JapanesePod101 Review

Don’t waste your money on JapanesePod101

This is an honest JapanesePod101 review and has my own opinions. I’m sure each person using the program will think of it differently, so it’s worth checking out for yourself if this is something for you.

JapanesePod101 is a website which provides Japanese lessons from beginner to advance, using audio lessons, so if you are an auditory learner this might be a good one for you.

This post looks at the resources JapanesePod101 provides and it’s pros and cons.

JapanesePod101 Review

You cannot explore the website without signing up. The front page opens with a brief description of what they offer and a video that auto-plays when you open the page (very annoying).

The first thing I need to point out is when they say “Create Your Free Account” it is not exactly true. “A FREE lifetime account” seems to been JapanesePod101’s slogan, when really it’s not exactly “free” if you want to get the most out of it. You get a 7 day trial of their Premium account after which you are returned to a free account.

The following outlines what each account offers (they list more on their website but this is essentially it).

Free Account

  • Audio lessons
  • Video lessons
  • Vocabulary lists (with audio pronunciation)

JapanesePod101 Review Basic Account (includes the above) $4 a month

  • Lesson Materials and Review
  • PDF notes of lessons
  • Android/iPlayer access

Premier Account (includes the above) $10 a month

  • JLPT Prep
  • Flashcards

Premier PLUS Account (includes the above) $23 a month

  • 1 to 1 lessons and help


My Experience & JapanesePod101 Review

My first impression after signing up and getting the “give us money now – one time only offer” page after I signed up was… annoying. As was the constant reminders on the website that I should give them money for the premier accounts above.

I signed up to use the Advanced sections so I cannot comment on the beginners, but there does seem to be a lot more for beginners than advanced users.

JapanesePod101 Review

I felt like I was hit with a lot of information at first and it was hard to know where to start or how to use the site. Lessons are mostly through sound files, with short (very short) vocabulary lists of about 5 words (have to pay to get vocab lists)

With the free trial I was also able to play with the flashcard program but it’s nothing compared to Memrise. The vocabulary from the lists were not very useful either.

It was, however, really useful having a transcript and the ability to break down each sentence and listen to them, rather than flicking through the postcast or pausing and rewinding. – But you can only get this if you pay.

The review section has a very short quiz (only 5 words) but didn’t have anything that teaches you the reading for the kanji – I suppose read the transcript while listening is supposed to tell you.

The audios themselves were ok. The subject matter was interesting and there were a LOT for advanced learners. However, every podcast had a 50 second intro with a 20 second ending, and each time emphasising a “free lifetime account” (which as we know isn’t exactly the case). I had downloaded some to listen to while walking but the extremely long introductions they just got annoying.

One useful feature is you can sign off lessons you want completed and the front page lists all the courses and what lesson you’re on next.


TL;DR Likes and Dislikes

Things I Like

  • Wide variety of levels and huge number of lessons
  • Can download pdfs of all the materials (if you pay)
  • Break down each sentence and listen to them (if you pay)

Things I Don’t Like

  • Pushy for money – 15secs at the end of each podcast, large things everywhere saying how I should become a premium member, when on the from page is emphasis that the site is free.
  • Mentioned “Free lifetime account” and nothing about you signing up being a 7 trail period
  • The “free” users don’t get much content.
  • 50 second intro on all podcasts is unnecessarily long. I understand they want to direct people to the website if they found those pods somewhere else but 20 secs is just the intro music!
  • Short useless vocabulary lists and quizzes.
  • Spam – lots of emails, many of which are not for the level I’m signed up for. Would be more useful to receive emails that are only for my target level, or ones for target levels I select.

I think that if you’re a beginner and an auditory learner then this would be a good website for you if you’re willing to pay the monthly fees to get the most out of it.

Otherwise, it’s not a very good resource for learning Japanese as there are many more options out there.

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  1. Hi! Have you tried iKnow? It's also an online app for learning Japanese, similar to JapanesePod101. I think it's better because of its Sentence Trainer, which is my favorite feature. It has other different types of quizzes you can take and in my experience, makes remembering and learning faster and easier. The downside of this site is it's paid, too.

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