Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#16 My favorite Japanese Podcast – JapanesePod101.com

on March 22, 2012

Overview:

First off, I want to point out that JapanesePod101.com (which is the original site, and what I will focus on today) has a ton of sister sites that do lessons in the same way.

Most of them are located at <Language>Pod101.com, but some such as Korean and Chinese use a website address with the term “Class” instead of “Pod.”

They are provided by a company called Innovative Language Learning.  A full list of the languages available (and they have quite a selection!) can be found here:
http://www.innovativelanguage.com/languagepod101

Important things to note about this podcast provider:
-Some lessons are free, but most are not.
-They are thematic lessons, meaning each lesson is about a certain topic, and will introduce vocabulary and grammar as needed.  While they’re often organized into levels (absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate, etc), the lessons do not actually build that much on each other as far as I can tell.

You can usually download their free podcasts via iTunes.  The podcasts that are free are usually the first several lessons per level, as well as the latest lessons that they’ve released (available for free for a limited time).  To access the entirety of the lessons on the website, you will need a basic subscription (charged monthly).  If you want access to their review materials and other study tools, you’ll need to get a premium subscription (also charged monthly).

If you want to view the podcasts directly on their site, you need to sign in.  To sign in, you need to sign up first, which can be annoying.  BUT, listen up, because this is important.  When you sign up, you get a free 7 day trial of ALL the features on their site (as if it you had the high-class premium subscription).  This is a great opportunity not only to try out their site features and see if you want a subscription of your own; this is the time to MADLY SCRAMBLE to download as many lessons and lesson transcripts as you can while you have access to all their content for free.

My personal experience:
I loved JapanesePod101.com – I’d already taken many years of Japanese in college so I enjoyed having thematic lessons to learn new vocabulary and the occasional new grammatical structure.  I mainly used the Upper Intermediate lessons and the Advanced Audio Blog lessons.  I actually paid for a basic subscription for a few months when I was studying for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) Level 2.  I used to listen to podcasts every day during my lunch break from work.  I can’t vouch for any of their lower lessons since I never listened to them, but for their higher lessons, they have people doing quality voice acting for the dialogues, there are thoughtful and insightful teachers explaining the words and the grammar (mainly in Japanese), and they cover some interesting topics.  I found it worth my time and money, and thanks to the help of the site, I passed my proficiency test!

I briefly explored KoreanClass101.com and ChineseClass101.com.  I really enjoyed the culture lessons they had on these sites, since I knew basically nothing of these cultures, and every little thing they could tell me about was new and interesting to me.  However, being a beginner in both languages, I was often frustrated by their thematic approach.  I wanted basic grammar, basic expressions, basic vocabulary; I wanted to be able to build up my knowledge and learn how to string together a sentence, not just learn a handful of vocabulary each time.  So I gave up on these lessons and looked elsewhere for Chinese, and shelved my Korean learning for the foreseeable future.

Lucky for me though, there is a fantastic Chinese podcast site that I eventually found and am happy to share with you all, but that’s for another post!  Stay tuned.

Isn’t it wonderful the internet age we’re living in?

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