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      February 26, 2020

Home  >  Learn Japanese  >  Rocket Languages vs Pimsleur

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Rocket Languages vs Pimsleur

Best Japanese Lessons

To help you find the Best Japanese Lessons, provides you with an in-depth comparison of Rocket Languages and Pimsleur.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Japanese Lessons, please Click Here

As one of the 10 most spoken languages in the world, Japanese is a popular language for students of all ages. With more than 125 million people worldwide who use it on a daily basis, the opportunities for using Japanese are numerous, from business owners who are looking for a new partner in trade to middle schoolers who want to understand their favorite anime TV show without English subtitles.

Whether the only Japanese you know is "domo arigato" from Styx's classic 80's song, or you've got a basic grasp of conversational Japanese and want to take your skills to the next level, there are a number of programs that will allow you to learn the language from the comfort of your own home, car, or other location - without having to fit traditional classroom-based lessons into an already busy schedule.

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Best Reviews


Japanese Lessons Reviews

5 stars
Rocket Languages


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$149.95 (list price) for Level 1

$299.90 (list price) for Levels 1 and 2

$449.85 (list price) for Levels 1-3 Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Rocket Language's Japanese lessons program is well-rounded and effective, no matter whether you are a beginning student or hoping to take your current skills to the next level.

There are three levels offered by Rocket Languages for students who want to study Japanese:

  • Level 1, which will bring you to a good conversational level
  • Level 2, which improves your speaking ability and takes you to a more advanced level of speaking ability
  • Level 3, designed for the serious learner who wants to achieve the most advanced conversational level

Each level within the Japanese package contains the following:

  • Twenty-five minute interactive audio lessons (32+). These lessons contain conversational Japanese, focusing on common phrases and vocabulary used in everyday life. Listen to each lesson as many times as needed to train your ear to respond to each prompt.
  • Language & Culture Lessons (29+). Rocket Japanese provides step-by-step explanations in English to help students learn exactly how Japanese works. Previous students rave about how these lessons help them to understand some of the ins-and-outs of getting along with native speakers, particularly in areas where Japanese culture differs significantly from the Western world.
  • Voice recognition phrases (2,200+). Rocket Record allows you to improve your pronunciation by evaluating your spoken Japanese against its voice recognition tool, bringing your accent as close to a native level as possible.
  • Flash Card sets (62+). Improve your active recall of the Japanese words and phrases you learn with a set of Flash Cards for each and every lesson.
  • 24/7 Forum and Email Support. Rocket Languages believes that every question is a good question. Students have unlimited access to discussion boards and forums where they can get answers from Japanese teachers, native speakers, and fellow Japanese language learners.

Other Japanese course features include the My Vocab vocabulary builder, the Phrase Finder, progress tracking with badges and leaderboard access, lifetime course access, and three available "Survival Kits" that help students quickly master targeted vocabulary within specific conversational situations.

Rocket Japanese offers a 20-minute audio lesson and access to the student dashboard as a free trial with no credit card information required, along with several "Hear It Say It! Write It! Know It!" examples on the website. The audio lesson sample is, for lack of a better word, cute - a native English speaker and native Japanese speaker exchange friendly banter that introduces the Japanese program in an approachable way, and starts learners on their way to understanding a basic conversation with greetings, a small grammar lesson, and some numbers. We felt like we were sitting down with two fun, interesting people who were helping us learn Japanese as their friends.

We were thrilled to see that Rocket Japanese includes a detailed section of Writing Lessons that teach all three character systems (kanji, hiragana, katakana), for those students who need to learn to read and write in Japanese in addition to mastering conversational skills. And, the lessons include the Roman alphabet approximation of every spoken phrase, to give you an idea of how to pronounce it using the alphabet that is familiar to you.

We love Rocket Language's 100%, 60-day money-back guarantee, though you may not need it: more than 1,800 users have given the program a perfect five-star rating. And, don't let their pricing scare you: at the time of our review, there was a promotion offering a discount of 60% on all language programs, and we found similar significant discounts on other visits to the site.

