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I relied on these books for a long time. I used to study by myself at home after work and sometimes on weekends. They’ve been a great help!

BEGINNER LEVEL

These were the books I started learning with. What I did was, I outlined all these textbooks in separate notebooks, that way I practiced writing the sentences, too. Then I looked up the vocabulary in the English Translation Book, then outlined those, too. Then, I answered all the questions in my notebook. I compared my answers to the examples in the textbook to double-check. If I was in the mood, I’d read the sentences aloud.

みんなの日本語シリーズ - Minna no Nihongo Series

This set of books was basically written by for Engineering Trainees. The book is based on the Japanese adventures of a group of trainees. Students learn basic grammar patterns beginning with self-introductions and moving on to simple day-to-day conversations, then to letter writing, and so on. I found the lessons to be extremely helpful, especially when I just got to Japan. The entire textbook is written in Japanese. You can purchase an accompanying workbook, a Kanji book, listening CDs and cassettes, and most importantly a translation book in English, all separately. There are translation books in other languages, as well. I’ve seen German, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Korean and even Bahasa Indonesian.

新日本語基礎シリーズ - Shin no Nihongo Kiso Series

Similar to the Minna no Nihongo Series, the lessons are almost all in the same order. I really liked this series, which talked about Rao(ラオさん), an Indian Engineering trainee in Japan. He had friends from many other countries, and he went to a Language Center somewhere in the Tokyo Area. Actually, I did Book I of this series and Book II of Minna no Nihongo. I didn’t have any problems jumping from one textbook to the other. Both textbook sets have additional study materials so I didn’t have to look for any other textbooks.

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

新日本語の中級 - Shin no Nihongo Chukyu Series

This series is a continuation of the Shin no Nihongo Kiso Series. This time the focus is on Lee (リーさん), a Chinese trainee in Japan. A lot of new patterns are introduced, and many of the basic patterns from Books I and II are reviewed. This textbook also comes with an English translation book and a grammatical notes book. A lot of the basic conversation situations in this book were great. If you master them, you’ll wow all your Japanese friends and colleagues.

I haven’t finished this series, yet. I’m half-way done though. I’ve been studying the same way I did with the Beginner I and II books. To most people I’ve recommended these methods to, I’ve only heard one excuse: “I’m too lazy to try.” Well, I don’t have anything to say to that…

To the rest of you, Good Luck studying!

For Kanji (漢字, Chinese characters used in Japanese), I used additional textbooks. I will talk about that in another post.

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