Japanese Phase 1, Units 1-30

Learn to Speak and Understand Japanese with Pimsleur Language Programs
By: Pimsleur
Narrated by: Pimsleur
Length: 15 hrs and 56 mins
5 out of 5 stars (121 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The Pimsleur® Method: the easiest, fastest way to learn a new language. Completely portable, easily downloadable, and lots of fun. You’ll be speaking and understanding in no time flat! Japanese Phase 1, Lessons 1-30 includes 15 hours of spoken language practice and one hour of Culture Notes in thirty, 30-minute lessons. In the first 10 lessons, you’ll cover the basics: saying hello, asking for or giving information or preferences, scheduling a meal or a meeting, asking for or giving basic directions, and much more. You’ll be able to handle minimum courtesy requirements, understand much of what you hear, and be understood at a beginning level, but with near-native pronunciation skills.

In the next 10 lessons, you’ll build on what you’ve learned. Expand your menu, increase your scheduling abilities from general to specific, start to deal with currency and exchanging money, refine your conversations and add over a hundred new vocabulary items. You’ll understand more of what you hear, and be able to really participate with speech that is smoother and more confident.

In the final 10 lessons of Phase 1, you’ll be speaking and understanding at an intermediate level. In this phase, more and more directions are given in the target language, which moves your learning to a whole new plane. You can talk about your immediate family, go on a car trip, and ask for and understand directions. Lessons include shopping, visiting friends, going to a restaurant, plans for the evening and traveling with children. You’ll be able to speak comfortably about things that happened in the past and make plans for the future.

One hour of recorded Cultural Notes are included at the end of Unit 30. These Notes are designed to provide you with some insight into Japanese culture. A Culture Notes booklet is also included in PDF format.

©2002 Simon & Schuster (P)2010 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Pimsleur programs provide plenty of positive reinforcement that will keep learners on track, and we found that Pimsleur gave us more proficiency and confidence in speaking the new language than any of the other language programs we reviewed." ( AudioFile magazine)
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  • 04-15-18

Take your time. It's worth it.

Any additional comments?

Before jumping into the details I'll give you the quick answer to the "Did it work? Can you speak Japanese now?" question.

Yes! It worked! But no, I can't speak fluent Japanese, yet.

Completing Phase 1 will give you just enough Japanese to say some basic things that will impress Japanese speakers, but not enough to actually have a conversation longer than a 30-second introduction. You could have a brief exchange, "Hi my name is . . . I'm American. Where is the train station?" But to learn more than that will take time. A lot more time.

And really to get the most out of learning Japanese, you have to be willing to put in a lot of time. It is not an easy language to learn. But Pimsleur is a really good tool. Especially for attuning your ear (and tongue) to the sounds of the language, which can be very difficult for English speakers. There are many sounds in Japanese that do not exist in English. (For example, the Japanese sound for ら is kind of halfway between the English sounds "rah" and "dah".)

The Pimsleur method is mostly solid. It's based on some proven learning systems which are starting to become more mainstream, namely spaced retrieval / recall. That's the idea that the strongest learning comes, not from repetition, but from recall over time. In other words you learn better when asked to recall how to say a word ("How do you say . . . ") instead of being told how to say a word over and over without ever having to recall and produce the word yourself. The act of trying to recall and remember causes learning. Not rote repetition.

One of the first chapters (before you get to the lessons) is all about the Pimsleur method, how it works, and how best to use it. Almost all of the advice is spot on and I recommend following it. Except for one thing: they recommend you do not write words down or combine reading and writing with your Pimsleur course. That's a really bad idea. If you want to truly master Japanese, you have to learn to read and write. In fact, I'd recommend you learn hiragana and katakana before you even start Pimsleur if you can. If you're eager to start speaking, then go right ahead, but just know the sooner you learn hiragana and katakana (and the true Japanese sounds they make, not the English interpretations of them -- one of many reasons you should avoid Romaji as much as possible), the better off you will be. (Learn hiragana and katana as early as possible, but with kanji you can pace yourself. And you kind of have to, since there are thousands of kanji characters to learn.)

I also recommend doing Pimsleur every day as the instructions advise. I also recommend following their advice about repeating a lesson if you struggled with answering the prompts correctly. They say to advance after you've gotten about 80% correct in a lesson. I think that's a little low, and I aim for 95%. If there is just one or two words or phrases I don't get, I move on, but if I'm not getting 1/5 of the prompts, I redo the lesson later in the day or the next day and keep repeating it until I get almost all of the prompts correct. This means it's not really practical to assume you can do 30 units in 30 days. On a very ambitious routine I am trying to do about 30 units every 60 days. This gives me about two days to master a lesson before moving on to the next one. In practice the average time per lesson is two days (when I push myself to keep up), but in reality some lessons are much more difficult than others. It just depends on what words and phrases your brain retains. Some lessons I had to repeat 5 or 6 times before I felt like I got it. Others I nailed on the first try. So just know that you will (or should) be repeating lessons as you progress. Don't advance until your really comfortable with the phrases in the current unit.

In summary, Pimsleur is great, but it should be PART of your tool kit for learning Japanese, not your sole resource. If you really want to learn you'll also need a Japanese textbook, a kanji book, flashcards (or other recall method), and if you can find it: a minimal pairs resource.

