Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese (Review)

I just finished the first volume of Genki Japanese. This book was published by the Japan Times and I still haven't found a series that matches it in quality....but then again, I haven't been actively looking for any other series. The best thing about this 2 book series is that it introduces the kanji from chapter 3. There really seems to be some unspoken (well, sometimes spoken) belief that foreigners can't learn kanji so a lot of materials out there don't even try. Billions of Chinese and millions of Japanese use characters so it can't be all that difficult to learn. It just takes the right approach. It doesn't say much for any book that claims to teach Japanese, but think kanji, a PILLAR of the language, is too difficult for a student to grasp. The grammar explanations were very clear and easy to understand. Also, I really enjoyed the reading materials at the end of the book. There was an ever increasing amount of kanji introduced, but I never felt overwhelmed. I started to get this warm fuzzy feeling from reading and comprehending all the reading passages and it only encouraged me to keep studying more. Yeah yeah. I know it is a beginning book and the materials weren't all that hard, but I still enjoyed it enough to give myself the proverbial pat on the back for getting through the reading. Another aspect I enjoyed was that this book seemed to focus on the more mundane and common situations a student might find him or herself in. There were no chapters about going to a tea ceremony or flower arranging (that might come up in the 2nd volume). Instead, we had sections on getting pictures developed and words needed to get around the train system. Good stuff.

I mentioned in a previous post that I never learned Japanese in a school, but through actual immersion (not being able to order food was a great motivator to learn). I wanted to fill in the gaps of my Japanese by going back to the basics through the Genki series. For my purposes, this was a great book and I have no complaints.

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