Although it can be daunting to learn any new language, tackling one with sounds and characters that are completely unfamiliar can make you feel like it's an impossible task. Rocket Language's approach to learning Japanese feels like someone is holding your hand, talking you through the basics, and believing in your ability to master the language. We love their money-back guarantee and their well-rounded approach to teaching Japanese. Rocket Language's Japanese lessons earns our highest rating.

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2.5 stars


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$970 for Japanese levels 1-4 on CD (120 lessons)

$450 for Japanese 1-4 on MP3 (30 lessons), available as CD for $345

Pimsleur is well-known when it comes to foreign language instruction. Although their language lessons focus almost entirely on learning by hearing, Pimsleur's Japanese lessons include a reading booklet and three booklets on culture notes; this is especially important given that Japanese is character-based and does not use the Roman alphabet that most learners recognize.

If you'd like to try Pimsleur's approach to learning Japanese, you can get a free 30-minute introductory lesson by entering your name, zip code, email address, and reason for studying the language (for fun, for business, and so on). We found that the free lesson was easy to follow and helped us understand some basic principles, vocabulary, and sounds in Japanese.

Although Pimsleur's Japanese lessons include audio lessons to help students learn to read Hiragana, along with a reading booklet, those components are not likely to leave students with a solid understanding of written Japanese. If your reasons for learning the language include being able to read or write it, Pimsleur's heavy emphasis on audio learning may not be enough to help you achieve your goals.

Another area where Pimsleur comes up short in comparison with its competitors is the satisfaction guarantee, or lack thereof. Pimsleur chooses to offer a Proficiency Guarantee instead, which has very specific terms: users must purchase Pimsleur's Level I program and take a novice-level test after you complete the course. This exam is available through an independent testing company accessed through a link on the Pimsleur website (which, at the time of our review, gave us a 404 error). Only if you fail that exam will you be able to get a full refund.

Finally, Pimsleur costs much more than other providers of Japanese lessons. Although their audio lessons have great reviews, we're not sure that the benefits they offer are worth the hefty $450 and $970 price tags, especially compared with other top-rated programs we considered that offer multiple approaches to learning (audio, visual, speech recognition, and so on). We strongly suggest that prospective customers not only try the audio sample prior to purchasing Pimsleur's program, but also that they check for any special offers or discounts that may be available from time to time.

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Continued from above

When choosing a Japanese language program, you should explore what each system and method has to offer and whether or not it will help you reach your goals. Some Japanese lessons focus solely on conversational ability, using audio lessons to teach, while others use a variety of ways to teach reading and writing in addition to speaking the language.

Of particular interest with respect to Japanese is the written language. You'll want to determine if reading and writing is a priority, as not all programs include this aspect of language learning in their lessons. There are three basic scripts used in written Japanese:

  • Kanji, which are symbolic and derived from Chinese (several thousand characters)
  • Hiragana, a phonetic alphabet primarily used for grammatical elements such as particles and noun suffixes (46 characters)
  • Katakana, another phonetic alphabet with more angular letter shapes, used for emphasis and for foreign words (46 characters)

As you can see, written Japanese is considerably more complex than English and other languages based on the more familiar Roman alphabet (such as Spanish, French, and German), so it's important to know how each program addresses the written component of Japanese if you'll need to be able to read and write it yourself.

In general, there are several things to consider when choosing a program for your Japanese lessons. These include:

  • Instructional Methods. Do you learn best by hearing, seeing, or a combination of both? Does the program use a style that is a good match? If offered, did the free trial leave you feeling fantastic or frustrated?
  • Skill Level. Can you reach advanced levels of Japanese with this program, or is it limited just to beginning instruction? Will you need to purchase more levels in the future, or is it all-inclusive?
  • Value. Does the program work? Is it worth the investment of your time and money? has reviewed and ranked the best Japanese Lessons available today. We hope these reviews help you to move quickly beyond "konnichiwa" and "sayonara" and towards a comfortable fluency level in the Japanese language!

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