Neil Kendall Languages

The language learning challenge

Linkword Japanese - learning my second language with the Linkword method!

After I completed Linkword Spanish (European) course, I decided to give the Linkword Japanese course a try because I really enjoyed this method and was keen to see how it would work with other languages besides Spanish. I'd like to write about my experiences here.

An overview of the Japanese course contents

The first point to note is that there is only one level in the Linkword Japanese course, whereas for the Spanish and other languages in the Linkword series there are up to 4 levels (some of the courses have 2 or 3 levels). I would've loved to have had a full 4 levels for the Japanese, but even one level is a good start.

As with the other Linkword courses, you can choose between different formats - audio, software, Android app or iPhone app - and the content is exactly the same for each. I decided to use the audio (mp3) version (more on this later), which is presented by a native Japanese speaker.

Contents wise, the course is split into 10 sections, each of which I'd say take roughly an hour to an hour an a half to complete (depending on how fast you get through them). Vocabulary topics covered include animals, food words, colours, restaurant words, airport words, hotel words, furniture, household items, clothes, family, places around town and in the countryside, time words, numbers, days of the week, business words, car words, transport, parts of the body, doctor/medical/emergency words, months of the year, prepositions, as well as several useful adjectives and a few verbs.

Basic grammar points are taught too, including how to construct sentences with nouns and adjectives (and some verbs) for the present and past tense, using words like 'and', 'but', how to ask questions, the negative form, how to use prepositions in sentences, pronouns, telling the time, etc.

So how did it work for me?

I decided I'd work through the audio mp3 course. Although I went through both the audio and software versions of the Spanish course, with the Japanese I didn't feel I'd gain anything extra by using going through the software course because of the way Japanese is written. You see, the Linkword Japanese software course is written in romaji, which is a way of writing Japanese using the western Latin alphabet. And there's nothing wrong with romaji, but for me I am planning on learning the other Japanese writing systems* so I felt it more useful to simply go through the audio course. That said, it was helpful to look words up in the software courses glossary section to double check the pronunciation of words I found trickier.

(*In Japanese there are effectively 4 different writing systems - the kanji characters (similar to Chinese writing), 2 phonetic alphabets (hirogana and katakana), and one that is used to romanise the words called romaji. However from what I've read, romaji isn't really used much in Japan (with natives, but foreigners do use it. I will write more about this in a future blog post when I start learning the read and write in Japanese).

It took me 10 days to complete the course, as I went through one section per day. I found this to be manageable for me without getting overloaded with too much all at once. Although Japanese has lots of loan words from English, many of the words are also totally different to English, and once again I found the memory hooks to be creative and effective in helping me memorise the words, including the trickier ones.

I am happy with the level of vocabulary I learned during the course, which is in the region of 300 to 400 words, and gives me a broad cross section of vocabulary I'd need to live my everyday life in Japanese, and I can construct a reasonable number of sentences too. From a grammar point of view, this course only gives a basic starting point, so you will need to look beyond this to expand upon what you learn here, particularly for learning how to handle the verbs, different tenses etc. This isn't really a criticism of this course, but more down to the fact that there's only 1 level here. That said, the grammatical points were explained clearly and they do provide a really good starting point for further study.

Additional note: I'd also like to add that I revised the content of the course a week later, and again a week or so after than, and had no problem remembering most of the words. This is testament to the quality of the course.

In conclusion, I'd definitely recommend Linkword Japanese to anyone who wants a great starting point into a language that is often perceived as impossibly difficult to learn for English speakers, particularly for the range of vocabulary you'll learn in such a short space of time and the confidence you will gain as a result.

To find out more about Linkword languages and the courses they offer, please visit

** Linkword languages also have a special spring 2017 offer - get all 15 of their courses for just £24.99 via the link below **

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