New Selecting a Japanese Textbook

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I'm going to heavily edit the old Textbook page.  This page is my working page.  I've been wanting to do this ever since I began to realize that some of my preconceptions I had when I wrote the other page were in error.
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This page served its purpose and can be removed.
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One of the first questions a potential Japanese student asks is, "What is the best Japanese textbook to get?" After much trial and error and also watching the experiences of others, the answer to this all-important question is: "all of them." Unfortunately, an average search will usually not reveal many of these good books, so the purpose of this guide is as much to bring some of these titles out into the light, as it is act as a reference.
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Each textbook meets different goals in differing orders, but the final result for nearly all is a student that can speak--if not read--Japanese well. It is important to not waste time looking for a better textbook once you've already started.  Persevere and study daily and you will be learn Japanese well.
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==Know your goals first ==
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Learning a new language is about goals before anything else.  Why are you studying Japanese?  If you know your goals, then you can select a book that caters more effectively toward those goals. 
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The first thing you have to decide is speed. The sooner you need to learn the greater the sacrifice you need to make somewhere else. So a diplomat may be happy with a spoken course, while someone that just wants to read manga will be happy with a written course. In terms of speed we can rate the courses from fastest to slowest.
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# Travel Guide
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# Primer
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# Spoken only
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# Written only
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# Both spoken and written
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For example, a spoken course does not need to worry about learning Kanji which adds a significant amount of time to learning Japanese.  Likewise, a written course has no need for pronunciation or speed drills.  The longest route is learning to be good at both.  Still, there is some room for variety.  A  course emphasizing literacy might emphasize reading (passive recall) but not writing (active recall). 
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Primers are great for the tourist that wants get more out of their tour guide or a thrifty parent of a child that wants to learn Japanese.  They give a smattering of everything but are weak on vocabulary and like travel guides often have no audio component.  Because the primer is much cheaper than a full course, it can be used as a gauge of the child's discipline.  If the child is able to complete the primer, then the parent might more seriously consider buying a full blown course.
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Travel guides are written for the clueless tourist and can generally get someone by provided they spend a week or two learning the format of the book.  They are often a source of aggravation for all parties.  They also contain a lot of categorized vocabulary, so an intermediate student or upper beginner might find them useful as a study guide. 
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===Know the format before buying===
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I highly recommend examining any course before buying it.  Even though I try to recommend courses that are well layed out and are paced in a way that is easy to stay motivated, it might not work for you.  It is a bad sign when the page layout incites a headache, so make sure you like the format and pace before buying.
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Also, this list will now attempt to cover all media formats.  Software, audio only, and web site courses as I see them will be added to the list.
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===Best Highlights===
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To save some trouble this list is for those who want a quick answer.  Most courses are rated on quality not speed.  I do plan to make a note of any courses that seem emphasize speed.  Please realize that these "Best" courses are rated extremely subjectively.  If something is not on here, that doesn't necessarily mean it is bad.  Hopefully, after reading this page, will know enough to judge whether a given course fills your needs by yourself.
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====Travel Guides====
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====Primers====
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''Colloquial Japanese''. This can be bought as the book alone or the book and audio can be bought together as a package. Great for someone going to Japan in the near future or that wants a good overview of the language before starting a more intensive course. This moves at a fast pace but does not overload the student with vocabulary. Also, the vocabulary builds on each previous chapter very well. Unfortunately, there are a relatively large number of typos throughout the book that the student will need to keep their eyes out for, however, they all seemed rather obvious because the parallel text will not match.
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====Spoken Only====
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====Written Only====
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'''Best Plain Technical Textbook:'''
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:''An Introduction to Modern Japanese'' (Bowring & Laurie).  This is an extremely detailed 52 Lesson course that has the stated goal of enabling the student to read--with only a dictionary for reference-- short stories by the half-way point and newspapers by the end.  It comes with a workbook, essential for taking full advantage of this course, and emphasizes the subtleties of _written_ Japanese.  Thus, making this course is best for the student with the primary goal of Japanese literacy over spoken fluency.  It covers more Kanji than any other known course and gives detailed explanations of each grammar point but does not have audio, so it is not appropriate for students with a primary interest in speaking Japanese.
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====Spoken and Written====
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'''Best Comprehensive Technical Course:'''
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:''Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese''.  This is a 2-book course with a strong following.  Each book has an accompanying workbook and audio.  It is one of the more expensive courses but worth the money.  However, this is not so much better than ''Nakama'' that you should ignore a good deal if you find it.
