by

I think it’s funny when I see advertisements like this. “Learn Japanese in 10 Days” it says, without telling you how much Japanese you’ll learn in those ten days. How to say “hello?” How to say “I was ripped off?” No, probably not even that much. Here are the ads I’m talking about (don’t try clicking on them, because they won’t actually go anywhere… and won’t teach you Japanese in 10 days). durr.

It’s advertisements and companies like this that trick people into buying products by toying with their emotions. The promise of instant gratification is a powerful thing.

Unfortunately, ads like this are only worth a laugh or two. Learning a language is a long-term venture. You get a ton out of it if you stick with it, opening doors to new friends, new jobs, and new experiences, but more likely than not the type of person who buys the “Learn Japanese in 10 Days” products will never get there, even if there’s an upsell after the first ten days to buy another section, and another section, and another section. They’re just selling bits at a time until your “learning-something-new” high runs out.

Maybe instead of focusing on people’s need to be (too) fast, they should do more realistic ads. “Learn Japanese is 12-24 months,” or “Learn 2,000 kanji in four years” (Ha! Yeah right!) Once you start focusing on the long term, then and only then can you pinpoint the issues that make it so hard to study Japanese after that initial excitement is over. It’s so easy to study Japanese for 10 days, and so hard to study it for 20. Your initial adrenaline rush dies down, and 90% of people end up quitting at that point. Be real with yourself (and be a pal, Pimsleur), and focus on getting past the first 10 days and into the future.

Anyhoo, this is just a quick reminder to everyone to think long term, stick with it, and be consistent, whether it be 100, 1000, 0r 10,000 days of Japanese study… Here’s to making it past day 10.

  • http://twitter.com/drayomi Drayomi

    Nicely Said. People need to start thinking realistically, so they don't fall more stupid ads which promise something they can't possibly hold true.

    I have wavering in my Japanese learning recently, but thanks to this blog post, I know I need to get back on track or else I will never learn Japanese.

    Once I save up $120 I am going to subscribe to Textfugu and go full force. Only $80 to go!

  • http://drayomi.blog.ca/ Drayomi

    Nicely Said. People need to start thinking realistically, so they don't fall for more stupid ads which promise something they can't possibly hold true.

    I have been wavering in my Japanese learning recently, but thanks to this blog post, I know I need to get back on track or else I will never learn Japanese.

    Once I save up $120 I am going to subscribe to Textfugu and go full force. Only $80 to go

  • http://gakuranman.com Gakuranman

    Hear hear!

  • Sheepy

    I wonder if Pimsleur actually makes those or if someone is commisioned to do awful advertising…

  • chotaimotai

    I agree totally that learning a language is an objective that can't be done over night, it's a gradual process, learning a new language should be done consistently on a regular bases even if its 30 – 45 minutes a day.

    Its something that you can commit to and is not very difficult but for me Japanese is a not a priority in my life learning Arabic is a higher priority anyway tofugu has helped me a great deal in understanding Japanese and how long it will take an that well its not really difficult if you have textfugu which is a good sort of textbook which has some what a personalized feel to it and well simplifies and helps you learn Japanese without falling into some of the potholes when learning it.
    ( I tried out some of the free lessons its great ! )

    I will probably try some of the techniques that I've read on this blog for learning Arabic and well I've decided to try to pass the JLPT 4 ( or should I say 5 because they've changed the system ) in the near future Insh'Allah.

    Great post keep it up !

  • cathymed

    Indeed! I saw one of those ads for Mandarin the other day and I was like OH HELL NO (5 days a week for 8 months…and just managing to hold on to a conversation).

    What's so difficult about languages is that there is always more to learn! I suppose that's also the fun of it.

  • Kamizushi

    I'M pretty sure I can make it in less than 10,000 days

  • Kamizushi

    I'M pretty sure I can make it in less than 10,000 days

    I'm just interested in Japanese if it can give me instant gratification … after a few years of study that is.

  • nukemarine

    It's technically not false advertisement, which is even worse.

    However, for those interested in learning Japanese (for real) don't look at it in years, months or even days. Look at it in hours. This is obvious as a day you study for 8 hours is not the same as the day you studied for 1 hour. A month you studied for 100 hours is not the same as a month you studied for 20 hours. Now, many of us are always looking for more efficient ways to get more bang for our buck (or hour in this case). Even then, its more about removing the grunt work that's in the way of studying (pre-generated material if you will). But really it does boil down to getting out what you put in.

    You cannot buy fluency with dollars. The monetary unit of language learning is hours.

  • Elliot

    Tell me about it… Your Textfugu homepage makes me laugh. The prices make me laugh harder!

  • http://www.bradleyfarless.com/ Brad F.

    My problem with learning Japanese is, figuratively, opening the book. Once I get started I enjoy it, just like once I get past the first 10 minutes I enjoy jogging, but it's pushing myself to get started that's hard. Luckily, my 'choice' is going to be taken away from me later this year when I take up Japanese as a major and have to do it, or fail.

  • http://www.ikindalikelanguages.com lyzazel

    ” How to say “I was ripped off?”

