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Japanese for Busy People I: Kana Version

Title: Japanese for Busy People I: Kana Version

Author: Association for Japanese-Language Teaching
Format: Paperback
List Price: $25.00
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Japanese for Busy People I: Kana Version

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Editorial Reviews
About the Author
The Association for Japanese-Language Teaching (AJALT) was recognized as a nonprofit organization by the Ministry of Education in 1977. It was established to meet the practical needs of people who are not necessarily specialists on Japan but who wish to communicate effectively in Japanese.

Product Description:
How can the Kana Version of Japanese for Busy People help you learn Japanese?
Japanese for Busy People is, as the title suggests, a concise course for busy students who want to learn natural, spoken Japanese as effectively as possible in a limited amount of time. This new Kana Version has been adapted and redesigned to reflect current thinking on Japanese-as-a-second-language education. Romanized Japanese, often criticized as being the main obstacle to accurate and fluent pronunciation of the spoken language, has been omitted in favor of native hiragana and katakana scripts. Learning kana from the very beginning will also facilitate a smooth and fast transition to kanji study. Enough vocabulary and grammar have been provided to enable the learner to communicate in uncomplicated adult Japanese, without having to memorize excessive amounts of vocabulary and language patterns that are not immediately useful. Exercises and Quiz sections also appear in kana to reinforce written and oral comprehension as well as production skills. Japanese for Busy People has been prepared under the guidance of a working group of experienced Japanese language instructors who reviewed and tested the material in an authentic classroom environment.

The Kana Version of Japanese for Busy People 1 is the ideal textbook for anyone who wishes to learn real, natural, conversational Japanese and actually communicate with native Japanese speakers. It also provides a solid foundation and a valuable resource for those who would like to go further with their study of the Japanese language.

This new Kana Version includes:
* new introduction explaining how to use the text at home or school
* new, larger, and easier-to-read typography
* new, classroom-friendly, eye-catching page design
* clear, concise explanations of how the language works
* full English-Japanese/Japanese-English glossaries.

Product Details
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International (JPN) (January 1, 1996)
  • ISBN: 4770019874
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Average Customer Review: based on 16 reviews.

Spotlight Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful:

A useful textbook for the highly motivated, April 11, 2002

Reviewer: Zack Davisson (Sakurai, Nara, Japan)

There are two universal truths of acquiring a second language. First, there is no "quick method." It takes time and work. Second, self-study only gets you so far. Language is about communication, and that requires more than one person.

With this in mind, "Japanese for Busy People I : Kana Version" is a fine supplement to Japanese learning. While you will never learn Japanese solely from this product, the book will help you study and practice. It is definitely one of the best of it's type.

Taking the plunge into kana is essential for learning Japanese. This book does not teach you kana of any type, but assumes that you have learned them elsewhere (preferably from the kana workbook in this series). Hiragana and Katakana are used. There is no Kanji, as this is a beginners level text.

There is a focus on traveling businessmen, and most of the activities focus on traveling and getting around an office. However, the vocab used in these situations is useful and easily transfers to other situations.

Like all self-study books, you will gain as much out of "Japanese for Busy People I : Kana Version" as you put into it. Learning with a group of people is easier and more fun. This book easily adapts to a group, and would work best if you and a few friends got together to practice.

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful:

Japanese for business people, June 25, 2003

Reviewer: Debbie Lee Wesselmann (the Lehigh Valley)

I watched my teenage daughter learn Japanese from this series over the past year, and I am amazed about how quickly she learned to speak elementary Japanese using these textbooks. I recommend those new to the language to begin not with the Kana (Japanese symbols) version, but with the English phonetic version. Until the basic Kana characters and their pronunciation are mastered, this book can be daunting, especially if one is attempting to learn the language independently. Still, the transition must be made eventually. My daughter's Japanese class began with the phonetic version and then moved halfway through the year to the Kana version. (My daughter still feels it necessary to refer occasionally to the English textbook.)

I found the text to be straight-forward and the directions easy to understand. The dialogues are geared more toward business people than those interested in, say, history. You will learn how to introduce people, give (and understand!) directions, buy items in a store, etc. Despite this practicality, this book should not be confused with a crash course in travelor's phrases. Although the vocabulary is biased toward business (one of my daughter's first Japanese words meant conference room), this book aims to give the student a serious and solid foundation for the eventual mastery of Japanese. In this version, katakana and hirigana characters are used in all dialogues, examples, vocabulary building, and grammar, although brief instructions are written in English. (Kanji is reserved for more advanced textbooks.)

I recommend those serious about learning Japanese to purchase both this, the Kana version, and the English version. If you can only afford one and if you have no basis in the language, you might want to buy the phonetic textbook instead. However, since the mastery of Japanese characters is essential for progressing, this book is a valuable tool.

Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review:

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:

Intelligent people only, please, July 27, 2004

Reviewer: Miguel Lescano Cornejo "mlescano" (Ecuador)

Good course, but, buy the CDs along with this book! If you think you can read this book without the CDs, think again. Even if you can read all the hiragana sounds, that doesn't mean you can render the printed text correctly. I have had a lot of surprises comparing the kana writing with actual japanese speech. For example, "gakusei" is actually pronounced more like "gaksee". A lot of times, when you expect a final "u", that "u" is almost erased from real spoken language. And the biggest surprise to me, was to discover that all "g" sounds (ga, gi, gu, ge, go) become more nasal, very close to "n", when they are in the middle of a word. Do yourself a favor and don't waste your time trying to figure out the correct pronunciation and intonation without the CDs!

