, “Higher!” “To the left!” “There!”
• After the player places the pieces, the blindfold is removed so the player can view his or her handiwork.
• Most of the time, the face comes out looking ridiculous, and the players can’t keep from laughing.
• It’s also fun to see how the faces created by different players turn out.

You don’t have to wait for New Year’s to play!

Kawaii On the Eyes, But…

Hi, everyone!
Nowadays, there are many fantastic ways to learn Japanese with modern technology like JapanesePod101.com! One good way to learn and experience Japanese culture and language is to surf YOUTUBE! There are many excellent things, and many not so excellent things, you can find on this website.

For example, this video can help you remember some adjectives.

This is an actual TV commercial in Japan. This commercial uses i-adjectives in a very simple and funny way! You can find many other ads if you search “Japanese Funny Commercial”.

If you are learning Japanese outside of Japan, it is sometimes difficult to find very authentic material, but YOUTUBE provides you with the opportunity to access updated authentic information! If you are a teacher and have good facilities at school, you can even use it in a classroom.

Some of the commercial elements might be too difficult to understand, but you might find it interesting to watch. Could you get all of the i-adjectives introduced?
Please let me know if you know any good YOUTUBE videos!

Have a nice week, and see you next week!

A Mnemonic for Counters

Hi everyone!
Do you have difficulty remembering the counters for small animals (匹・ひき・hiki) and minutes (一分・いっぷん・ippun)? When you count these, as you might know, sound changes as below.

Counter Hi Pi(Bi)   Counter Fu Pu
一匹   ippiki   一分   ippun
二匹 nihiki     二分 nifun  
三匹   sanbiki   三分   sanpun
四匹 yonhiki     四分 yonfun  
五匹 gohiki     五分 gofun  
六匹   roppiki   六分   roppun
七匹 nanahiki     七分 nanafun  
八匹   happiki   八分   happun
九匹 kyūhiki     九分 kyūfun  
十匹   juppiki   十分   juppun

When just starting out, one might think, “Oh my gosh! What a complicated language!” However, don’t worry. That’s not the case anymore! “Peter” can help you remember the sound changes when counting small mammals and minutes.
Just remember this sentence:

“Peter Has Brown Hair Hi Pi Hi Pi Hi Pi…”

What does this sentence do?? Let’s break this sentence down word by word, and look at the sounds in each word.

Peter 一匹 ippiki
Has 二匹 nihiki
Brown 三匹 sanbiki
Hair 四匹 yonhiki
Hi 五匹 gohiki
Pi 六匹 roppiki
Hi 七匹 nanahiki
Pi 八匹 happiki
Hi 九匹 kyūhiki
Pi 十匹 juppiki

So what do you think? Was this helpful?

Miho at Monash

皆様、こんにちは。Hi everyone!

My name is Miho 「美帆」, and I live and teach Japanese in Australia, Melbourne. I am also currently studying at renown Monash University.

Since JapanesePod101.com began, I have been keeping track of its progess, as I see it as such a fun and interesting way of learning Japanese. I find the pedagogy of the program interesting, and as a teacher of Japanese, I would like to blog about “Japanese teaching”. It sounds quite broad, doesn’t it? I will basically talk about useful tips for both learners and teachers of Japanese over the next 10 weeks. My advice and tips will probably focus on students with an English Speaking background since I am in Australia, but you are always welcome to comment about other language backgrounds!

This week I would just like to take the opportunity to introduce myself.

I graduated from Ibaraki University (Japan), and majored in Music education. I took two years off from my studies and spend one year in Thailand to study traditional Thai music and dancing. Then, I spent another year in Melbourne working as a Japanese language assistant teacher at a secondary school.

These experiences led me to become interested in teaching Japanese as a second/foreign language, and I wanted to study more about teaching Japanese. I came back to Melbourne after I graduated Ibaraki University and worked as an assistant teacher again for another two years. In 2004, I earned a Masters of Applied Japanese Linguistics at Monash University in Australia. In 2007, I returned to Monash University and am studying to become a Japanese teacher.
I look forward to sharing my advice and ideas with you!

よろしくお願いいたします。