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Best textbooks for home learning?

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Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby Duality » Sun 06.22.2008 8:57 am

Hi all! I've made a few posts recently asking for help but this should be the last one. I just wanted to check up on people's opinions of good textbooks for learning Japanese alone at home.

I ask this specifically because I've seen some great looking textbooks suggested that (upon closer inspection) would really be no good without a teacher or classroom setting too, especially since many of these have expensive teacher's companion guides too that I'd have to buy to learn properly and check my work.

So far I'm looking mainly at the Genki series. It just gets so many good reviews that it's hard to look past, even though it does seem to have a 'classroom' focus and with all the CDs and workbooks it's kinda pricey. That aside I suppose the modern japanese textbook (I think that's its name) is available but very expensive or maybe the "Japanese for Busy People" series... Although that one would be a last resort. It looks like it's more of a system for learning language to scrape by on a visit... I could be TOTALLY wrong though. Please correct me if I am!

Any thoughts or advice? Thanks everyone. :D I'd like to order them soon from The Japan Shop if they have them.

PS: Does anyone else find that textbooks sold in-store are total ripoffs compared to the internet stuff? I don't know if it's just Australia's ridiculous pricing in general (we seem to be stuck in a situation where we're paying 2X the US price for everything, which used to make sense but nowour dollar is at around 90c and yet it hasn't changed) but I know some books online are 1/4 of the price I'd pay in-store here, if not less. @_@!
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby richvh » Sun 06.22.2008 9:33 am

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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby sugarlevi » Sun 06.22.2008 10:53 am

I don't really know what you mean with a book to learn a language to scrape by on a visit.

JFBP is a legitimate textbook, used by many language classes. I've started with this series, I went through the first book on my own, but kinda disliked that it doesn't use kanji's. Though is has a good flow to it thanks to the short lessons. It's easy to use on your own.
I switched to genki hoping it would help me more with my kanji studies than JFBP does. And it does. Worst thing for me are the long chapters, which I find hard te break up into more appropriate pieces. It's clearly set up as a college book, with loads of information given in a class, and self-study used to apprehend it all. It screwed up my routine of doing a new chapter a day, and having a satisfied feeling when done because the sizes were about big enough to apprehend most of it in one sitting. Besides my attention span isn't very long, and going through several pages long vocabulary, exercises or explanation at once kinda needs a lot of attention, which is a bit of a drag and feels more like studying. But it's just a matter of getting used to it, probably. :?
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby Duality » Mon 06.23.2008 11:35 am

sugarlevi wrote:I don't really know what you mean with a book to learn a language to scrape by on a visit.


I guess I mean books that will sort of teach you how to get by without any elaboration. Eg. How to ask for water, how to find the toilets and food, etc. For people travelling in Japan. I know that's 'travel guide' stuff, but I seem to see it creeping into a lot of so called textbooks. That's just locally though. I'm probably slightly harsh on textbooks now though because I'm tired of paying for bad ones.

Thanks for the input though everyone. I'm going to grab Japanese for Busy People despite my initial concerns about it. They're probably unfounded, it's priced *very* competitively and afterwards I should be ready to move onto Minna no Nihongo, Genki or another series, as I've heard the second and third books in the Japanese for Busy People series are bad.
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby Wakannai » Mon 06.23.2008 4:08 pm

Duality wrote:I guess I mean books that will sort of teach you how to get by without any elaboration. Eg. How to ask for water, how to find the toilets and food, etc. For people travelling in Japan. I know that's 'travel guide' stuff, but I seem to see it creeping into a lot of so called textbooks. That's just locally though. I'm probably slightly harsh on textbooks now though because I'm tired of paying for bad ones.


It sounds like what you want is a Conversational course. Conversational courses concentrate on pattern sentences and even though they might attempt to attempt to explain grammar, the emphasis is on understanding and making complete sentences, not understanding the individual parts of a sentence. Because if this, they generally have a steeper learning curve initally, but depending on how far you need to go with Japanese, you might still have to turn to a more complete textbook to fully integrate the grammar.

Conversational courses seem to be best for people that expect to be visiting Japan soon. There is also some conflicting research that indicates that a conversational course can be better in the long run even if you do have to eventually backpedal to learn the grammar possibly because learning from a conversational course gives earlier rewards, so people that use the conversational method are more likely to stick with the language.

Off the top of my head, some conversational courses are
Rosetta Stone
Pimsleur
Japanese- Complete Course (living language)
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby chikara » Mon 06.23.2008 8:49 pm

Duality wrote:...... or maybe the "Japanese for Busy People" series... Although that one would be a last resort. It looks like it's more of a system for learning language to scrape by on a visit... I could be TOTALLY wrong though. Please correct me if I am!......

As sugarlevi-san has already posted you are totally wrong :)

I completed a Japanese course which used the Japanese for Busy People books I to III (kana editions). I haven't used Genki so I can't compare it (although many people speak highly of the Genki series) but the JBP books are definitely not a system of learning the language to scrape by on a visit. A simple phrase book will do that.

IIRC there is a page (or two) of simple set phrases in the front of JBP I as well as a couple of pages of signs that it is useful to recognise but from there on the books teach grammar and vocab.

In response to your shout;
Hi all! Does anybody know if the "Japanese for Busy People I (Kana)" textbook requires the workbook to be useful?

