I had some prior familiarity with Japanese, but mostly through studying the writing system and specialized vocabulary in my professional field. So I wasn't starting from a blank slate, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this program. It got me up to speed on a number of everyday expressions that I either hadn't learned or hadn't spent much time getting familiar with.
The pace of the first 30 lessons seemed just right -- enough repetition to get the material into my brain, but not so much as to be boring. Generally, each lesson introduced enough new material to keep the experience engaging. Furthermore, this isn't just rote memorization and repetition - the program gently encourages you to take what you know (say, certain numbers or word forms) and make educated "guesses" on how to recombine them into new words and expressions. That keeps the lessons interesting.
The program also teaches you grammar in a very subtle way -- by practicing actual expressions rather than clubbing you over the head with excessive linguistic terminology. But it doesn't gloss over important distinctions such as wa は vs. ga が vs. o を either.
I did find it peculiar that Phase 1 teaches you the numbers up through the hundreds, and how to tell time from 1:00 to 10:00, but except for the "Culture Notes" at the end makes no mention of 11 or 12, either as numbers or hours on the clock.
Still, I found this course to be well worth the time I spent taking it, and a huge boost to my confidence in speaking and understanding basic, everyday Japanese. I'll definitely be continuing to Phase 2.
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