There is a possibility that I might be going to Japan for work, and being somewhat remedial with learning foreign languages, I wanted an inexpensive way to "test the waters"... can I really learn to speak Japanese from a CD? Is Pimsleur the right choice? Absolutely! I put these CDs in my radio on my way to work rather than listen to DJs talk about nothing and have been wonderfully surprised.
-Lessons feature male and female speakers to give you a range of voice pitch
-Price of $15 for 10 half-hour lessons on 5 CDs delivered to you door is awesome!
-Some repetition and periodic reviews to help you learn and to keep you sharp
-You learn basics to get around, such as "Do you understand English?" and "Good morning, nice weather isn't it."
-5 CDs come with a nice black zippered soft-sided CD holder
-Each 30-minute lesson is an entire track, so you can't use the "scan" feature on your radio, you must rewind (or fast forward) manually, despite clear logical breaks (like learning the reponse to a question you just learned)
-No supporting book or pamphlet of words to visually memorize (I need all the help I can get)
-Lessons are not a full 30 minutes typically... would have appreciated more repetition on several words that get almost none (you can rewind, so minor point I suppose)
-Tip #1: CD recommends that if you master 80% of the material, you can move on to the next lesson. I couldn't disagree more, be nearly 100% to get the most of this (you can do it if I can), rewind if you must
-Tip #2: They say a word and you repeat it, there are a few seconds of delay time for you to respond. Learn to say each word not once in that time, but twice, so that you learn to speak at a reasonable speed. It would be annoying to go up to someone and talk too s-l-o-w-l-y...
-Sample vocabulary you will learn: excuse me, hello, good morning, good day, thank you, thank you very much, I, you, good, bad, weather, so it is (agreement), yes, no, I understand, I don't understand, do you understand?, skilled, unskilled, English, Japanese (language, heritage are different words), American, but, well (like I don't know Japanese very well), and so forth... and that's only a sampling of the first 3 lessons... there are 10 in all.
Bottom line: Excellent introduction, highly recommended especially for ~$15. Note: if you buy Pimsleur I, I believe these are the same five discs that begin that series. With Pimsleur I you'll get more CDs obviously, just note the overlap if you are considering it. If I knew then what I know now, I would bite the bullet and go right for Pimsleur I.