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Learn Japanese Pod FAQ

Learn Japanese PodLearn Japanese Pod Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about Learn Japanese Pod which is a podcast and website for learning Japanese.

What is Learn Japanese Pod?

Why did you start Learn Japanese Pod?

Who is learn Japanese Pod?

How does Learn Japanese differ to other Japanese learning systems?

How do I get access to all your podcasts?

What is the Learn Japanese Pod study method?

How difficult is it to learn Japanese?

What’s your best advice for improving my speaking and fluency in Japanese?

What textbooks would you recommend for studying Japanese?

What are your tips for studying Japanese in a classroom environment?

What’s that little green monster in your logo?

What is Learn Japanese Pod?

Alex of Learn Japanese Pod fame

Alex making a fool of himself on the mic, cos that’s what you listen for…

Learn Japanese Pod is a podcast and website which has been running since 2005 teaching people like you who want to seriously improve their Japanese skills in a fun and relaxed manner.

We post podcasts every week which include natural and useful dialogs which you can learn to make your trip to Japan and Japanese studies far more enjoyable.

It’s hosted by Asuka and me, Alex. And here’s a list of stuff on the site you might be interested in:

Podcasts | Videos | Blog


BTW, I’m the guy with the stupid hat on the right. That’s my good buddy Dan on the left and he has a black belt in Japanese.


Have a listen to our podcasts here.

Why did you start learn Japanese Pod?

Pretty Japanese girl

I’m a pretty Japanese girl which means I can eat 3500 calories and not put on any weight…(peace sign)

It wasn’t to meet pretty Japanese girls…at all…very much…OK maybe a little…

But joking aside, at secondary school (that’s “high school” to you North Americans) I was hopeless at languages so at university I decided to study music with Japanese. After moving to Japan for the 2nd year of my degree my Japanese improved immensely.

However, a few years later my progress started to flat line and lost a motivation.


I had tired everything, Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone other Japanese online learning websites and getting slapped in the face by pretty girls in bars Tokyo. But none of that seemed to help. So I decided to design a course that would be comprehensive and well structured…and I failed miserably.

I made a bunch of lessons that were completely rubbish. After a little break and a few cups of sake later I decided to make a fun podcast where I could ask my Japanese friends to teach me and help me get out of my slump and I think it worked. So now we have over 100 Japanese language learning podcasts for those of you who have had trouble improving with your Japanese and want to learn in a more relaxed and fun way.

Who is learn Japanese Pod?

Learn Japanese Pod with Asuka and Alex

Asuka ain’t just got a pretty face, she’s a got a black belt, 2nd dan, in Japanese.

Learn Japanese Pod was created by me, Alex. I’ve been helping students of Japanese like you for over 10 years improve their Japanese language skills. I’ve lived in Japan for over 20 years and I really enjoy helping other people new to Japanese and Japan who are interested in the culture and language.

I get a kick out of helping people improve. If I do a bad job I usually get kicked but that’s another story.

I am joined on our weekly podcast by the beautiful and linguistically talented Asuka, who is originally from Japan but currently lives in Los Angeles.

Asuka enjoys teasing me about my Japanese and I often try and fail to tease her back. You can hear our various podcasting escapades on the main podcast page.

Thank your lucky stars you don’t have to see my picture again.

How does Learn Japanese differ to other Japanese learning systems?

We focus more on speaking and language fluency which we have found to be one of the most popular topics amongst our members on the site. If you become a member, you can chat to other students of Japanese who might be able to give you some advice to help you with any problems you might have.

We focus on natural dialogs as you would really hear on the streets in Japan. We do of course teach grammar and kanji but speaking and fluency is our main thing.

How do I get access to all your podcasts?

You can access our free podcasts on our main podcast page or you can subscribe via iTunes or here for android phones. If you join our free members area, you can get access to extra podcasts not available on the free website and feed. We will also be opening up a premium area soon where you will get access to all the podcasts we have ever made. We will we opening this soon, please watch this space for more information.

What is the Learn Japanese Pod study method?

We have a very simple three step technique to improving Japanese fluency and speaking. 1) Listen, listen and listen again to our podcasts 2) Repeat out loud the conversations, phrases and vocabulary that you want to learn. 3) Repeat steps 1 and 2 as many times as you want until you feel you have absorbed the language and can produce it without thinking and without translating in your head.

How difficult is it to learn Japanese?

