Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

So, I’ve had this:

White Rabbit Kanji Poster

HUGE kanji poster stuck on my wall for months now. I stare at it in wonder relatively often, but that’s about as far as it goes. It’s all the JLPT kanji in order and with readings. It… kind of freaks me out though. I started going through them today from the beginning and got further than I honestly thought I’d get, but not far enough! One good thing is that the colors also correspond to the flash card sets (I believe… I haven’t fully tested this hypothesis) and so once I get fully organized (hahaha!!) I will be all set to go.


But, being sick has thrown a spanner in just about every works possible. I now have two Korean tests back to back on Monday (I’m not that worried, really) but also a TON of homework for the class (which I haven’t done with being ill). Being so busy (and learning another language) is really impacting my Japanese learning. I’m not sure what to do about that though. I’d love to be trilingual, but somehow I don’t think it’s going to happen.

We’ll see.

Anyway, time for medication and hot tea (I am really craving the bamboo-leaf tea 김선생님 shared with us a couple of weeks ago).



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I found a new website, wacca.fm. It’s awesome. It has many cool Japanese bands who offer music to download. Some of it is Creative Commons licensed, which means you can use it in videos on YouTube, for example, without getting copyright violation. As the site itself says:

I have started downloading their podcast directly to iTunes and it’s SuperAwesome. =D Lots of shiny new music every week!! It’s great (and legal). I find that J-music is hard to find anywhere really. So this site fills me with random joy!!

I have been going over the new Intermediate Japanese textbook and it’s a little confusing in the layout (but most of it is in Japanese and the grammar points are limited to a sentence or two of explanation (unlike the page or half a page in Genki) and a couple of example sentences. I think I like it better–since it really taxes my brain. I also discovered that renshuu.org have the book–so I can study the lessons over there. That makes everything so much easier. A place with kanji and grammar quizzes that I can utilize without having to create those lists myself. Of course, one of the ways I study (especially kanji) is written repetition… so I’ll still be writing plenty!!!


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After yesterdays book buying adventure, レベッカ and I are heading to the airport later to pick up a Japanese student. It should be fun. Except that ジャスチン is also going and he’s a PITA. For real. We made a sign so she knows who we are, haha, and we’re going to hopefully try some of our Japanese out to make her feel welcome. I’m a little nervous since conversation is definitely my worst point.

Which means I’m also nervous about the class this fall. Conversation and composition. The writing part I can handle. The talking part? Not so much. I’m terrified of sounding stupid or saying something completely offensive. Or both. Possibly both. At the same time…


I was trying to find images of some pages of the new Japanese book I got, but there aren’t any, so I’ll have to upload them myself. Which means I have to scan them and my son is on the computer with the scanner–so probably have to wait a while. So, instead I give you:

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I got my new books for class today. I’m taking a couple exciting classes–300 level Japanese of course, Korean, and Language and Culture (which is a linguistics class). I’m super excited!!! I can’t wait actually. I’ve been building my Kanji list over at Smart.fm and it’s starting to look good. I’m sure it’s going to help out a great deal.

So, my new Japanese book is called “An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese” and seems to be a continuation of the Genki series. It comes with 2CD’s and a workbook (for separate purchase).

On first look it seems a little… strange. Some kanji we’ve learned aren’t included, and some we have not are. It’s rather strange. However, I plan to start going through and putting furigana (small hiragan) above each kanji I’m not familiar with, so that I have a good head start. It’s a pretty daunting book though. So much more is written in Japanese and the explanations are fairly limited. However, I am still excited!!


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I have several Japanese dictionaries. Both hard copies and those online. I find myself using the hard copy when I am writing a journal entry on lang-8 or perhaps an essay for school. I also tend to use the JLPT-Kanji website quite often too. I’ve heard good and bad about both methods and feel justified then, in using both.

