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Best Japanese Learning language program?

 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
United Kingdom
Joined 3651 days ago

3 posts - 3 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 1 of 7
07 December 2013 at 9:04pm | IP Logged 
So basically I'm wanting to learn japanese, and I can't any tutors who teach it locally
in my area, so I'm basically thinking about just teaching myself it. So I was wondering
what you guys think is the best japanese learning language program to use. And also, what
would you guys think is the best way to learn japanese?
1 person has voted this message useful

Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4306 days ago

1185 posts - 1513 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian*, French
Studies: Japanese

 Message 2 of 7
08 December 2013 at 1:02am | IP Logged 
There's no "best", there's only "might work for you". Here's a list of the things I've
found helpful.

I found both Pimsleur and Michel Thomas audio courses useful at the start (they were
both in my local library). Neither of them get you very far but they get you up and

I've used and Anki for vocabulary and kanji. memrise has a set of
vocabulary for the JLPT language proficiency tests. Even if you aren't going to take
the tests, they at least give you some organised vocabulary to start with.

Reviewing the Kanji (http:// I found very useful for getting
used to the kanji, although it's not eevryone's cup of tea.

Even if you put off working with Kanji for now, I'd strongly suggest that you learn
hiragana and katakana. That way you can at least write out the sounds of words properly
rather than having to rely on one of many slightly different roumaji systems. has an extensive set of lessons (900+), but I was lucky in that my
company was willing to take out a subscription for me. Otherwise a basic membership ws
about $34 and Premium about $180; but there are often deals. Watch out for the
marketing emails - best to create a new email address just for the sign up if you go
this route.

I've only used a few text books. The Minna no Nihongo series is good, but I found a
tutor who could get me started with it, otherwise I'd've probably found it much tougher
going. I've worked through on of the Japanese for Busy People books, but I prefer
Minna. I've never seen Genki so I can't comment.

Don't forget that there are plenty of internet resources like Lang-8 so you can
practice writing and have it corrected by native speakers.

Even though you can't find a local tutor (I only found one by accident), there are
plenty of places on the internet that will sell tuition sessions. I'd be wary of
signing up for too much up front. In fact at the beginning I'd be strongly tempted to
learn hiragana and katakana and the rudiments of pronunciation from the web and work
through some simple grammar and probably the audio courses UI mentioned above. Then at
least you aren't paying lesson rates for something that you can trivially do for

Speaking of grammar, I nearly forgot to mention Tae Kim's site:; it's a reasonably good start and, best of all,
it's free.

Good luck!

8 persons have voted this message useful

United Kingdom
Joined 3651 days ago

3 posts - 3 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 3 of 7
08 December 2013 at 1:47am | IP Logged 
Thank you for a response, I shall check these out and see how it goes from there.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 4530 days ago

1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 Message 4 of 7
08 December 2013 at 2:27am | IP Logged 
I just spent four months working on Japanese,spending between a half hour and hour per
day. I could have used more! My experiences:

Pimsleur I - Great for getting a feel for the language
Michel Thomas I - Great for learning the general structure.

Caution: Pimsleur and MT use slightly different levels of politeness, and that is hella
confusing at the beginning.

Living Language - I wish I had started this sooner, and spent more time with it. It's
an excellent beginner course. Three books, one kana book, and 9 cds for $40. Add $10
for an smartphone app with games, flashcards, and drills. There is a premium package
for $100+, but I wasn't tempted by that.

Pimsleur II - Too hard. I did the first half three times, and it was better the third
round. A lot of time I felt like I was just repeating sounds, without really
comprehending them. I would still use this as part of any long-term strategy, but not
at the beginning.

MT II - Easy to get through, but it taught structures I never even approached needing
as a tourist. I'd recommend it still, though.

Japanese the Manga Way - Seems like a very cool book, but it was designed for people
who already have a grasp of the language.

6 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 4485 days ago

2266 posts - 3992 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Latin, Italian, Russian, Swedish
Studies: Japanese, Irish, Portuguese, Persian

 Message 5 of 7
08 December 2013 at 12:36pm | IP Logged 
I like Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. It comes in two volumes plus two workbooks and each of these is accompanied by an MP3-CD, so you get plenty of audio. It explains the grammar very thoroughly and there are lots of exercises. Unfortunately, it's quite expensive and you should probably know at least hiragana before starting it.

I also tried Colloquial Japanese, but it has a very steep learning curve, so I gave it up. The first five or so lessons were excellent though. The best part is that it introduces the kana gradually, so you can learn them more naturally instead of memorizing all of them at once. There has been a new edition by a different author though, which I haven't tried.

There is also an Assimil course, but I have never tried it. So I can't recommend it.
4 persons have voted this message useful

United Kingdom
Joined 3651 days ago

3 posts - 3 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 6 of 7
08 December 2013 at 1:08pm | IP Logged 
Thank you guys for your replies. I shall look into these and which one will fit my needs
1 person has voted this message useful

Bilingual Tetraglot
United States
Joined 3676 days ago

67 posts - 95 votes 
Speaks: English*, Russian*, French, Japanese
Studies: Spanish, Thai

 Message 7 of 7
23 December 2013 at 2:37am | IP Logged

Best thing that I ever came across in my Japanese-learning journey.

1 person has voted this message useful

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