Saturday 24 August 2019

Book Review: Easy Japanese Step-By-Step by Gene Nishi (Non-Fiction/Languages)

Title: Easy Japanese Step-By-Step
Author: Gene Nishi

Publication Date: 2018
Borrowed from the Library


Learning how to speak Japanese is easy with this accessible guide. Using a clear, step-by-step approach, Easy Japanese Step-by-Step teaches you how to construct simple as well as complex Japanese sentences. This updated edition includes audio recordings, available online and via app, that provide you with helpful pronunciation guidance. In addition to the recordings, an array of innovative features such as flow charts and flashcards make this method the easiest, most efficient way for you to learn to speak and read formal Japanese--the Japanese spoken by educated adults both socially and professionally.

Easy Japanese Step-By-Step was a mixed bag for me. On the plus side, I appreciated the clear diagrams showing conjugations and the excellent examples of different phrasings. On the negative side, considering this book purports to be for students at beginner to intermediate level, there was a lot of 'missing' information. At no point did the author pause to 1) share a table of personal pronouns (I had to find those myself through sample sentences), 2) explain that verbs do not conjugate by subject (I had to infer this from examples and confirm via an internet query), 3) explain there is no future tense or give a basic overview of the tenses (again, I had to come to this conclusion eventually for myself), 4) explain there is no real plural form in Japanese, and 5) show more everyday usage (focus was very much on business/respectful forms). These are all basic bits of information you need when starting to learn a new language, and they simply weren't covered. Had I received this information at the start of the book, a lot of the other aspects the book did cover would have made sense more quickly and easily, without my having to do a lot of additional research first. So, overall, I would say that what the book does cover, it explains well, but there were some gaping holes, and as such I would not recommend this work to complete beginners. It will be of most use to those who already have a little grounding in the language and who wish to improve their respectful/polite conversation, especially for use in a business environment. 3.5 stars.

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