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Learning Japanse with Pimsleur - Confession 31

2014.08.29 11:33:27
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header I've been wanting to learn Japanese for a while and have had a multitude of attempts at it, even going as far as to learn ~1700 Kanji. Unfortunately I've forgotten most of them again already, but I will get back to that some day, I promise! Now about two months ago I was listening to a podcast where they mentioned Pimsleur's audio courses. I thought that might be a nice idea to try since I've never done audio based language learning before.

So here I am today and I've just finished the first unit (out of three) in Japanese. Each unit consists of thirty episodes, each about thirty minutes long. The idea is that you should do one of those every day. It took me a bit longer than that because I didn't feel like studying some days and had to repeat some lesson other days. Otherwise I think the thirty minutes format is a very good one, since it's neither too long nor too short.

Each episode begins with a short conversation that you are supposed to listen to and merely understand. After that it goes over to repeat some stuff from the previous episode and then begins to mix it up with new vocabulary or grammar. All in all I think they did a very good job at finding a mix of introducing new content and repeating old stuff. Hearing native speakers pronounce the words and sentences for you and trying to repeat them is really nice as well. It made me realise just how different our pronunciation schemes are and I had some hilarious moments where I just couldn't follow the pronunciation properly at all until I had tried to say it consecutively for about fifty times.

Every time they pose an exercise or speak out the solution there is a pause afterwards for you to answer or repeat. This works well most of the time, but sometimes the pauses are either weirdly long, leaving you to wonder if you were supposed to do something else, or just too short and you can't finish thinking about it or speaking out your solution. That's a bit jarring, so I've taken to hitting pause when I realise I'll need a bit of thinking time to answer and otherwise trying to train myself to be able to speak as quickly as they do.

I also think that people who don't already have some background in Japanese, especially writing and grammar wise, will have quite a bit of trouble with some parts. Knowing how things are written helped me a lot to figure out what they were actually saying and made me able to look up the words in the dictionary so I could figure out other meanings or conjugations. Having a background in grammar helped me figuring out what things meant, rather than having to try and reverse-engineer it myself.

They do explain some grammar, but it's usually very brief and I feel like it isn't quite enough for absolute beginners. So if you want to take a shot at this I'd say you should at the very least be able to write Hiragana and perhaps read the first few chapters of grammar in Genki.

Otherwise I'm quite liking this approach, especially because it's very easy to make it into a routine, ensuring that you keep at it at least somewhat regularly. I'll continue on with the second unit and perhaps I'll write about my continued experience in about a month.

Written by shinmera