Shadowing books, Meshclass, and other pronunciation resources

I’ve been taking conversation lessons from Asao Language School for about a month now, and while I’m starting to get more comfortable expressing myself in Japanese, I’ve now had two teachers suggest that I start working on my pronunciation.

I’ve had one lesson where I’ve shadowed the teacher’s pronunciation, and while practicing the text beforehand (without a recording) I thought I sounded pretty convincing, only to receive a very lukewarm response along the lines of “…well, there were some parts that were nice” from my teacher… :sweat_smile: I genuinely wasn’t aware that I needed to focus more on pronunciation so I’m really glad it was pointed out to me.

I know a big part of this issue is that I’ve been focusing on reading comprehension so far and that I need more input to internalise what correct pronunciation even sounds like. I’m already watching more Youtube videos in Japanese, but I also want to speed the process up with a more structured approach outside of my conversation lessons. There are a two resources in particular I’m considering:

Shadowing books
While browsing the forums I’ve seen a few people mention dedicated shadowing books. In particular, I’ve seen the 新・シャドーイング 日本語を話そう! series mentioned a few times. From looking at the sample pages, I like that they seem to start with simple grammar and slowly build up to more complicated sentences. They also seem to use example sentences of varying politeness levels that are clearly indicated, which I really like.

What keeps me from just jumping in and buying the first book is that I’m wondering what benefits it provides over simply picking my own shadowing material, apart from having a pre-curated list of sentences. Are there any sections in the book that point out common mistakes or give advice on what to pay attention to? Since the book seems to be aimed at speakers of English, Chinese, and Korean at the same time, I’m worried that the book won’t actually give much guidance, since I’m assuming that native Chinese speakers will generally have different pronunciation issues than English speakers. Or can anyone recommend similar books?

Meshclass intensive course
Meshclass is currently my favourite Youtube channel for Japanese language learning content. On their website they’re offering an intensive pronunciation course, and I feel like a well-designed course with a teacher to correct me might just be the most effective way for me to get the basics of pronunciation down. Does anyone have any experience with the quality of Meshclass courses in general?

Other resources?
If anyone has any other ideas, feel free to let me know :smiley: I know Dogen’s patreon comes up a lot but I’m looking for either free resources or a one time purchase rather than a subscription service.

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Did the teachers give specific criticisms / suggestions, or was it just like “your pronunciation isn’t good” and that was the end of it? If you want some feedback, you could always record yourself and post the recordings here. I’m sure you’d get plenty of help from the more advanced learners, at least for what areas to focus on.

Also, what is your native language? You might get different suggestions from people with similar experience based on that.

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If you are looking for a teacher, maybe you can find someone on Italki? The teachers can announce what areas of the language they can help you most with, and I think I’ve once seen somebody advertise that they are specialized in pronunciation.

Regarding the Shadowing book, I have a copy of the first volume (it’s labeled “Beginner to Intermediate” but I think that just refers to the level of Japanese they use). They don’t give any explanations on how to pronounce things, you are supposed to work that out on your own by trying to shadow the speakers. There are Japanese phrases of increasing difficulty that are translated into English, Chinese and Korean. For each level, there are some short explanations like “how do you read phone numbers” and “where does this onomatopoeia come from” but nothing related to how to do the pronunciation itself. At the start there are a few pages on “How to use this book”. I can send you a few screenshots if you are interested - just tell me what you’d like to see.

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One point that was repeatedly brought up is that I need to focus on making sure that each syllable has the same length, particularly with vowels I have the tendency to turn them into a one syllable diphtong. I think it’s safe to assume that that’s not the only thing I’m having trouble with but it’s something both teachers mentioned.

My native language is German (which might have something to do with my diphtong tendency :sweat_smile:), thanks for reminding me to mention that!

Have you used it and would you say it was useful? And I’ve managed to get an idea of most of the rest with the Amazon and publisher site previews but it would be great if you could send me a screenshot of one of the explanation pages at the end of a unit :blush:

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I used it for about… 20 minutes? :sweat_smile:
I wouldn’t say it wasn’t useful but realistically speaking I guess pronunciation is what troubles me the least… so I decided to focus on other things. :woman_shrugging:

Haha I was just about to say “because I’m German the Japanese pronunciation (well except for the letter r at least) is easy” but apparently that’s not generally true :rofl:

But I’m having a bit of a hard time understanding what your issue is, if you don’t mind me asking… So a diphtong is like “au” in “Haus” for example, right? Oh I think I get it, so you would read 買う as “kau” like in the German word “kauen”? Which other vowel combinations do you have issues with?

Sample explanation pages

Unit 1:

Unit 2:

Unit 3:


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Yep, that’s it! Another example I’m aware of is that I tend to pronounce 大学 with dai as in Kaiser instead of a proper da-i, and I’m sure there’s many more I haven’t caught yet :sweat_smile:

And thank you for the pictures! That’s definitely more of a fun fact collection than anything related to pronunciation :joy:

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Of all the examples to go for, that must surely be peak German :grin:

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Well, it’s actually correct to pronounce it like Kaiser :sweat_smile: (same for 愛)

Also sometimes the pronunciation goes funny ways, like e.g. みずうみ is not pronounced mizu - break - umi but instead with a single but very long u in between :woman_shrugging:

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One trick for that is until you get the hang of it, you should keep a fast beat going in your head and speak to that beat - one beat per mora.

きょ

sort of thing.

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Can second this. Either with tapping or bobbing your head as you speak.

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:weary: :weary: :weary: :weary: One day I’ll get the hang of it :joy:

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Just go with the Meshclass, the shadow books won’t give you what you want. You can shadow pretty much anything after and practice what you have learned.

You can always book a trial lesson and ask her about the course.

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