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Japan Language Books II

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Japanese in
Plain English

Japanese in Plain English

by Boye De Mente

McGraw-Hill

ISBN: 0-0714-8296-2
256 pp

With its contextualized approach to teaching vocabulary, Japanese in Plain English is a practical introduction to spoken Japanese. In this book, De Mente encourages the beginner Japanese student to approach the language from a conversational angle, rather than trying to memorize vocabulary and grammar in the early stages. In keeping with this advice, the book's strongest point is its offering of example sentences for each vocabulary word, allowing the reader to see the word in use in a conversational schema. Too many phrase books offer only decontextualized vocabulary, and understanding the function of a word is just as important as learning the word itself. For this reason, such sample sentences are quite helpful. Be forewarned, however, that as there is no instruction regarding the written language, this is not a book for the serious student of Japanese. This book would be put to better use as a phrase book for the casual traveler to Japan.
The book is organized in a simple three-part structure. Part one consists of an introduction to the phonetics of Japanese; some basic vocabulary, such as numbers and dates; and a passage encouraging new students of Japanese to check their culturally informed judgements of what makes sense when approaching the grammatical mechanics of Japanese. Part two is a "Glossary of Useful Vocabulary." The vocabulary in this section is alphabetized in English, and therefore is only conducive to English searches. The vocabulary provided is limited, but as was mentioned earlier, its use of examples for each word is extremely helpful. The final section consists of a short glossary of terms of modern origin, consisting mainly of technological vocabulary.
Despite the limited size of the vocabulary lists, the lack of a means to search for words in Japanese, the absence of an introduction to kana and kanji and the questionable system of phoneticization (Hokkaido as Hoke-kie-doe, for example); this book could be useful for those who are considering traveling to Japan, and would like to pick up enough of a sense for the spoken language to get around.

James Homsey

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The Ultimate
Japanese Phrasebook

The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook

by Kit Pancoast Nagamura

Kodansha

ISBN: 4770031009
320 pp

The Ultimate Japanese Phrasebook is a handy collection of sentences and phrases for a variety of situations. This is more than a phrasebook for visitors to Japan (though parts of it could pass as such); it is a useful guide for learners at many levels of Japanese who live in Japan and or deal with Japanese often. It is ideal for students, businesspeople, teachers, and longer-term visitors and residents.
There are 1800 sentences divided into 19 chapters in this guide. The situations cover the following: meeting people, shopping, traveling, finding a place to live, getting a job, and having kids. For those with school age children, a chapter on how to speak and interact with a teacher is very helpful.
Another chapter covers the all-important areas of romance and sex. "The Private Zone" guides the linguistic novice from dating and on into the bedroom.
The book comes with an MP3 audio CD that contains all the sentences read aloud. The first time it is done in English, then in Japanese.
I have been in Japan for almost two decades and still learned and relearned from this great book.
Highly recommended for all levels.

C. Ogawa

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Nihongo
Fun & Easy

Nihongo Fun & Easy

by Ogata Sumitani, Hidari Watanabe

ask

ISBN-10: 4872177215, ISBN-13: 978-4872177213
210 pp

Nihongo Fun & Easy - Survival Japanese Conversation for Beginners is a Japanese language "textbook that is not 'textbook'" for English speakers, filling an until now largely ignored gap in the Japanese textbook market.
The focus in Nihongo Fun & Easy is solely on Japanese as it is used, not as it is defined in "the textbooks." Therefore, it is unique in its level of practicality, frequently omitting, for example, particles (the equivalents of "the," "to," "of," "at," etc.) that are difficult to use correctly for English-speaking learners of Japanese, but which, happily, are often omitted in everyday language by the Japanese themselves, or, even if used, can easily be done away with without compromising comprehension.
There are 12 units, each dedicated to a common question or statement. A unit begins by setting out the functional goals for that unit, and works towards those goals by way of substitution drills, conversations drills, elaborations of the target phrase, dialogs, listening, role play, recollection drills, and a final "Now I can" skills confirmation checklist.
Nihongo Fun & Easy delivers the grammar and writing basics for those interested with a comprehensive grammar section at the back, verb and adjective conjugation lists, and Japanese writing options throughout that are invariably Romanized.
At 210 pages long, amply illustrated in black and white, and including a CD, Nihongo Fun & Easy is reasonably priced at 1,900 yen. Presently this book is only available from Amazon Japan.

D. Stormer

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