Japanese is considered one of the more difficult languages for native English speakers to learn. Although almost 90% of Japanese is spoken in the country of Japan, it is an invaluable language to know for both business and pleasure. Many study Japanese so they can understand their favorite Japanese drama, anime or manga.
With a large selection of Japanese language-learning programs out there, how do you know which one is best for you? When it comes down to paying for language learning software to help you learn how to speak Japanese, you want to find the very best.
Without further ado, here’s our unbiased review of Pimsleur Japanese.
Pimsleur Japanese Review: Overview
Pimsleur is entirely audio-based, meaning you simply have to listen and repeat what you are told to repeat. There are no books or computer screens to look at. It is based upon the notion that you can learn a foreign language the same way you learned your native one—by listening and repeating.
Pimsleur Japanese is based on a set of fundamentals adopted by Dr. Paul Pimsleur including the following four principles.
You will be limited in the amount of new words you learn at any given time. This gives you a chance to truly get the key words or phrases down before moving forward. This is based on the notion that most conversations consist of many of the same words. In order to get you speaking quickly, Pimsleur does not bother with having you learn ALL words, but instead the important ones.
Principle of Anticipation
The fact that our brains automatically assess speech and anticipate answers dominates this principle. Pimsleur’s Method systematically asks for understanding, gives pause for response and reinforces correct answers to activate learning connections in the brain.
This principle incorporates authentic conversation or other exchange to help learners retain correct responses, so that they can be recalled nearly instantly.
Graduated Interval Recall
This principle is based on the fact that when introduced to new words at varying intervals, students retained the information better. Pimsleur Japaneseis set up with the most optimal spacing to retain vocabulary in long-term memory.
PROS of Pimsleur Japanese
Pro #1: Short, Convenient Lessons
Each lesson is 30 minutes or less and completely audio-based, meaning that you can do other tasks while you study. Whether you are logged into your app or have downloaded the podcast, you can listen to the lesson when it best suits you.
Pro #2: Language Learning Based on Speaking and Listening
Native Japanese speakers instruct all the lessons, and the program is based on how you learned to speak by listening to and imitating others. Simple, right? Since native speakers are your instructors, you will learn the most authentic dialects.
Pro #3: Emphasis on Enunciation
Words are slowly enunciated syllable by syllable so that you can truly understand how to pronounce them.
CONS of Pimsleur Japanese
Con #1: More Expensive
Pimsleur is one of the more expensive language learning programs. You can often find discount codes and coupons to help with the monthly pay-as-you-go subscription price. There are no long subscription commitments; you simply pay each month you want the service.
Con #2: No In-Depth Grammar Lessons
There is very little structure to the lessons in the way of grammar. Though this is not generally a problem in the beginning, you may start to wonder why something is said a certain way or why words are ordered the way they are. The more advanced you get in speaking Japanese, the more you may want grammatical explanations.
Con #3: Audio Learning Only
You will find some written work to help you learn to speak Japanese, but the majority of Pimsleur Japanese is by podcast audio. Visual or tactile learners may find this method lacking, as you mostly must imagine the scenarios.
Pimsleur Japanese Features
Dr. Pimsleur’s Golden Rules
Upon signing up, you are immediately introduced to the Golden Rules. These feel like fair warning to respond when the instructor tells you to, not to expect to only listen and repeat your way through the course, and focus your attention on the audio and responses in your head. It also advises you to not go too fast and complete just one 30-minute audio lesson per day.
You are automatically taken to your lessons upon logging in. The set-up is very user-friendly. Lessons you have completed or are ready to complete have a “play” button on them. Lessons must be completed in order, and they are locked until you complete the prior lesson. From here, you can also access your “skills” and “practice” activities to enhance your studies.
Learning Games and Tools
You will find a variety of skills assessments and games to help make learning to speak Japanese fun. There are flashcards, quizzes and timed challenges. You can even find transcripts of lessons to look over and refine your pronunciation.
Who Would Benefit From Pimsleur Japanese?
Pimsleur Japanese is a great asset for those who:
- are strong audio learners
- need to be conversational quickly for travel or business
- have access and time to listen to podcasts for 30 minutes each day
Who Should Stay Away From Pimsleur Japanese?
On the other hand, some may not find the Pimsleur Method to be helpful and that includes those who:
- are on a tight budget
- lack the motivation to study each day for 30 minutes
- do not learn well from audio only
Pimsleur vs. Competition
Pimsleur Japanese vs. JapanesePod101
JapanesePod101 offers tons of video and audio lessons to help you learn to speak Japanese. You can choose between a variety of pathways depending on what you want to learn. You can also choose the guided pathway that is structured similarly to how you would learn Japanese in the classroom.
Like Pimsleur, you will pay a monthly subscription fee, but you will get a discount the longer your commitment. JapanesePod101 offers a free lifetime account, but if you really want to use all its features, you will be paying a similar price as with Pimsleur.
Pimsleur Japanese vs. Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone offers a similar online subscription or CD and book pack to help you learn to speak Japanese. The monthly online subscription cost is comparable to Pimsleur’s, but is Pimsleur better than Rosetta Stone?
Rosetta Stone uses a combination of vocabulary and grammar lessons, Japanese word games and speak-and-listen games to teach Japanese. However, there is often a lack of explanation as to why certain grammar or vocabulary is used. There are a lot of repetitive activities that can become mundane. Like Pimsleur, this program is probably best for beginners to low-intermediate speakers.
Pimsleur Japanese vs. Rocket Japanese
Rocket Japanese offers three different levels from beginner to advanced speaker. You have the option of purchasing one, two or all three levels for a one-time payment. There is no ongoing monthly subscription cost to worry about.
Rocket Japanese is an in-depth course teaching grammar, writing and cultural norms. It is thought to be one of the most comprehensive programs on the market. As such, it is not recommended as a supplemental course, but instead as a main tool for learning to speak Japanese.
Cost of Pimsleur Japanese
You can try Pimsleur Japanese for free for seven days. After your first seven days, you will pay $14.95 per month for regular access or $19.95 per month for Premium access. The Premium access includes everything listed under Regular access including what is listed below it.
|Pimsleur Spanish $14.95||Pimsleur Premium Spanish $19.95|
|Driving Mode for the car||Learning games and flashcards|
|Access anywhere||Tools for visualizing|
|Share with three family members||Culturl lessons|
|30-minute lessons||Bonus content|
|Mobile and desktop applications||Ability to save vocabulary words|
Pimsleur Japanese Review Summary
Though it is one of the more expensive monthly subscription language-learning programs, we feel Pimsleur Japanese has a lot to offer for a beginning Japanese learner. By following the program, you will learn to communicate in simple Japanese quickly, but you might not know why you are saying what you are. Therefore, we think Pimsleur is excellent as a supplemental course to a more in-depth Japanese course or textbook.