Most Japanese youngsters speak the kind of Japanese that is not taught in language school. The “masu” form of a verb is used only while speaking to superiors at work or probably while speaking to teachers at school. 80% of the time it is the plain form that is used while speaking to colleagues. Even if you spoke using “masu” form, your colleagues might still reply using slang and informal Japanese. Watching dramas is a good way to pick up spoken/ informal Japanese. Did you know that the site www.dramanote.com gives the complete dialogues of old Japanese dramas? So, when you hear a dialogue that you don’t understand, you can read the same in Japanese and look up the meaning “word by word” in a dictionary. Works similar to watching a movie/drama with Japanese subtitles. The site also gives a brief narration followed by a brief observation on the drama/movie. Definitely helps to pick up reading comprehension skills too.
Here’s my video on the sentence patterns “te mo ii desu”, “nakute mo ii desu”..
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.