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Which Textbook to use?!

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

Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Kojiki » Tue 05.17.2005 8:16 pm

I'm just not sure what I should use for textbooks and/or workbooks for learning Japanese. Right now I'm learning the Kana (finished Hiragana completely) from this website, and am using "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coversational Japanese" for basic grammar and such.

The Idiot's Guide does a BRILLIANT job on the intro grammar explanations including TE form, the Past and Non-Past tenses for Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives, the particles and some of the other basic grammar ideas. What it doesn't do is go more in depth into the language. Beyond the basic grammar, it becomes a a guided lesson to just learning phrases and vocab that are useful while visiting Japan. I want in depth Japanese as I will be using it as a full business language in about 4 years time.

I've looked into the Japanese for Busy People series, and it strikes me as being far too harsh and sudden with the language. Rather than attempting to explain it, it just presents the ideas flat out and expects you to make everything fit in your own mind. I'd like to find a textbook with or without a workbook that will teach me in depth, without just putting down an idea with an example and moving on. A bit of guidance through the examples would be nice.

Any ideas anyone??
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The Tale of Genji (currently)
The Kojiki (next in line)
The Houshin Engi (if I can find an English or Modern Japanese translation)
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Schattenjedi » Wed 05.18.2005 9:05 am

There's been a few threads with lots of suggestions and comments on textbooks for Japanese and the two series that usually come out ahead are Japanese for Business People and Genki.
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Kojiki » Wed 05.18.2005 10:23 pm

Yeah, I bit the bullet and ordered the first book and workbook of Japanese for Busy People, so I'll post back here to give my opinion on em.
Purveyor of the classics:

The Tale of Genji (currently)
The Kojiki (next in line)
The Houshin Engi (if I can find an English or Modern Japanese translation)
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Gaijinian » Wed 05.18.2005 10:46 pm

The best way to learn is thru actual conversation, not text books...
That is my (short) lecture for the day.B)
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Variand » Thu 05.19.2005 10:22 am

I am using a book called "Living Language's: Ultimate Japanese part 1" its a decent book, moves kinda fast, but i like the way it teaches.
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby kydancer0123 » Wed 07.13.2005 12:58 am

Gaijinian wrote:
The best way to learn is thru actual conversation, not text books...
That is my (short) lecture for the day.B)

Some of us are inable to engage in actual conversations, therefore we are forced to rely on books.:)
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Schattenjedi » Wed 07.13.2005 7:00 am

Gaijinian wrote:
The best way to learn is thru actual conversation, not text books...
That is my (short) lecture for the day.B)


I don't know about that...I think between a combination of my mind being filled with complete German and English vocabularies and my getting older (im 20 now...can't pick stuff up like a 5 year old), that I have an awful time trying to memorize words that I just hear. But if I see a word written down then I can usually memorize it without much effort and if I then hear the word in actual conversation, then it becomes solid in my memory.
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby CviCvraeVtMoriar » Wed 07.13.2005 4:13 pm

I only have experience with one Japanese grammar, but it seems I got luckly when I picked it out almost at random. Its name is 'Japanese Step by Step An Innovative Approach to Speaking and Reading Japanese' by Gene Nishi.

I have a lot of experience with non-Japanese grammars, and I can say that, while this isn't the greatest grammar I've seen (Again, this is the only Japanese grammar I've looked at thoroughly), it is certainly quite good and that it will teach you nearly all basic to intermediate elements of the Japanese language (not including kanji. There are thousands of kanji in it, but that is not enough.) What I dislike about it is that it doesn't go really in-depth - I mean extremely detailed. I like a grammar that expounds every freaking word, giving the etymology of almost every word found in the book - an exhaustive grammar that leaves no cause for question, nor room for wondering. I hate grammars that just give you a few key phrases and don't describe every nuance of the grammar in full; such grammars are worthless. Incidentally, there probably isn't such a Japanese grammar out there - one that perfectly meets my expectations; but this is my basis for my not giving the book a perfect review.
Last edited by CviCvraeVtMoriar on Wed 08.03.2005 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Sunshine » Mon 08.01.2005 4:39 pm

I sugjest Genki, I have a few friends in Japan who sugested the book, I will probably buy it sooner or later when i get th emoney, i am broke
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby kydancer0123 » Mon 08.01.2005 5:07 pm

Well I just got the JFBP's textbook and workbook, and I'll post back here and let you guys know. Genki is good, I'm probably likely to try it in the future. Good luck with your studies. ;)
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Christian_ » Mon 08.01.2005 6:41 pm

i just bought two books a guide to reading and writing japanese ( all it shows is the kanji but i guess i need it if im gonna learn) and i bought a book that i really like its very small and cheap to its like 6.95 its japanese grammer by Carol And Nobuoakiyama. does anyone have anything good to say about a guide to reading and writing japanese so far im not terribly impressed but thats just because i need a few questions answered which i will post later. but i do so far suggest " japanese grammer".
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby MenomaMinx » Mon 08.01.2005 6:51 pm

