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Customer Review

459 of 461 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here's what you learn, March 16, 2005
This review is from: Pimsleur Japanese Level 1 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Japanese with Pimsleur Language Programs (Comprehensive) (Audio CD)
A lot of people try to state that they learned a lot or a little, but not what they actaully learned. I just finished this course, here's a quick rundown of the contents:

*Present tense of quite a few verbs, including those for shopping, saying where you are going and staying, eating and drinking, where things are or aren't, what you want and don't want, what you can and can't do, and who you are doing things with. You learn them in present tense, a very simple form of the future tense, and they introduce the past tense in the second to last lesson. Asking questions is emphasised in this course, you do it almost as much as you answer them.

*You learn few nouns other than those needed to use the verbs; it feels like they made a point to not include a lot of nouns. You will learn the words for your immediate family, beer/wine/sake and some other random nouns like "hat". This is the biggest drawback to the program, but it is easily overcome by a good set of vocab lists.

*Also, very few adjectives. Big, small, expensive, fast, far away are among the few. You learn how to say "too" fast/expensive. But you learn how to use them very well, so it would be easy to add more with the aid of a dictionary.

*You spend a lot of time talking about money. How much you have, how much you need, vocab for currency exchanges and shopping. You also learn the numbers 1 to 199. And, weirdly enough, you learn how to ask people for money.

*You learn how to talk about your car, including how to ask for gas and how to give and take directions.

*In the last couple lessons, you learn how to ask what words mean in English and how to say words in Japanese.

*You learn how to talk about time and tell time. How long you've been somewhere and how long you plan on staying, and you do it in days, hours, and weeks. Also, you learn the words for yesterday, today, tomorrow, and morning, night.

*"You learn how to ask why and answer "It's because..."

Overall, the vocabulary is extremely polite, I don't imagine this is the way good friends talk to each other. I have already done the second course in Russian, and they introduce more informal vocab in the second series. (I have done the first series in Russian, German, and Japanese, and the things you learn are the same each lesson in each language.)

Even if the subjects are a little touristy, you are still learning how to use verbs and particles much quicker than with other courses. Once you get the structure of the language down, it's relatively easy to add the vocab for what you want to talk about.

Overall, this is a *huge* amount of information to pack into thirty lessons. I also recommend either pausing so you have time to answer, rewinding so that you can catch something you got wrong and/or listening to the more difficult lessons twice.

I hope this is helpful, this is what I was looking for when I read the reviews, and was surprised no one had done this.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 10, 2007 2:54:09 PM PDT
W. Murphy says:
Thank you. This is an excellent example of what sort of information is actually helpful in making my purchasing decision.

Posted on Aug 27, 2009 11:01:18 AM PDT
DynomiteWins says:
Great review!

I bought the Conversational Japanese course which covers the first 16 lessons. I had taken a Japanese class before and my teacher had explained that the Japanese way of speaking is very polite even among good friends and more formal when speaking with strangers. The only time they are relatively informal is with immediate family or lifelong friends so she insisted that we always use the more polite versions of speaking to avoid accidentally offending someone by addressing them informally.

Posted on Apr 25, 2014 1:44:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 25, 2014 2:09:04 PM PDT
A. Nakamura says:
I wouldn't be too put off by the concern that the "extremely polite" form of Japanese that you learn with Pimsleur would somehow distance you from people you want to be close friends with. If you are a foreigner, then the Japanese people look for other clues (your facial expressions, body language, voice tone, etc.) to determine if you are expressing friendliness and affection towards them. There are many levels of politeness in speaking, so obsessing over learning every form of a word that is to be used with a stranger, a friend, a family member, a superior,... that would only bog down the learning process. The key is for beginners to start speaking Japanese in a manner that effectively communicates and is appropriate for most everyday situations. This is exactly what Pimsleur does. Once you learn enough of the core vocabulary and become adept at holding your own in conversations with natives, then you could give thought to learning different forms of words and statements that are expressly used towards particular people.

Other that that, I concur with most of this review.
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