Assimil Japanese with Ease

Score:
9 / 10
Pros:
lots of spoken Japanese dialogue on the audio CD; the CDs & book match each other well; lessons are short & focused on conversational language; good pacing helps smooth the learning curve; pronunciation & grammar are taught in context; strong focus on audio keeps the course colloquial & relevant; practice exercises

Cons:
especially initially, phrases don’t seem as basic or conversationally relevant as other courses; really have to stick with the program to see good results


Japanese with Ease

Assimil: Japanese with Ease is the Japanese version of Assimil’s line of conversation-driven courses. The course comes with a book and audio CDs, and focuses on teaching you to speak Japanese. You will not learn the written language here, although Assimil does offer Writing Japanese With Ease, which you should buy only after you complete these lessons. (As a side note, I recommend other writing guides & workbooks in my page on Japanese writing, pronunciation & grammar.)

I have already reviewed this course for another language, and the remarks I made about this method hold true. Assimil sticks to its language learning formula, tailoring it to Japanese as needed. That formula emphasizes dialogues and bits of conversational language, followed by quick exercises.

In the beginning, the course sets you up as a “passive learner”. In that stage, you learn through a listen-and-repeat strategy, with a strong emphasis on listening. As you listen to the sounds of Japanese words and phrases lesson by lesson, you follow along with every word as you read the transliterated Japanese text in the book. After making sufficient progress, you become an “active” student, working through tougher exercises (including translations) and receiving training in some of the fundamentals of Japanese grammar.

Assimil Japanese with Ease maintains a consistent focus on conversation from beginning to end. The book lessons are many, each one is short, and most of the text is simply a transcription of the audio. Although you won’t fully master Japanese, if you stick with this program, you’ll have a strong conversational cornerstone for travel and future study. Students looking to write Japanese or have an in-depth understanding of Japanese grammar & syntax should supplement this course with other material.

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