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!!! That’s over 1 minute of NOTHING useful!!! AND each time emphasizing 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 SO annoying. They made me stop listening to them

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 might be a good website for you if you’re willing to pay the monthly fees to get the most out of it, and willing to put up with spam and unnecessary introductions to audio files.

Otherwise, it’s not a very good resource for learning Japanese. There are MANY more options out there for learning Japanese, most of which are FREE.

I strongly suggest you don’t waste your money on this greedy poor quality website.

JapanesePod101 Review

4 thoughts on “JapanesePod101 Review

  • May 15, 2015 at 3:35 am

    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.

    • March 27, 2016 at 8:52 am

      I’ve not heard of that! Thank you! I’ll go look it up!

  • July 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    The company covers a large number of languages, I think it’s more useful for less common languages where there aren’t so many free and cheaper resources available. I’m currently using the Czech and Hungarian versions (with the $1 first month premium offer) to learn some basics for my holiday and it’s been very useful for that, but the Japanese version I found less useful at an intermediate level and there seems to be more advertising in it than the other versions I’ve used.

    NHK’s Easy Japanese audio series is free, including PDF notes, and covers pretty much the same material as the beginner lessons on JapanesePod101 – possibly more, it’s been a while since I used the latter. There are now 2 versions, one with a business slant and one aimed more at students but they both cover the same basics, just with slightly more vocabulary for one or the other.

  • August 8, 2017 at 8:47 am

    I’m a begginner japanese student, self studying this language for about 2-3 months.
    Well, I think I understand what you say about how they push the payment with their advertise. I took the initial offer with the $1 for the first month of premium and I really liked (to have all that content at your disposal) but I was overwhelmed with the lessons. No clear order to follow, some of them classes seemed like quick guides with phrases for an upcomming trip and others where lessons for people starting to learn japanese more seriously, but didn’t were so structured neither…. so that kept me wondering how useful could this website really be.
    I started with the kana videos and they where Ok. I actually learnt hiragana and katakana. So I renew the premium suscription (using one of the many coupons you can find online, a 50% off , wich was nice to find).

    After learning kana I continue learning using textbooks (Genki + Minna No Nihongo), and from time to time would listen to the podcasts. A month ago I was considering to stop renewing the suscription, since I was really making progress with the textbook routine. BUT I finally found a reviewer that actually took the time to review most of the seasons in the website (from begginer to advanced), and proposed a logical order to follow (the blog it’s called BakaNoNihongo in case you want to check out).
    3 weeks after that, and following the classes that were proposed, I must said that the quality of the material can really differ from one season to the next, basically the first seasons (the ones they make initially) are trash…. not at all coherent and no really teaching experience showed here. After some of the members where added (with teaching background) the classes are drastically better, with lesson notes that are actual teaching material, like you would expect from a real teacher.

    Anyway. I wouldn’t recommend the lessons as a main source for self-studying, I found textbooks to be better for that, but as a complement, I think it provides with valuable audio content, specially more natural dialogs and casual language, with vocab you don’t really find in most textbooks. The material it’s vast, with some real gems hidden.
    They should really stop selling the website as it was a scam, ’cause they have really quality material there (very poorly organized).


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