How to Use a Japanese Pod 101 Premium Subscription

You’ve probably heard me mention JapanesePod101.com a few times on the site in the occasional article as a good resource. It is a great little site that really has huge library of content to work with. This along with the fact that it is relatively reasonable to get your hands on all that content makes it a great site to use.

It’s primarily setup as a premium podcast, but it has a lot more than that to offer. The lesson notes offer up grammar and vocabulary tips. There is also a huge bank of questions available for the JLPT. So it has something to practice just about any skill, but I mainly use to practice my listening.

Listening is really an important skill for a variety of reasons. You need to be able to first understand what is being said to you before you can respond. Also, listening (and reading) is the only skill you can truly master. If you study hard enough, there will be a day that you’ll be able to listen to anything and be able to understand the content. The same can not be said about speaking and writing unfortunately (well, maybe, if you study really really hard)

How to Use a Premium Japanese Pod 101 Subscription to Practice for the JLPT

One of the advantages of the premium subscription over the regular subscription is that the podcast episodes are automatically sliced up for you into dialog, grammar, and an exclusive review track. These can come in handy when reviewing. Sure, you could slice up the podcasts yourself, but you might as well save yourself the time and energy.

Japanese Pod 101 Premium Subscription separate tracks

There are all sorts of goodies in the premium feed!

So you might be asking yourself, what can I do with a bunch of dialogs? Well, these are in fact great tools for practicing the listening section of the JLPT. Something that I do is take the dialog tracks and put them into their own playlist in iTunes, like so:

Japanesepod101 Premium Dialogs

Then, grab a pencil and paper. Listen to all the dialogs of a given level one after another. Take notes on the main ideas in the dialog. Pay attention to what the characters are doing and what they are going to do next. Write notes about all of that. It’s okay to write your notes in English, although you can give yourself bonus points if you can do it quickly in Japanese.

After you are done listening to all the dialogs, go back and check the PDFs to make sure you understood the main points. If you have the PDFs printed out, circle the words you missed or couldn’t hear properly (i.e. it is a word that is fairly common, but for whatever reason you missed it while listening). If you prefer to go paperless, you can now make comments and highlight stuff on PDFs on your computer. You’ll want to plop those into Anki or onto a flashcard somewhere.

Japanesepod101 Premium Subscription

Just click the comment button and then click anywhere you want to make comment.

I should note, that at first these dialogs should be ones that you haven’t listened to before. Usually after about a period of 6 months, your brain will forget the exact dialog you listened to and you can repeat this process again at that time. Or you can of course use this strategy as a bit of review for those particularly difficult lessons you listened to.

Why Does this Work?

Well, during the test, you will hear dialog after dialog in the listening section. There are breaks between the dialogs and some questions give you reading time, but you are mostly forced to continue at a particular pace through the listening. This can be hard to get used to, especially at the higher levels where the listening section is 60 minutes long (for N1).

Practicing this forced pace beforehand will help you to get used to listening and taking notes at the same time – an invaluable skill to pick up for the test. It will also help you to pick out the main details of a conversation which is usually what they are asking for.

On the N2 and N1 tests, there are 2 or 3 questions toward the end of the listening section that require you to listen to a long passage (up to 1:30) and then they ask you questions about it. You are not given the questions beforehand. This always throws people off (threw me off before I got used to them). So, this technique can really counterbalance that as well.

Give me Some Comments

Have you tried JapanesePod101? What strategies do you use with this service? What do you think of this activity?

P.S. Do you listen to podcasts a lot? Great, sign up for my newsletter.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Amy September 11, 2011, 12:54 pm

    Interesting. Lately, I’ve been using a basic subscription of Japanesepod 101 in combination with iKnow. Where I get listening practice and grammar from Japansepod101. Then I study vocab (currently studying the Core 1000 list) and make my own lists of the lesson notes from Japanesepod101.

    I like that Japanesepod101 added flashcards – but it didn’t cut it for me. There was no way to add mnemonics/memory phrases. I’m terrible at remembering words with out a catch phrase. I found I can can use the sentence section in iKnow for this though (enter the word for the sentence and add the mnemonic for the translation).

    I really like using both these services together – it forces me to practice reading, writing, and listening all together.

