Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese (Review)

I am a big fan of books published by the Japan Times and this is no exception. The cool thing about this book is not it's long yet manageable readings. It isn't the immense amount of useful vocab and grammar that is guaranteed to come up when conversing, reading, or listening to Japanese. What makes this book so great is that it helps students read Japanese without depending so much on the furigana. All the readings are written with furigana-less kanji so your brain learns to adapt, but the pronunciations are just a few pages later in the vocab list so that you can look things up quickly. By the end of the book, I got this warm fuzzy feeling knowing that I CAN read Japanese.

I should clarify that last statement; you won't learn to pronounce every kanji, but your eyes and brain will have been trained to read without depending on the furigana as a crutch. Kinda like having that first shot of hard whiskey without gagging on your way to becoming a full-blown alcoholic. This is important since you will eventually have to graduate to tougher materials that don't cater to the kanji illiterate. It is slow going sometimes, but well worth the effort. This is an excellent book to graduate to from the Genki series.


Taemojitsu said...

ty, I anticipate great benefit

Anonymous said...

While I can see your point about the kanji, I don't understand what's going on in the exercises. They seem to make too great a jump, in my opinion, from English mixed with Japanese straight to no English whatsoever, and just starting in Lesson 1 I am confused as hell on what the unyou renshuu is actually doing.

Taemojitsu said...

The exercises assume a certain level of proficiency at that point (such as dropping furigana in later lessons). On the other hand, sometimes the specific meaning of groupings of known kanji or phrases is not always clear and a good dictionary (such as Tagaini Jisho) is very useful, ranging from 「運用」(うんよう)"Making use of, application, investment, practical use" to particles you thought you knew but the specific use in context isn't clear. 「のに」"And yet, despite this, even though, but even so, but even then, however, nevertheless, for all that, notwithstanding that".

The textbook can be used for solo study, but was written partly for a classroom environment where there's someone to ask for help. It also assumes the audio CD is being used which is a wakeup for anyone who has been without much listening practice up to that point!