The Japanese for Busy People books don't require the associated workbooks to be useful but I believe you would find the exercises they contain very useful in a self study scenario as you won't have a sensei to give you exercises. When I undertook my course the workbooks were not mandatory but I purchased the workbooks for book II and III.
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby furrykef » Mon 06.23.2008 10:30 pm

I'm curious: how easy would it be to kanji-ize books like Japanese for Busy People that are given mostly in kana or romaji? Like the book gives you a sentence in kana, but you want to learn the sentence with kanji, so you create a flash card that uses the kanji equivalent.

I think with computers it'd be easy enough to do, since looking up kanji is a snap nowadays and you can always ask somebody if you have a problem, but of course there are occasional traps like 上る / 登る / 昇る where the same word (in this case のぼる) has two or three kanji to distinguish between shades of the basic meaning, not to mention occasional words like ある and こと that technically have kanji but they're rarely used. How problematic would this be? I think WWWJDIC (which uses the current EDICT) is good about marking words that are usually kana, but the synonymous homonym problem might be tougher.

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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby chikara » Mon 06.23.2008 11:31 pm

furrykef wrote:I'm curious: how easy would it be to kanji-ize books like Japanese for Busy People that are given mostly in kana or romaji? .......

The Japanese for Busy People series (kana editions) use no romaji what so ever and although the first book in the series is almost exclusively in kana the second and third books introduce quite a number of kanji.
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby piepiepie75 » Tue 06.24.2008 12:31 am

chikara wrote:
furrykef wrote:I'm curious: how easy would it be to kanji-ize books like Japanese for Busy People that are given mostly in kana or romaji? .......

The Japanese for Busy People series (kana editions) use no romaji what so ever and although the first book in the series is almost exclusively in kana the second and third books introduce quite a number of kanji.


160 Kanji for JFBP2. Not sure about JFBP3, but I'm sure it's a whole bunch.

I just started on book 2, and I have to say that I have never learned Kanji faster. They simply show you the stroke order, then give you a handful of spaces to practice it, but for some reason I'm picking up Kanji quickly. I've always had trouble remembering 来,but now I can not only remember it, I know the exact stroke order to write it in. I guess that's what I get from memorizing Kanji by looking at it rather than writing it :P.
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby furrykef » Tue 06.24.2008 1:06 am

chikara wrote:The Japanese for Busy People series (kana editions) use no romaji what so ever and although the first book in the series is almost exclusively in kana the second and third books introduce quite a number of kanji.


But that doesn't answer my question ^^;

My question was whether it would be easy to convert kana to kanji from books like that. You just said yourself that the first volume is almost entirely in kana; wouldn't that be a prime candidate for that if one wishes to dive in with kanji early on?

piepiepie75 wrote:I guess that's what I get from memorizing Kanji by looking at it rather than writing it :P.


Yeah, you cannot learn kanji effectively without writing them. I know, I've tried. You don't necessarily need to write each one 100 times (that has never been a good way to study kanji), but you need some tactile experience with writing the kanji to understand them. Otherwise you will not entirely memorize the kanji, will not know how to write them, and will more likely than not end up confusing similar kanji. 合 vs. 同 was just one example of many that gave me much trouble at first. Worse, and more subtle, were cases like 弋 vs. 戈 vs. 戊, which can still trip me up on occasion. And, let's face it, no matter how nice and neat and logical that most kanji may look when you start learning them, a kanji like 感 is going to look like a big fat inkblot if you don't have any idea where any of the strokes come from...

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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby chikara » Tue 06.24.2008 1:47 am

furrykef wrote:......My question was whether it would be easy to convert kana to kanji from books like that. You just said yourself that the first volume is almost entirely in kana; wouldn't that be a prime candidate for that if one wishes to dive in with kanji early on? .......

The AJALT have structured the books like that for a reason. I doubt the reason was that they couldn't convert the kana into the appropriate kanji ;)
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby furrykef » Tue 06.24.2008 2:44 am

Right, but some people disagree with that reason...

Not to mention my question was much broader than just for Japanese for Busy People. For instance, Barron's Japanese Grammar is loaded with example sentences, but they are all given in rōmaji only.
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby chikara » Tue 06.24.2008 2:56 am

furrykef wrote:Right, but some people disagree with that reason...

Then I would recommend that those people don't buy Japanese for Busy People.

furrykef wrote:Not to mention my question was much broader than just for Japanese for Busy People. ......

Fair enough :)
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby HarajukuxBoy » Wed 07.09.2008 11:13 pm

My first textbook was Japanese For Busy People volume 1, it was pretty good. I would recommend it for teens who are trying to learn using self-study. I bought Genki after a few months of that book because I was searching for something better. Genki is amazing. Other than Genki, I have been hearing Minna No Nihongo is pretty good as well, so those are some options.
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Re: Best textbooks for home learning?

Postby SKushner » Sun 07.20.2008 6:16 pm

The newly revised "Japanese for Everyone" is also amazingly good, but only if you're not a complete beginner or to supplement something else like JBP. It moves at a very fast pace - seems to cover everything in one book that JBP covers in three books. The only problem with Japanese for Everyone is that I can't seem to locate the supplementary audio material.
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