Gone are the days when you would have to physically attend a class to learn a new language.
In today’s fast-paced world, many don’t have the time nor the resources to commit to scheduled classes, especially if they are not due to an educational or occupational requirement.
If you are looking to learn Japanese at your own pace and in the comfort of your home, JapanesePod101 is a great online learning tool to consider.
But is it the right language learning program for you?
To help you decide, we put together this in-depth JapanesePod101 review.
We understand that learning a new language can sometimes be overwhelming for some people.
For this reason, finding the right form of instruction becomes extremely important.
JapanesePod101 is a free online Japanese learning tool designed for learners from all backgrounds and age groups.
Whether you have a natural knack for languages or struggle to grasp them, you’ll like that this teaching app has a user-friendly interface designed specially to cater to the layperson.
Their app, called Innovative Language 101, is compatible with Android and Apple devices, so you can access and download it easily from anywhere around the world and on to your favorite device.
As an extra treat, the developers have also made it compatible with Kindle tablets. The app is free for download through the Kindle Fire Store.
Designed specifically for a niche audience, the developers also incorporated specialized courses, lessons, workshops, and worksheets into the interface.
Although the app started by providing lessons primarily in a podcast format, over the years, the developers realized that learning the language cannot follow the same configuration of a one-size-fits-all approach.
Thus, they have now included many other learning formats to diversify the way the Japanese language is taught.
For instance, there now exists a plethora of learning materials, ranging from video tutorials to PDF printables and even interactive quizzes.
Retrospectively speaking and looking from the outside, the application has a very vibrant and interactive interface, much like that of a gaming one.
Along with the regular lessons, there are also bonus resources that learners have access to, including:
- Printable free cheat sheets on different topics with phrases and supporting pictures
- Free eBooks on various topics, such as the Japanese writing style Kanji
- Printable practice worksheets for honing your Hiragana and Katakana writing skills
- A grammar bank and Japanese language dictionary to address queries on the go
- A video bank featuring a mini J-drama with follow-along transcripts
What Are the Lessons Like?
Designed around the basic framework of podcasts, a typical lesson will include a five-minute to 20-minute-long audio track.
These are generally downloadable and broken down into short sub-sections following a Japanese phrase that sets the basic premise of the clip.
These sub-sections consist of grammar points and new words for your growing word bank.
If you are accessing the application online, you will have access to a range of resources supporting the podcast you have just listened to.
These include lesson notes, a follow-along transcript, and activities to help you easily grasp the new words and grammar.
The interface allows you access to the follow-along transcript in the following writing scripts so that you can work on your listening and reading skills at the same time:
To get a better understanding of what a typical audio or video lesson looks like, potential users can access one of the many free YouTube sessions available online.
While the thought of having free lessons available through YouTube sounds enticing, just remember, these do not follow a structure nor include any notes to follow along.
Here is a basic overview of the functions allowed by JapanesePod101 for every lesson:
- Downloadable audio tracks
- Downloadable supporting lesson notes in PDF format
- Marking a lesson “complete”
- Marking a lesson “favorite”
- Adding personal notes to the lesson for reference
How Do You Learn Using JapanesePod101?
While you can work on your listening and reading by following along the transcript line by line and word by word, there is also a built-in feature that allows you to work on your speaking skills.
There is a voice recording feature embedded within each lesson, which can be utilized line by line.
As you listen to the speaker recite the Japanese phrase, you can follow along by reading the supporting transcript in your preferred writing script and then record yourself by repeating the same line.
To evaluate your speaking skills, including the correct pronunciations, you can replay both tracks at the same time and rectify any lags in enunciation.
The best part is, this feature is available for use multiple times and can be applied to learn full Japanese phrases or just words.
When focusing on learning just words, you have the option of accessing examples of sentences utilizing the words being learned.
These sentences help provide better context and offer examples for application purposes.
At the same time, you can pick and choose particular words to add to a personal set of downloadable flashcards, a personal word bank, or interactive quizzes you can use at any time to test your memory.
As a complex language, developers have included on-the-go grammar notes within every lesson to address any novel language points.
What Makes the JapanesePod101 Stand Out?
The best part is that all these are taught entirely by native Japanese-speaking teachers.
Under their belts are many years of experience working with different pupils of varying learning capacities.
As part of the wider JapanesePod101 community, you can also connect and network with native language speakers and other students.
Previous users often comment that this feature allows them to keep practicing the language and stay up to date with it.
Is JapanesePod101 Good?
For those who are still skeptical, here is a list of some of the main advantages and minor setbacks of opting for a JapanesePod101 course:
- JapanesePod101 specializes in teaching only one language, Japanese. Hence, it has built-in systems to make the learning process effective and interesting for people at every level.
