Taking the world less travelled

iSpeak Japanese – Audio Program Review

Posted by on Jul 30, 2007 in Language | 0 comments

_ispeakjapanese iSpeak Japanese
Audio Review

iSpeak Japanese is an affordable audio program, specifically designed to work on an ipod and other portable mp3 devices. It comes with a CD containing 1,300 phrases, and a booklet with all the phrases written down. Phrases are seperated into categories, such as “Travel”, “Food”, and “Occupations”. Each phrase is on a seperate mp3. First the phrase is read in Japanese, next an English translation. This is followed by the Japanese again. Tracks of just words or short phrases also include a full sentence demonstrating how that word/phrase is used. All for the low price of $10.36 (currently at Amazon, or $AU19.95 in the stores where I got it.)

Sounds great right? Too good to be true? Well, it is.

The booklet has a little introduction then a list of all the phrases in their categories. The “Japanese” is all in romaji, which I can forgive because of the price. (To be honest, it was what I was suspecting). Flicking through you begin to notice a couple of things. Firstly, a lot of phrases are repeats of the previous phrase, but with a different word inserted. For instance:

I’m here…
      … on vacation.
      … on business.
      … for a conference.
      … with my family.
      … on my own.
from p.16

That’s ok too, I guess, because you are learning vocabulary, plus you’ll get to know the sentence structure really well through repetition. It does feel a bit like filler though… And, also, I haven’t counted, but I think the 1,300 phrases is a bit off the mark – as many of the phrases are repeated in different categories. Maybe they only counted these once, but I get the feeling they probably counted each phrase every time they appear.

On the CD themselves the mp3s are repeated. The voice is a woman who sounds robotic. I admit I didn’t listen to much because I couldn’t stand the robotic voice. No emotion at all. Just robot.

My friend brought the Spanish version at the same time as me – she told me that on her disk the speaker has a lisp! Lisps are fine, but hardly suitable for someone using an audio program to learn how to pronounce a language!

Overall, these CDs are a dud. Don’t buy it!!

However, if you are just looking for a CD with many phrases and don’t mind a robotic voice, this is cheap and the fact that everything is in individual mp3s can be handy. For instance, you may be able to incorporate this into your flash card program so you can read a sentence and hear it. I think that this could be an effective way for people to learn, especially if you are an aural learner..


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