67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Good and user-friendly first volume
, December 21, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Japanese for Busy People (Japanese Teacher's Edition in Japanese) (Paperback)
I am teaching myself Japanese using a variety of textbooks and here is a comparative review from my (learner's) point of view.
-Living Language 'All the way' -- This is very good and complete. Also there is plenty of audio material (8 CDs, the only audio-based course I found affordable) and this is vital during the first stages of learning the language. However, the learning curve of the book is steep. So much is crammed into the book's 450 pages that it is very easy to get discouraged. I found the amount of vocabulary cropping up every ten pages (and new lesson) particularly disheartening at times. Another problem is that Japanese characters are not covered particularly well; dialogues and example sentences are all in Romanji. However, I found this course to be truly excellent used together with others, so I could move to another book (and later return) whenever things got too disheartening. (4 stars)
-Learn Japanese-New College Text (Hawaii University) -- This is (overall) the best text I found: the learning curve is just right, although there is a scary amount of new vocabulary in each lesson, a lot of it is obvious (new forms of verbs already learned etc), and there are tons (perhaps too many?) of exercises. My only gripe is that no solutions to the exercises are provided such that the odd sentence may remain obscure. However, this is a brilliant series, both very good value (cheap!) and very complete, with cultural notes that try to relate understanding of the language to understanding of the culture. (5 stars)
- Japanese for College Students (Christian University) - This text plunges into Japanese the hard way, introducing Kanji from Lesson 1. I don't see too many people learning Japanese purely using this text without some external pressure being applied (e.g. University course). Also, since (as I am now able to judge), the level reached at the end of the first volume is not that impressively superior to the level reached through studying my favourite Hawaii text (bar the Kanji), I am not sure if this is worth it. Maybe this is alright if you take up language learning as a challenge. But then learning Japanese is a challenge anyway. This is the only one of my books which I do not use at all. (2 stars)
- Which leaves the present series, Japanese for busy people. Point one: Get the Kana version - although it is hard to start with, you will find yourself at ease with Kana by the middle of the first volume. One serious hurdle scaled. Getting the Romanji version just means you will constantly be 'cheating' by reading Western characters. Point Two: this is the most user-friendly of all the books, careful to never scare you off with an excessive amount of new vocabulary, and spreading even simple grammar points over several lessons. The downside of this is that the level reached at the end of the first volume is still very basic indeed, but this series is great for giving you confidence again when you've been put off by a harsher textbook. Point Three, however, becomes an issue in the second volume, as it gets clearer and clearer that the series is indeed geared toward 'busy', or business people, learning Japanese for career purposes. Since the vocabulary, as has been said, gets introduced fairly slowly (although the pace does pick up in Volume 2), learning words like 'conference room' or 'extension number' when you have't yet learnt some arguably more fundamental words may seem off-putting depending on your approach. Nevertheless, I see this as an excellent series as long as it is used in conjunction with others. (4 stars)
- Scared of grammar or business person? Get Japanese for Busy People
- Reasonably confident and not that interested in business-specific language? Get New College Text
- Planning to get into Japanese really seriously? Get Living Language (completeness, CDs) and New College Text, move from the first to the second whenever the first progresses too quickly, and get Japanese for Busy People as well if you need the occasional boost to your self-confidence.
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