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'''Best non-comprehensive Technical Course:'''
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:''Elementary Japanese''.  Also a two book series, it has the advantage of an audio CD that does not need to be ordered separately and has lots of exercises although it does not have an accompanying workbook.  ''Japanese for Everyone'' is equally good, maybe better, but I rank it lower because it teaches at a faster pace to make up for it's 1 book length and the audio must be purchased separately--and seems difficult to acquire.  This faster pace can be too much for many people, although the pace did not seem to be extraordinarily fast.  I'm sure many will find the pace perfect.
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Okay, now that all that has been said, I need to identify the different traits that each type of textbook will focus on so I can point them out later.
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== Types of Textbooks ==
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=== Spoken Emphasis ===
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;Conversational
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:The conversational textbooks focus on speech patterns without much technical explanation. These textbooks are front-loaded so they are the best for students going to Japan in the near future. Conversational texts enable the student speak a wider variety of sentences sooner, for a shallower understanding of the grammar, at least initially. 
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;Technical
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:Technical books explain how the grammar works. These books are rear-loaded and have the student speaking better Japanese in the long run at the cost of weaker Japanese skills initially. Also, the technical explanations can sometimes make learning more confusing not less. In general, all college textbooks fall into the technical category.
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=== Writing Emphasis ===
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;Roumaji
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:Aka, [[Romaji|romaji]], rômaji, rōmaji and misspelled romanji, is what the Latin alphabet is called when used to write Japanese.  Just as the above spellings of imply, there are multiple romanization methods that can lead to confusion.  In general, it is always worth spending a week or so learning the [[Kana|kana]] system and avoiding roumaji altogether.  A book that uses roumaji exclusively will get a lower rating than one that does not.
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;Kana
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:Kana refers to both the hiragana and katakana syllabaries collectively.  Technically each kana represents a [[Mora|mora]] not a syllable.
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;Kanji
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:The Chinese symbols adopted by Japan.  Considered intimidating by many, the better systems introduce kanji early.  Anyone wishing to become literate will benefit more from books emphasizing kanji. Even those not interested in becoming literate will gain a better understanding of how the language works by learning kanji.  Most of the educational textbooks use [[Furigana|furigana]] aka ruby over new kanji, or kanji that the student is not expected to learn for that lesson.  Furigana are essentially small kana about 4pt right above the kanji to show the reading used. 
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:Where possible the actual number of different kanji used are listed.  If this information is not available a Japanese Language Proficiency Test # will be given as an estimation of the number and difficulty of the kanji used.  Remember that JLPT 1 is the ''hardest'' not the easiest.  Japanese school grade levels will be used in the same way.  So instead of a Number or JLPT # there will be a Grade #.  Thus, 6 Grade means all, or most, of the Educational Kanji are represented in the text.  If a text goes beyond the Educational Kanji list then a Kanji Kentei 漢字検定 # will be used.
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;Integrated
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:Either roumaji is used written alongside the Japanese or it is on a separate page.  Integrated will be noted as parallel or seperate.  Some texts are progressive, meaning that they may use parallel roumaji or furigana but it is slowly phased out.
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=== Audience Emphasis ===
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;Business or Pleasure
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:The vocabulary and speech patters of the different textbooks are often heavily geared towards a certian audience.  For example, Japanese for Busy People is geared almost entirely towards a student of business Japanese which makes it a poor choice for the student that is learning to better understand anime.
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;Age
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: If an age is given it is always the youngest.  Books that are appropriate for Adults and teenagers will be noted as Teen.  Books that seem more appropriate for a particular age group will be noted by school level: Elementary.
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There are of course other levels of emphasis, grammar, vocabulary, pattern sentences, but overall they are less important once the above are determined. 
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===Other Terms used===
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;Pages
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:The entire course page count is given even if they include more than 1 textbook.  Thus Elementary Japanese is split into volume 1 (385 pages) and volume 2 (450 pages).  Although the entire page page count is used for the textbook(s), any workbook page counts are not included.
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;Copyright
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:The oldest copyright date is given if a re-issue was not seriously revised.  Re-issues usually have few changes beyond spelling corrections if those, and most students don't want to come out of class sounding like an old man.  If a language course was originally published in 1940, rest assured that the 2005 version usually exactly the same.
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;Books
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:Books refers to subsequent textbooks it does not include the workbooks, teachers editions, or any other variant.  Thus the 3 Books for "Japanese for Busy People" means there are 3 textbooks only.  Usually the number of workbooks and textbooks are the same.  If this is not the case, the discrepancy is not noted.