    I’ll be trying out your approach when I have enough vocab down and start prepping for the N5.

    • Mac September 12, 2011, 3:16 am

      I haven’t tried the new iKnow service. I used to use Smart.fm (the older free service of iKnow), but when they switched to paid all of sudden, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

      As for adding mnemonics to flashcards, have you tried Memrise.com? I feel like I mention it way too much, but it has the ability to add mems to a flashcard. And these mems are shared among decks, so one word can be used in several decks, but everyone is contributing to it with example sentences and mnemonics. Pretty cool concept. It’s still not fully featured yet, but might be worth checking out. It’s also free for now, although I’ve been told they might go to a credit system in the future that rewards people who add mems. Anyway, worth a try.

      Thanks for adding your ideas!

  • Barbara October 6, 2011, 8:40 pm

    Thanks for this. I use to have a subscription to the site but found it to be too episodic for me to apply it to anything I was really doing – like writing e-mails to friends – and would soon forget everything!I like the idea of using the podcasts for ‘listening’ practice rather than simply learning grammar. Thanks.

    • Mac October 10, 2011, 3:18 am

      Yeah, it’s important to do review too, so the stuff doesn’t fall out of your head for when you do need it. I felt the same way about jPod before I started doing regular review and trying to make the most out of each lesson.

  • Callum May 31, 2012, 3:26 pm

    ( My actual question is ALL the way down the bottom, but I figured i would put to you my experience so far with Jpod! )

    Hi there! I’ve made some posts before, the last time i was trying to find new methods of learning cause I was really struggling with the ones i had tried which where all traditional. ( Even Heisigs remembering the kanji didn’t cut it for me! ). I’ve always heard of japanese pod but have never really taken it seriously, and also have never had the opportunity as my parents didn’t agree with learning via computers, now that i’ve moved out i’ve been able to make use of Jpod more and I think i’ve finally found something that really works for me.

    I’ve downloaded all of the beginner lessons (I could skip absolute beginner so i’ve at least learned something! ) which ended up being 100’s upon 100’s of audio files, but the learning method seems to really work for me. I listen to the audio, as i’m listening i’ll write down notes, take the key vocab from the lesson which i don’t know and look up their kanji and set a page in a book for practicing those kanji and forming sentances with them based on the lesson material. I am able to practice my listening, writing and reading in one fell swoop!

    My question is, if I worked through as much of this beginner audio combined with the written work I do to aid it, do you think i would have enough of a grounding to pass JLPT-N5?

    • Mac June 4, 2012, 2:28 pm

      I think the JapanesePod101 podcasts will help you learn all of the grammar and vocabulary you probably need to know. The only thing to look out for is that the listening will be pretty different for the test. It’ll be a different kind of listening where you will have to listen for key information.

      Jpod101 has a series on the old version of the test (4級) that you might want to go through. At the very least, it will give you an idea of that kind of ‘test’ listening.

      • Callum June 4, 2012, 2:39 pm

        Ah!
        Thanks so much for the reply! So happy you think I could pull it off by getting through all the lessons. It’s already starting to show cause i’m remembering my vocab a lot better, like “寒い” , i learned this before in my “vocab drills” but never remembered it. Now that i’m combining it with listening to someone i can attach the sound to it and thus i seem to remember it better! I will check out the lesson you mentioned and get to work to pass this JLPT-5 by December! I’m so excited, thanks again!

        Just for future referece, would you say that the higher levels such as ” Intermediate and Advance ” could bring you to a N4/N3 roughly?

        Thanks again for your time!

  • sitihamdan December 29, 2012, 5:48 pm

    I subscribed for the premium subscription more than 1 wk ago but am still unable to open my subscription to date. Am getting frustrated! Pl advice!!!

    Am able to get the free posts though

    • Clayton MacKnight January 3, 2013, 4:08 am

      Have you tried emailing them? They are usually pretty good about getting back to people.

    • Vince January 13, 2013, 10:58 pm

      I am having the EXACT same problem, I honestly don’t see how you went a whole week if it isn’t solve by tomorrow I have to get a refund, ugh.

      • Clayton MacKnight January 14, 2013, 3:03 pm

        So, have they emailed you back? Did you get in contact with them? I’d like to make sure every one gets their subscriptions 🙂

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