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Japanese Step by Step: An Innovative Approach to Speaking and Reading Japanese [Paperback]

Gene Nishi
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 17 2001

This self-study text offers a breakthrough approach for beginning learners of Japanese, as well as an indispensable reference for intermediate students. The unique study method in Japanese Step By Step teaches how to construct Japanese sentences, from the simplest to the most complex, using an easy-to-follow, step-by-step method. Also contains flow charts for verb conjugations and derivations.

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About the Author

Gene Nishi established the Nishi Institute of Language Education for extensive research and practice in Japanese and English Education.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent first step Oct. 24 2003
By A Customer
I had been gradually absorbing japanese for a few years from such sources as anime, and old samurai films. Six months ago, I decided to take the plunge and devote some time to learning Japanese, so I picked up this book. I was immediately impressed with the organization, and lucidity of the material.
Before, I was totally mystified by the Kanji. I thought I'd never be able to understand " all of that crazy chickenscratch", as I sometimes (jokingly) put it. I tought that I could get by understanding the Kana, or maybe just the Romaji. I was totally put off by the different readings of the Kanji. Now, I understand more kanji than kana (granted, I'm still pretty much the equivalent of a slow-witted japanese kindergartener). This book erased most of my initial apprehension over the subject.
The grammatical structure is handled, in my opinion, in the proper way. For the first few chapters, the reader is presented with a somewhat simplistic view, which must be learned by rote. As the reader progresses in the book, some of the earlier schemas are expanded, and elaborated, leaving the reader with an ever increasingly profound grasp on the language. The presentation and progression is in a logical order, allowing those with a scientist's (like me) or engineer's brain quick access to the language.
This is, of course, not to say that one can attain a complete mastery of the language by reading this one book. As I alluded in the title of this review, this is merely a good first step. It never pretends to be anything more. If one studies from this book with discipline and diligence, one should not have trouble making oneself understood in japanese.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If Japanese were a programming language... July 7 2001
...this would be the programmer's tech manual.
JAPANESE STEP BY STEP was written by a former IBM engineer. He applied tech-manual principles to the organization and presentation of the inner workings of the Japanese language. The author makes heavy use of logic flow charts to show how Japanese verbs are conjugated, and how present, negative, past and past-negative tenses are developed. He also presents five basic sentence patterns to be used as building blocks for more complex and compound sentences. And, the roman-alphabet representations of Japanese use CAPITAL letters to show the raised pitch accent.
Although the book uses Japanese characters above the roman text (romaji), it uses the 2000+-character KANJI with no furigana (small hiragana characters to show the 'reading' of the kanji characters.) I'd like to be able to cover up the romaji and read just the Japanese characters, but the lack of furigana forces dependence on the romaji.
Another thing I found frustrating is having to flip back and forth through the book to figure out how a particular verb conjugates. This could have been solved if the author had either provided an appendix with all the verb conjugation flow charts, or (better yet,) provided an additional set of charts showing how to conjugate each type of verb into all the possible conjugations.
This book is NOT the only book on Japanese you'll ever need. But it's a useful addition to the Japanese-language student's arsenal of reference works. It presents information in a different way, which may be just what you need to get from confusion to increased understanding.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and right to the point June 24 2002
Explicitly explains the different forms of verbs and sentence structures. Does not go to far into particles but explains the appropriate uses for "wa and ga". Excellent in vocabulary and kanji usage and reading. The pitch accents marked by CAPS let the reader know how to pronounce each word correctly. This is the best book I have ever needed. The perfect guide to Japanese.
The flowcharts are especially helpful and are compatible to people that work in the field of computers. I have learned many kanji from reading this book. The excercises are thorough.
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