Japanese is not an easy language to learn. In fact, the US State Department lists Japanese in the Category III set of languages making it among the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn (right alongside Mandarin Chinese). But you can learn it.

Oh and one other note, many of the phrases in Pimsleur (like most Japanese language resources) are almost always of the extremely formal and polite variety. Several of my Japanese-speaking friends and colleagues have regularly corrected me to say a phrase I've learned is way, way too formal. In some cases like, "only say that if you're meeting the president" formal.

39 people found this helpful

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Effective Japanese learning tool!

Each daily 30 minute lesson is designed to teach by strategically spaced repetition, detailed explanation of grammar and cultural influences, and asking the listener to interactively form new phrases based on known words and grammatical patterns. Not only answers the what, but also the why and how of speaking the language correctly in various real life situations. Save up your monthly credits for this audiobook!

6 people found this helpful

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Many inconsistencies and very little explanation.

I'm not finished with the book yet, but there are a lot of problems with it.

-There is next to no explanation of any of the grammar concepts.
-There are several cases where it is very difficult to understand what the speaker is saying and would benefit greatly from being able to see the word written out or spelled out. They break down several words slowly, syllable by syllable, but those are mostly words that can be easily understood anyway. There is an accompanying PDF, but...
-The accompanying PDF contents do not match up with the audiobook. For example, I just finished unit 11 in the audio which covered a new word/phrase じゃあ and introduced the words for dinner and tomorrow. According to the PDF, unit 11 introduces ちょっと (actually introduced in unit 9 or 10) and ーませんか (actually introduced in unit 5). In the PDF, the meals of the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are supposed to be introduced in unit 9. In the audio, lunch was introduced in unit 8, dinner in unit 11. I'm not sure when breakfast is introduced yet since I just finished 11.
-This is probably a minor complaint in comparison to the others, but several things are introduced in a very unusual order. For example, numbers. 2 is the first number introduced, then a unit or two later, 1 and 3, then later 9 etc. I'm also getting to the point in the audio where they are replacing the English instruction with Japanese (one very positive thing about the book) but they start using the Japanese phrases before they introduced the phrases themselves. For example, they started using Japanese instead of English for "listen" or "listen and repeat", but don't introduce those phrases or their meaning until either later in that unit or the next unit.

1 person found this helpful

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Great

The course is great, i am learning a lot. The narrator is very easy to understand.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Intro!

The format in which this program presents the material is very useful. I was able to practice proper pronunciation and the spaced repetition helped with remembering the vocabulary. I will continue on with the next level.

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Extremely helpful, but has some glaring flaws

I have been making efforts to learn Japanese since I was a freshman in high school.
To date this has been the most useful when it comes to actually speaking comprehensible sentences, however there are a couple problems I have with it that get increasingly frustrating as I progress through the lessons.
Tl;dr of what's below: This is not a perfect standalone resource for learning to speak Japanese. To avoid being confused by the syntax of some of the phrases you learn you will need other resources.
Pace yourself. The writer recommends doing a new lesson every day, but if you find yourself getting worn down you should try to create a schedule of regular breaks and reviews.
First is the complete lack of clarification on the usage of the particles wa, ga, (w)o, ni, and de. I am comfortable with making mistakes and learning from them, however repeatedly making the wrong choice of particle (eg thinking the sentence I should reply with uses "(w)o" and then the correct sentence using "ga" in it's place or vice versa) gets incredibly frustrating as the apparent solution is to just continue with the lessons, remember the specific instances each is used in, and not worry too much about the fact that I have no idea why I should use "(w)o" to indicate the object of most verbs while sometimes (but not always) using "ga" to indicate the object of "to want" despite "ga" usually (but not always) seeming to indicate a verb's subject.
Second is that it does not recommend or provide any material for "off" days. Cramming new phrases into my head every day starts to wear me down. If there was a point where it recommended taking a day or two before doing the next unit, and adjusted the following unit to account for that break or mixed in occasional units that were dedicated purely to reviewing what you've already learned it would greatly ease the fatigue that tends to build up after ~10 consecutive days of learning new material.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellently done.

This provides a spaced repetition system that can be done even while walking on the treadmill. As someone who has learned a second language I wish I had had this good of a program as an aid to learning polish. (though the polish pimsleur audiobook is of inferior quality). The polish one was too focused on polish pronunciation which isn't too difficult to get the hang of and didn't focus enough on the grammar. The Japanese 1 course succeeds where that failed. Instead of focusing on the three alphabets (which are much easier to learn after you know words in Japanese) it focuses on speaking and practicing proper grammar rather than overexplaining it. I highly recommend this audiobook.

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A useful addition

As I'm not using Pimsleur as my only, or even my main study material (writing and reading are a huge hurdle and Pimsleur doesn't even touch them). The course is a good supplement as a "classroom on the go". Watch out for some mistakes though.

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Super good Japanese learning method

Very cleaver and effective ways of learning a language. The only reason I give it 4 stars because the 2 narrators pronounce the same words differently. I assume the female voice is native Japanese and the male voice isn't native. He always pronounce 'sem' while the female always pronounce 'sen' for example 'sumimasen(m)'. I can just ignore it and stick to the female pronunciation but it's really annoying and makes me think why on earth are they not pronouncing the same way.

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best way to learn a new language

I highly recommend spending more than 30 minutes a day reviewing the lessons. but do not exceed more than one lesson per day