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Elementary Japanese Vol 1 (Tuttle Language Library)

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1401382942
ISBN-10: 0804835047
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Editorial Reviews


"Elementary Japanese (EJ) has the strong advantage of starting in hiragana. The greetings and usage at the beginning come just at the right time. EJ has clear grammar and usage explanations. The number and pace of the kanji are very good. I like the fact that EJ is fairly cheap & that it doesn't have a work book. I use some exercises in the book as homework & can add my own things without feeling guilty for not using all of a workbook. The listening comprehension exercises are excellent and I really like the recordings of the dialogues and the vocabulary. I would suggest giving kanji in the vocabulary lists to help Chinese students of Japanese. The illustrations for the exercises are useful and often funny." —Professor Janet Fair, Loyola University

"While these particular Tuttle textbooks are suitable for, and typically used in, classroom settings, including in some of the best universities in North America, they can also serve as an excellent out-of-class reference tool and can very well complement formal language classes or other study materials for the self-learner. From my experience, this series should appeal to a broad range of people, including individuals working on their own, professional people working with a tutor, or students in a classroom setting. I have personally used the Tuttle Elementary and Continuing textbooks both as part of university classes and on my own, and I have been very satisfied with them." —Lingholic blog

"I am self studying using this book and book two of the series. This book is excellent for the student who is self studying, because all of the grammar an vocabulary are explained thoroughly. There is very little left up to the student to try to figure out; and though the exercises are designed for use in a classroom, they can be easily adapted. Additionally, this book is all-in-one in that it offers dialogues, cultural notes, grammar, vocabulary, and kanji in one volume. It also comes with a CD that contains the readings, pronunciation of all the vocabulary, and additional exercises." —Goodreads

About the Author

Yoko Hasegawa is Associate Professor of Japanese Linguistics in the Department of East Asia Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. She currently teaches Japanese linguistics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and also serves as Coordinator of the university's Japanese language program. She received her PhD in linguistics from Berkeley in 1992.

Product Details

  • Series: Tuttle Language Library
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (August 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804835047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804835046
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a really great text book. I have looked through other texts books for colleges and other mainstream "learn Japanese" books before and this is the best I've seen so far. It's the most comprehensive, aesthetically organized, and user-friendly.

I was a student at Berkeley who took 1st year through 3rd year Japanese courses and I loved them and learned a lot.

Firstly, to break into these textbooks you *must* learn the hiragana and katakana first, which is why there is no romaji after the first chapter to baby you along. This is how our classes were designed -- all students learned both kana syllabaries in 2 weeks. The reason for this is b/c romaji is pretty much useless; it is better that you just learn the written language from the start. (A beautiful and fun language to speak or write). If you go to Japan and see signs or read Japanese published materials anywhere, they're either in Japanese or in English -- there is no romaji, and if Jp people to happen to use romaji, it tends to be the romaji-system that isn't English-reader friendly, such as 'tu' representing the sound 'tsu,' or 'sya' for 'sha.'

The kana can't really be "taught" by the book. All it requires is memorization and self-testing. Make your own kana flashcards with index cards, test yourself, and then delve into the text. My teachers did forget the kana worksheets, so as a remedy in order to learn to write it, they ask that you go to [...] (which has video clips illustrating the stroke order) until they put the worksheets in the CDs or the texts of newer versions.
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Format: Hardcover
Elementary Japanese is one of the best textbooks for starting Japanese. I've compared this series to the highly praised Genki series, and I strongly prefer this one.

This textbook explains grammar very well, and it goes much more in-depth than Genki. There are more examples and the grammar points are more thoroughly explained.

The kanji lessons are integrated in the lessons, unlike Genki, which has them in the back. Words that were previously written in hiragana are replaced with kanji once you learn it. This is a great way to learn because all the kanji you encounter in the examples should be ones you know.

Unlike Genki, the audio portion of the course is provided with the book, so you don't have to pay extra to practice listening. The CD is a great way to practice listening comprehension.

This book is also a wonder reference since it has many appendices. There are vocabulary (both E->J and J->E), verb conjugation, grammar, and kanji appendices. Its appendices are much more thorough than Genki in every respect, making it easier to reference (if you get the second volume, its appendices reference both volumes, making that the definitive version to use.)

However, one drawback of this series is that it focuses mainly on normal polite Japanese (-''''' forms). The reason for this is that this book was designed for UC Berkeley students, and the department was designed so the second year focused more on casual Japanese than the first year. Even so, this form is the most useful for daily conversations, so it's only a drawback for some people. Another drawback to this book compared to Genki is that it includes less cultural information.

Using this book will give you a very good foundation of Japanese grammar, and its weakpoints can be addressed in later courses since the most important part in the beginning is learning the basics.
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Format: Hardcover
"Elementary Japanese" does everything right. It is possibly the best, most comprehensive beginning Japanese text that I have seen, and if I were to teach a Japanese course, this is the book I would choose for my students.

To begin with, there is absolutely no romaji. It starts with the assumption that the learner has become familiar with hiragana, which is an absolute necessity when studying Japanese. Learners of English start with the alphabet. Learners of Japanese should start with hiragana. However, even those with a less-than-masterful grasp of hiragana will swiftly find their ability increasing, through constant reinforcement and repetition. Once a word has been introduced, it always appears in hiragana for the remainder of the text. Kanji is reinforced in the same way.

The layout and flow of information is interesting and logical. Beginning with greetings and self introduction, it moves onto places, weekend plans, restaurants, etc...Each section contains both a scenario, new vocabulary and new grammar. There is a "cast of characters," members of a Japanese study class, who have various dialogs and situational encounters that put the learned grammar and vocabulary into practical situations. Along with this, each section has several recommended activities to be done with a partner.

The only drawback to "Elementary Japanese" is that it isn't such a great self-study text, unless you are a truly disciplined independent learner. It is designed to be part of a organized course, and many of the activities assume that you have a partner to work with. However, a serious learner shouldn't be studying in isolation anyways, as actually using the language in conversation is the best way to ensure retention.
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