Good alternatives to Pimsleur?


Was wondering if anyone might have some reccomended resources for me! Basically, I’ve been on and off using pimsleur for a while now (I’m about midway through the third course) and there are the following things I REALLY like about it:

  1. I can do it when I’m out for a walk or something, compared to the rest of my Japanese learning which needs to be done sitting down inside,
  2. it gives me active speaking production practice, which otherwise I only get once a week at my italki lesson.

However…it’s so focused on really polite and business focused language that it’s starting to feel as though I’m wasting my time learning a bunch of stuff I will never use (as I don’t intend to work in Japan). Does anyone have any ideas of good alternatives that are more focused on everyday Japanese? I tried out a few episodes of JapanesePod101 a while back and found that it was mainly listening and just a tiny bit of speaking at the end…however that might not be representative of all levels/episodes.

I already listen to quite a lot of pure listening audio resources (podcasts, audiobooks etc) so really more looking for something with an active ‘production’ element like pimsleur…just not one that assumes you are an international banker lol.


I much preferred “Michel Thomas” Japanese. It has a focus on building up sentence patterns that I found more useful than Pimsleur’s repetitive approach.

You are also in a pretend ‘class’ with a good student and a ‘bad’ student - the bad once makes a lot of the same mistakes as you do which is kind of encouraging.

After a while I made a point to repeat everything back in plain form instead of ます though.

As an alternative I think the author of the course - Helen Gilhooly, went on to do teaching material of her own.


interesting! I haven’t really heard anything about that before. what kind of level of material is available - is it mainly just beginner or are there several levels? I’ll look into it :slight_smile:

And yeah, everything being ます form can be irritating, but I kind of expect that tbh and ます form is still pretty useful and common. Pimsleur teaches a lot of stuff that is even higher formality than ます form though and I just don’t know if I’ll ever need that…I’ve certainly never come across any of it anywhere outside of pimsleur yet! Probably don’t need to know how to ask for the phone book either haha…

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this book is perfect for you:

there’s actually a newer, updated version of it if you search for it, and there’s also an intermediate to advanced once you’re done with the first one. it’s basically just shadowing, so you put the audio in and practice speaking at the same time, and it gives you a lot of both formal and informal speech, starting from simpler stuff and gradually introducing new grammar and vocabulary. once you’re done with the book your level of speaking will be far higher, and you can do it anywhere if you just download the audio and put it on your phone, although id recommend first reading that section of the book first


But same goes for podcasts!

I highly recommend

or, if you find it too easy,

P. S. those links look like they might be the same podcast, but they are not. The first one is Nihongo con Teppei for beginners, the second one is Nihongo con Teppei Original, intended for intermediate level learners.


Hi, thanks! I actually listen to a lot of podcasts including Nihongo con Teppei already - they are great! :slight_smile: I’m more looking for something that involves some production and speaking similar to Pimsleur as I do think having daily practice helps…I just don’t like the very formal focus of pimsleur.

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This sounds very interesting! I will definitely check it out, thanks! :slight_smile:

It’s been a while since I used it, but I think for me was useful more for consolidation and production than learning new things.

They have a ‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ course, but I don’t think it gets beyond upper beginner. I think for more than that, podcasts might be more useful.

I found some of this helpful and some of it maddening. Also, the pronunciation and mnemonics by the instructor seemed… a bit off… to me… and some of the sentence-building seemed a little weird and specific in a Duolingo sort of way. And whenever I think of the course I primarily think of the bad student…

Yeah! That’s exactly what I find Pimsleur good for - not so much learning things as almost moving things into my kind of ‘speaking memory bank’ that I can actively draw from.

Just to say I’ve checked this out and read some reviews and I think that you’re right! I’ve ordered it now - I’m hoping that if I can find time to quickly read the book daily then I can switch out my daily lunchtime walk Pimsleur for some shadowing :slight_smile: Thanks for the recommendation - I’ve marked it as the solution :slight_smile:

My library has a fair bit of JapanesePod101’s ‘seasons’ for free on 3 week rental cycles. It is similar to Pimsleur in terms of layout for the main lesson and vocabulary, but has people talking about the lesson podcast style as well. It gradually gets more japanese heavy as you go, to the point where the intermediate stuff they talk almost exclusively in Japanese during those segments for most lessons. I haven’t made it to the advanced track yet, so can’t speak to it, but so far, it has all built upon itself rather well.

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Just to note, if you’re otherwise enjoying Pimsleur and don’t mind continuing, they do go more informal for the latter two levels. :slight_smile:


oh interesting :thinking: I think I can get those with my audible subscription too! I’ll maybe try out some episodes of the intermediate and are how I find it :slight_smile: thanks!

Just popping in to say that I’ve given some of the intermediate jpod101 episode a try and I really like them. They don’t have as much speaking but that are also like half the length of pimsleur so I’m going to try moving to one Jpod101 lesson and 10-15 mins shadowing when on my lunchtime walk (I’m sure I must seem very strange walking around talking to myself but who cares) and hopefully that should cover all bases! many thanks! :slight_smile:

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Glad that it worked for you. :smiley:
I think that paying their subscription is a bit too steep, but when able to acces through other legal means that don’t cost as much, its fantastic. I’ve actually been going through all that my library provides from them for several months on the drive to/from work. Its just a little at a time, but I learned so much new vocab and grammar just from listening to that series.
On my weekend walks, I listen to the NHK news broadcast, which is available free on any mobile device’s podcast app. When I first started, I could understand maybe 20% of the broadcast, but now its closer to 80%.

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