If you are looking for a low-intermediate Japanese textbook that uses English explanations, furigana and also dedicates a section to teaching Kanji, you have found the one.
Personally, I find that Japan-published Japanese textbooks tend to focus on a certain area (e.g. speaking / reading / writing / listening / grammar / vocabulary / kanji) and I haven’t quite found a book that does somewhat everything. I think this one quite hits that sweet spot of serving as an all-encompassing main textbook for low-intermediate Japanese learners.
Each chapter consists of the following section:
I found it interesting how the same dialogue is presented in both comic strip and the usual prose form. The comic strip form comes first and it does not include the furigana, which serves as a good exercise for the learner to try to figure out how to pronounce the kanji, and can check it against the prose form dialogue (with furigana).
Basic but useful glossary as it comes with kanji, the parts of speech (e.g. noun / verb), and the English explanation or equivalent. The book comes with the CD, and this section also comes with audio. Thumbs up. But I have no idea why the audio does not follow the order of the glossary!! Weird.
This section is the reason why I would recommend this book to English speakers. I love how it teaches you the order of the strokes, the meaning and also trying to break up the word into parts and radicals and teaching you how to remember it.
Language Detection (Grammar)
The grammar section is not the most detailed, but does a decent job of introducing a few new grammar points per chapter. While this is touted as an intermediate book, I thought that it wasn’t that challenging or fast-paced. Perhaps a low-intermediate level?
Self Check | Practice Time
Designed for classroom activities, I don’t find this section particularly helpful for self-learners. I usually will skip such sections – pair practice etc.
Good section to introduce some culture tidbits.
Extra reading in the form of emails from one character to another.
Quite a decent textbook, especially suitable for those who need more help with Kanji. The content is relatively interesting and the book is well-structured. Suitable for the self learners. Will recommend if you are looking for a main textbook for the low-intermediate. The only con? It’s a heavy book – don’t think you would want to bring it out to be read on the go.
What I like:
- Good section on Kanji
- Interesting content
- Furigana – convenient, makes reading easier
What to be improved on
- Grammar section, while adequate, is not very detailed
- The textbook is quite heavy (weight-wise)? 😛
Get it on Tuttle.