A lot of people on the Jalup Line Group and social media have been talking about this new online pronunciation course offered by Waseda. I figured it was worth checking out and giving a review of it, now that the course has reached its final week. I went through most of the lessons and videos, and want to share a few thoughts about it.
Everyone would love to improve their pronunciation, so having a free pronunciation course by a reputable university like Waseda is a nice welcome. There aren’t many places to find courses solely on pronunciation.
It’s well made, the videos are clearly well thought out, and you can feel the positive effort that went into course creation. This could have easily been a pay-for course.
Using the online platform is simple and the syllabus lays everything out nicely. No time is wasted figuring out what to do. Most of the lessons are in spoken Japanese, with optional English subtitles. There is a lot that is covered, so it should keep you occupied for a while.
Professor Takako Toda is a sweet lady, enthusiastic, and most importantly, has extremely easy to understand pronunciation. She has “teacher pronunciation.” The type of pronunciation that builds your listening confidence, until you listen to “outside the classroom Japanese” and are shocked. She explains everything in depth, and there are plenty of visual aids to help along with each lesson.
She speaks a bit slow. Which is fine I guess if you are a beginner. But luckily, there is a feature on the video player to speed up the video. At a minimum, I had to watch all the videos at 1.25x, and was often finding myself going to 1.5x. Maybe I’m impatient.
The one thing that bothered me was that she didn’t look into the camera, ever. I’m assuming that she was reading off of a teleprompter, which is fine, but it caused her eyes to always stare slightly to the left of the screen. Or maybe this is just my imagination…?
The course was split up into:
General Pronunciation Points
Becoming a Pronunciation Expert
I’m not going to go into detail into each topic. They all have introductions, listening practice, speaking practice, shadowing practice, and culture points. What I really want to talk about is the lesson on Pitch Accent, as this is information that you may have never heard before.
Pitch accent is not a topic that is discussed much, yet is important to having natural sounding Japanese. The series of videos and practice provided here are great. Never heard of pitch accent? Start here. Learn some of the basic rules, practice them, and see why it makes a difference. Even if you had no interest in the course, I would still recommend checking out this one section.
If you are interested in pitch accent, I recommend Dogen’s new series on YouTube. He’s done a nice job breaking the subject down and I like his presentation. While he has just begun a new online course at Patreon, it seems worth supporting.
Do I recommend the Waseda course?
Give it a try.
It definitely feels like a school class. So I wouldn’t say it’s exciting. The Japanese conversation skit videos are typical ones you’d see in any online textbook. It’s like Genki, real world version. I also think that pitch accent should have been expanded on for multiple weeks.
But overall, I’d check it out. You’ll learn a lot.
What did you think?
For those of you who took the course, or are currently in it right now, what are your thoughts on it?