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My 3rd Year Intermediate Japanese Textbook:
Decent, But Not Great

My 3rd Year Japanese TextbookAn Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese is a moderately good intermediate Japanese textbook overall. It covers a lot of ground, but it's not always easy to use. But there are a few tricks that make it a lot easier to master the contents of the book.

What I Like About It

On the good side, An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese is fairly good at explaining grammatical concepts. Most of the examples of Japanese grammar are clear and easy to follow. Usually, there are plenty of examples, which is important.

The side notes are also pretty good. They aren't worth poring over for hours, but you'll pick up some things that are good to know about Japanese culture.

At the bottom of some pages, there are little blurbs that explain the meaning of some radicals.

To get off on a small tangent, radicals (in case you don't know) are the smaller building blocks that make up a kanji. Contrary to popular belief, each kanji character isn't supposed to look visually like its meaning—that's actually what the radicals do.

What I Don't Like About It

On the bad side, the book can sometimes be a bit slim on grammar examples (though it's usually pretty thorough).

Also, there are way too many vocabularies and kanji in each chapter. Many of these are incredibly obscure (at least for purposes of third-year Japanese).

Now, I realize that the authors need to include these because the kanji and vocab are part of the reading passages, but that doesn't make the sheer amount of kanji and new words any less daunting.

What's more, the authors assume you can absorb every single kanji that comes your way, and remember its pronunciation 2 months later.

For instance, I'd learn a kanji for a quiz, but many weeks after I'd somewhat forgotten about it, I would see it in a reading passage and would have to go look it up…again.

The biggest single downfall of the book is that there is no place where it goes into more detail on kanji-no stroke order or enlarged pictures to show you how to rewrite them. All the examples occur in print that's too small to discern how to write the more complex kanji.

Some Tricks I Learned The Hard Way

The best way to still get great grammar practice even when the book is slim on the examples is to open up a Word document and write down the English translation of the grammar you're practicing and cook up a few more practice sentences of your own. It doesn't matter what they are-just make sure you practice the grammar on more than a couple of examples.

The trick with this book is to make flashcards for the kanji and vocab and to study over the reading passages with a friend. If you can swing that, the reading passages can be rewarding.

They also weave some Japanese culture/history lessons into the reading and dialogues, which are usually interesting.

My Humble Overall Opinion

An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese served me fairly well through my 3rd year of college Japanese. As far as intermediate-level textbooks go, I'd give it 7/10. It can be a tough nut to crack, but if you just apply a couple tricks, most of the information will stick.

Book Info:  An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese, Miura and Hanaoka-McGloin. The Japan Times, 1994. ISBN: 4-7890-07413

Did you know...
The native inhabitants of Japan—the Ainu—are related to the people of Siberia.

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