How to Choose Japanese Learning Software

Want to learn to speak Japanese? That’s great! Japanese is a fun and interesting language to learn. It’s not easy, though, so you’ve got to get the best Japanese online or software-based course–for YOU!

How do you find this software or online course? That’s a great question, and I’m going to answer it for you right now. To choose the best course you’ve got to ask yourself 3 questions…

1. What are my learning goals?

2. What is my learning style?

3. What is my budget?

To get you started, let’s examine three popular, well-designed courses that are best for three very different kinds of learners–Rocket, Tell Me More, and Pimsleur.

Which one suits you best? Let’s find out!

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Rocket Japanese

Rocket Japanese was voted “Best Way to Learn Japanese Online” by our readers. Is it the best for you? Maybe. Lets find out.

What are your learning goals?

This is an important question to ask because different programs focus on different language skills. For example Pimsleur Japanese is great for learning to speak Japanese, but it provides zero instruction in regards to reading and writing.

Where does Rocket Japanese fit in? The Rocket Japanese course provides instruction for all for second language learning acquisition skills, reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The focus is on learning real, useful communication, not academics. That being said, the program does provide a great video instruction segment that teaches you how to write Japanese characters.

It also does a good job of teaching you the basic grammar skills you need to have in order to use the language properly. So, if your goal is to learn all four language skills, but focus on practical communication, then I agree with our readers; Rocket Japanese is the best way to learn Japanese online.

What is your learning style?

Some programs provide a lot of “busy work,” like word games and crossword puzzles. Others, are 100% audio-based. What about Rocket? This course is very well rounded. You’ll learn all of your Japanese speaking skills using the interactive dialogues. In addition, though, Rocket provides a host of great vocabulary and pronunciation games that you can use on the side.

Of course, we can’t forget about learning the Japanese alphabet, which takes a bit of effort to understand. For this, Rocket Japanese provides an amazing video segment that teaches, line by line, how to write Japanese characters. So, if you like a varied but focused learning style, you’ll like Rocket Japanese.

What’s your budget?

There are some extremely expensive online and software-based Japanese courses out there. Some are good. Others are just overpriced, but they generally have one thing in common–information overload! The marketing strategy for these courses is simple, pack in a TON of learning material and then advertise crazy specs, like “1400 hours of learning material.” Too me, this is just silly. It’s more than I need.

What is Rocket’s strategy? They offer less learning material, but it is laser focused, highly effective, and reasonably priced–it’s just $99.95 for a lifetime membership. So, if you want to learn Japanese online, but you don’t want to mortgage your house to do it, go with Rocket Japanese.

Tell Me More Japanese

You can’t learn Japanese online with Tell Me More, although I expect that to change soon, as they have made other languages, like Spanish, available for study online. What I discuss below then, is only for their software-based course that will be shipped to your home.

What are your learning goals?

This program is similar to Rocket Japanese in that it provides instruction for all four language acquisition skills, reading, writing, listening, and speaking. How is it different? Rocket Japanese has more of a focus on simple, useful communication.

Tell Me More, while it does teach speaking, places much more emphasis on language structure and grammar; it feels much more “academic” than other programs.” If your goal is to get a deep understanding of academic Japanese, Tell Me More. If your goal, on the other hand, is practical communication, you’ll be better off with Rocket Japanese.

What’s your learning style?

With Rocket Japanese, learning is quite focused–you go down a preset learning path step by step. With Tell Me More Japanese you get tons and tons of learning material and practice more on your own. For example, there are word searches, crossword puzzles, sentence completion activities, picture-word association games, and much more, and you can skip around and study all these activities whenever you like.

In total, Tell Me more provides 1500 learning activities, and 8000 new vocabulary words! If those numbers, and the thought of jumping all around the software program, are giving you headache, you probably won’t like this program. If, on the other hand, you feel excited about diving into all of these different activities, if you learn well by doing tons of “busy work,” you’ll enjoy Tell me more Japanese.

What’s your Budget?

Tell Me More Japanese is $299, which is 3 times the price of Rocket Japanese. Is it overpriced? Not so fast. First of all, Tell Me More offers more than 3 times the material than Rocket does, so, when a price to material comparison is done, Tell Me More is actually a better deal. Plus, Rocket’s $99 price tag is only for their online Japanese program. If you want the pretty box with all the disks, you’ll have to shell out $299, the same price as Tell Me More (don’t even consider doing this–just go with the online version).

In addition, Rocket Japanese Premium is only step 1 in the overall Rocket Japanese program. There are steps 2 and 3, “Rocket Premium Plus” and “Rocket Platinum,” that follow. Of course, you don’t have to buy access to those programs if you don’t want to, which I think is an advantage. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t be comparing Rocket’s $99 price tag with Tell Me More’s $299 price tag because Tell Me More provides so much more learning material.

So, what’s the verdict here? Well, ask yourself this, “Am I really going to learn 8000 new Japanese vocabulary words?” For me, the answer is no. After living in 4 different countries, and having had to learn 4 different languages, I know one thing about my learning–I need to keep things simple. If I don’t, I get overloaded and bogged down. With Rocket Japanese, you actually get a little less for your money, when compared to Tell Me More, but I think that’s a good thing, especially when you consider the top-notch design of Rocket Japanese.

Pimsleur Japanese

With Pimsleur Japanese, you will not learn all four Japanese language skills, and you will not learn Japanese online. Instead, you will download a set of mp3 files and learn only listening and speaking. Is this a good way for you to learn Japanese? Let’s see!

What are your learning goals?

This is simple. If your short on time and only want to learn to speak Japanese, Pimsleur is the course for you. It is simple, easy to use, and highly effective. It is the best way to learn to speak Japanese. If, on the other hand, you also want to learn to read and write Japanese, go with Rocket or or Tell Me More.

What’s your learning style?

I think learning style is important, but, in this case, it really doesn’t matter. Why? Because in order to learn to speak Japanese, you’ve got to use an audio course–that’s the nature of language learning. If you’re considering a 4-skills online Japanese or software-based course, then learning style, as I’ve mentioned above, is more important.

What’s your budget?

Pimsleur Japanese isn’t cheap, but it is the best, so, when looking at price, you also have to consider your time and the effectiveness of the program. Pimsleur has several different pricing plans. You can see them here.

My Recommendations

If you want to learn Japanese online, go with Rocket Japanese. It teaches all 4 skills, and their online course is fairly priced and highly effective. I’d even say that it’s fun to use.If you want a software-based course with tons and tons of learning material, instead of a simpler online one, go with Tell Me More. This program has a long history, is well designed, and, as I said, gives you the most learning materials of any other Japanese course.Finally, if all you want to do is learn to speak Japanese, go with Pimsleur–it’s the best way to learn to speak Japanese.

I hope this article helps you choose the best way to learn Japanese online (or with software), and all of us here at SpeakOut! Japanese wish you the best in your Japanese language learning adventure!

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P.S. If you do learn Japanese online, or with a software-based course, from our site, please help those who will come after you. You can do that by voting in our online pole, and by telling us about your learning experience in the comments section. Thanks, again!

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