Articles in the Language Learning Tool Reviews Category
Having come to Japan with the admittedly vague goal of one day being able to read Japanese literature, I still find it difficult to find relevant-seeming texts written at or near my Japanese ability level. Adding to that the often daunting chore of looking up all the unfamiliar kanji and vocabulary in the dictionary as I read, more often than not, I find that I am talking myself out of practicing reading the few interesting Japanese texts that I do find. One remedy I have found is reading online with the aid of Rikaichan (previously reviewed). But for longer trips away from the computer, or when I would just prefer not to stare at a monitor, one solution I’ve found is Kodansha’s Read Real Japanese Essays collection.
Flashcards are a fantastic device, particularly for those students who find themselves in the tactile/kinesthetic spectrum of learning styles. And the basic structure of flashcards—decks and stacks of linked information— is not only useful for learning, it is also a very efficient, mid-tech model of data organization, which finds expression in much more complex systems like the Internet
While this phrasebook’s 14 chapters and introduction offer a whole array of useful phrases organized thematically from “Chapter 1: What’s Up?” to “Chapter 8: Curses and Insults,” to “Chapter 13: Lovers’ Language,” it is often necessary to thumb through several pages of phrases you don’t need in order to find the one you are looking for. There is no index, and the chapter headings are fairly vague, such that, to find a fairly common phrase like すけべ (vulgar, lewd) you might have to search through the chapter on insults, and possibly “Chapter 4: Say What?” before finding it in the chapter on street fighting. (Yes, there is a chapter dedicated to street fighting.) With all of the above criticism in mind, however, I would strongly urge that the next phrasebook you purchase be from the Making Out In… series.