Hello and good day to you.

I a questions regarding learning japanese language and need some advice:

Can you recommend a studying method that is more efficient than "Pimsleur Essential Japanese" (audio course)?

I've been studying japanese using "pimsleur essential japanese", and I come to conclusion that it is not as good as I'd like it to be. Pimsleur is one of the best courses I saw(or heard), and it is good for learning how to correctly pronounce and construct sentences. The big problem is that pimsleur doesn't teach many words (3..5 words per 30 minutes), plus in some cases there are plenty of unnecessary repetitions (most people that watched anime don't need to repeat "daijobu" 15 times to remember it). I'm nearly at the end of 2nd course, and at this point I suspect then even when I finish all 3 courses, I will be able to speak only in very specific situations. So, is there a better (ready-to-use) course that is more efficient than pimsleur? Something that teaches more words at once? Or are there better study methods you could recommend instead of pimsleur?

Any advice will be appriciated.

  • Hello @SigTerm: As a rule, JLU is not for questions about learning methods for Japanese. I have temporarily migrated this question to meta and will let the community decide whether it could make a good seed for a FAQ entry on learning methods.
    – Dave
    Oct 16, 2011 at 5:25
  • 3
    @Dave: Well, I checked FAQ/About before posting, and as far as I can tell, they didn't say "this site is not about learning japanese and all such questions are forbidden", so I don't see where this rule is documented. If this is not the right site to ask the question, you could at least recommend another one. Also, I'm not sure if introducing such rule makes sense - beginner programming questions are allowed on stackoverflow and if "japanese.stackexchange" is "resource for stufents and teachers", it makes sense to allow "learning" questions. Such questions will be turned into CWs anyway.
    – SigTerm
    Oct 16, 2011 at 21:24
  • @SigTerm: the faq stinks. Anyway, Dave didn't say the site was not for "students", he said that your question was off-topic. And by the standards of JLU, it is. "What book is good" is not a question about the language. And then, I can't answer your question, I never used any such book.
    – Axioplase
    Oct 17, 2011 at 2:12
  • @Axioplase: Pimsleur is not a book, it is an audiocourse. This is not a "question about book", it is a request for better learning method that would allow me to learn more in the same amount of time. If japense.stackxechange is not the right place to ask, then where is the right place for this question?
    – SigTerm
    Oct 17, 2011 at 3:21
  • @SigTerm: well, [meta] is a better place. In Japanese Language we discuss the language and how to use it, not how to learn it. For methods, I'd say that any of the gazillions websites related to learning Japanese should be a good place to ask too. Also, see meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/1/…
    – Axioplase
    Oct 17, 2011 at 4:39
  • @SigTerm: as Axioplase said, the FAQ is absolutely sub-par (a problem that has a lot to do with how SE is set up). However, if you look through any discussion on what the scope of JLU is (usually in Meta), you'll see discussions about learning methods are considered out-of-scope (which in no way means "questions by students": these are absolutely not a problem). Anyway: not a big deal, I was not criticising your posting, just letting you know and migrating it to where it belonged...
    – Dave
    Oct 17, 2011 at 5:41
  • @Dave: Well, then I'll search for some other place to ask. I just thought that asking an advice from people who already learned language (to some extent) might be a good idea. Anyway, regarding "JLU" - you might want to setup some kind of community wiki answer for questions like this one.
    – SigTerm
    Oct 17, 2011 at 8:36
  • @SigTerm: re. a CW answer for questions like this one: this is exactly what this question is... Unfortunately, its format doesn't seem to appeal to any contributor willing to give an answer (if I had to take a guess, I would say the focus is too broad).
    – Dave
    Oct 18, 2011 at 10:14
  • @Dave: All I wanted is a reply from person that learned language, has been using pimsluer, faced the same problem and found a solution (i.e. more efficient learning approach). Perhaps I should have been more specific.
    – SigTerm
    Oct 18, 2011 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


Complete lack of replies in 2 weeks on japanese forum is rather surprising (it IS japanese forum, so there SHOULD be some fluent people that could share tips, right?). Anyway...

I did some research, and it looks like the "more efficient" approach for japanese learning means following:

  1. Using Heisig's "Remembering the Kana" for hiragana/katakana
  2. Using Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" for Kanji.
  3. Learning sentences instead of separate words.
  4. Speaking sentences aloud (while you learn them) since the first day.
  5. Using "Spaced Repetition Software" to aid learning.
  6. Listening to japanese audio sources as much as possible.
  7. Working every day with nearly no breaks.

In other words "imaginative memory" to quickly memorize initial meaning of word/kanji, "spaced repetition" to make sure you won't forget it, speaking aloud to make sure you get it right and to force your brain to learn language rules so you'll understand them intuitively. Apparently at least some people used similar methods and they claim to be successful. Time will tell whether this will work for me or not.

  • 1
    A word of warning so you don't set your expectations too high. Heisig's book isn't a magic silver bullet that automatically bestows knowledge of all kanji by the time you finish all three. I'm still going through it, and while it has helped me learn how to write/read a great many kanji, some of his stories can be a real stretch, and I had to make up my own word or fall back to memorization to get those arcane characters. So while it helps, it's not a complete solution on it's own.
    – Troyen
    Nov 3, 2011 at 20:54
  • I'm still about midway through a very long reply. Part of the issue is that there are so many variables. For example, I wouldn't have recommended Heisig because it seemed like you were more interested in speaking/listening (based only on your starting material). I do find that your #6 is usually underestimated by people studying on their own, and #5 is somewhat overestimated.
    – jkerian
    Nov 4, 2011 at 16:04
  • I should also mention, you limited the number of people who would answer somewhat unnecessarily when you specified in the comments that you were looking for "a reply from person that learned language, has been using pimsluer, faced the same problem and found a solution". Lots of us started out studying in different ways. At this point I doubt there are 4 people on the site that started learning with the same program.
    – jkerian
    Nov 4, 2011 at 16:07
  • @jkerian: "it seemed like you were more interested in speaking/listening" Actually I need both reading and speaking. The reason I complained about pimsleur is because it hasn't been providing many new words/sentences. The part "has been using pimsleur" was an example provided within comments and wasn't a strict requirement, also it wasn't specified in the question. Anyway, there's no reason to talk about it now, because I found plenty of material to keep me very busy for next few months.
    – SigTerm
    Nov 5, 2011 at 3:36

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