JLPT, Vocab and Grammar

Marugoto Katsudou A1 – Book Review

This is a very useful book for those hoping to pick up spoken Japanese. Japanese words/lines have the meaning and reading as well mentioned in English. This is especially nice for those who are not interested in learning the script. Lessons are simple – starting with basic greetings and simple sentence patterns. With lots of pictures and short sentences the book overall feels less intimidating than most other books. There is a site online from where audio clips can be downloaded for all lessons.

The book encourages the student to listen to sentences and repeat along with the audio. By doing this many times, students slowly become comfortable with Japanese sounds and unconsciously internalize the Japanese sentence patterns.

This book by itself doesn’t really give any explanatory notes for grammar though. I would think this book works best when you have a teacher to take you through the grammar points bit by bit.

JLPT

Minna no Nihongo workbook (hyoujun mondaishuu) – Book review

This is in addition to the exercises provided at the end of each lesson in the main textbook. Usually, you would do the exercise questions in the main text book with your teacher’s help. You can use this book to practice grammar and vocab at home. Since you will have to write down the answers to all the questions, you get to practice the script too.

The pages are all perforated so that you can easily tear and submit them to your teacher for checking as and when you finish. Really useful for those who want to strengthen their hold on the basics.

A similar book is available for n4 too.

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Book Review – Kanji Master for N1

Kanji master for N1 (Arc Academy) lists out around 900 Kanjis with their onyomi and kunyomi readings and stroke count. This combined with the 1000 and odd Kanjis that you’ve already learnt until n2 should take you closer to the ~2000 Kanjis that you are supposed to know for n1. Short sentences with words using each Kanji have also been provided. However the meaning of those words have not been mentioned. Besides, stroke order has also not been provided.. There are totally 6 chapters which have been further divided into smaller sub divisions based on topics such as economy, education, nature, personal, attitude, politics and so on.

Not sure if it’s because of the “laundry list” nature of the book – with pages and pages of Kanjis listed out, I never quite got comfortable with this book. There are practice exercises too at the end of every chapter. But I was so intimidated by this book that I didn’t even attempt the exercises. Thinking about it now, not sure what made me buy this book in the first place:-). Remember using Henshall’s instead to memorize all the Kanjis and then question banks to check how much I knew.

The recent editions of this book have a new book cover – wonder if the contents have changed too. I would think the entire approach of the book has to be reworked to make it more student friendly.

 

JLPT, Vocab and Grammar

Book Review – Chukyuu Kara Manabu Nihongo

Image result for chuukyuu kara manabu

I would put this book somewhere between n4 and n3 level. It has some interesting passages (25 to be exact) for reading comprehension practice – most passages are observations of human nature – how certain colors are associated with boys and certain others with girls, how young moms behave in trains and so on. There’s even one on how marketeers invade one’s privacy. All passages are followed by questions based on the passage and a practice section for grammar points covered in the passage. You can hope to pick up interesting vocab such as “ikigai”, “niramekko suru” :-). And no.. there is no English meanings/explanations provided for anything – which is good in a way. After all in the actual exam the passages are bound to have words that you don’t know..but you still ignore those and try to get the overall meaning the passage is trying to convey, right?

The best way to attack the “reading comprehension” section in my view is to enjoy reading in Japanese – begin by choosing books that are slightly above your current level and read them in your free time.  If you stick just to the book that you purchased for the JLPT exam, it would qualify as “studies” and might seem like a “chore” beyond a point. This is where books such as this one and this one come in handy.