Living Language Japanese, Platinum Edition: A complete beginner through advanced course, including 3 coursebooks, 9 audio CDs, Japanese reading & ... online course, apps, and live e-Tutoring
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"The Living Language Platinum series has dragged the world of language learning into the 21st century."
About the Author
Living Language has been a proven and effective language learning instruction for over 65 years. Using techniques originally developed for the US State Department, the Living Language Method follows a four point approach from building a foundation of essential words and phrases, advancing to full sentences and conversations, practicing with recall exercises aimed at both short and long term memory and developing practical language skills to equip the learner in any situation. Living Language is an imprint of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.
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Every learner is different, and that is the premise that any instructional material must begin from. This program succeeds in that there are multiple ways to learn: books, audio discs, online course supplements including optional tutoring sessions and forums, and other electronic tools (that, frankly, I have never used). The course is thorough and engaging and I have actually renewed my online subscription for another year because I find the games useful to return to. There is a logical progression to the courses so that the Advanced builds upon the Intermediate, which builds upon the Beginning. All major aspects of life are discussed in both polite and neutral forms (formal and rough forms are alluded to, but not directly addressed). The course does not, however, teach nuance, which is something that can only, truly, be learned from experience. In all other ways, the courses use practical examples that can be used outside of the teaching mechanism (see the Eddie Izzard stand-up routine wherein he discusses learning French). This edition includes a fourth book that covers the three writing systems in a manner that is very easy to read and understand. There is a fairly thorough examination of both katakana and hiragana, but the examination of kanji is fairly rudimentary. To be fair, kanji is a borderline nightmarish system to learn as it requires extreme amounts of memorization and, in my case at least, association. Many native speakers/readers struggle with kanji. I cannot fault this program for its failings here.
Where the program fails: Japanese is, structurally and conceptually, vastly different from English and there are not enough rules described within the program. The program relies heavily upon memorization of words and orders and does not delve deeply enough into the whys and wherefores of language. There are many nuances to language that are important to grasp if you want to truly and deeply understand a language and the people who developed and use it. Supplementary materials are necessary to achieve this end. Some that I have personally found very useful:
Japanese Particle Workbook by Taeko Kamiya Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication by Taeko Kamiya (this is truly wonderful and full of little tid-bits of knowledge that are truly invaluable) Essential Japanese Grammar by Masahiro Tanimori and Eriko Sato (absolutely essential. kind of dry, and written in... I guess overly complicated language at times, but definitely full of useful knowledge.) Japanese Kanji Power by John Millen Japanese Hiragana and Katakana Flash Cards from Tuttle Press ISBN 978-4-8053-1167-7 or UPC# 9-784805-311677 Nelson's Kanji Dictionary (any edition) some kind of English/Japanese dictionary. I still haven't found one that I like for both content and construction. I'd love some suggestions. make your own vocabulary flash cards. it's fun and the singular most helpful way of memorizing. I have color-coded mine like orange for foods, red for verbs, green for adjectives, etc.
I realize that I have a fairly completist approach to learning Japanese, but I feel that if you are going to invest the time in learning a language, you should learn it as well as you can. This program is, I believe, invaluable for the independent learner.
Dear users, I got the app (to test it out before I buy this) and it's AMAZING. I've tried SO many other things such as podcasts, audio, and more and the lessons just weren't sticking. Then I got the app and it's like the holy grail of Japanese learning programs!!! Definitely saving up for this masterpiece. Well done, Living Language. - UPDATE:
I got the program. It rocks!!! The course books are amazing!!! I'm on the first one right now. It's got tons of helpful repetition excersizes, and the app is awesome and fun. I haven't tried the e tutor session yet, but I plan to eventually! Everything is amazing. Well done, living language.
I bumped into this while shopping in my favourite book store. A few years ago I tried my hand at Japanese with a Dutch course got pretty far, and then dropped it all together. So I'm starting all over again, and I have to say, it's really good - if not better than the Dutch version. The repetition of this course is really good, mainly because you absorb everything without even realizing it. It's still early days, and I only received the course 4 days ago, but chapter 2 is already on the horizon. At this rate, I'll be speaking and writing Japanese in no time!
This is an awesome way to learn Japanese. Each lesson comes with several exercises for you to practice what you've learned and of course, the answers are all in the book. The CDs are great, too, and not too rushed nor too slow unlike others. The app is alright, though I personally use it for review since the exercises are in the books themselves. However, if you want to learn kanji I recommend buying a separate kanji book as this DOES NOT TEACH KANJI! They expose you to it, yes. But you don't actually learn how to write them. One thing I don't like is that there's romaji EVERYWHERE. It would be better if we were forced to read only the japanese parts without our eyes unconciously wandering to the writing we already know. I find myself covering the romaji all the time to force myself to read the japanese. The tutor, Sakura-san, is EXTREMELY HELPFUL. Absolutely love her. Plus she is always in the forum on the website answering questions so you can always post your thoughts and she will answer you, I guarantee it. Overall these books are great, just wish there wasn't as much romaji in the intermediate section.