Ken Watanabe being cool

Hmm…your podcast is pretty cool, but not as cool as me gaijin

Well, I’m glad you asked. I wrote a post on this asking how difficult is it to learn Japanese in great detail here if you are interested. In short I would break that question down like this:

Speaking Japanese:

Much easier than you think. Japanese grammar is pretty logical and minimal so you can learn basic Japanese relatively quickly.

Japanese pronunciation:

Pretty easy, at least it’s way easier than Chinese as Japanese doesn’t have tones. Even a not particularly well enunciated “konichiwa” will probably be understood.

Reading and writing Japanese:

Oh lord, where should I start? I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work BUT it’s not so complex. In other words, the rules aren’t too hard but you do have to learn a lot of characters to read a newspaper, at least 1500. But don’t worry, I have a blog post all about how to learn kanji.

(coming soon!)

What’s your best advice for improving my speaking and fluency in Japanese?

I write about this in more detail but in short here’s a check list of things to do to help you improve your Japanese fluency.

1. Decide why you want to study Japanese

This will help you to focus on just the Japanese you need to know. For example, ff your goal is to travel to Japan and have an awesome holiday then just study phrases related to traveling to Japan. This will help you save a lot of time and perhaps money. Also, really knowing why you want to study Japanese really helps with motivation which I believe is your ultimate weapon of success. So, now you hopefully know why you want to study Japanese…

2. Listen to Japanese audio and repeat out loud…a lot!

Go find yourself some great audio from…oh I don’t know…this wonderful Japanese learning podcast then repeatedly listen to the dialogs, phrases and vocabulary that you are interested in and want to learn. The repeat them out loud as many times as you can until you feel you’ve fully absorbed it.

This technique is called shadowing and it’s a great method if you are starting out in Japanese and have no one to practice with. It’s good because it gets your ears used to the sounds, you can practice pronunciation, increase your vocabulary and fluency if you keep at it.

That’s how I started out studying Japanese. I just got a random Japanese conversation textbook and just listened and repeated out loud as many times as I could until I eventually studied it at university. It may not be the most groundbreaking advice but it worked, at least for me. And it’s also the premise for this whole website and podcast.

3. Use word cards or apps to increase your vocabulary

Back in the day when I was young and youtube wasn’t around, I religiously studied kanji and vocabulary from word cards. It’s still a good method today plus now, there are a million apps out there to help you learn. They’re great tools that work and you can use them while commuting on the train or bus.

4. Get out there and practice

Again, there are a lot of resources, websites, podcasts, textbooks and apps out there. However, until you actually get out there, make Japanese friends and start using Japanese, I think your progress will be limited. You could join forums, use meetup, use skype or visit your local Japanese cultural center and sign up for a course if you live near one. Remember, get away from your screen and make some Japanese speaking friends.

5. It’s an ultra marathon not a marathon

Some people say learning a language is a marathon and not a sprint. Well, actually, it’s like a iron man marathon meaning it really does take a long time. But never give up and as long as you are having fun, learning, making friends and have cool Japan related experiences, you are guaranteed to improve. We are here to help you as we Asuka and I both know what it’s like to learn a language for the first time. GAMBATTE KUDASAI!

What textbooks would you recommend for studying Japanese?

Sick of staring at a screen and want some dead tree media to help you in your Japan quest? Head over here to see my personal favorite list of Japanese textbooks.

What are your tips for studying Japanese in a classroom environment?

I have two tips for studying Japanese in a class. Firstly, always use polite Japanese when talking to your teacher to show respect. Don’t worry if you don’t know that, it’s usually the first thing you’ll be taught in Japanese class. If your sentences are ending with the -masu and -desu forms then you are probably speaking at the correct level.

My second tip would be learn some useful phrases to extend your speaking and listening skills. In other words, learn phrases that will help you to clarify, confirm and interrupt the teacher when you don’t understand. Here are a couple of useful phrases you could use.

Excuse me (teacher), what does … mean?


sensei, sumimasen ga … wa dou iu imi desu ka?


Could you say that again?


mou ichido itte itadakemasu ka


Could you say it more slowly please?


mou ichido yukkuri hanashite itadakemasu ka?

Who’s that little green monster in your website logo?

The Learn Japanese Pod Monster

Death to boring grammar books

For the millionth time, it’s not a green monster it’s a cute Godzilla…Oh OK, then, it’s a little green monster, fine then. This one was designed by the incredibly talented Jesse. The banner at the top of the page was designed by my good friend Ricardo. Both are amazing artists, go buy their stuff and make them rich!

So, when you see the little green monster, you know it’s Learn Japanese Pod with Asuka and Alex. This is a picture of him tearing up some boring Japanese grammar books, cos we dont likes thems.

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