on May 8, 2004
The Pimsleur method of instruction is SO rewarding - and SO frustrating! It really does work to efficiently and quickly teach you the material. Unfortunately, it teaches you so LITTLE material that you will be left with a vocabulary of around 50 words and a series of set phrases that won't get you far in any conversation where the Japanese speaker hasn't memorized the same responses.
Here's what it DOES WELL:
1. It teaches you Japanese pronunciation, intonation, and rudimentary sentance structure.
2. It does this in a way that truly cements the little you've learned in your memory.
3. It provides some very brief comments on Japanese customs and courtesies.
4. You will be able to greet people in Japanese and communicate that you do not speak the language well. Though other material is covered, the limited vocabulary and set sentences will keep you from doing more than, say, observing that the weather is nice and nodding helplessly at the reply.
This 8 disk set is fairly reasonably priced on Amazon and is a good adjunct for a more comprehensive written text or the phrase book you intend to take on your trip (because it gives you pronunciation practice). The more expensive "full" course only adds a few disks and, by the nature of the method, little vocabulary and no grammar. I only wish this effective learning method included more material at a more reasonable price - I would rate it more highly in that case
Addendum: Now that I have made a trip to Japan, I think less time spent on asking other people to drink or eat with you and more time spent talking to taxi drivers would have been more useful - phrases such as "near.." and "stop here" would have helped a lot. Of course, this is not a "Japanese for travelers" course, and these lessons are but the beginning of a longer (and much more expensive) course in Japanese in general.
on December 18, 2003
I purchased the set after trying to learn Japanese with another product. The other product was teaching me words for "connecting train" and "first-class train car," but never how to use them in a sentence or with proper grammar. The Pimsleur set is a million times better. At the end of the first Pimsleur lesson (in which I heard no words that were in the other set) I could easily understand what they were saying. Contrary to the instructions, though, I've made a point of listening to the lesson twice...once in the morning going to work and once in the afternoon driving home. Sometimes (like if I skip a day) I'll listen to it once more the next day to refresh, but all the refreshing that is really needed is taken care of during the next lesson. I love the way they theme each lesson and build upon word groups naturally. "Excuse me. Nice day, isn't it?" becomes "Excuse me. Good afternoon." and then "Excuse me. Good afternoon, Miss Tanaka." and "Good afternoon, Miss Tanaka. What will you drink?" I really can't emphasize what a great product this is! I just wish the further lessons weren't so expensive!
on February 2, 2003
All my life I looked for course after course to help me learn a language. I tried so many books and audio tapes. Some were good but never taught fluency. Finally I was looking on amazon when I came across pimsleur language courses. I decided to give it a try, when It came. I quickly put the cd into the player, and after the first few lessons. I could'nt believe that I actually did'nt even really need to think about what I was saying in japanese. It just seem to come out. I was so thrilled. Someday I hope to buy the real courses but for right now this is all I can afford. I really wish pimsleur would make instant coversation 2 or something. I really think their company would make more money that way, because more people would buy it...