Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

View topic - Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Postby revolutionary » Wed 09.13.2006 10:58 pm

And I'm a dummy, apparently. Before I came upon this site, I went into the local Barnes and Nobel and picked up one of very few language books on Japanese they had available. I just so happened to settle on Japanese For Dummies. While I've only had the book for two days, I can already spot some major problems with the book, but I can also see its strong points.

I'll start with the good because that will be easier to write about. First, it's written by a native Japanese speaker who has mastered English; she has a PhD as an instructor and translator. Second, the first section focuses on the sounds found in Japanese that are unlike those in English and it comes with an audio Cd to help with pronunciation. It's full of cultural tidbits, too. Plus, the book gets points for the use of names like Mr. Robato and sentences like "Watashi no boifurendo wa Tazan mitai desu."

Now for the bad.

I've been through four years of French instruction. Each year we used a different text, but the method of teaching was all relatively the same. The book would start with the most basic of lessons and build the following sections and chapters off what had been taught in the earlier lessons. You would learn through practical application, first learning small phrases and principles and expanding those to become full on conversations and essays.

This book doesn't do that. Granted, this is Japanese and not French, but it seems reasonable to believe you'd learn the language in a similar way. The major fault with this book is the fact that you are introduced to very random dialogues and phrases without first being given any vocabulary, very limited knowledge of conjugation of any commonly used verb, and few nouns.

Another thing that makes this book difficult to learn from is the fact that once a subject matter is addressed, it is then ignored and not dredged up for another fifty or so pages. And once it is, it quickly goes back into the abyss not to be used again for another fifty or so pages.

The organization also seems a little strange, as difficult concepts are introduced before simpler ones, it's almost backwards, but that may have to do specifically with the language, and if there's a reason for this, I haven't been able to find it out as of yet. Whatever the case may be, the second chapter is all about grammar, which is understandable. All the rules are focused on briefly, and start off simply, but very quickly become a massively confusing jumble. Hopefully this is just an over-view, as I haven't actually finished the whole book yet.

That's really all I have to complain about. I can't say that I've learned nothing from it. Japanese For Dummies seems like it would make great supplemental material for any real text book. I don't want to seem like I'm whining for the sake of whining, and I wouldn't say I wasted my money, but I definitely want to warn other beginners not to pick up this book first.

Anyway, I'm going to look around the site some more and see if I can find out which books others are using and look more into the lessons on the site. Japanese seems like it's going to be both challenging and fun to learn. Maybe with a few lessons to get me started I'll be in a better position to make full use of the book I bought.
Less perfect, more free
User avatar
revolutionary
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed 09.13.2006 6:49 pm

RE: Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Postby magma » Wed 09.13.2006 11:07 pm

Before I came upon this site, I went into the local Barnes and Nobel and picked up one of very few language books on Japanese they had available.

Barnes and Nobel

There's your problem; you should have gone to Barnes & Noble!

But seriously, some B&N stores seem to always have lots of great Japanese books on the shelves, and others rarely do. But all of them have access to the same database, so you can order any book from the website from any store and get free shipping (if you pick it up at the store).
Last edited by magma on Wed 09.13.2006 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
magma
 
Posts: 348
Joined: Thu 01.19.2006 1:32 pm
Location: 米国
Native language: 米語

RE: Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Postby revolutionary » Wed 09.13.2006 11:10 pm

Aw man. Curse you, spell check.
Less perfect, more free
User avatar
revolutionary
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed 09.13.2006 6:49 pm

RE: Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Postby Infidel » Wed 09.13.2006 11:46 pm

It should be kept in mind that JfD is not a proper language textbook. It is more of a primer for people considering learning Japanese or people who will be going to Japan on short notice.

Primers don't really get into the technical details, the way class textbooks do; instead, they consontrate on highly useful words and phrases. This form of teaching is quicker to grasp and apply than school textbook methods. Where school textbooks teach how to build sentences from the ground up, primers teach the reverse way, teaching pattern sentences first and breaking the sentences down over the course of the lessons.

The difference is in utility. Primers are more useful up-front but less flexible because the student doesn't really learn why some sentences are the way they are. School textbooks are highly flexible in the long run because the student has a better understanding of how the language works, but in the short-run the textbooks take longer to learn all this extra information so it isn't immediatly applicable.

My main gripe against JfD is roumaji. But again, if you're just reading this to get by in Japan, with no real intention of immersing yourself, then this is great.

Rykk
Last edited by Infidel on Wed 09.13.2006 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
なるほど。
さっぱりわからん。
User avatar
Infidel
 
Posts: 3093
Joined: Sun 10.09.2005 1:12 am
Native language: 英語

RE: Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Postby revolutionary » Thu 09.14.2006 11:20 am

Infidel wrote:


Primers don't really get into the technical details, the way class textbooks do; instead, they consontrate on highly useful words and phrases. This form of teaching is quicker to grasp and apply than school textbook methods. Where school textbooks teach how to build sentences from the ground up, primers teach the reverse way, teaching pattern sentences first and breaking the sentences down over the course of the lessons.


I like all the technical details. Before I bought the book, I looked at the grammar section where it talked about forming sentences. I thought it was great, and I'd be able to form my own sentences quickly as soon as I learned some nouns and verbs.

As my French teacher used to say: "La langue est comme un mur. Si les mots sont les briques, alors la grammaier est le mortier."

Didn't exactly work like I thought. But the lessons here are pretty good, so I'm on my way.

Infidel wrote:
My main gripe against JfD is roumaji. But again, if you're just reading this to get by in Japan, with no real intention of immersing yourself, then this is great.

Yeah, the romaji makes it easy to learn how to pronounce things, but if you need to read anything like a menu or a train schedule I don't know how good it is to only know the romaji. Probably not very. I agree that it's good to just get by on, but that's why I thought it would make a good supplement to a more in depth textbook.
Less perfect, more free
User avatar
revolutionary
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed 09.13.2006 6:49 pm

RE: Only dummies buy Japanese For Dummies

Postby xbandaidx » Sun 09.17.2006 12:25 am

I looked at this exact book tonight when I was at Barnes and Noble, at first it looked a little interesting but than I was quickly turned off because there was no real kana in it, so I put it back on the shelf and continued on.

I'm sure its a great book, but I have a deep belief in that learning the language actually using the kana systems will make my life easier down the road, because obvisually in Japan you aren't gonna find any place thats using romaji.

The only book I gave the exception to, and I wish it used kana was 'Japanese Grammer: Second Edition' by Carol and Nobuo Akiyama, its the best grammer book I have seen as of yet, like I said I just wish it used kana instead of romaji.
xbandaidx
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed 09.13.2006 10:18 pm


Return to Learning Materials Reviews & Language Learning tips

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests