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Over the past few years there has been a massive boom in Japan’s popularity overseas. From manga and sumo to sushi and the tea ceremony, just about everything Japanese has gained an almost cult-like status and marked Japan as one of the world’s trend setting capitals. As Japanese culture has risen in popularity around the world so has the number of people trying to learn the language.
The Japanese language is one of the most difficult languages on earth. Japanese is famous for it’s 3 different intermingling scripts (one of which contains thousands of complex Chinese characters) and an honorifics system that will make your head spin! It is fair to say that Japanese isn’t the type of language that can be picked up in a few night lessons at the local university.
There are thousands of books, audio CD’s, and even computer software programs that have all been designed to help English speakers crack this enigmatic language.
So where do you start?
Well, there is one language program that has been gaining notoriety, and popularity, over the past few years.
JapanesePod101.com is a web-based learning program that uses a variety of media to help you learn Japanese as quickly and naturally as possible, making a name for itself by making an especially impressive effort to work with the iPod.
I recently talked to Peter Galante, who founded the company in December 2005, about JapanesePod101.com to find out more about how the website developed and what makes this program so different to all the other language tools in the market. I even got some tips on how to make the most of the site and “take your Japanese to the next level”!
What was the inspiration behind creating JapanesePod101.com and how was the format decided upon?
“JapanesePod101.com was designed to get people speaking and using Japanese right away so they would have great experiences and like Japan and the Japanese language more and more. We saw JapanesePod101.com as a way to provide Japanese language learners all over the world with a window to Japan and a look inside the Japanese language. We also wanted to teach practical Japanese, which is not taught in most classrooms around the world, to help people learn useful and practical Japanese to “wow” their friends, colleagues, teachers and others. Emphasis was also placed on including culture, pop culture, current events, and injecting fun into the lessons. In short, we wanted to show people how fun and interesting the Japanese language is.”
“The format was actually shaped by our amazing listeners. We incorporated their feedback and ideas to create the current format. Of course we used input from our academic staff and other staff, but many of the features and much of the format was community driven.”
What is the history of Japanesepod101.com?
“JapanesePod101.com started with 1 person in December 2005, and was made possible by the owner of Erklaren, a translation company. She provided support and resources. A desk and access to some translators at the company. In the first month, I was able to recruit a childhood friend to join the team, and he took control of the website and technical aspects. He was located in NY, so between him in NY and me in Tokyo, we covered 24 hours a day.”
“We were releasing lessons, and were fortunate to be well received by Japanese students around the world. Since then JapanesePod101.com has produced over 1,000 audio and video lessons, which have been downloaded over 40 million times in 140 countries and territories. Acting as the flagship brand of Innovative Language Learning, JapanesePod supported the expansion into 11 websites and 300+ iphone applications.”
“We hope to continue to provide Japanese language learners with fun and innovative tools to learn Japanese fast, and have fun doing so!”
What tips would you give a first time user of Japanesepod101.com?
“Next I would ask, ‘Have you tried the Fluency Fast Checklist and Weekly Schedule planner? These two simple, yet powerful tools will show you the hidden power of our system. By taking a few minutes to use the 2 simple tools just once, your experience will be enhanced 10 fold, and your results beyond your expectations.”
“Second, use what you learn as much as you can.”
“Japanese is a fun and rewarding language to learn, and with the language learning tools available to you today, you have a big advantage and can learn Japanese fast. The key is to use what you learn. For example, commenting on the lessons and participating in the forum are great ways to learn and use what you learn.”
This interview will be continued next week! (July 9th, 2009)