Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to learn Japanese (or another language)

Four months ago I started learning Japanese. Now, whenever I speak it to non-speakers, they say I sound freaking fluent.

I never liked language studies back in high school (half b\c I was young, half b\c the teacher annoyed me). Additionally, I don't have time now to take classes. So how was I going to learn Japanese?

Easy... I went to Amazon.com and bought the cheapest, highest-rated program they had. Here's my copy:



What I bought was actually 10 lessons out of a full 90-lesson set that you also can buy (and that I did end up buying). As of now, I've done 70 lessons and here are my impressions:

Pros:
  • It's actually fun.
  • You can do it while during chores or commuting.
  • You'll master pronunciation.
  • You're forced to speak Japanese every day.
  • At the end, you'll know enough to get around in Japan (w\ a pocket dictionary).
Cons:
  • The full program is freaking expensive (will go into detail below).
  • You still have to learn how to read and write.
  • If you do the lessons in public, people look at you.
  • At the end, you'll still be far from conversation fluency.

Don't let the low Amazon price fool you. After I finished the first 10 lessons and had to buy more, I found out the full 90 lesson set costs $1,000! I could freaking fly to Japan with that money!

But... that's for the CD version. Pimsleur (the company) also sells these courses on MP3 (DRM free) for $335. Still costly but much less so.

So what are the lessons like anyways? It's a mixture of listening, reciting, recalling, guessing, and conversing. I'd say 60% of the time you're listening and 40% of the time you're talking out loud. You can try out the first lesson for free on their website: http://www.pimsleur.com/

Nope, I don't work for Pimsleur nor am I part of their affiliate plan (they don't even have one... I checked too).

Also note that this is NOT the same as "Pimsleur Approach" which is an entirely different program sold by a different company. I don't know if it's any good but to be frank, their marketing practices seems to be a bit shady.

In a future post, I'll let you know my recommendations for learning how to write Japanese scripts.

Dewa mata!

-Parker
パーカー

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