    That's a hillarious idea. One should make a “LEARN X in One Hour” course and then carry on “Alright, let's teach you some X….” and then go on teaching that phrase.

  • http://www.bradleyfarless.com/ Brad F.

    True. Think about how fast English changes. All the new words being added constantly, the constantly changing “buzzwords” and slang. Even a native speaker can sometimes find themselves saying, “WTF does that mean?” And that's not even mentioning dialects. I didn't realize how different the language could be from place to place til I actually started interacting with Brits and Aussies regularly.

  • wccrawford

    While I agree that '10 days' is definitely misleading and bordering on criminal, the Pimsleur audio CDs are actually quite well done. After the 90 30-minute lessons, I was definitely much better at listening to Japanese and felt I had a handle on starting to seriously study Japanese.

    Now, that took me about 3 months (1 lesson in the car each way to and from work, skipping some days) and not 10 days. Could you listen to 45 hours of language-tutorial audio in 10 days and stay sane?

  • Dangomushi

    You know, I actually approve of and like the Pimsleur method… although I'm troubled by it being advertised in this way. Going through the Pimsleur cds was a good preface to learning Japanese in school. Over a few years I made my way through all of the Pimsleur tapes (with repeated listening) as well as some other audio resources.

    This gave me a huge leg-up on pronunciation and speaking in my first few years of formal Japanese language courses in college… and now living in Japan, that foundation is coming in handy with most people who hear my Japanese commenting what “clean pronunciation” I have.

    Still… did Pimsleur + 3 years of Japanese gain me “fluency”? Fuck no… even though a year in Japan in nearing here…. I still have a LONG way to go in picking up all the nuances and even some obvious points of the language.

    I don't want anyone to write off Pimsleur because of these ads… they really have a wonderful product… but even a wonderful glowing specimen of Japanese language learning products can't replace the years and years of study one will need to gain a marginal and passing grasp on this language.

  • Julie L

    I agree on Pimsleur. I'm going way slower than you, but I find that it really helps with just getting the hang of how Japanese “feels: sounds, works, etc. However, I'm not an aural learner, and found that from the beginning I had to learn kana and look up words all the time – Kotoba on the iPhone kicks behind!

    That being said, it's really aimed at the business traveler, and not at the learner with either fluency or reading/writing in mind – you've got to get that on your own. The vocab is really limited – but my Japanese friends love my pronunciation!

  • wccrawford

    Yes! I've only got 1 language partner, but in the first week, she said my pronunciation was 'perfect'. I think that's an exaggeration, but it's far from the 'I don't understand anything you say' that I expected!

    And for the record, I've had multiple people tell me how horrible my Spanish accent is, and I took years of that in school. Hehe.

  • Doraemondreamer

    I think anyone who is foolish enough to believe they can learn an entire language in 10 days deserves to be ripped off. I mean, what happened to common sense? It takes years to learn a language. I've been studying Japanese for 4 years (it's my major) and I still feel like I am only scratching the surface of the language.

  • http://twitter.com/jintymac Janet

    Trying to learn any language in 10 days is just a joke but with Japanese it goes onto a completely different level!

    I studied in Italy for a year having private clarinet lessons alongside another friend from college and I have a reasonable grasp of conversational Italian as well as a decent understanding of the language, although my written Italian is almost non-existant because I only really spoke or listened while I was there so I can get through most everyday situations without much of a problem which is all I wanted to do as far as Italian is concerned.
    It also gives me a much better appreciation of the language when I'm watching a film etc… which is great.

    Now as far as Japanese is concerned… I have been fascinated with the Japanese culture for a long time and watch lots of films, anime, tv etc as well as read translated manga. Recently though I have found that this was not nearly enough for me and have finally bit the bullet and started to learn the language properly.

    I am under no illusion that this is going to happen quickly lol! I have been learning hiragana and will be able to move onto katakana in a couple of days and all of this before I start the mighty journey of trying to learn kanji. But small steps and I'll see how things go ;-)

    I've also managed to find a tutor nearby who is a native speaker but she is still enjoying her holiday in Japan for the next couple of weeks so I'll meet her then. I can't wait for my first lesson and will be working through the kana gradually until then.

    Wish me luck!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Congrats and good luck! You can always shoot us an e-mail too if you have any Japanese related questions and we'll be happy to help.

  • http://twitter.com/jintymac Janet

    Cheers that sounds great ;-)

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  • jamescopper52

    for sure, ads like is just a waste of time and money. I read many blogs and comments about learning Japanese and its not that easy to learn their language.

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  • jbtutor

    Yeah, what you said. You learn something with Pimsleur. Fluency is not it.

    I did research the Pimsleur method a while back. It has a couple of really good ideas… and a couple of really big assumptions built on those really good ideas that break down. I don't want to disparage it as a starting point.

  • spyke180

    who still sees ads on the internet?
    theres a Firefox add-on called “NoScript”…

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  • Holly Steel

    Pimsleur Approach is a scam and not really associated with Pimsleur. It's unfortunate because Pimsleur makes good products and this website just sells you lies.

  • Anonymous

    r this article

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