JapanesePod101 Review: Worth It? [Price and Alternatives]
JapanesePod101 is an excellent resource to start your language learning journey or continue to improve your skills. The audio and video lessons help tackle the difficulties of the language in a way that other apps don’t. The different subscription levels let you pay for the plan that is right for you. There is a lot of content that is available for free, and they release new lessons every week. This app is good for all levels because of the increasing difficulty. The basic level truly starts from the beginning, and the more advanced levels are taught entirely in Japanese.
- Free access to tons of content
- Video/audio/written lessons good for many learning styles
- Discusses how culture affects the language
- Lessons to learn the different writing systems
- No defined course structure
- Not a lot of speaking practice
- Self-motivation needed to continue
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Table of Contents
JapanesePod101 is part of the larger Innovative Language Learning company that offers over 34 languages. You learn Japanese through a variety of audio/video lessons that feature native Japanese speakers. Their unique approach through the podcast-style lessons helps to overcome the difficulties for English speakers when learning a language that uses a different writing system. The content of the lessons focus on topics that you would encounter in everyday life when interacting with a Japanese speaker.
JapanesePod101 is a high-quality platform for all levels of Japanese learners, from beginner to advanced. If you are a beginner, you truly start with the basics (learning to say hello) and do not need to know any of the 3 Japanese writing systems. Once you are at an intermediate or advanced level, the ability to read and write different characters becomes more important. JapanesePod101 offers lessons to learn Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji characters.
Since Japanese is quite different from English, this platform does a fantastic job bringing in cultural aspects that affect the language. They frequently note the difference between formal and informal language. The beginner lessons focus on formal language and go into the differences between the two in the higher levels.
The amount of lessons, and where to begin, can be overwhelming at first. The platform creates pathways for you to follow based on your chosen level. But you can jump around between different lessons and practice exercises if you want.
JapanesePod101 has several price options available. There is free content and three paid subscription levels. There are pricing plans that range from 1-24 months. The basic subscription costs $8.00/month, or can be as cheap as $4.00/month if you buy 24 months ($96.00 total). The Premium level costs $25.00/month, or $10.00/month for a 24-month subscription ($240 total). The Premium Plus level costs $47.00/month, or $22.88/month for a 24-month subscription ($549 total).
The difference between the subscription levels is the content you can access. For the basic subscription, you get access to all the lessons, but not any of the practice activities like flashcards, grammar bank, and lesson quizzes. These are available with the Premium subscription. The Premium Plus level gives you access to Japanese teachers who give you evaluations and assignments.
The price of JapanesePod101 is similar to Busuu but offers more content. Apps like Drops can help you learn vocabulary. But if you want to be conversational, JapanesePod101 offers more value for its price. A free app like Clozemaster or Duolingo can help you start learning Japanese but JapanesePod101 goes more in-depth with grammar and cultural explanations.
If you are a casual learner, the free or basic subscriptions are sufficient. If you are working toward a goal, such as preparing for a trip or an upcoming test, the extra features of Plus or Premium Plus are useful for learning faster. There is a 60-day money back guarantee if you are not happy with your subscription.
JapanesePod101 offers a 7-day free trial of the Premium membership. But if you don’t want to enter your credit card information, there are many free features you can try before deciding to upgrade to a subscription. The free features do not expire and are always available.
Students can receive a 20% discount if they buy any of the 12-month subscriptions.
When you sign up, JapanesePod101 offers a one-time deal. For $1, you get 60 exclusive lessons, premium access, one free product download, and a 7-day fluency fast course. This offer is good for 30 days. You have to enter your credit card information, and your subscription will be renewed to the Premium level if you do not cancel before the 30 days are over.
Setting up an account with JapanesePod101 was very easy. You just enter and confirm your email. There’s no need to enter your credit card information. Instead of a typical placement test, you choose the level you where you want to start, and they give you criteria to see if it is the right level for you. You can easily change the level if you realize you need something easier/harder after you start.
Let’s look at some of the features that JapanesePod101 offers. Although they offer a wide selection of free lessons, many of their features are only available with a paid subscription.
There are 5 levels of lessons: absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced. There are over 3800 lessons, with new lessons every week. Each lesson has an audio or video. The lessons cover many topics from vocabulary and grammar, to cultural situations and business settings. The beginner lessons use English to explain the concepts, but the intermediate and advanced lessons use more Japanese.
There are also lesson notes that describe everything in more detail. For example, you can listen to the vocabulary words again and see them written with different characters. There is also a transcript so you can follow along, and quizzes you can take to see if you learned the information.
There are many ways to practice vocabulary on the platform. You can create your own word bank by saving vocabulary words from the lessons. There are also flashcard sets with topics such as common verbs, food, and even a shark week set! I liked the practice with 100 core words and phrases. I thought it was a great way to start learning the most common words. If you are more advanced, you can change the core list to include 200, 500, and up to 2,000 words.
The online platform includes a dictionary to search for words in English, rōmaji, or kana and kanji characters. Once you find the word, you can add it to your word bank so it will appear later.
The Premium Plus level gives you access to a Japanese teacher who will help you through the process of learning the language. But, you don’t actually take classes with the teacher. After an inicial assessment, the teacher sets up a learning plan with different assignments for you to complete and gives feedback.
