Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

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Seneca
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Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Seneca » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:28 am

I am buying books for a friend who has always had an interest in Japanese culture, but is a total beginner in learning the language. There will be no classroom learning, so I am only looking to gift things that are good for the self-learner.

It seems romaji can be skipped since many see it as a crutch long-term, but the Japanese With Ease series from Assimil has all three of romaji, kanji, and kana and includes a Japanse Kanji Writing book, which teaches the strokes for the 926 kanji in the two volumes. Would Japanese With Ease volumes I & II along with the writing book be a good resource collectively? I can only seem to find the usual comments of "the audio is slow," but any feedback beyond that would be appreciated.

Or would I be better off just getting him:
Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners
and
The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course

Does the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary add anything to KLC that'd make it worthwhile, or is just the KLC good without the dictionary?

I am happy to get all of the above, some of the above, or none of the above. I'd just like to get him something useful and I don't know much about learning Japanese. I think the KLC and Hiragana/Katakana might be a nice enough starting off gift, but it just struck me as odd to not have anything involving audio, so that is why I thought even the slow Assimil course was a good start for that. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby smallwhite » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:02 am

Italian English Bilingual Visual Dictionary from DK

I bought this for my friend's teenage son. There's a Japanese version. It's absolutely beautiful to look at, has so many different topics there's bound to be something of interest to the receiver, you can start anywhere and stop anywhere so really flexible, it has enough words to last them years, and it's not expensive.
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Arnaud » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:32 am

If your friend had wanted to learn russian, I would warmheartedly had advised Assimil russian, because it's really well made.
Imho, it's not the case of the japanese course. Learning japanese with Assimil japanese, I wonder how it's possible... :roll:

For a complete beginner, I would advise that your friend listen to Michel Thomas Japanese, he will have a good idea of how works the language, before choosing himself a more solid course.

If you want a good course with romaji, kana and kanji (with furigana), try to look at "Japanese for everyone" or "Japanese for today" (it's an old course, but I find it well made, personaly). These two courses have a very steep learning curve, but if you have listened to MTJ before, it's perfectly manageable. The audio tracks of these books are on the net.
You can also take a look at "Japanese from zero", that has a slow learning curve, but you need to buy 5 or 6 volumes, at the end it's too expensive.
As I constantly forget how to write/read I use Kodansha's Hiragana Workbook (there is also the green book for the katakana). There are free audio files on the publisher's site. I find them useful, but if your friend has a good memory, he can do without these books. Some people just print the wikipedia page to learn the kanas...
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby DangerDave2010 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:39 am

A traditional calligraphy brush, ink, paper and ink stone.
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Brun Ugle » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:14 pm

I second the recommendation for Japanese for Everyone. It was the course I used and I found it to be very good. I didn't have any background in Japanese before starting it and I didn't have any problems, so it's fine for a beginner.
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Seneca » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:32 pm

Thanks for your input. It sounds like Japanese for Everyone is a winner. Hopefully you both meant the Susumu Nagara version.

All-told I ordered him:
Japanese for Everyone: A Functional Approach to Daily Communication
Japanese for Everyone: Workbook
Japanese for Everyone: Kanji Book

Michel Thomas Method:
Speak Japanese
Japanese Advanced

Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners

The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course

The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary: Revised and Expanded

I figure he will either get to a level he wants later, scratch his wanderlust so I never have to hear about Japanese again, or his local library will get some nice additions to its Japanese section :lol:

Who knew buying language learning material for others was almost as much fun as doing it for yourself!
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Xenops » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:37 pm

I must absolutely recommend this book on learning kanji: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Lets-Learn-Kanji-Introduction-Radicals-Components-Basic/156836394X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485527784&sr=1-1&keywords=let%27s+learn+kanji

You learn the "alphabet" of the kanji rather than all 2,000 kanji characters. :D It's 200+ radicals to memorize instead, but that's so much better, right?
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Seneca » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:40 pm

I forgot to include some information in my last post that may be of interest to others who come across this thread.

Regarding Assimil, when I was still considering Japanese With Ease, I contacted the company to ask about Volume I not being available in an English base from their website. The response was to apologize for it being out of print and then it was noted that Japanese With Ease will be published before the end of 2017 in one tome. No note on if anything is actually changing content-wise, but it read to me like it is purely just a combination of the older Volumes I & II into a single book.

I also found this Comparison of Japanese Textbooks wiki that seems like a good place to start for someone wanting to read up themselves on choices for the Japanese learner.
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby AndyMeg » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:58 pm

I know I'm late, but in case someone have a similar question, here is my answer:

I would recommed the following:

- Michel Thomas (it is a great way to start learning japanese)
- Japanese Kanji Study (an awesome android app for learning the kanas and then the kanji)
- Japanese The Manga Way (it is a very fun and interesting way to start learning japanese using real manga as examples)
- Mangajin (less structured than "Japanese The Manga Way" but with very interesting topics and examples from real manga)
- A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (with the caveat that this is a "Dictionary" and not a textbook to follow from start to finish. It is great for when you have doubts about an specific grammar point)
- Dragon Ball SD (it is a simplified version of the original manga and is targeted to very young japanese children, so it uses a very basic form of japanese)

I know my recomendations are very "manga-centered", but it is because it is the most enjoyable way I've found to learn the language.
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Re: Buying Gifts for an Aspiring Japanese Learner. Help!

Postby Fortheo » Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:32 pm

I think your friend will be happy with the Michel Thomas Japanese course, and it should probably be the one he starts with. I've used 4 or 5 Michel Thomas courses in the past, and the Japanese course was by far my favorite. I also find it to be the most friendly course for beginners, especially for people who don't have much experience learning languages. Oh and, you're a good friend :) I wish I had friends who would buy me these courses haha.

PS. This thread is really making me want to revive my Japanese studies.
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