Tuesday 26 November 2019

Book Review: Japanese Stories for Language Learners by McNulty and Sato (Fiction/Language Learning)

Title: Japanese Stories for Language Learners
Author: McNulty & Sato

Publication Date: 2018
Fiction/Language Learning
Bought Copy


A great story can lead a reader down a rabbit hole of discovery--especially if it's presented in two languages! Beautifully illustrated in a traditional style, Japanese Stories for Language Learners offers five compelling stories with Japanese and English language versions appearing on facing pages. Taking learners on an exciting cultural and linguistic journey, each story is followed by detailed translator's notes, vocabulary lists, and grammar points along with a set of discussion questions and exercises. The first two are very famous traditional folktales: Urashima Taro (Tale of a Fisherman) and Yuki Onna (The Snow Woman). These are followed by three short stories by notable 20th century authors: Kumo no Ito (The Spider's Thread) by Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892u1927), Oborekaketa Kyodai (The Siblings Who Almost Drowned) by Arishima Takeo (1878u1923), and Serohiki no Goshu (Gauche the Cellist) by Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933). The latter stories are unabridged and unedited except for the addition of furigana pronunciations above the kanji characters.

Reading these stories in the original Japanese--and hearing native-speakers read them aloud in the accompanying free audio recording--helps students at every level deepen their comprehension of the beauty and subtlety of the Japanese language.

Japanese Stories for Language Learners is an excellent resource. Though it's a little advanced for me at present, with the help of the notes and English text, I can slowly read the stories. Meanwhile, the accompanying CD lets you hear them being read, aiding with aural comprehension and pronunciation. I plan to go through this book once now but then return to it again once my studies advance, so I can attempt to read more without help from the English translation and notes.

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