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;Reputation
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:Books are ranked Unknown, Weak, Poor, Average, Good, and Great.  The ranking is a combination of community response and, when possible, direct comparison with the other books.  Poor reviews are not applied to the ranking if they do not account for the books stated, or implied, limitations.  Bad reviews from people who were not the target audience are discounted, and raving reviews are mitigated by appropriate context.
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:The reputation ranking does not only reflect the technical quality of the Japanese textbook, it also includes the more subjective fun factor.  A Good or Great reputation is only possible for books that are deemed both fun and accurate.
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:Books that are too new, rare, or otherwise difficult to obtain will often have an unknown reputation.
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;ISBN
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:It is almost always easier to search or ask for a book by ISBN than by title.  Copy and paste the ISBN into your favorite book seller's site, or favorite search engine.  This ISBNs are for the first paperback in each series.
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== List of In-Print Textbooks ==
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This is a list of all the in-print textbooks I know of that have not been added to the main index:
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:I'm using this section as a stop-gap for now.  Eventually when I've referenced each volume then this section will be deleted and any new titles will be added directly. 
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Please don't add anything here that is already in the Textbook feature list.
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;Beginner
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: Interactive Japanese - Summerell, Riley, & Yang (IJ S,R&Y)
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: Interactive Japanese - Tomoda & May (IJ T&M)
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: Japanese in Modules (JiM)
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: Japanese Now (JN)
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: Japanese Step by Step (JSbS)
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: Japanese the Spoken Language (JtSL)
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: Learn Japanese: New College Text (LJ)
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: Minna no Nihongo (MnN)
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: 90 Days of Japanese Language
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: Nissan's Business Japanese (NBJ)
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: Power Glide Japanese (PGJ)
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: Shin Nihongo no Kiso (SNnK)
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: Speak Japanese (SJ)
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: Teach Yourself Japanese
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: Tsumiki
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: Ultimate Japanese (UJ)
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: Youkoso
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;Intermediate
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:Aozora: Intermediate-Advanced Japanese Communication
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:Intermediate Technical Japanese
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:Intermediate Modern Japanese
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:Japanese for JETs - Intermediate Text
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:Living in Japan: Intermediate conversational Japanese
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:Readers Guide to Intermediate Japanese: A Quick Reference to Written Expressions
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:Shimbun De Manabu Nihongo
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:Sura-Sura: A Text for Intermediate Japanese
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;Advanced
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:Advanced Japanese Conversation
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:Advanced Spoken Japanese
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:Authentic Japanese: Progressing from Intermediate to Advanced
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== Textbook Feature list ==
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;Beginner, Beginner-Intermediate
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:{| class="wikitable"
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!width="30"| Title
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!width="5"| Books
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!width="10"| ©
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!width="5"| Chapters
+
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!width="10"| Pages
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!width="40"| Kanji
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!width="40"| Audience Emphasis
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!width="40"| Writing Emphasis
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!width="80"| Spoken Emphasis
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!width="40"| Audio
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!width="40"| Workbook
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!width="40"| Reputation
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!width="40"| ISBN
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|-
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|Adventures in Japanese
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|4
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|1998
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|Unk
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|Unk
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|Unk
+
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|High School
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|Parallel
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|Technical
+
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|Yes
+
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|Yes
+
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|Unknown
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|088727420X
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|-
+
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|Colloquial Japanese
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|1
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|2003
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|15
+
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|312
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|200+
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|Self-study
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|Integrated
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|Conversational
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|Yes
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|No
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|Average
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|0415194784
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|-
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|Contemporary Japanese
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|2
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|2005
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|26
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|496
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|100+
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|College
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|Kanji+rubi
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|Technical
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|Yes
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|No
+
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|Average
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|080483377X
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|-
+
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|Elementary Japanese
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|2
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|2005
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|27
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|835
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|200+
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|College
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|Kanji+rubi
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|Technical
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|Yes
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|No
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|Good
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|0804835047
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|-
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|[http://www.thejapanshop.com/home.php?cat=270 Genki]
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|2
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|1999
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|33
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|697
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|303+
+
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|College
+
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|Kanji
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|Technical
+
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|Yes
+
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|Yes
+
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|Great
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|4789009637
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|-
+
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|Idiot's Guide to Conversational Japanese
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|1
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|2002
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|25
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|432
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|0
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|Self-study
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|Hepburn
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|Unk