Watch this video to find out more about how it works:
You communicate through audio or video messages sent to the teacher, not in real-time. The teacher corrects your assignments and gives you feedback to help you improve.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the JapanesePod 101 program! There are many reasons to learn Japanese, but I have been nervous to try because of the major differences from English (different writing system, formal/informal speech, etc.). This platform made me feel comfortable and that learning Japanese is attainable. The audio/video lesson format allows for an explanation of the cultural aspects of the language, something that is not possible with other apps that use flashcards or listen-and-repeat lessons.
The lessons are bite-sized and easy to follow. Each lesson mixes different learning techniques, such as audio and reading/writing. I liked the structure of the course. It follows a logical progression and guides you to what lesson you should do next. But it is also good for learners that like to mix-and-match. There are many types of activities, and all content is available so you can skip around if you prefer.
However, to actually learn Japanese with this program, you need to be an active learner. If you only listen to the lessons, you will pick-up some things. But to attain a higher level of Japanese, you will need to go through all the activities, like the quizzes and vocabulary practices.
JapanesePod101 is an interesting and fun app to learn or improve your Japanese. As with any app, it isn’t perfect. One of the major cons is that there is not much speaking practice. During lessons you repeat after the speaker, but there is no real feedback or conversation practice. The best ways to practice speaking Japanese are on platforms like italki and Preply.
As with most language apps, the content is better for beginner-intermediate level. Once you are trying to reach the advanced level, you will probably need to sign up for the Premium Plus subscription to get feedback from Japanese teachers. You can also practice with native speakers by using an app like Tandem.
If you feel like JapanesePod101 isn’t the right option for you, here are some other Japanese apps to consider. If you like the idea of learning with audio lessons, you can try Pimsleur, but if you are a casual learner and enjoy the game aspect of the apps, then Mondly might be a good choice. Rocket Languages also mixes up their lessons with some that are audio, and some that you read. If you really want to take your Japanese to the next level, Rosetta Stone gives you the option to interact with Japanese teachers and take live classes.
JapanesePod101 vs Rocket Languages
JapanesePod101 and Rocket Languages are similar. They both have audio and video lessons, along with lesson transcripts, flashcards, and quizzes. But Rocket languages mixes it’s audio/video lessons with reading lessons. There is also less content available. It’s difficult to compare prices On Rocket Languages you buy the level and have lifetime access, but on JapanesePod101 you pay per month. Overall, I enjoyed the JapanesePod101 lessons more. The lessons are shorter and more manageable. I also like that every lesson includes some type of audio or video content. You can learn more about Rocket Languages in this review.
JapanesePod101 vs Mondly
JapanesePod101 and Mondly are interesting because they both have a lot of additional content to mix-in with the lessons. Mondly focuses on new technology, such as AR (augmented reality) lessons and chatbot conversations. JapanesePod101 offers more academic features like word lists and even feedback from Japanese teachers. Mondly is less expensive, especially if you want to learn additional languages. Mondly might be the better choice if you prefer the gaming aspect that a lot of language apps offer. But JapanesePod101 is the better choice if you want to understand how the Japanese language works. Read more about Mondly in this review.
JapanesePod101 vs Pimsleur
Pimsleur and JapanesePod101 both use audio lessons to help you learn and understand Japanese. They both emphasize the importance of culture in the language. Pimsleur has a more rigid course structure where you advance lesson-by-lesson, but JapanesePod101 gives you more freedom to choose what you want to learn. JapanesePod101 is the cheaper option since there are different subscription levels. JapanesePod101 also offers a lot more lessons and additional features. Learn more about Pimsleur in this review.
JapanesePod101 vs Rosetta Stone
Both JapanesePod101 and Rosetta Stone give you the option for interaction with native Japanese teachers. JapanesePod101 offers 1-on-1 feedback to assignments, and Rosetta stone has live classes. The biggest difference between the two are the lessons. JapanesePod101 follows the same format for all of its lessons, but Rosetta Stone segments the different skills, like listening, speaking, and grammar, into separate lessons. Both apps are similarly priced when you pay for a monthly subscription, and Rosetta Stone offers some good discounts for their lifetime access. Rosetta Stone is the better option if you want to learn more than one language. Learn more about it in this Rosetta Stone review.
JapanesePod 101 is a good way to help you master the Japanese language. There is a variety of content for all levels. If you want to become fluent, you can take advantage of 1-on-1 interactions with Japanese teachers, something that is not offered by many other apps.
The Premium Plus subscription is worth it only if you want help from a Japanese teacher. You complete assignments and your teacher gives you feedback and guides you through a personal learning plan. This could be good for people who need to learn Japanese in a short amount of time, or frequently interact with people from Japan and need to perfect their language. If you are a casual Japanese learner, the Basic or Premium subscription may be enough to fit your learning goals.
JapanesePod101 offers a Free Lifetime Account, which is truly free and you do not have to enter credit card information. With the free account, you get access to 100+ lessons, new lessons weekly, vocabulary and phrase lists, and more. If you want access to all the lessons and features available, you need a paid subscription.
Yes. You can find the app by searching for Innovative Language Learning in the app store. The app includes all the lessons, but does not have some of the extra features that the online platform has, such as vocabulary lists and the dictionary. You can sync your account between the online platform and app to access your lessons from whatever device you choose.
This is an independent JapanesePod101 review, and the company has not sponsored this article. To write this review, I signed up for the Premium subscription to thoroughly test its content and features. I also found additional information on the JapanesePod101 website to verify my findings.