This is the first of many book reviews I’ll do in the My Zousho series. Zousho (蔵書、ぞうしょ) means library or book collection. I’m going to take you through every book in my library that I’ve used to learn Japanese. I think these books will give you some good ideas and direction for learning. If you follow my path for learning Japanese you will definitely learn a lot in a short time. I learned Japanese by myself mostly by reading books and so I believe anyone else can do the same thing.
The book that got me started was called Ultimate Japanese. It’s a really barebones kind of book mostly for newbies and beginners . No fancy pictures and glitter, but it definitely gets the job done! If you’re just beginning you should have enough energy to blast right through this book without any qualms. Think of it this way. The more pictures and colors there are the more they will only distract you. This is your like your Japanese 101 boot camp! If you can get through this book then you can get through anything! That’s how I think about it, and I felt energized the whole way, page for page, through this book.
Japanese is one of the most difficult languages there are. This book will build a strong foundation in the language so you can move ahead. Start at page 1 and read all the way to the Appendixes at page 483. Just read it and try to understand the material, but don’t get caught up on anything. You don’t have to try to memorize all the vocabulary and grammar at this point. You just need to begin to recognize the language and some of the patterns.
In Ultimate Japanese you’ll find:
- 40 Lessons with natural dialogues and expressions. The dialogues are all written in romaji for beginners so you don’t need to know hiragana and katakana. You’ll learn them in the book.
- English translations and explanations of Japanese grammar and usage, pronunciation, vocabulary, and cultural notes.
- Sections that introduce you to hiragana, katakana, and kanji.
- A complete summary of Japanese accents and particles.
- An extensive two-way glossary. This is really convenient as all the words you need are right in the back of the book.
- Quizzes and review sections at the end of each chapter.
- 8 CD recordings of the lessons. (You can buy the stand alone book or the book + CDs)
There are lots of books out there that you can use to get started learning Japanese, but a lot of them are just bad. I can tell you through experience though that Ultimate Japanese is a good book and will most likely work for you too. Read this book and separate yourself from all those people who just “wish” they could speak Japanese. You have to take action so you might as well start here.