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Question: Pimsleur Japanese - is this a good source?

I am just starting out in Japanese and I am trying to do the most with the time that I have.

I am relying mainly on the Genki textbook (which I love) both to learn basic Japanese as well as learning Kanji.

For grammar: Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese app For practicing kana: "Kana Writing" app Dictionary for Kanji: "Imiwa?"

For hands-on practice and learning: Duolingo

For speaking though...... ? Pimsleur was awesome when I did Italian. When I went to Italy, I was often told that I spoke like a native Italian (no lie) by native Italians. I could learn and practice every day while I went for a walk, so I ordered the same program to help me out in Japanese.

However, with Pimselur Japanese, the speakers speak differently from the way that I have heard actors speak in the live Japanese films and dramas I have watched (no, I am not talking about anime).

In Pimselur, they speak in an animated sing-song like manner.... whereas most Japanese dramas and films that I have watched has more of a "flat" sound... if that makes any sense.

Has anyone else listened to the Pimsleur Japanese program? I am still going to do the program, but I am not sure if I should totally mimic the intonations in Japanese like I did for Italian....

Anyone else have any great sources for speaking and conversing in Japanese? Can I mimic the speakers in Pimsleur, or will this make me sound like a martian to Japanese speakers?

Thanks so much! Apologies for the lengthiness of this post.

January 24, 2018



For speaking Japanese (or any other language), I'd definitely recommend italki. italki lets you find native speakers to speak and have real conversations with over the internet. That's really the best way to learn a language: actually using it with native speakers. It's probably cheaper, more effective, and more fun than Pimsleur.


TheEeveeLord, thank you very much! That will be next on my battle plan to speak Japanese. I was planning to get down the first 30 days with Pimsleur and then speaking with others once I had a little more basic vocabulary down.... but you have me thinking... maybe I should start doing that now to make sure I don't pick up any bad pronunciation habits... Thanks for taking the time to reply!


IMO, if you can afford it and you have ideal opportunities (commuting, cooking, etc.) in which you can't learn Japanese using any other method, then it's worth it.


Thanks so much, dariogerussi! I will continue using it for sure. :)


Look on youtube for "That Japanese man Yuta", he's pretty awesome and makes short videos (if you subscribe with your email) about pronunciation and stuff.

And I downloaded the app HelloTalk, it's free and let's you talk with other people who want to learn your language as you try to learn their language. It's mostly just texting (in my case), but you can also speak. Or meet people there and Skype.


I had not heard of either of these! I will be sure to subscribe to "That Japanese Man Yuta" and try out the HelloTalk app! ...and Skype, since I'll need both if I am actually going to talk. Thank you!


In my experience Pimsleur is best when you use it as a complete beginner, and then expand to other resources. When starting out they need to make sure that pronunciation is clear, but in reality native speakers often don't prioritize clarity. As a result you probably learn to overdo some things. When sentences and structures get more complicated (and longer) this should hopefully change. When you already have a feeling for the language you will detect the imperfections that are necessary to teach the language to a complete beginner. In your case my advice is to ask a native speaker to listen to a part of the last lesson. If they say it sounds alright you have nothing to worry about.


Procellis, That is excellent advise! I will do that. I will try out the HelloTalk app or italki, and if I can get someone Japanese to converse with, I will ask them what they think of it. Thanks so much for your insight into Pimsleur as well! I found a used copy from a library on Amazon for just under $100 for the full set. I already have it now, so I am set on doing the course... I just want to make sure that I sound ok if I copy the voices. I will definitely take your advise on that. Thanks!


When I first started learning Japanese (a loooooong time ago), I used Linguaphone, and I received lots of compliments about my pronunciation! In fact, most Japanese speakers thought my Japanese was WAY better than it actually was (my vocabulary was sorely lacking), which caused a few problems, but not too many. They have an updated course now, aren't exactly cheap, but if you can afford it, it makes for a great supplementary learning tool and they provide great value.

I still remember entire phrases and sentences from that course, especially those involving complicated sound combinations, for example, "teeburu no ue ni arimasu." And yes they used to use almost exclusively Romaji transcriptions.


Elisabeth3789, Thanks so much for your recommendation! This is usually the way that I go as well... I usually talk more than I actually understand (phrases over grammar), so this style of learning (textbooks, writing and dictionaries) is very different for me. I already spent a pretty penny on Pimsleur, so I need to wait awhile before I purchase any more Japanese materials, but I will definitely check it out! The fact that you sounded natural is exactly the sort of thing I am looking for. Thanks!


I like the Pimsleur Japanese course, and I found it useful when I went to Japan to have basic useful phrases just drilled in, which made communicating easy even though my Japanese was not great by any means. I'm trying to re-learn and improve now by using Pimsleur and Duo together, and I think it'll work well. (Others who are interested, check your library and you may be able to get it free as I did!)


lucy615, Thank you so much!!! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! How was your pronunciation? Have you asked others if it sounded ok? And that is fantastic advice- if the local library doesn't have it, then they can usually request it for you (they usually have a program where libraries lend to one another). I bought it because I am more likely to remain faithful to something if I buy it, plus I can pass it around to the rest of my family and don't have to worry about my dog getting to the cover (aiiiiiii!) Thanks for taking the time to share your own experience. I am super excited now.

Wait.....any tips that you would give????


I'm sorry I missed your response to my comment! I know what you mean about the pronunciation seeming sing-song, although to be honest on my last trip it felt so great to be able to communicate at all that I didn't think to ask if I sounded weird. I think you'll probably naturally match your tone a bit to people you're talking with. The thing I didn't like about Pimsleur is that they don't give you any list of what you're learning so you can refer to it. I tried to keep track of it on my own by making digital flashcards, but I found It hard to be sure I was getting spelling right, especially with the elongated vowels or double consonants. This time I'm hoping Duolingo will take care of that part, but we'll see. I also usually had to listen to each session more than once. Good luck!


No worries, lucy615, Thanks so much for your feedback! I know what you mean... I am on day 14 of the program. So far, taking this to go alongside my Genki book has been going really well. I decided to go ahead and book a tutor for Japanese to see how it feels. on iTalkie.com. I am super super excited!!! Duolingo has been helping too. Somedays I just strengthen or redo skills over and over again....

Thanks for the idea about the flashcards.... I might do that.


If you google "Pimsleur's Japanese Flashcards." There are a bunch pre-made online. Like Quizlet etc.


You can find Pimsleur's at your local public library. I just started taking a formal Japanese class using the Genki book. I listen to the Pimsleur first three lessons audios, as it has very good drill teaching method. I can't believe I never heard of it before! However, I didn't know how to make notes on it. But now after going to a few weeks of formal Japanese class; understanding simple structure, alphabet, learning to type, exceptions in sound vs writing. I can break down Pimsleur on my own and outline type each sentence helps me implement along my studies and speaking skills.

Typing: http://www.textfugu.com/season-4/social-learning/9-3


Yeah, I had the same problem with pimsleur, I found it very difficult to just start with. I am now on Duolingo for a month with Japanese, and its easier for me to remember in my head. Although i find the sentenses on pimsleur still spoken SO quickly!!! I studied other languages on pimsleur, and those where a lot easier. I was also watching some Japanese movies with english subs, and very exited to be able to pick up some sentences...

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