- There are free lessons available and worksheets for every course so that users can experience each one before opting for a subscription plan.
- The interface allows users to customize their lessons according to personal learning capacities.
- You get 24 hours access to Japanese tutors through the comment section given under every lesson.
- Also, you get to enjoy regular updates to content. After all, like every culture, the Japanese culture is always evolving. The interface has so far been able to keep up with the changing trends in slang words, jokes, and other expressions.
- Lastly, learners will appreciate the built-in grammar bank and dictionary for added support during and outside lessons.
- Many JapanesePod101 reviews fail to mention that the application’s site mapping is not very helpful in terms of navigation. This is definitely an area where the website is better than the app.
- The material is not well organized, which may overwhelm any new user. Again, the website is superior in this instance.
- With a free lifetime account, you do not have access to previous lessons from the archive section.
- Every free lesson released weekly is only available for three weeks before being archived.
How Much Does JapanesePod101 Cost?
So, is JapanesePod101 worth it? The short answer is yes, most definitely.
As mentioned earlier, unlike many other language learning tools, JapanesePod101 is completely free of cost to download onto any compatible device.
The developers understand the value of providing the service free of cost.
It helps advocate for and spread the language across the world so that those eager to learn must never have to struggle for easy access.
However, there is a catch that most JapanesePod101 reviews fail to address.
The program offers all new members a free account with three to five different kinds of learning materials released every week.
For the eager beginner who will probably go over the lesson as soon as it’s out, this is a pretty decent deal.
However, the new lessons are only available for three weeks and will become archived right after that period is over.
These archived lessons are only accessible to paid subscribers of one of the plans being offered.
Without a formal subscription, there are also several other free sign-up benefits available to new members, like:
- Three to five free lessons every week
- Access to the first three lessons of every course in the archives section
- Japanese Word of the Day lesson every day
- A random Throwback Thursday lesson
- A list of the 100 most common Japanese words to build a beginner level vocabulary
- Theme-based vocabulary lessons and phrases according to promotions over holidays
- Bonus resources once in a while
While the common features are free of cost for download, there are some membership options with added benefits and specialized material.
Should You Get a Premium Account or Not?
A typical JapanesePod101 premium plus review would highlight some of the exclusive features accessible only to paying learners.
There are three different tiers that users can choose from. All come with a choice of opting between a three- to a 24-month subscription.
Plans are designed to provide users with a tailored experience. You can choose your plan based on your learning requirements, time commitments, and, of course, personal preferences.
As a bonus, the developers have also included a premium monthly gift for paying customers.
These may include cooking cheat sheets with phrases and common terms, New Year’s resolution cheat sheets, and flashcards with visual representations.
As mentioned, JapanesePod101 has a massive database with a variety of learning resources.
Thus, going over the complexities of the plans with subscription charges may create more confusion than clarity.
To help give you a better idea of what to expect, here is a visual representation of the plans offered in the form of a comparative chart.
As a basic rule of thumb, remember that the longer the period of the chosen plan (maximum 24 months), the lesser it will cost.
If you find yourself contemplating whether to pay for the service or not even after going through the chart, look at it this way.
At the end of the day, the highest paying plan would still ultimately cost you less than a day’s worth of class at your local language institute.
A small pro tip that you may not find in another JapanesePod101 premium plus review is that it is always more cost-effective if you pay up for a year or two upfront.
Also, by opting for the pay-monthly model, you cannot always monitor when you are being charged, which means you may end up wasting a lot of money.
Is JapanesePod101 Worth It?
With so many language learning resources and applications freely available online, many potential users often wonder, is JapanesePod101 good?
While most previous learners have raving reviews about it, the only way to know if this is the right tool for you is to try it out.
Again, unlike other resources available online that offer multiple languages to learn, the JapanesePod101 only caters to one.
This means that it is the ultimate guide for learning anything and everything the Japanese language has to offer.
Whether you are planning to travel, live, study, or engage in business, the application is designed to offer you multiple different learning tracks based on your familiarity with the language.
Conclusion: Is JapanesePod101 Any Good?
It is no secret that the Japanese language is actually a pretty complex and difficult language to learn.
Some believe that learning it is like immersing yourself in the deepest pit of one of the richest and oldest cultures on the planet.
The breadth and depth of the language are often lost on the commonly available free language-learning applications catering to several languages at the same time.
If you are looking for a service that provides a happy medium between paid and free learning materials, opting for JapanesePod101 is a great idea.
In this JapanesePod101 review, we learned that this program is known as one of the best for learning the Japanese language in a fast, efficient, and simple manner.
The user-friendly interface breaks down the language into small segments for users to grasp easily.
In addition to that, the ‘round-the-clock access to Japanese instructors helps perfect your dialect.