The hard copy dictionaries I use most are Kodansha’s Furigana: Japanese-English Dictionary (hard back) and The Starter Oxford Japanese Dictionary (paperback). The Kodansha is amazing, but rather large. It adds Furigana readings to all kanji, provides over 16,000 vocabulary words, and adds many sample sentences as examples. Sensical definitions in clear English, along with sample sentences in modern Japanese makes this dictionary indispensible. I would definitely recommend it to any serious Japanese student. The use of furigana and hiragana (and not romanization) make this a step in the right direction for continuing studies.

In contrast the Oxford Starter Dictionary is smaller, lighter and aimed more towards the upper-level beginner.  The “How to use this dictionary” section in the beginning has perhaps the world’s best chart for converting conjugated verbs back to their dictionary form. (Making them much easier to look up.) All Japanese entries are in Japanese syllabic script (kana), and followed by their kanji character if they have one. (They are also arranged kana-betically in the J-E section.) The “Glossary of grammatical terms” is a fantastic refresher for those who haven’t taken high school English in quite some time. Headword entries are colored blue to help draw the eye and words which have issues associated with their use, have, after their definition, a special explanation which is marked with an “!” and enclosed within a blue box. Multiple senses of a word are each bulleted and different parts of speech are numbered.  Most words have examples of usage, and/or arrow points offering page numbers of related entries. All verbs are followed by their -te, -nai, and -masu forms as an aid to beginners and particles which can be used with a particular verb, are displayed in circles in the verb’s entry.

So, if you’re looking for a dictionary to aid your studies, I definitely recommend either of these (or both). They are both indispensable in their own ways and can aid your studies greatly.

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I’ve been a bit busy these last few days–hence the lack of posting. I seem to have been busy with things for my son (play dates and so forth), work, study, and yard work.  Today it’s 8.30am and I already have two cakes baking for Father’s Day!!! (Fudge Swirl if you wanna know!!)

So, Japanese. I have printed out acres of Grammar and Kanji for the 3きゅうand I’ve also rediscovered a book I bought a long time ago that I haven’t used much. Called “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” it contains, as you might expect, grammar listed in dictionary form. It’s GREAT!

I’m currently using it to refine my understanding of the particle 「が」which I seem to have the most problems with. The description given is REALLY useful and has already helped a great deal. (The book uses the comparison of “a” and “the” in English. When a subject (such as “Old Man”) is introduced first in a sentence we would use “An Old Man”. Thereafter we would usually say “The Old Man”. 「が」in this way is related to “a” or “an” and 『は』to “the”.

I’m sure this book will also help with the acres of grammar I’m unfamiliar with. Everytime I think about it I get so pumped. I really want to do well in the December exam. I’ve got all these study aids, so it’s about time I utilized them all!



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So, today I’ve been hit with more of the flu… but it gave me a chance to sort through my “White Rabbit Press” flash cards for the Level 3 JLPT. These cards are AWESOME! Volume 1 is the complete set of Kanji required for Levels 3 & 4.

  • Each card includes 6 vocab words/phrases including commonly used kanji compounds
  • Contains all the kanji for JLPT Levels 3 & 4
  • Includes each character’s on and kun readings
  • Easy and fun to use—perfect for study and drilling
  • Japanese all in kana and kanji, with clear definitions in English

Because the cards also only use kana for kanji readings it really allows practice of the essential aspects of Japanese. I was surprised by how many of the 300+ I already knew. I’ve had the cards for a while but haven’t really utilized them, which is a shame. Now they’re all sorted and ordered (they’re actually color coded, though I’m not sure around what since when I was sorting them out some of the green “easy” kanji cards were in the Level3 and not the easier 4 as I would have thought). I definitely recommend these though. Everyone I’ve talked to who has become fluent has stressed the importance of taking flashcards EVERYWHERE with you… on the bus, the train, in the line and the grocery or bank… anywhere and everywhere.

So, I’ll be flashing regularly @_@

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