Learn to Read in Japanese: A Japanese Reader ペーパーバック – 2016/12/30
The design of this Japanese Reader is based on our belief that the most enjoyable and efficient way to learn to read in Japanese is to dive in and start reading sentences almost immediately, learning new kanji as you go. In order to make this approach workable, we introduce about ten new kanji at the beginning of each chapter and then ask you to take a quick pre-test on their pronunciations before starting to read. We include in each chapter only kanji characters that you know or are in the process of learning, and we provide immediate feedback about your reading accuracy in the form of same-page romaji equivalents and translations.
Although it might seem impractical to start reading practice before you have learned Japanese characters very well, this approach is firmly grounded in a study technique known as Active Recall, which can be defined as “learning by answering questions.” Active Recall is the basis of flashcard learning generally, and it is highly effective for building strong memories, compared to more passive study methods.
When you try to read one of the Japanese sentences in this book, you are essentially asking yourself two questions: “How is this sentence pronounced, and what does it mean?” This self-interrogation forces your brain to work in order to recognize the characters in the sentence and recall their pronunciations. When you need to look at the answers to the implied questions, they are available on the same page. This means that you can significantly reduce the amount of time that you spend memorizing kanji. You can also minimize the number of times that you need to look up information in other books or dictionaries as you read.
The book includes 4,200 Japanese sentences which employ only hiragana, katakana and 608 "target" kanji. Romaji equivalents and translations are always available, printed in very small text in a column adjacent to the Japanese text, but they are easy to ignore when you don’t need them. By simply reading and taking advantage of the feedback and the references in the book, you will soon be able to read with confidence.
The target kanji that are used in the sentences are taught by means of an innovative "Kanji Catalogue." This Catalogue includes pronunciations, meanings, descriptions of the kanji as images, and examples of words that use the kanji.
When you encounter a kanji in the Japanese text that you do not know well, you can easily look it up with the help of the Pronunciation Index which contains 1,634 kanji pronunciations linked to kanji reference numbers in the Kanji Catalogue. After you locate a particular kanji in the Catalogue, we suggest that you focus on the memory aides provided. These memory aides are both visual (descriptions of kanji as images) and verbal (homophones for each of the kanji's pronunciations).
If you want to progress further with your Japanese reading, please be aware that Learn to Read in Japanese, Volume II is now available for purchase. This second book introduces 600 additional kanji, for a total of 1208 in the two books.
Please visit us at JapaneseAudioLessons.com, where we also provide 30 hours of free high-quality Japanese audio lessons.
- 出版社 : Roger Lake (2016/12/30)
- 発売日 : 2016/12/30
- 言語 : 英語
- ペーパーバック : 548ページ
- ISBN-10 : 0998378704
- ISBN-13 : 978-0998378701
- 寸法 : 15.24 x 3.23 x 22.86 cm
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: - 107,445位洋書 (の売れ筋ランキングを見る洋書)
I've lived in Japan for more than 20 years, but never made a serious effort to learn to read Japanese. Through the process of osmosis I've managed to pick up a fair number of Japanese characters or kanji but I never really was able to put in the time and effort needed to study them thoroughly and learn their different readings and pronunciations. Since purchasing their book a little more than a week ago, I have completed eight chapters and am very happy with what I've learnt and with the confidence it has imbued in me.
The format of the book is excellent. The layout of each page and the size of the font for the Japanese makes studying a pleasure, as it is easy to distinguish even the tiny strokes of each character. On the right side of each page, the romaji version of each sentence is written, along with an English translation. About ten new kanji are introduced in each chapter. I find this to be a manageable number from a study perspective, not too many and not too few. For kanji that are new to me, it's easy to find their meanings in the well organised catalog at the back of the book. In the catalog, each kanji is listed along with pronunciations and meanings, examples of common compounds they are used in, as well as mnemonic descriptions and cues to help memorise them. If there are kanji that look similar to the one being studied, they are listed as well, which makes it easy to compare them and learn them. Wonderful!