The most everyday useful Japanese textbook is "Japanese for everyone" published by Gakken. ISBN 0-87040-853-4

This text book teaches you everything from getting off the plane to your everyday interactions with real people at home and at work. Very simple to use and includes the answer key {many textbooks don't , requiring you to buy the teacher 's manual to obtain them}

The only downside to using this text book is that there are a lot of people artificially jacking up the price of its accompanying audiocassettes. Because of high demand, people are getting over $100 for a used cassettes. However, I found an Australian company willing to sell the audiocassettes for slightly under $40 U.S. . Also, if you prefer CDs, there's someone at Amazon selling bootleg CDs of the audio cassettes claiming their issued by the publisher. There are not, but they're a lot more convenient to use than the audiocassettes and they're the exact same content.

I have the two of the Japanese for busy people books given to me by a friend who hated them and wanted a second opinion -- I also hate them. As it turns out, nearly the entire Japanese language newsgroup hates them {I think it's sci.lang.Japan , but I'm not sure}.

On the other hand, there are some people that really like them. I don't see what they see in them, but then again, everybody's got a different learning style. Just because they don't see mine doesn't mean they won't suit someone else's.. Be aware however that this series is sold piece mail. You have to buy a lot of components to make up the complete lessons for each level of learning, and although some people can make do without some of those components, you shouldn't have to make do -- if something you buy is said to be complete, it should be complete. Yes, other Japanese textbook series suffer from this was well, but this is one of the worst for that particular problem. These appear to be aimed at people learning for business purposes, and are not as everyday useful in content as some other series. {On the other hand, if you're learning for business purposes, this could be perfect for you :-)

Genki is very good, and as one of the most pleasant sounding voice acting crews for their teacher CDs {I've never heard the student one, but I assume they're just the abridged teacher's version}. The problem with this series is that the teachers manual is required to get the answer key -- which is very necessary for a self-taught learner. The teachers manual is also quite useful an understanding what the lesson is about, and in my opinion some of its information should've been included in the original textbooks. Also, the CDs are required and there are two different versions -- student and teacher edition . Shop around for the CDs, because some places overcharging by over $100 over the manufacturers retail for the teachers edition. These are squarely aimed at students in classroom settings, and some people may be alienated by this.

'Japanese Step by Step An Innovative Approach to Speaking and Reading Japanese' , as already mentioned, is a good book. It has an entirely different teaching style than many of the others, as it was originally designed from scratch to teach computer programmers Japanese very very quickly. The consumer version of this book is slightly altered, but it's pretty much the same thing -- Japanese taught using computer manual style flowcharts. It is the kind of learner you are, this book is excellent; however, it's not for everyone. Everything is romanization and pronunciations taught by pitch accent marking {a learning method used in a lot of textbooks without the CDs/cassettes that is currently under attack by academia as being linguistically flawed}. It also gives you long lists of words to memorize without much context.

Books to avoid at all costs =

Anything by a woman named Jordan or published by Yale. I can go into great detail how this woman is the devil, but thepeople@Amazon.com reviews do it so much better than I ever could. Quite few have come close to failing their Japanese college courses because the courses assigned one of her books -- forcing them to buy additional textbooks to supplement absolutely everything that should've been taught by her.

"Japanese for college students" which is a textbook series that is sold piece mail to the point that absolutely nothing makes any sense without the other components.



There's actually a couple of other recommendations /avoids I want to tell you about, but I can't remember how to spell the textbooks names. I'll come back later when I remember.
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby Qbe » Mon 08.01.2005 10:02 pm

Minx has good taste in textbooks: I'll second her recommendation of "Japanese for Everyone". It starts using kana in lesson 1 and gets rid of romaji very quickly. It's absolute crammed with content: you really get your money's worth (only $20 or so from Amazon). And it doesn't waste your time with make-work exercises. It's a great book.

However, you will want some sort of pronunciation guidance if you're not too familiar with Japanese pronunciation. The tapes are ridiculously expensive, but maybe you can find a friend to help (or corral someone into it on Skype).

I tried out "Japanese for Busy People" but didn't like it at all. If you want to work on business Japanese, track down "Teach Yourself Business Japanese". It's much better.
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby lomagu » Tue 08.02.2005 8:26 am

There's a series of books by ALC Press that I really like. They have books for all levels, ones that focus on specific grammar points and I think ones for the proficiency test too. I bought a few.. there's one I really like that explains colloquial Japanese. I don't think you can buy them outside Japan, but I'm not sure. There's a website where you can order them - http://www.alc.co.jp - you can also use this site to look up words. :D
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RE: Which Textbook to use?!

Postby clay » Tue 08.02.2005 9:26 am

Iomagu-san, Do you know the title or ISBN of the ALC books?
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