About books II and III of this series: Although they say they're "kana versions" they actually use kanji everywhere, with the aid of furigana (small kana printed under the kanji). Books II and III even have a special section with all the main text from all the lessons printed in traditional vertical text, so this series really makes you feel you're making big progress! However, kanji can scare you to death the first time you face them, even with furigana, so I highly recommend starting Heisig's trilogy "Remembering the Kanji" before or during book II of Japanese For Busy People.

By the way, I had some trouble locating the other books and CDs, so I'll save you time and give you the Amazon's ISBN codes for fast lookup:

Book II - 4770020511
Book III - 477002052X
CDs for book I - 4770019092
CDs for book II - 4770021364
CDs for book III - 4770021372

Perhaps you would like to get a Flashcard program for reviewing vocabulary as you go through the books. They're really useful and now they include scheduled reviews.

It is true that sometimes it would be great that the writers of these books had provided some useful tips on how to make the -te form, for example, but you can always find these kind of things out by yourself. And remember that these (Japanese for busy people) books are almost the official ones for learning japanese. You need to eat up the three of them to get through JLPT level 3 (level 4 is the lowest, level 1 the highest). Get all of them with the CDs and scan the web for free stuff to learn the kana (if you don't know it) and practice what you learn in the book. Get yourself a free japanese/english dictionary program that uses the EDICT database, too. It helps a lot when reading japanese text in the web.

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Love it!, February 24, 2004

Reviewer: Brian Pressman (Boston, Ma United States)

I just love this book. The lay out is simple and easy to follow. For best results, use a "Learn Hiragana" & "Katagana Book" and then get the JFBP Kana Version. That way one can avoid romangi (Japanese written with English letters) which only slows you down from learning real Japanese. Its best to use this book in combination with the workbook. I use the book on my own, but having someone to ask questions to is imperative.

The book does have some shortcomings. Other reviewers have pointed out that book does a poor job of explaining form constructions, instead, it directs one to memorize a list of verbs/adj/etc. I agree this is not the way to go. This deficiency is easily overcome by a class or tutor. My Sensei does a good job explaining how verb/adj/etc structures are formed... so the book's failure to do so is no big deal. If you are learning on your own... this could be a problem.

Having a teacher is a good idea in the beginning anyway as it will give you a chance to practice speaking and listening. I actually started using JFBP on my own because my class book (Japanese New College Text) is just awful.

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

overrated, February 20, 2004

Reviewer: zolo (NY, NY United States)

While I am beginning to understand the rationale for how this textbook is designed, I still feel that it is too targeted to business users to be of true value to anyone not needing to do business in japan. In other words, if you are learning japanese out of personal or family interest, look elsewhere. Also as other reviewers have said it relies heavily on rote memorization which is good and/or necessary for some things (days of the week, numbers, dates, etc) but really bad for others (verb forms and conjugation).

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful:

G-A-R-B-A-G-E, February 10, 2004

Reviewer: Zachary Jon Turner (Houston, TX United States)

I feel like I'm going crazy or something because looking at these reviews and finding that the majority of them are 5 stars or 4 stars makes me wonder if I'm coming from the same planet as the other reviewers. I have probably 30 books on learning Japanese, and this is the only one I have ever simply thrown away. I didn't even give it away, or sell it because I didn't want people to learn Japanese the wrong way. Among talking to other people who had used this book, it turns out this book had a reputation, and had come to be known as "The Tome of Suck". First let me list some better books, and then I'll explain why this book is so bad:

1) Situational Functional Japanese I, II, III (the absolute best! But make sure you get the drill book AND the notes book)
2) Japanese: The Spoken Language 1, 2, 3. While this series is second best, it is absolutely the BEST in terms of grammar explanations. The weird roomaji system is frustrating, but it's worth it if you can digest the explanations.
3) Genki I, II. Rapidly surpassing Japanese for Busy People in terms of popularity. Simple to understand grammar exercises, great exercises, very useful vocabulary, immerses you in kana right off the board forcing you to abandon the harmful roomaji.

Okay, now why is JfBP so bad? Well, first of all, they get progressively better. So Book 2 is mediocre, and Book 3 is not too bad (#1 above is still better). But Book 1. Whew boy. First of all, it pretends Japanese is simple. Instead of actually _explaining_ things, it simply tells you to start memorizing everything under the sun. As one example, there's something called the "-te" form of verbs, and instead of simply telling you the rule for making the -te form, it gives you a list of like 30 verbs and tells you "memorize not only the verbs, but also their -te forms". LOL! What a joke. Then it does the same thing with the negative forms. It's like "memorize the negative form of a verb as well as the dictionary form whenever learning a new verb". Duh, it takes MORE time to do that than to understand the rule (which is simple!)

Plus, if you're memorizing vocabulary then you're forced to do it with the word list in front of you, whereas if you're trying to understand a rule, you can think of examples in your head (say, while driving) and try to understand it and comprehend things that way. It's simply a waste of time in every respect to just memorize EVERYTHING.

Well, that's the approach the whole book takes to EVERYTHING. There are examples of this kind of silliness in every chapter. Nobody in my elementary Japanese class (which was 3 years ago) learned anything from this book, and we all fought very hard to get them to change the textbook, which they finally did. The reason I took so long to write this review is because I wanted to put this book out of my memory, but as it becomes more and more popular I felt I owed it to students of Japanese everywhere to lead you to a more rewarding experience.

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