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|Yes
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|No
+
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|Poor
+
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|0028641795
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|-
+
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|Ima
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|2
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|2004
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|Unk
+
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|Unk
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-
|Unk
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-
|Unk
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-
|Unk
+
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|Unk
+
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|Yes
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|Yes
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|Unknown
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|1876209151
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|-
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|Introduction to Modern Japanese - Bowring & Laurie
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|1
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|2002
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|52
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|481
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|1100+
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|College
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|Kanji
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|Conversational
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|No
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|Yes
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|Great
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|052154887X
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|-
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|Introduction to Modern Japanese - Mizutani & Mizutani
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|1
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|1977
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|30
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|425
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|Unk
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|Classroom
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|Seperate
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|Conversational
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|Yes
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|No
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|Average
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|4789000583
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|-
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|[http://www.ajalt.org/e/publications/textbooks1.html Japanese for Busy People]
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|3
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|1996
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|UNK
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|796
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|200+
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|Self
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|Kana or Hepburn
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|Business
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|Yes
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|Yes
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|Average
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|Roumaji ED 4770018827
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Kana ED 4770019874
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|-
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|Japanese for Dummies
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|1
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|2002
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|20
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|408
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|None
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|Self-Study
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|Hepburn
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|Conversational
+
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|Yes
+
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|No
+
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|Poor
+
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|0764554298
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|-
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|[http://www.thejapanshop.com/product.php?productid=16729&cat=70&page=1 Japanese for Everyone]
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|1
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|Unk
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|Unk
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|384
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|Unk
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|Self-Study
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|Parallel
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|Conversational
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|No
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-
|No
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|Great
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|0870408534
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|-
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|Japanese for Young People
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|3
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|1998
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|45
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|602
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|160
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|Junior-high
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|Kanji+Rubi
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|Conversational
+
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|Yes
+
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|Yes
+
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|Average
+
-
|477002178X
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|-
+
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|Nakama
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|2
+
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|1998
+
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|22
+
-
|1067
+
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|390
+
-
|College
+
-
|Kanji
+
-
|Technical
+
-
|Yes
+
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|Yes
+
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|Good
+
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|0669275832
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-
|}
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;Intermediate, Intermediate-Advanced
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:{| class="wikitable"
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!width="30"| Title
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!width="10"| Books
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!width="10"| ©
+
-
!width="40"| Chapters
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-
!width="30"| Pages
+
-
!width="40"| Kanji
+
-
!width="40"| Audience Emphasis
+
-
!width="40"| Writing Emphasis
+
-
!width="80"| Spoken Emphasis
+
-
!width="40"| Audio
+
-
!width="40"| Workbook
+
-
!width="40"| Reputation
+
-
!width="40"| ISBN
+
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|-
+
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|Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
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|1
+
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|1994
+
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|15
+
-
|374
+
-
|JLPT 2*
+
-
|College
+
-
|Kanji
+
-
|Technical
+
-
|Yes
+
-
|No
+
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|Good
+
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|4789007413
+
-
|}
+
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+
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;Advanced
+
-
:{| class="wikitable"
+
-
!width="80"| Title
+
-
!width="10"| Books
+
-
!width="10"| ©
+
-
!width="40"| Chapters
+
-
!width="30"| Pages
+
-
!width="40"| Kanji
+
-
!width="40"| Audience Emphasis
+
-
!width="40"| Writing Emphasis
+
-
!width="80"| Spoken Emphasis
+
-
!width="40"| Audio
+
-
!width="40"| Workbook
+
-
!width="40"| Reputation
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-
!width="40"| ISBN
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-
|-
+
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|Advanced Japanese
+
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|1
+
-
|1998
+
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|10
+
-
|211
+
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|Many
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|College
+
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|Kanji
+
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|Technical
+
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|Yes
+
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|Yes <!-- Not sure it is actually a "work book" but it has a separate volume with kanji readings and explanations and such by section -->
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|Good
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-
|-
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|Japanese Life Today 現代日本事情
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|1
+
-
|1987
+
-
|12
+
-
|161
+
-
|JLPT 3
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|Self-study
+
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|Kanji+rubi
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|Conversational
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|None
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-
|No
+
-
|Good
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-
|}
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== Related Pages ==
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*[[Reading Material]]
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[[Category:Practice]]
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Current revision as of 22:52, 2 December 2007

This page served its purpose and can be removed.

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