The layout of a NativShark lesson
A NativShark lesson looks just like what you're reading now.
As you progress through your studies with NativShark, you'll notice that the elements of a lesson are used in very particular ways.
For example, every lesson will have a succinct summary of what its about:
Do I need to know how lessons are laid out?
Not really. This is something you'll pick up on naturally.
But getting some insight into how we present new concepts can add some clarity to your study journey.
NativShark lessons are written by living, breathing human beings.
Specifically, at a minimum a lesson is written by a native speaker of the target language along with a student of the language who has achieved a high level of proficiency.
These writers and other NativShark team members are often identified inside of lessons, and you can view their profiles:
Niko was our first ever lesson writer. And his (admittedly ugly) initial lessons inspired a lot of visual elements you see in NativShark lessons today. Caleb just couldn't handle having lessons that didn't look pretty.
Target language explanations
Imagine that this lesson is about ending sentences with もらえますか could I please have when you want to ask for things.
If so, もらえますか would be highlighted in the callout color when it appears in an example sentence:
If this lesson were appearing early in your study path, and you hadn't learned katakana yet, we would point out how to read the characters in the word メニュー menu:
If the lesson were just about ways to use the (potential form) verb もらえる to be able to receive, then we might put the か attaching to it in the callout accent color:
We also have highlight colors which are used to identify parts of speech. For example, if we wanted to point out that the word coming before もらえますか is a noun, we could highlight it like so:
In this lesson about もらえますか, I might mention that a sentence like this sounds problematic in some situations:
For example, you wouldn't ask that if you're at a restaurant that obviously has menus. I'm not saying the sentence is correct or incorrect. It's just problematic.
Or maybe I want to mention when you would use ありますか do you have. It's not the topic of the lesson, but it is related to the topic:
Teaching an example sentence involves a lot more than just showing some Japanese and a translation.
Take another look at this sentence:
Aside from the full sentence and translation, we also have a literal breakdown of each word. These help us to better understand what's going on in a sentence, and they provide clues about how words are ordered in this language.
We also have both female and male audio spoken at natural speed. By including two audio files, we can show that different people sometimes say things in slightly different ways.
The formality marker to the left of the sentence provides us with a clue as to the type of situation in which this sentence might or might not be said.
Some sentences have notes, too:
Formatting is only one piece
Creating effective lessons involves a lot more than making them look pretty.
Concepts must be simple, which is why no sentence in a lesson in your study path should contain more than a single unknown part — which might be a new word, a new grammar topic, etc.
That said, language must be natural, which is why only native speakers write our example sentences. And the formality markers give clues as to the situation in which a given sentence would be natural to use. The audio is also recorded, checked, and chosen by native speakers.
Additionally, explanations must be accurate. This is why we have a strict editing and review process. Writer pairs have had (often lengthy) discussions about the best and most accurate way to translate and explain things for every sentence of every lesson.
It sounds like a lot of work, but our content team loves every minute of it.