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A Review of “Global Access: Japanese : Complete Language Course : Beginning (Global Access) (Audio Cassette)” July 1, 2007

Posted by samwyse in Reviews.
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Since before adopting children from there four years ago, I’ve been trying on and off to learn Russian. I’ve not made much progress, mostly because it seems that Russian isn’t the most popular foreign language for people to learn. I have, however, learned a fair bit about the process of learning a foreign language. So when the opportunity came up to go for Japan for business, I was in a position to start learning the language quickly.

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Penton Overseas; Pap/Cas edition (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560155124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560155126
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 6.9 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

One common recomendation for learning a foreign language is to grab as many different audio courses as you can, so that you can hear as many different people as possible speaking the language. For that reason, I snatched up this course when I saw a used copy of it at a book fair. It was missing two of the three books, but it did have all four tapes, so I was hopeful that it would still be useful. However, my hopes were dashed once I got it home and actually listened to the tapes.
These tapes are, I feel, more appropriate for someone who has already started learing the language. All four of them consist of a man saying various English words one at a time, followed by a woman saying the same thing in Japanese. At no point is there any disscusion about grammar or the various ways to inflect the words being spoken. The pair of “Vocabulearn” tapes consist of random nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, expressions and finally verbs. The only way that I’d find them useful would be to transfer the tapes to MP3 files, one for each word or phrase, and then dump the words that you are interested in onto an MP3 player and listen to them in shuffle mode. (In fact, I’m in the process of doing just that with Audacity; if and when I ever get done, I’ll post the label track that I used to split them.) One can argue that since those tapes are intended for learning vocabulary, that they do exactly what is promised. However, the “Learn in Your Car” tapes seem to consist of the exact same lists of words, just presented in a different order.
One of the things that make Japanese a challenge to learn is that sentences are built differently. English is an SVO language; you say the subject of a sentence, then the verb, and finally the subject (if needed). Japanese is an SOV language; rather like Yoda, you pile all of the nouns at the beginning and only say the verb at the end. Another well-known “feature” of the language is that there are many suffixes that are added to words, depending upon how polite you need to be. Needless to day, these tapes cover none of that.
The BBC has a course called Talk Japanese that is much superior to this one; and Japanese Pod 101 is even better than the BBC tapes. (I’ll hopefull review both of these soon.)
In conclusion, I’ve have to give these tapes two out of five stars. They will only be useful to someone who has already had a semester or more of Japanese.

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