Having the romaji readings and English translations on the same page as the Japanese sentences really makes this a user-friendly book. I don't need to spend time looking elsewhere to confirm if I have decided upon the right reading or not. I've also noticed that the kanji get "recycled" through the text from time to time so I can quickly know the ones I need to review and study again. The author suggests using a piece of paper or a thumb to cover the romaji and English translations in the right column, while reading the Japanese in the left. I found a bookmark that is just the right width that serves the purpose beautifully.
The book also includes an overview of hiragana and katakana (handy as I sometimes forget the not so common ones!), and an index of kanji by pronunciation. Kanji are also listed by groups, alphabetically, and by order of appearance. To use this book, you must be able to read hiragana and katakana.
All in all, the book is well thought out and easy to use. I highly recommend it if you are wanting to improve your Japanese reading ability.
However, there are some major issues with it. Firstly, this would be absolutely overwhelming for someone who is new to Japanese, since there is zero explanation of any of the grammar and vocab used. Even if you'd been studying Japanese for a few months, I think this would be confusing and quite hard to use. You'd probably want to wait until you had a decent amount of grammar and vocab under your belt before attempting it.
My biggest problem with it though, is the English translations. The sentences tend to be translated extremely literally. I understand the thinking for doing this. Japanese is a very different language to English and in a lot of sentences, you can't just translate word-for-word to get a sentence that makes sense in English. So the author has translated each part of the Japanese sentences in very literal English and leaves it up to the reader to decipher it and come up with a more natural English definition.
This is nice in theory but in practice it makes for some horrendously clunky sentences that are extremely difficult to make sense of. Let me give an example - one of the translations towards the start of the book reads "The wife-since-before-appeared-to-be-wanting diamond necklace he will do a present reportedly".
This book is marketed as a way to learn to read Japanese and in particular, kanji. I don't want to spend as much time trying to decipher what the sentence is even supposed to mean in English, let alone understanding the Japanese version of it. Another example - "My, since have a good husband, wife, it's happiness, huh."..... What??
It's like you need to already know all the grammar and vocab being used to make sense of the sentence and therefore understand the new kanji. But if that was the case, you would be an advanced Japanese learner who wouldn't need to use a book like this to begin with.
The most frustrating part of this is that a lot of the simpler sentences do include the natural English translations in brackets. For example, " It's very much happiness (I'm very happy) Why that wasn't done for the more complex sentences, I have no idea. It would've made the book so much better.
Overall, I would still say this is worth looking into as it's very comprehensive and a lot of the sentences are still possible to decipher with some thought. I just feel it could've been executed a lot better and in a way that's more learner friendly.
Sentences are translated into English using a Japanese sentence structure as much as possible while still allowing the meaning to be understood. This is a very clever aid to learning - it allows your mind to get used to Japanese grammar more easily.
The author has collated these Japanese sentences over many years of teaching and learning Japanese (he runs a website hosting many hours of free Japanese audio lessons, which I have been studying for two years). A lot of thought and care has been taken into the selection of these sentences - the coverage of different words, grammar and conversation topics is excellent. They've also got the thumbs-up from my wife (a Japanese national) for grammatical correctness and usefulness.
I have used the author's free audio lessons to become an intermediate Japanese speaker, and I am using this book to build my reading skills. The audio lessons are outstanding, better than any paid-for audio course in my opinion, and this book is also excellent. The author clearly has a great talent for language teaching, which is reflected in this book.
The main criticism I have is the sometimes awful translations. The cover states: "the translations are purposefully specific and not necessarily 'proper' English..." I do agree!
"... but they get the original ... meaning across" I do not agree with this; in some places it is nonsensical!
For example, page 180, sentence 2 is translated as "By the company's women, since make tea and it became unable to receive it is." WHAT???
It really means "Because women in the company can no longer make tea".
Why not say so?
Gripe over, and I do think I am picking up the kanji from this book ... so far so good...
Probably not the best place to start if you are learning kanji, but for people who have learned a few and want to start practising reading them in context, this is perfect.
I note that the book says that it is "Volume 1", but I haven't been able to locate any further volumes. If these become available, covering more kanji, that will be even better.