JapanesePod101 has been a resource ESSENTIAL to my Japanese learning from the beginning. It’s certainly not a stand alone resource, but it has helped me in so many different ways. It has taught me about the culture, helped me perfect my pronunciation, and I’ve learned tons of vocabulary. Of course, Jpod is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t know where I’d be without it. I’ve been wanting to do a review for awhile, but since there are so many series and seasons that are unique in their own ways, I think it’s a little difficult to review the site as a whole. For today, I will be reviewing Seasons 2 & 3 of their “Nihongo Doujo” series only.
Format – For those unfamiliar with the JPod formula, I wanted to quickly review how most of their podcasts go. They start off with a little intro music, go into a short conversation between the hosts, a recording in Japanese is played and the hosts then discuss the recording for the rest of the lesson. The dialogue is repeated once more at the end of the lesson. Most lessons are about 10 minutes long.
Hosts – Naomi is the permanent Japanese host for both seasons and she is one of my favorites. She is so kind and helpful. I really wouldn’t mind having her as a real life sensei. It also helps that she is the one who developed the lessons for both seasons. I have listened to other seasons where the hosts are confused with the dialogue and question the writers. For Nihongo Doujo, Naomi is always readily available to clear up any confusion the other host or listener may have had with the dialogue. I also like that some of the lessons are based on her real-life experiences. Peter is Naomi’s American co-host for season 2. Some people love him and find him hilarious, others find him annoying. I happen to find him awkward but still funny. I like some of his off the wall comments. That being said, he does derail the lessons at times, but I find it entertaining. Rebekah is Naomi’s co-host for season 3. She is a sweet Australian girl with a cute accent. She usually brings up really interesting cultural tidbits with a foreigner’s perspective.
Where’s Season 1? – Before I go on, I figured some of you would be confused as to why I start at Seasons 2 & 3. Season 1 Newbie Series is not a part of the Nihongo Doujo series. It seems to me that Season 1 was a bit experimental. It is reccommended that beginners start with Season 2. Unfortunately, I ignored this and decided to go in order. Season 1 was very helpful but extremely challenging to a complete beginner who was studying independently. Their lessons are not very organized content-wise. Season 2 is a much better place to start.
What I liked – While others lose patience with the length of the small talk between the hosts, I find it helpful a lot of times. There are instances where a word is used during their conversation that is not a part of the lesson, but very interesting to know anyway. I also associate vocabulary words with examples given by the hosts and it helps me remember the meanings. I think the pacing is perfect. I am using this as a supplement to the Genki book, and it helps me since not only is there some review on topics I’m learning in the text, but also new ideas introduced that are not too difficult, but keep things fresh. Once I’ve listened to a lesson too many times, I like to go back and only play the recordings at the beginning and end of each lesson. Memorizing these has also helped me recall grammar. I wouldn’t recommend this method as an end-all be-all, but it does help.
What I didn’t like – Peter may have derailed a few conversations, but he kept things entertaining. No offense at ALL to Naomi-Sensei and Rebekah, they are awesome people. But they usually like to stay on topic with their small-talk and while I am perfectly fine listening to it the first time around, I find it to be a bit of a bore the 5th time. This is a bit of a drawback, but not a serious one. What I really dislike is how slow the recordings are. At first, I was very thankful for the slow pace and breakdowns, but I then realized that real Japanese people do not speak this way. The recordings aren’t always slow, but they can be most of the time. It’s been hard to adjust to the way native Japanese people speak after being so used to the slowed down version. I also wasn’t too fond of the price packages. I am willing to pay for a basic subscription which includes recordings and PDF’s, but will not pay for the premium subscription. The only thing I really want are the special bonus reviews that premium users get. I wish only that part was included in the basic subcription.
Verdict? – In my opinion, worth the money, but most definitely worth a try at least. Sign up for an account and get a free 7 day trial. Yes, you will get about a billion annoying e-mails telling you to sign up, no lie. But you can always spam them later. Take advantage of everything their site has to offer for 7 days, and if you’re not happy then don’t buy! No credit card information needed for a free trial. If you’re a complete beginner, Season 2 of Nihongo Doujo is for you.
Hope this was helpful! If you’ve used the service before, do you agree?