Beginner Speaking resources


#1

I have read about some of the speaking resources HelloTalk, Pimsleur, etc but I can’t find the proper resource that I’m looking for. Before I do a language exchange I would like to feel comfortable talking to myself. pimsleur looked good but it’s pricey and I’m not sure if it’s worth it. I tried to look for local tutors bu couldn’t find any. I was wondering what the best resource for someone would be when trying to start speaking.


#2

I use Mirai Japanese app. It’s kind of like Pimsleur, although not exactly. And for beginners/elementary mostly, if that’s your case. Not free of charge, but affordable, especially with the discount option. Personally I like it.


#3

My advice is practicing the sounds (pronunciation) as much as possible so that saying new words or even old words doesn’t feel too uncomfortable to you. As you feel more confident in your pronunciation, you can learn new words and increase your vocabulary, practicing different sounds.

1 thing that I do to test my pronunciation skill is singing with songs. Even if the lyrics are written in ローマ字, it is a good way to practice words and sounds without having a person to talk to. Of course, YouTube is a good source for finding material but it all depends on what you are looking for.


#4

Try looking in your local library for Pimsleur. Mine had it. For the missing volumes, the county system had it and I had it requested and brought right to my branch.


#5

The lowest cost would be to shadow some Japanese at regular, natural speeds (not slowed down).
If you’re watching Japanese drama(s) already, just pick one you like that isn’t set in a historic period, that’s about real life.
If you’re not watching anything yet, Terrace House on Netflix is really good. I believe most of the housemates speak informally with one another. Just repeat some phrases or whole sentences, and you’ll get used to the sounds in your own mouth.

Then try saying things you’ve been working on in whatever grammar resource you’re using.


#6

I’m going to resurrect this post because I’m right there now. I have a lot of vocab but I want to practice speaking. I’ve been listening to Pimsleur and I’ll look into Mirai. Any other suggestions?


#7

Something I do when I’m going to be walking somewhere alone, like to the train station or something, is I’ll find a sentence, or write my own if I know it’s grammatically correct, and just work on saying it faster and faster as I go.

Your mouth is made of muscles and you need to train it for speaking just like you would train for other physical activities. Even if you know Japanese really well, if you haven’t said sentences at reasonable speeds many times in the past you will choke on your words.

But it’s important to make sure you know what things to watch out for in terms of pronunciation and intonation, or you’ll just be reinforcing bad habits.


#8

One thing that has helped in addition to voice shadowing is reciting a poem written by 北原白秋 (きたはら・はくしゅ). It’s called 五十音(ごじゅうおん). This is a poem people who speak for a living use to focus on their enunciation. I find speaking in Japanese similiar to saying tongue twisters. For that reason, I say this poem every day in addition to other speaking exercises to improve the fluidity of my speech. This practice gets one used to the variety of sound patterns often used in Japanese. Here’s a link with the poem on YouTube https://youtu.be/-WgAbyX79zw


#10

It seems that shadow speaking is the best option for now. Japanese is sometimes so overwhelming one day I’ll learn grammar and writing Japanese seems not too hard with practice but then I’ll remember I have to learn speaking and listening. It’s like a snowball effect - first you have to write so that you can speak so that you can listen to form conversations. Tofugu has been posting some good resources lately but I think saying simple sentences I wrote (and can understand) will be the best practice, I’ll check out that poem too.


#11

Thanks for this information! I’m a new learner here so it’s really helpful. How to people feel about Pimsleur vs. Rosetta Stone? Many thanks!


#12

I have not tried Rosetta Stone in Japanese, but I have some experience with it in other languages and have spoken to a number of people who’ve used it in various languages. I’ve done some Pimsleur in Japanese (and listened to others do it in a couple other languages). I’m a teacher of Spanish and German so I’ll give my perspective here.

Pimsleur is quite good at getting you to be able to use, well, a very restricted amount of language. I like it for what it is; I think it’s a nice way to get started if you’re a raw beginner, especially if you have no background studying any language. It has its downsides, but it is well done in a lot of ways. You can often get it from the library, or relatively cheaply used.

Rosetta Stone is much more expensive, and although it can be a good resource, I don’t think it’s worth what it costs for most people. (Again, I haven’t seen the Japanese version, or any version honestly in recent years, so my information is dated.) I like it, personally, but I’ve only found one other person who liked it—a person who was learning his third or fourth new language, who managed to reach quite a high level of understanding using RS. The less sophisticated language learners that I’ve talked to who have used it have not liked it at all, although sometimes their actual learning has been greater than their hatred of it would imply.

I think Rosetta Stone is a good product, but (in my opinion) their marketing is better than their product. People get RS and then end up thinking that because it doesn’t work for them, they’re just not cut out for language learning. (After all, it’s the Cadillac of language learning, right?) And there are other good products out there.

If I knew you were committed to buying one of these two products, I’d recommend starting with Pimsleur rather than Rosetta Stone, but then moving mainly to something else rather than RS, unless money is no object for you.

Others who have looked at RS more recently may say that it has improved since then, and I’ll bow to their knowledge.


#13

I have used both Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone in Japanese. They are both good if you are only looking for speaking practice (neither is great for learning grammar or new vocab in my opinion). And BOTH are free through my local library, so if you have a local library I suggest you tell them you’d like to learn Japanese.


#14

I use Pimsleur on a regular basis for speaking practice, almost exclusively in the car. For me, Pimsleur has been easier to fit into my study routine compared to Rosetta Stone, since I can use it during my commute. Like others have mentioned, I got it for free through my local library.

It’s been a great reinforcement/supplement for grammar and vocab that I’ve learned through other resources like Genki. Another benefit is that I sometimes see vocab come up on WK that I’d already practiced through Pimsleur.

On the negative side - it could be the version that they have at my library, but some of the content feels dated and formal.


#15

I have this one app, LingoDeer that’s like a Japanese/Korean/Chinese grammar & vocab learning app. One of my fav things about it how it’s fully voiced, so when doing my lessons, I repeat everything they say, and by the end of each lesson, the different words and sentences flow off my tongue a lot easier than they had at the beginning.

You might also want to check out Mango Languages! It’s free with some libraries, so that’s definitely a plus. It’s specifically focused on learning to speak a language and will give you lots of phrases to learn and repeat as well as the option to record yourself saying them and compare it to the audio.


#16

Yeah, all the Pimsleur that I’ve heard are dated. They also have assumed that you’re a businessman, and they may have you practicing what you can say to introduce yourself to someone at a bar or something like that.

I’m not speaking about the Japanese version in particular, which I have limited exposure to.

Having said that, it definitely has its value, especially for beginners. Once I started listening to one of the Japanese Pimsleur sets, and my three kids (various ages into early teens, probably) got very excited about asking each other if they were Japanese or American and whether they speak Japanese or English. At the time none of them were trying to learn Japanese and we didn’t keep it up, so I don’t know how long the appeal would last. Nevertheless, they were able to speak to each other in quite rapid and nicely pronounced Japanese. (As I recall, it was a male voice, and they didn’t have a corresponding female voice, so that was a disadvantage.)

If you’re an experienced language learner, though, I think Pimsleur would be annoying, and you’d be better served to use another program (including language exchange or a tutor).