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Choice of Text Books

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

RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Kates » Thu 10.20.2005 3:45 pm

Okay, okay, so online dictionaries aren't all THAT bad. (: I guess I'm just one of those people who prefer the hard copy. And I have to admit, when I'm sitting at my comp and I need to look up a word, I read for Denshi Jisho-san first (if he's here with me), then I go to WWWJDIC or Jeffery's J<->E online dictionary (which I prefer for just straight word-lookup).... and if I have no luck... (which has yet to happen, actually...) THEN I reach for my Kenkyusha dictionaries. ^^;;

Of course, I'm addicted to books, so saying "paper dictionaries are better!" could just be a symptom. ^^;

tsp_uk: Okay, now on to "Minna"--as WacKost said, there's no romaji, so you are forced to learn and use the kana, which is great, *I* think. Japanese people hardly ever write in romaji so I think Japanese learners should work hard to master the kana.

One bad thing about it... unless you get the grammar notes book, then nothing is explained in the "Minna" textbook--and it's COMPETELY in Japanese. You must buy a second book, the "Translation and Grammatical Notes" book (and in the right language! heh)

I think "Minna" could be a good book for self-studiers... since it is structured well and there are lots of exercises. Also, if you're lucky, you can find many other "Minna" books to compliment yours--I also have the listening, writing and reading supplement books.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby tsp_uk » Thu 10.20.2005 5:40 pm

Hi Kates, thank for your reply, but I was wondering if you knew anything about Japanese for Everyone? Unfortunately Minna is so expensive around £40 :O
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Infidel » Thu 10.20.2005 7:32 pm

I have to say that the best general series I've seen is Genki. Other series may be better in one area or another, I use ItMJG for its emphasis in written Japanese, but Genki is the best general course. One important factor is the workbooks. Having a few quizes at the end of a chapter just isn't good enough. You need lots of exercises. Genki provides this as well.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby ebo123 » Fri 10.21.2005 7:43 pm

Hi Kates, thank for your reply, but I was wondering if you knew anything about Japanese for Everyone? Unfortunately Minna is so expensive around £40


Yes, I does seem that everything is expensive. I'm definalty not spending more than 70 dollars on books. At least not all at one time. That is probably why it takes me so long to buy things. I look to get more BANG for my buck, if you know what I mean. I do not want to just go and waste money on a terrible book.

Anywho... I never thought I would get this many replies to my queston... Thank you all for your comments/thoughts. Thanks to all of you I think I know wich books I will buy.

Final note: Does anybody know of a really good grammar book, or does Japanese for Everyone explain the grammar really well?

Thanks
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Qbe » Sat 10.22.2005 12:10 am

Some of you are asking about a book called "Japanese for Everyone". If any of you are referring to this Japanese for Everyone, I can try to help: I was using this book in Japanese lessons for a few months, and I'm using it for self-study now.

For the price, the book is a good value. Amazon has it for about $20, it's almost 400 pages long, and those pages are literally crammed with content: the print is smaller than a lot of textbooks and there's far less whitespace than others too (JfBP, I'm talking about you). The book is 27 lessons long and introduces about 2500 words, a pretty good number. Romaji is limited: It's used with the dialogs and vocabulary for the first 3 lessons, with vocabulary only for lessons 4 and 5, and is gone by lesson 6. Kanji starts showing up right away.

This "Japanese for Everyone" is subtitled "A Functional Approach to Daily Communication". "Functional" means that the book does not give you a systematic overview of grammar, but instead it tries to teach Japanese by using real-life situations and expressions. The book follows the experiences of a businessman and his wife who come to work in Japan. Lesson 1 starts with the businessman arriving at the airport and passing through customs; succeeding lessons continue their experiences until they leave Japan in Lesson 27.

As a result of this "functional" focus, grammar does not get extensive coverage. There's plenty of grammar, don't get me wrong, but you will not find exhaustive descriptions of The Way Things Work. Sometimes that can be a little frustrating. I often end up cross-referencing other sources for more complete explanations and other viewpoints. That's a good thing, though. Comparing and contrasting lead to better understanding.

A typical lesson consists of several dialogs, then grammar notes on new grammatical points from those dialogs and exercises to help you practice new grammar. Each lesson has numerous vocabulary lists and ends with exercises in reading and listening comprehension. Audio tapes were produced for this book, but appear to be impossible to purchase nowadays. However, you might be lucky enough to live near a library which has the tapes.

"Japanese for Everyone" is like every textbook: some will enjoy it, others won't. As for self-study, again, some will be able to use it, others will be frustrated. I think that the book is challenging: besides the fact that you have to face the kana and kanji from the start, the book also gives you lots of vocabulary to memorize and doesn't baby you in the grammar and usage department. You hit the ground running and you don't stop.

I enjoyed that: I had completed 40 lessons of Pimsleur and some minimal work with other textbooks, so I had some background, and "Japanese for Everyone" really built quickly on what I already knew. On the downside, the other 3 members of our Japanese class all dropped out within 6 weeks. I think that they expected Japanese to be a "study one hour per week" pursuit, and it isn't. You'll need to put in many hours to master each lesson, but you'll learn a lot of Japanese in those hours.

I'd highly recommend finding a native speaker to help you with pronunciation in the lessons, and/or a partner to work through the book with you and keep you on your toes with the exercises and dialogs.

I guess that about sums it up: if you're a motivated learner who's willing to put in the time necessary to memorize and master the material, "Japanese for Everyone" may very well be the book for you.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby ebo123 » Sat 10.22.2005 10:31 am

Yeah, that sounds like you summed it all up.

It sounds like the book I need. I had heard of it before and I did not know much about it. I like the fact that it gets rid of romaji; I think it is a useless crutch that people who are trying to learn Japanese cling to.

This book sounds challenging, which I like. Since I already know two languages (Spanish and English) I have found that constant studying is all you need.

Thanks
Last edited by ebo123 on Tue 10.25.2005 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby kumori » Sun 10.23.2005 11:07 am

Hello!

I’m currently using the two Genki textbooks in combination with James Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji.”

Through I’m anything but qualified to say this (...I’ve only just finished volume 1 this morning), I feel the Genki textbooks are pretty decent. Its strengths: good organization, nice (and cheap) audio, lots o’ exercises, and the answer key is now available for purchase online. Like Ishnar said above, I think it’s a great “general” course --one that attempts to explain all four language skills. If you combine the text with the cds and answer key, it’s possible (imo) to learn *elementary* Japanese through self-study --even without the assistance of an instructor or tutor.

My only complaint is that the grammar explanations seem, at times, watered-down. You might consider supplementing Genki with “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” or “Japanese Grammar and Communication Strategies.”

As for Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji,” it’s bloody awesome. If you’re interested in it, Heisig released the first 100 pages of his text in .pdf. Give it a read and see if it’s right for you.

Qbe, thanks for the wonderful review of “Japanese for Everyone.”

I would LOVE to hear more about “Introduction to Modern Japanese.” A textbook that’s devoted to literary Japanese sounds very, very intriguing....

Take careB)

EDIT: Here's the link for James Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji"
http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RK4/RK4-00.pdf
Last edited by kumori on Sun 10.23.2005 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby ebo123 » Sun 10.23.2005 7:34 pm

Does anybody think a Kanji Dictionary will be necissary for me?
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Qbe » Sun 10.23.2005 8:59 pm

ebo123 wrote:
Does anybody think a Kanji Dictionary will be necissary for me?


Someday? Definitely. On Day 1? Definitely not. Gotta walk before you run, and it's better to take your time 1) to make sure you'll stick with it before spending the cash, and 2) to make sure you pick just the right one.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby ebo123 » Sun 10.23.2005 9:08 pm

I'm not on day 1, more like day 784. I've been studying for over a year. I'm just now getting books, I finally feel that I am ready.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Infidel » Sun 10.23.2005 10:05 pm

I would LOVE to hear more about “Introduction to Modern Japanese.” A textbook that’s devoted to literary Japanese sounds very, very intriguing....


Introduction to Modern Japanese is a 52 lesson 2 book course

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/052143839X/ref=lpr_g_1/102-2156561-4592108?v=glance&s=books

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0521548888/ref=lpr_g_1/102-2156561-4592108?v=glance&s=books

that focuses on Japanese literacy. The first book has the grammar explanations, example dialogue in kanji, appendixes, and index. The second book has the dictionary, vocabulary lists, and exercises. So they are a nearly inseperable set and not cheap. I ended up buying the textbook on the first month and the second book the next month from amazon.

The course is dedicated towards getting the student literate quickly and efficently. The 52 lessons average about 30 new kanji and 60 new words each which seems like a lot until you do the exercises then the pace isn't so bad. At the end of the course which can be one or two years depending on your pace, the student is supposed to be able to read the newspaper with only a dictionary for reference and know a bit over 1000 kanji and around 3000 words. Around the half-way mark the student is supposed to be able to muddle through a short story without too much difficulty.

The course is really a classroom course so there are no answer keys or audio. However, I haven't had a problem with just jumping on a board like this and asking about anything that confused me or for someone to tell me if my answers I doubted were correct, so the lack of answer key is a really small issue. The lack of audio makes this course less general and more targeted towards establishing literacy quickly, so I find myself often recomending Genki since most people are seeking a good general Japanese course. But the course is really good for learning Ateji, name readings, okurigana, and of course lots of kanji. Good supplements for this course are a good penji reference, I use 2 online sources, and Henshall's Remembering Japanese Characters for those few kanji that won't stick in my head for some reason.
Last edited by Infidel on Mon 10.24.2005 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Qbe » Sun 10.23.2005 10:08 pm

Ah, interesting. How have you been studying? What method(s) and/or materials have you been using?
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby ebo123 » Mon 10.24.2005 4:13 pm

Who? Me??
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby Kates » Tue 10.25.2005 11:32 am

kumori wrote:You might consider supplementing Genki with A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar...


I would also highly recommend this dictionary for anyone studying Japanese. Perhaps best for late-beginner/early-advanced learners, since it could be overwhelming for someone new to Japanese. But it provides a great amount of info on different grammar points, some verbs, conjunctions and the like.

Recently, I have been using mine frequently as I gear up for the JLPT. It has been so useful for getting good info on the differences between things like らしい、そう、よう and だろう (and other words that are very similar in Japanese). The dictionary provides good examples and translations, and references other entries in the book that help with understanding. (For example, the four words I listed above are all referenced under each others' entries because they are similar.)

There is also a second dictionary, A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, which I hope to buy soon--though I probably won't really NEED it until I start studying for the JLPT 2 or 1. ^^ Both books are available in TJP.com's shop!
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RE: Choice of Text Books

Postby skrhgh3b » Tue 10.25.2005 3:59 pm

yep. you'll know when you need a kanji dictionary. i own two of them. both of them are based on the skip method, which isn't necessarily fool-proof, but it does make look-up a more user friendly process. first i bought kodansha's kanji learner's dictionary, but on occasion i would come across a character not in the dictionary, so i bought the larger ntc's new japanese-english character dictionary. i can recommend them both highly, though the kanji learner's dictionary is probably all you'll need for a long while.
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